Rock en Seine, disintegration of the elite

Let’s say it right away: the prog of this 2022 edition of Rock en Seine is simply one of the best in France. A prog that has not been rock for a long time: Nick Cave, Arctic Monkeys, Idles, Tame Impala, Fontaine DC, Parcels, DIIV, Inhaler… Some small rock artists of the 2022 edition are also especially well received: the eternal Kraftwerk for a retro futuristic concert with 3D glasses, the party genius Jamie xx (with a crazy live video scene) or even Trentemøgo away To tell the truth, without Stromae or Izïa in the prog, we could have thought of a Route du Rock poster that would have won the lottery! Inevitably, in such a prog, the public did not explode in its diversity: very white and rather thirty or even forty. And as usual at Saint-Cloud, a (very) smart audience.

Arctic Monkeys © Olivier Hoffschir

Still, on a prog level, Rock en Seine has fun with it. And we had fun. The only big artistic downside is the long-awaited return concert of the Arctic Monkeys, eight years after their first Rock en Seine. Not that the British performance was bad, far from it. Certainly more mature and less joyous than when they started, Alex Turner’s band remain a living wonder. No, the problem is the terrible sound on the main stage for this concert. It’s very depressing.

But if there is a failure in this 2022 edition, it will be almost assured. Because, very quickly, the experience is filled with resentment, even anger.

The annoyance in front of a large site where everything becomes complicated: entering the site, from one scene to another. But above all: go to the toilet, buy food or drink.

The anger of the sad scene of the now famous Golden Pit placed at the festival on the main stage: a partitioned space that covers the right half of the front of the pit, which can accommodate several thousand people … in front of the pit.stage. The result? Concerts where this large space is sometimes semi-vacant while other people crowd around trying to get to the stage. And although this Golden Coconut was well filled, it presented a sad sight in a pen for the rich. We’ve never seen that at a festival. And we hope we never see him again.


The festival justifies itself by explaining that it has an audience with different profiles, as well as their needs. And that he tried to meet the demands of this VIP paddock. Except that offering this space to those who can afford it comes at the expense of the experience of others. Funny way of looking at the public good. Except to assume that the wealthiest public is the privileged target?

In the same delirium, Rock en Seine offered to pay an additional cost of its ticket to enter the festival through a dedicated and anticipated entry to avoid queuing like other festival goers.

However, Rock en Seine proclaims it everywhere, it is a committed festival: to ecological issues as against all forms of discrimination. We leave doubt the fact that we can have these commitments that do not care much about economic and social issues, and this, in the midst of a crisis of purchasing power. In what act.

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Kraftwerk 3D © Olivier Hoffschir

However, whether ecological or discriminatory, the festival finds itself facing contradictions that are difficult to cope with, especially because of the principles of its private partners: a principle of a travel company that offered to win airline flights as a VTC brand spray. the public with water jets, while the whole country suffers from a severe drought. A few meters from the “We All” stand, a perfume brand offered to pose behind a large LED screen where Johnny Depp appeared.

Still looking for the little beast, we also noticed the absence of female artists in the most important places of the weekend. Of the eight most exposed passages on the main stage (the last two of the day), all are occupied by men, except one: London Grammar.

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London Grammar © Olivier Hoffschir

So we came out of the weekend more lost than in previous seasons. It’s as if the uncle’s flaws have become a bit of a part of his personality. We tell ourselves that it will turn around, that it’s not necessarily destined to get worse. But is it reason speaking or love? The love of a memory.

Having good taste is not enough. Having good actors is not forgiven by everyone. The choices made this year at Rock en Seine undermined other choices, other priorities. In art and more. Because the danger is clear: that Rock en Seine becomes a kind of Coachella rock, targeting an audience in the city, relatively old and rich.

If he follows this path, the time will come when Rock en Seine will no longer resemble the idea we have of a festival. If that happens, in a year or five, we will decide not to visit the rich uncle, preferring to go to the nephew who is a little punk but has saved his soul and his hospitality.

Front cover photo © Olivier Hoffschir

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