Friday, November 04, 2005

Memories of Paris: Le Rock et Roll

As per Michele's request

It's a Sunday night in Paris and I'm at the Locomotive Club next door to the Moulin Rouge. A number of bands playing, and Nicola, a friend of my friends Bob and Michele, has invited me out to see the show. He's dj-ing between sets, which means I get to hang out in the dj stand above the stage. It has the best view of the entire club. Standing there, surveying everything that's going on below me, I can't help but think that I'm sure at one point on that fateful morning, Lee Harvey Oswald thought "You know, if nothing else, this really is a nice view."

When I heard the club was next to the Moulin Rouge, I thought the area would be touristy. It is, but not the sort of tourists I expected. That area of Paris is mainly strip clubs, sex shops, and the like. You have to maneuver around the guys standing in the sidewalk, trying to cajole you into their club as opposed to all the others. Fairly seedy, no pun intended, but nothing worse than parts of old New York.

But the club itself is cool. Nicola is explaining to me that there hasn't really been any rock and roll in Paris in the last ten years, and that the kids playing have had to invent it for themselves. Second Sex, Nicola's favorite band, is playing. They look like skinny French schoolboys playing at a high school assembly, but sound like the Ramones. It sounds good. I mention the sound and Nicola responds enthusiastically "That's what I mean! They've downloaded a couple of tracks, but most of this they've made up for themselves."

He also mentions a more disconcerting fact: No-one in Second Sex is much beyond 16. "Oh wait, the drummer just turned 17." I mention (actually, I yell above the sound of the band) that that makes me feel old. "No, no, it should make you feel young!"

At one point during their set, the guitarist has problems with his guitar. Instead of sneering or ignoring him, the other members of the band hurry over to help him out. Like I said, they were young.

Something else about the show that seemed odd: it began on time and stayed on schedule. Nicola had told me the show would start at 8:00, so naturally I should up around 9:30, only to find that I had missed the first three bands. I've lived in New York ten years now (my anniversary was this week - November 1st) and I don't think I've ever been to a rock show that began on time.

Another band takes the stage. They are the grand old men of the burgeoning French rock scene. They are around 22. Like I said, old. They are also serious, not as much fun to watch, and rather full of themselves. They end their set by throwing their instruments on the floor and knocking over some of the drum kit, leaving the audience to stare at the inert instruments while listening to the feedback created. Nicola is disgusted.

"Come on. I someone has to clean that up."

Between sets, Nicola plays old rock and roll, choice cuts from the 60s and 70s. At one point, he puts on a song and I see French kids do something I previously thought was impossible. They dance to Bob Dylan. More than that, they dance well and with style.


Julie said...

Wow, I guess that old addage about the French having good taste is true. I'm assuming The Who would not have been such a hit, though.

Molly said...

John, have you seen The Frames live?

btw, what did you think of Italy overall?

the hanged man said...

LOVE Italy overall. Beautiful country, open and friendly people.

Sorry if the love is not coming through. But after Spain and Morocco, Italy is a pure pleasure and so easy to travel around.