After America had their chance to catch France’s Housse de Racket, who criss-crossed North America between SXSW and Coachella, Paris had its opportunity to get reacquainted with the duo that has gotten some big boosts in the past via Phoenix and Yelle. What highways in North Dakota or Chicago’s Empty Bottle (Katia’s review) didn’t get to see, La Cigale got last night-a ridiculously great accompanying light and laser experience that made the two-piece seem befitting of an arena.
First off, apologizes to Kid Bombardos. Missed your guys’ set due to work. Regardless, managed to catch The Dodoz. The Toulouse-based rock quartet gave a ruckus post-punk set, which would sound good in the afternoon of a festival season. I’m always hesitant with post-punk bands, since live their energy must keep up with their recordings and often bands disappoint, but they show promise even in front of the pretty big La Cigale in Montmartre. Géraldine is the lead on bass, which obviously would call to mind Gossip for lack of frontwomen in the genre, and her voice was as solid as her bass skills. She’s got energy. Jules and Vincent on guitar were the most entertaining of the bunch, shuffling and jerking guitars about without slipping a chord. Props to their punkness on that! Adrien was very tight behind them, UK-tight. The only offsetting part of their set was the random guy who constantly was readjusting mics or shifting cymbals or whatever moved slightly out of place. I’d rather see The Dodoz in a rock club where whenever shit falls over, it adds character and the band just runs with it. Having someone panic and run over to fix tiny things is too distracting. Break stuff. Have fun. “Happy Soldier” was hands down the highlight. Catchy. Have a listen.
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Housse de Racket was simply enveloped by lasers and lights after The Dodoz, so much so that you realize at times that Bloc Party’s going to have their work cut out for them to try to retake that throne (yup, Jay-Z and Kanye were also in Paris that night) from the Paris duo. For those newcomers, Victor and Pierre do drum and guitar spitfire delivered indie rock blended heavily with dance tempos and electro elements-much like Bloc Party. However, they seem to be more accessible (they were at the merch ten minutes after the show) and encouraging to let the crowd get loose last night. Unlike previous two-pieces hell bent on rocking your face off like The White Stripes or Local H, Housse de Racket were more concerned about turning the venue into a dance party, especially on “Oh Yeah!” Took me a good couple years to realize Wants vs Needs‘ So Gold turned me on to the band via his mix. “Les Hommes et Les Femmes” was an atmospheric, hypnotic surprise pleasure, better live than recorded since leading into it, Pierre encouraged the girls in the room then the guys on. Excellent intro for those not accustomed.
The standout from the evening was “Alésia,” which honestly throws a wrench into any dance you’re locked into. Standout because of its slow build, and superbly epic synths that build in a way you’d expect Justice to come out from behind the giant band banner. “Aquarium” concluded the main set with its 1980s inspired beats and pulses, followed by a pause before the encore “Synthésizeur.” To think of Housse de Racket as a mere French Touch electro ‘seen that heard that before’ group, you need to catch the two. Victor, throughout, had command of his drums with an intensity you rarely see. He was constantly aware of the crowd, calling La Cigale on to the beat. Meanwhile Pierre’s strumming was furious amid calculated dance moves, consumed by the music they’ve made.
So while it’s probably been months and months since they touched ground on French soil, following the Yelle supporting tour last fall and the extensive spring North America sprint, Paris had the chance to catch one of its tightest, impressive live acts yet. Coachella did ’em good.
Housse de Racket Setlist:
Les Hommes et Les Femmes