Preview: La Route Du Rock Festival

Running from the 11th to the 14th of August in the (sort of) historic Breton city of Saint-Malo, this year's La Route Du Rock festival promises another four days of looking ahead and looking over your shoulder in a setting that remains hard to top

Photo by Nicolas Joubard

The European festival season is in full swing: Sonár has been and gone, as has Roskilde and Poland’s Off Festival is forthcoming, hand in hand with Croatia’s Obonjan. With such continental bounty at our fingertips, then, you might ask what Brittany’s La Route Du Rock provides that its counterparts may not?

Well, for one thing, Saint-Malo. Not only does it play host to a small stage on its beach — which a cursory glance on google will tell you also features a tidal pool – but it’s also a historical oddity. Ancient to the naked eye, and founded in the first century B.C., the walled Breton city is actually replica of sorts: destroyed by British and American shelling during the Second World War (probably because Nazis not because Brexit), it’s still fucking beautiful but it’s also the result of twelve years of meticulous reconstruction. Which, when you think about it, is as much worth checking out as anything.

And there’s music, naturally. While there are European festivals out there that specialise in pushing and posting the envelope of the avant-garde, La Route Du Rock — perhaps naturally when you consider its setting — is not so dismissive of the twentieth century’s musical history. You might not find a back-to-back early morning set from Helena Hauff and Ben UFO, but you will find the perfect balance of nostalgia and progression; of those watching the throne and those keen to take it.

With that in mind, if you’re planning on attending this year’s festival (or, if you weren’t but you’re getting there now), we’ve collected some potential highlights below.


"During bleak times like these you need a bold, uncompromising, indefatigable band like Savages to reawaken your stifled inner optimism. When divisive slogans like ‘take back control’; ‘we want our country back’ and ‘breaking point’ have done so much damage, theirs – from ‘The Answer’ (“love is the answer”); ‘Adore’ (“I adore life”) and ‘I Need Something New’ – sound like passionate manifestos of positivity. Even the more prescriptive ones (Silence Yourself; ‘Shut Up’) are at least constructive. (‘City’s Full’, meanwhile, isn’t meant in the Nigel Farage sense). Savages are the kind of band who offer hope where there is none." (Jeremy Allen)

Fat White Family

"If they have a muse, it’s the point at which disgust and pleasure meet. Those videos filled with dead meat and live flesh, unusual faces shot from jarring angles, only make visible what the records are doing: your head in. Strong melodies with jagged contours, brain-wronging phrases chanted in lieu of choruses, forgotten garage rock licks mixed with artful post-punk aesthetics. They conjure the thrill of scrambled signals when you’re off your rocker on booze and drugs, project an uncensored phantasmagoria." (Lee Arizuno)

The Avalanches

"Even if it could never feel like a childhood’s worth of lovingly curated music, and even if the shock of the new’s way out of its reach, it’s still another out-of-its-time, forensically assembled wonder. Lightning rarely strikes twice, but 16 years slash those odds." (Matthew Horton)

Gold Panda

"What Good Luck And Do Your Best does so well – and what it shares with novels like Norwegian Wood or Kafka on the Shore – is to give the impression of the dream, without drawing attention to its strangeness to the point where it becomes jarring. On tracks like ‘In My Car’ and ‘Metal Bird’ this plays out mostly through persistent repetition and the juxtaposition of the looping, sideways-shuffling instrumentation with the omnidirectional quality of the vocal sample. The cumulative effect is one of subtle disorientation or slight vertigo: enough to skew the angle of the world ever so slightly, just to the point of perceptibility, but never enough to force a significant sense of being unbalanced or the kind of “kick” that undoes illusion." (Karl Smith)

Tickets for La Route Du Rock 2016, including ferry and festival passes that cover the journey and the event itself can be purchased here

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