Sunday, September 24, 2017

Flashback on the NO LOGO BZH festival

Flashback on the NO LOGO BZH festival

Article and photos (except when stated)  
by JYMLiving Drum’ 
@ Reggaediscography

The No Logo festival started in 2013 in the Jura department (eastern France). It is devoted to Reggae and World music. It became one of the main big Reggae festivals during Summer in France. The fifth edition of this festival was held in Fraisans, from 11 to 13 August 2017.    It has had a huge success with a total of 42000 people during the 3 days (sold out ticketing).

Its Breton extension, baptized ‘No Logo BZH’ took place, partly simultaneously, on 13 and 14 August, at the Fort of Saint-Père, a few kilometers from Saint-Malo (western France).
Here at Reggaediscography, we have gladly advertised this event for the following reasons - we fully support and adhere to the deep-rooted human values promoted by the organisers, this new edition was announced and advertised belatedly (only 2 months and a half before), we knew that it was possible for some of us to go there, to enjoy it and to make a reportage.

The No Logo name and concept are inspired by a bestseller of the Canadian journalist Naomi Klein “No Logo: the tyranny of the marks” (Actes Sud publishing, on 2000).
Since its inception, the No Logo festival has acted differently in creating its own economic regime in agreement with its values. It is independent of any public or private financing, without subsidies or sponsors.

 The sustainability of the No Logo is based on public acceptance of the concept of the festival: the freedom to think and to act, as well as collective consciousness for respect, sharing, living together, while not forgetting to party. The objective of the festival is to establish a different and human event, taking into account its direct environment in the local economy, in a positive way, to delimit a collective, convivial and responsible space.

Thus, the founders want their activity to be as fair as possible for everybody. Without questioning the principle of volunteering, they pay all the people working on the festival.
Reggae music and the messages of peace, love, harmony and unity it brings perfectly fits the No Logo, which is a state of mind and a philosophy that spread through the festivals.

 © No Logo

The No Logo BZH festival may be considered as a continuation of the original one. It was a good idea to think about organizing a big Reggae festival in Brittany in Summer because there are no others. Nevertheless, Reggae artists do concerts or play in small or enormous famous festivals. But most of the time the festivals in this region are rather oriented towards Celtic, Pop, Rock or World music. The only main Reggae-oriented events happen mostly in Fall or in Winter, for example during the ‘Insolent’ festival. There is a demand and a large public for Reggae music here: Bretons like it a lot and appreciate festive events so much !

So, here we are back at the No Logo BZH festival, August 13th. The venue is quite big and nice: this is a place where another festival called ‘La Route du Rock’ is held since many years This is a Fort built in the 18th century, according to Vauban’s plans, to stop the British invasion attempts. Surrounded and separated inside by large walls, inner spaces are sizeable, so they  allow the isolation of different quarters: the ‘Dub Arena’, the main stage, the press corner and the VIP’s place, a lawn where to sit between the food and drinks stands etc…

The ‘Dub Arena’, before the opening:
The lawn, before it becomes crowded :

The fields outside the place are very large too: they are used for several parkings, a camping site, and then the ticketing space leading to the entrance. When I arrive at 5pm they already all seem quite full, but when I come into the Fort I realise that the place is not so full yet. But  I can see that there are very long queues at the ticketing and drinks ticketing places.

The main stage in the afternoon:                                
Long queues at the ticketing space:
Festival No logo BZH.  Saint-Malo, capitale du reggae
 ©Philippe Delacotte / Le Télégramme

This afternoon, it looks as the Jamaican sun came along specially for the festival! Really, it is the nicest sunny day that I am enjoying since I came to Brittany late July! The organisers are lucky and must be happy, they could not have expected a better weather!

The sun heats up the place, as the French band Mo'Kalamity & the Wizards start to play for the opening, after 5 pm. Mo’, who has Cap Verdean roots, is well-known in the hexagonal Reggae landscape largely dominated by men. Her melodious voice arises naturally on the riddims for a deep and militant Reggae. Mo’ and the Wizards play a mix of their best songs taken from their 3 albums. Meanwhile, more and more people are reaching the festival.

After a 45 minutes break, Tiwony + Nuttea + Daddy Mory are coming on stage. The three singers are famous in the French Ragga/Dancehall/Rap world. All of them have a long time career in music (more than 20 years). So they did many recordings and collaborations.  Together they offer us an energetic one-hour show. The people dance, move a lot and jump !

   © Isabelle Lê / Ouest France

Another 45mn break comes, it is now sunset time and the Gladiators start their gig. Albert Griffith’s sons, Al, Anthony and the band present us excellent renditions of the original Gladiators’ greatest hits from the 70s/80s. They supply a food of deep roots riddims a 'mix up' that simmers occasionally, bringing it to a boil. A fantastic ‘best of live’ performance ! 

‘Naturality’ song performed live:
F:\NOLOGOBZH\2017081-14 Nologo Festival St Malo\P1040600.JPG

Then a group which plays of the French song arrives: La Rue Kétanou. Firstly they thank the organisers: "we are still surprised to have been invited to a reggae festival, anyway, we are very happy to be here!”. This is an impressive trio, quite famous here in France. They perform a warmhearted show. The crowd sings their well-known songs along with them.
La Rue Ketanou, à l’affiche de No Logo. BZH.
 © Isabelle Lê / Ouest France
Then, we have to wait for a very long time before the coming of Alpha Blondy, the godfather of the festival. Here he is, at last ! This is now one of the highest moment awaited by many people. Alpha performs a powerful gig while playing most of his best songs. The public is delighted !

Late at night, Toots & the Maytals get up on stage for the last show. Toots is striding out to enthusiastic applause, accompanied by older and newer members of the Maytals. For many of his most popular songs, he introduces a brief instrumental passage, then plays them through and launches into a faster beat. The elated crowd dance and sing along with him !.  
August 14th is another sunny day here in St-Malo. In the afternoon it seems that there is fewer people than the previous day, but gradually the crowd is getting bigger.
Nattali Rize do the opening of second day of the festival. The singer presents live versions of the songs from her debut album ‘Rebel Frequency’. Australian Reggae feeling spread all over the place, Nattali Rize also shows her talents as a percussionist.
Then the French band Danakil comes on stage. They offer us a vigorous show, performing most of the songs from their latest album called ‘La Rue Raisonne’. Balik, Natty Jean, Manjul and the other members shared their high positive vibrations in front of many rousing fans ! 

Later on, it is time for Linton Kwesi Johnson ‘LKJ’ to come on stage. He says “I would like to retire but I have been solicited once again”. This is the first of his only two concerts planned in 2017. As a fan, I am very happy to see him again after so many years !

He plays his songs the same way I’d heard them a long time ago, but I like his Dub poetry so much !  His old friend Dennis Bowell, bass player, is here too, still leading the band. The contribution of a violinist is much appreciated on some songs. ’Forces of victory’ are still alive and well ! 

The next break time allows the people to look for food for dinner. Long queues are standing in front of the food and drinks stands. Meanwhile Chronnix is on its way to reach the stage…

The talented 24 years old singer start a forceful gig based on Reggae riddims and his conscious texts: This is another show that make the people dance ! It is the first time I see him playing live. We all appreciate some songs from his long awaited album ‘Chronology’ that came out in July !   

The next musical act is performed by Alborosie. The public is feeling high and everyone appreciates his dynamic performance! His set featured his greatest hits, and the people mood is joyful throughout....I feel in a trance when the band plays one of my favourite song, his 2009 tune 'No Cocaine' !

Finally, Ky-Mani Marley comes late in the night and brings a last positive touch with his show ! He shares his good vibes and pass them on to the audience. He plays his best famous songs and of course some covers of Bob Marley's tunes that make the people over  happy: his voice sounds very close to his father's voice. This is a fine live experience worthy of closing this festival.

Apart from the concerts on the main stage, another place has been very much appreciated: the ‘Dub Arena’. The Legal Shot Sound System with its concept ‘Dub Me Crazy’ did sessions in the purest tradition of the Jamaican sound systems, with a Reggae 80s musical orientation, along with Roots and Dub made in the UK. I did not go there myself, but I was told that it has been a never ending hot party time there ! They have had their ears and soul fully satisfied with an enjoyable program during both days : 

August 13th:   Legal shot crew
Sir festus coxsone feat ricky ranking /  Legal shot feat mr williamz /  Legal shot feat YT

August 14th:   Legal shot crew
Conscious Sound (Dougie Wardrop) /  Conscious Sound (Speng Bond ) / Conscious Sound   (Donovan Kingjay) /  Legal shot feat murray man /  Lasai
© Legal Shot Soundsystem

The results of this first No Logo BZH edition are really positive and rather hopeful. There was around 9000 people the first day and about 8000 the second day. That is a total of 17000. As a comparison, the number reached at the very first No Logo festival in 2013 was 19000. So, if we keep in mind that this festival was lately announced and promoted, it is and excellent score and a successful challenge. Big Up No Logo BZH teams !!!

Here is the organisers official press statement :
“The first edition of the No Logo BZH festival : 2 days of festivity and music to the sound of the cream of the reggae hexagonal and international which gathered more than 17000 spectators on two evenings in the idyllic frame of the ‘Fort de Saint Père’.

NO LOGO // 1st Edition: a conquered audience
With 17,000 paying entries on two evenings, the first edition of the No Logo BZH ended on a great public success. Almost fifteen groups shared the main stage; from the artist from the corner of the street (Angie Goma, met while she played on rue Le Bastard in Rennes) to international artists such as Alpha Blondy or Toots & The Maytals, and the newer ones who are beginning to make a name for themselves Chronixx or Nattali Rize, each of them has resonated loudly the values ​​of reggae with a Breton audience happy to reconnect with this musical style through a high-flying program. Let us not forget the group of activists dub Legal Shot Sound System which also rhythmic the lands of the Fort during 2 days.
The public, conquered as much by the music as by the concept and the values ​​conveyed by the festival No Logo,   could benefit from this experience of a new festival in Brittany, in particular because of the absence of mark on the site.

NO LOGO.BZH // A second edition?
Of course, some improvements have to be made if the No Logo has the opportunity to be able to organise a second edition in Brittany, in particular for the reception of the public (waiting times, organisation of camping, information on the festival, accessibility to the site).

Today, while the balance sheets are in progress, No Logo BZH organisers does not come to a conclusion yet about another upcoming edition, even if the desire to renew the experience is present.
The festival wishes to thank its teams, the public , the town hall of Saint Père as well as the festival ‘La Route du Rock’ which hosted the No Logo BZH with professionalism.

JYM ‘Living Drum’ 
@ Reggaediscography

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