Pitchfork Paris 2021 – When was the last time that guitar music felt this exciting?


The feminine urge to take a solo trip to Paris fuelled on music, caffeine and red wine. There is no place like the most romanticised city in the world to remind you of the important role that live music plays in our lives. Reconnecting music fans with the joy of discovering new artists, Pitchfork Paris 2021 showcased a promising look into the future of live music. 

Taking place in mid-November, the 10th edition of Pitchfork Paris was the all-important Avant Garde finalé of this year’s emotional festival season. “I want my time with you” reads Tracey Emin’s neon pink sign as you board the Eurostar from London to Paris. A message of love from London to the rest of Europe.  

Paris is often referred to as the ‘City of Light’ (La Ville Lumiére), because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment, which was literally the pursuit of happiness. The new multi-venue format of Pitchfork felt gritty and grande. Sprawled across the city’s fitting artsy Bastille area, various live music venues hosted performances from international emerging talent.  

Opening Supersonic on Friday night, London 4-piece Talk Show set the tone for the evening with a loud and energetic set. Front-man Harrison Swann has all the qualities of a future festival headliner. Blurring the lines between punk and alt-rock, Talk Show abandon the rule-book in favour of unpredictable riffs and “If this is just lust / Then it’s a must”.  

Talk Show at Supersonic, Paris. Credit: Alban Gendrot

20-year-old New Zealand born and London based singer Molly Payton has a sound that’s way beyond her years. With nods to Sharon Van Etten and Jeff Buckley, Molly is a true rockstar. During her performance her coyness makes her all the more endearing as she pours emotion into every song. Starting out as a singer/songwriter, Molly’s sound is ever-expanding and she now writes with her band in mind. ‘While We’re Driving’, the last track on her introspective mini-album ‘Slack’, is a shimmering taste of what’s to come next. 

Running between music venues at any festival is electrifying, made even more exciting on the backstreets of Paris. Over at late-night cocktail bar, Les Disquaires, Miso Extra performs to an intimate crowd, with emerging DJ Chloe English on the decks. The English-Japanese artist confidently tells the audience to move closer as her vibe fills the room. Music and food are both love languages and Miso Extra has expertly combined the two.  

“Beam me up / Count me in / 3, 2, 1 / Let’s begin” As Friday night became Saturday morning, Supersonic was packed out for the song of the summer from everyone’s favourite new band, Wet Leg. Performed as if written for such a moment in Paris, Chaise Lounge whips the crowd up into a frenzy; the friendly chemistry between Hester and Rihan palpable. The cool and unassuming duo exchange on-stage giggles and grins as excited fans surf the crowd and form mosh-pits. The present and future look fascinating for a band whose artform is deeply intertwined with tongue-in-cheek millennial references and provocative femme energy, one that’s taken them from The Isle of Wight to international festivals in a seemingly overnight sensation. 

Wet Leg at Supersonic, Paris. Credit: Alban Gendrot

Another highlight and certified one-to-watch from Pitchfork Paris is the irresistible NewDad. From the West Coast of Ireland, Julie Dawson’s dreamy vocal pulls you into her sombre world where there’s no sugarcoating the truth. It’s the perfect indie soundtrack for a hazy Saturday evening spent dipping in and out of indie bars and grungy record shops. 

A playground for grown-up people. While COVID-19 restrictions and recent events curbed nightlife freedom in Paris, Pitchfork proceedings went on until the early-hours as Denis Sulta played an iconique set at Badaboum nightclub. 

From the venues, to the sponsors, artists and punters, Pitchfork Paris 2021 passed the inclusive and progressive vibe check. Teaming up with non-profit organisation Consent Is Info, posters around the city read “Two queers kissing is not entertainment; respect boundaries.” / “Only music can touch me; consent is mandatory.” Powerful messaging that reinforces positive change and the ongoing importance of creating safe spaces. 

Returning to London from Pitchfork Paris begged the question: When was the last time that guitar music felt this exciting?