There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of seeing your favourite band live for the first time. Last Tuesday night was my 3rd time witnessing the madness that is La Femme, and yet it felt just like the first time all over again.
To understand the evening that ensued you need to get to know the oddity that is La Femme. Created in 2010 by two high school friends from Biarritz, the French band is now formed of six members, five guys and one girl. After releasing a couple of EPs the band achieved national success with their critically acclaimed album Psycho Tropical Berlin, released in 2013. Their style is tough to define, but could be summed up as a blend of synthesiser distorted punk, surf music, and poetic lyrics that don’t necessarily make sense, but rather function as an instrument.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gHlsGYItdw La Femme – Amour dans le Motu
Although I had already seen La Femme in the past, this only increased the anticipation, as I knew what they offered on stage. So there I was again, this time for a sold-out night that would bring 1400 strangers together in one of Camden’s theatre-turned-venues, KOKO – an ideal place to experience the band. The stage is surrounded by three stories of red and gold covered theatre balconies and a three metres wide disco ball is suspended above the crowd. As I was waiting for the opening act to come on I had a look around the crowd only to realise without surprise that it was almost exclusively French. You could also sense that the Paris attacks were still on people’s mind, maybe because La Femme is French, or because we were in a similar venue to Le Bataclan. I even caught a girl taking a selfie holding a piece of paper saying “Même pas peur” (not even afraid).
Finally, the music started with the opening act, Bon Voyage Organisation. Another up-and-coming French band whose music is heavily 80s influenced but adapted to today’s constant need of faster and more distorted sounds. Most of their lyrics deal with the African continent, a recurring theme in 80s French pop, while their sounds take inspiration from traditional Chinese music. After a short, interesting set it was time for the main headliners to play.
The thing that makes La Femme so special is the positive energy they bring everywhere they perform. It is one of those bands that you need to see to appreciate, the visual element is as important as their songs. The fact that you sense how aware they are of their image makes the entire performance an hour long gag but you just accept their reality and roll with it. You can’t help but laugh as they start their set by shouting “Let’s have an orgy!” Each band member is dressed in their unique style, very different from one another and yet it all makes sense when it comes together. The lead singer is giving a 60s surf vibe with a colourful shirt tucked into slim pants and a helicopter hat covering his bleached-blonde hair. The only girl is wearing an open kimono over a white t-shirt and jeans. The bass player looks like a hippie from a 60s psychedelic band. One of the members also decided to wrap a black shirt around his head to cover his face, potentially mimicking Daesh. Their nationality seems to also be important for them and their image. It’s like they want the world to know they’re French by reinforcing the established stereotypes, but not in a bad way. First of all Marlon’s accent is so strong that it would even shock Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau. The band is seen drinking Kronembourg’s 1664 and more than half of the time he addresses the crowd to talk about sexuality and drugs in hilarious mini introductions to each song.
- “For this song you need to dance like it’s the 60s and you just took something”
- “This is a 20 minutes song, a love song to sleep with your girlfriend”
- “You need to listen to this song with a cigarette that makes you laugh”
The set itself was “sans faute” and covered most of their discography with all their hit songs such as Sur la Planche, Amour dans le Motu and Antitaxi that they even translated into English for the occasion. They also gave a sneak peak of what to expect on their second record with a couple of unreleased songs and announced that the album should be expected in May or August of next year. The crowd absolutely loved every bit of it. La Femme kept encouraging the crowd to go nuts and Marlon even joined us by crowd surfing twice. The security guards seemed overwhelmed by the amount of mosh pits and random fans crowd surfing in the pit.
La Femme hasn’t reached the mainstream status yet so you still feel their sincerity and happiness when they thank the crowd for making it to their first UK headline show. They seem honest when they say they are grateful for our presence and they even prove it by giving us the opportunity of meeting them after the show. What a way to finish the evening! I’m pleased to say that I got the chance to meet Marlon and show my appreciation for La Femme’s incredible work. As I obviously wasn’t the only fan eager to meet him it was a brief encounter but just enough to make my day.
La Femme will be back in London in a bigger venue next October to present their new album at Shepherd’s Bush Academy, and trust me you don’t want to miss it this time!
Make sure to check out La Femme’s website if you want to hear more of their music and check their upcoming tour dates. http://lafemmemusic.com/
Written by Aurelien Huet