Reviewed on Saturday January 21

A celebration of joie de vivre – the exuberant enjoyment of life – is not precisely how I would describe most music festivals. Often the experience is somewhere between an hour-long wait outside a muddy portaloo flooded with (at best) unidentifiable liquids and having your feet repeatedly stomped by what appears to be an eight-foot goth wrestler as you lose the will to live completely.


So it was strange to be in the middle of a music festival holding a plate of cheese and swaying calmly to what I’d affectionately describe as hip elevator music. Imagine a family barbecue, except that your family are cool French professionals in boat shoes, and not screaming at each other about burnt sausages. The sun was shining, I could see the Harbour Bridge and everyone was saying “excuse me!” and “merci”. There was a stand where you could get your hair braided. Children were – no word of a lie – frolicking.


The Limiñanas are apparently France’s answer to The Bad Seeds. I am not so sure – there were elements of spaghetti Western, film scores and pop weaved throughout their set. Also, it featured probably the coolest ukulele riff on the planet. At one point during an extended jam, there were three guitars, one bass and the uke making a wall of noise.


The idea between sets was to eat as much cheese as possible. There was a stand selling something called haute dogs, which appeared to be hot dogs with very fancy mustards. I had a tricolour macaron that I am still dreaming about, and waited almost 40 minutes in line for a salted caramel ice-cream.


By the time Nouvelle Vague arrived (whose name I can’t pronounce despite seven years of French lessons), the very cool crowd had apparently consumed enough champagne to stand up and have a dance. This French cover band gives new wave a bossa nova twist – imagine Joy Division, except Ian Curtis is a French woman, and they mainly play weddings – in a thoroughly enjoyable way.


Finishing things off was Deluxe, with a high-energy set that sat somewhere between pop and funk, complete with sax and the occasional record scratch. They started out as buskers and have worked their way up over ten years to headlining festivals. It was a delightful mess of sound, and one that had entire families dancing happily – a fitting end to a fun, cheesy day.

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