The weekend was SOOO busy that I have had to do a roundup, instead of a day-to-day report as usual. It started with a chess tournament at my club on Friday night, which it would be far better not to talk about. End of that report.
Saturday I had three things planned: A concert with Neimo, an open mic at an art space known as 0XII and an after show thing at Le Tigre, for the Neimo show. Now listen to this!!:
The concert with Neimo was fabulous. I first heard of Neimo while performing at Earle’s open mic for the second time two years ago. One of the regular performers at the open mic was Bruno Dallesandro, the lead singer from Neimo. Over the next year at Earle’s open mic, there would barely be a week without Bruno showing up with his friends to sing and pay their dues back to Earle and his open mic, since they had developed their act in important ways at Earle’s first bar, Le Shebeen, which had spawned all sorts of French groups.
Saturday night Neimo was the lead act at the cool venue known as La Flèche d’Or, which is a concert hall made out of an old train station. This was the first time I had seen Neimo in action as a complete band, playing their songs, electronically. And man was it cool. Even the fact that they played a vast amount of new material did not put me off – I had listened mostly to their last album, Modern Incidental, released by theShangri-La label in the United States. But the new material was really good, and I don’t know if it was just the location of the concert or seeing them for the first time live, but I felt it came across as much more of a “progressive” kind of rock than the previous stuff. I may be wrong.
In any case, Bruno was wonderfully charismatic, a little Bowie-like, including the makeup and furs…. But just take a look at some of the videos I did to see what I mean.
Next up was the 0XIII art space. I mentioned this place before on this blog, maybe even twice. What made me really desperate not to miss it on Saturday night – despite the two Neimo events – was that I learned there would be an open mic on the second floor. So I HAD to get there. I knew of no other open mics on Saturday night, and this one would go on all night. Yes, in fact, it was also announced as the last night of the 0XIII. This, I did not realize before, was because the building was in fact a squat!
Anyway, I was with a fellow Formula One journalist friend, and I told him about the 0XIII and said that I really wanted to show him the place, adding, “I guarantee you will not be let down.” I felt I had to push a little, since he was keen on going to the Tigre after party and then he was going on to another place after that. But he was very amenable to the OXIII, and he had faith in my assurance that he would not be let down.
So we took a cab over to the Rue d’Enghien from the Fleche. The cab driver got a little frustrated when two streets before our destination he found the roads all blocked up. So we got off to walk the rest of the way. We rounded the corner and found the roads blocked because there were cop cars all over the place at the end of the street of the 0XIII.
“Hmm,” I said, “I wonder if they are there for the 0XIII.”
We rounded the next corner and found that indeed, the street was blocked off by the cops and they were there for the OXIII. There were about 200 people of the squat standing out in the street drinking and talking and it sounded like a mob scene, with people bending out from the windows of the art space as well, and talking to people in the street, with loud music, and general mayhem. At least, that would be how the neighbors interpreted it. And how the cops would interpret it.
We continued to approach and I decided to stop and ask some cops what was going on.
“It’s got out of hand,” said one. “Don’t go there.”
“Thanks for telling us,” I said. “Because that is where we had intended to go.”
“Don’t,” he repeated. “In any case, it’s a squat.”
That’s when I learned that fact.
I thought I recognized some friends in the crowd in front so I did approach closer with my journalist friend. We saw it was a madhouse and impossible to get in the front door without a battle, and I said, “Anyway, there’s not going to be any open mic in that place….”
So we decided to leave and go to Le Tigre. As we walked back up the street to leave we found ourselves crossing through several armed and riot police known as CRS, and my friend noted the guns with rubber bullets. They had shields and other various anti-riot gear – including tear gas – and they were coming right at us like as if we were in a battlefield, slow, cautious pace, a march, a readiness for action.
We got through them no problem and went on our way. The next thing I heard was via a few friends on Facebook that the CRS stormed the place, threw teargas, and generally broke up the group in a rather violent manner. I checked the Internet and found that the Parisien newspaper had reported that the cops had been forced to use violence because the crowd had got violent and begun to throw things at them. The article also said that 10 people had been arrested. The raid had begun around 1:30 AM, and I think the place was cleared out by 3.
I doubted the violence by the crowd, but I later also heard that one cop started getting violent with a young woman and so some people in the crowd attacked him. There may also have been some beer cans thrown at the cops. Well, that, in any case, is the end of the OXIII on Rue d’Enghien. Too bad. I really wanted to play in that open mic, and it was a cool place. On the other hand, my promise to my friend that he would not be let down by going to the place was indeed honored….
So we went off to the Tigre and spend a couple of hours there, and it was all very cool and controlled….
On Sunday, it was time for my brunch, and at least one of my friends who had said she would see me and play some music on Sunday did not show up. As I knew that she had also intended to go to the OXIII the night before, I got worried. But it turned out to be only a sore throat. The afternoon was nice and relaxing at the Mecano for my brunch, and I had my friend James Cordoba Jr. from Colombia play a few songs. That made for a very nice change to the usual stuff – not that there really is a fixed theme on my brunch….except for fun and good music….
Oh, yeah, and finally, just to give a complete different turn to the musical weekend, I went on Sunday night after the brunch to attend a set by Sarah Savoy and the Francadians at the Corcoran pub on blvd de Clichy. This American woman from Louisiana and her at least half-American band play the coolest Cajun music you can imagine, and they live in France. I was presented to them by one of my regular listeners at the Mecano brunch. It was a real eye-opener of the kind of musical diversity Paris has to offer – thanks to Irish pubs and expats….