#WF Musical Education + Playlist
Sceptics retire your sneering glares. Seven days of progressive dance and electronic music in a tiny fishing village in the south of France might sound like a match made in musical hell, but with Gilles Peterson behind the trawler wheel, this marriage is fixed in permanent honeymoon.
Having – I’ll shamefully admit – not actually heard of Worldwide Festival before this summer, I wasn’t entirely convinced about the idea myself. But with the promise of lazy beach days, fishbowls full of French wine and a week’s worth of consecutive all-night parties, I conceded to my more musically on the ball friends and went along for the craic.
With twenty or so of us all descending on the island of Sète, housed in everything ranging from beautiful big villas to tiny little hovels, it was sure to be a lark, but I definitely didn’t anticipate that it would amount to a complete musical re-education.
Like many before me, I’m a big Ibiza lover. I’ve gone as many years as I can afford. But even the most die-hard fans surely have to admit that you don’t often find anything particularly surprising behind the Amnesia, Space or DC-10 doors.
Big names drop heavy beats and everyone has a brilliant, sweat-filled, mind-bendingly good time, but it’s all very much as expected. Just as you can probably predict having your hangover infinitely exacerbated by some leathery British lout guzzling vodka-redbulls and yelling about his latest speed-balling experiment as you try to get some shut-eye on any of the beaches near San Antonio.
Lesson Number 1
Sète is not the French Ibiza. Apart from the odd, slightly over-excited teenager who couldn’t quite seem to keep his football away from your picnic, the beaches were filled with sleepy sunbathers, a range of remarkably beautiful bodies and a gaggle of people dreamily swaying along to whatever was coming out of the Corniche-stage speakers.
Lesson Number 2
People don’t go to Sète to fuck themselves over. If Worldwide had a Talk-to-Frank style message , it would be: “drugs are fun, obviously, and dabble if you will, but waking up with no memory of the amazing music that you’ve shelled out a considerable amount of money to listen to is pretty sad, if not completely stupid.”
This consensus among WF goers became potently clear to me when someone nearby started talking about his mate who’d taken so much ketamine that he’d gone completely off-radar for a few days. Instead of amusement, I saw only a wave of disbelief and faint distaste registering on the faces of his audience.
Lesson Number 3
Gilles Peterson knows how to curate a pretty bloody awesome festival. I didn’t go for the line-up. I really had only heard of a handful of the names before. But I came away with an entirely new musical library.
Laura Mvula – not strictly dance, electronic, or even particularly progressive, but she’s strikes a bloody gorgeous Skunk-Anansie-Cum-Screen-Siren figure and her tone is as velvety and delicious as they come. She’s definitely poppier than my usual tastes, and in fact the tastes of all my friends too, but even the most bassline-loving among us had to admit her as a guilty pleasure.
Mount Kimbie – one of the few groups I had actually heard of. I was apprehensive, though, about whether their mellow, down-beat vibe could cater for a large audience. Well, they’d clearly thought about this themselves. By ramping up the bass and adding a few other effects they had everyone enthralled.
Gilles P himself – winning. Not much else to be said here. We’d all headed down to the Théâtre De La Mer earlier than usual to be sure of catching J-Rocc…who was actually a bit disappointing. The Peterson set that followed, though, was one of the most delightful and crowd-pleasing of the whole week.
Thundercat – embarrassingly, despite our best intentions, we were so busy trying to find something other than cheese and peanut butter to have for dinner and persuading our more hygienically-challenged flatmate to have his first shower of the week, that we actually missed this set. However, on our return, heading to YouTube to find out what we’d missed, we all decided that Thundercat is sliiiick. More fool us.
Bonobo – a star player. The Bonobo set was arguably my favourite of the entire festival. In a similar vein to Mount Kimbie, I was again worried that the music wouldn’t translate for a big arena. It did. I actually gave up on people for an hour or two. The sound was of such a whopping, skin-tingling, shirt-ruffling calibre that I found myself stepping forwards into the crowd, not wanting to risk being interrupted by drink offers or pleads to go stand in the toilet queue.
Cashmere Cat – the wild card. He’s a young, weird-looking Norwegian with suspicious dance moves and an affection for things with paws. It sounds annoyingly abstract or contrived. But the strange moombah-dub-trap-whatever-the-fuck-you-wanna-call-it that washed over us was mesmerising. It is a tragedy that his set, which ended up being the finale to the whole week, was cut short by the fun-police, but what we got of it was pleasantly, surprisingly brilliant.
Laura Mvula – She
Bonobo – Ten Tigers
Thundercat – Heartbreaks + Setbacks
Lone – Airglow Fires
Bonobo – Cirrus
Mount Kimbie – Before I Move Off
Jeremih – 773 Love (Cashmere Cat Edit)
PHOTOS: Natasha Bird & Dan Moss