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Sound is the force of creation, the true whole. Music then, becomes the voice of the great cosmic oneness and therefore the optimal way to reach this final state of healing.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
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Levitation France 21/22 September 2018

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"This is an industry music festival that promotes modern day Psychedelic underground counter culture that names its self after a 13th floor elevator track and uses the Neolibertine dream of financial control through cashless electronic money payment "

When I was a child I spent alot of time in France .Last time I had visited was possibly over a quarter century ago ,when I was living just out side Cannes on a boat So this trip brought back many memories .France has changed alot .I had decided to take the coach from Victoria coach station and change in Paris and take another coach onto Angiers .I had the time to do it and the coach left London around 11.30 pm so I was able to get a days work in and then travel in dead time .It also gave me the chance to watch the country out of the coach window rather than flying or taking a train .The coach seats were unbelievably uncomfortable and the backs only reclined a token inch or so with little leg room . The girl in front of me had a cold that was gushing mucus .I had brought my head phones and carry 25 gigs of music on my phone so I put it on random play and it took me on a sonic journey to accompany the road trip .This was the 1st time I had been on the ferry for decades .We all got off the coach at Dover and a solitary  French border officer checked the passports and then we all got back onto the coach and the coach drove onto the ferry .The ferry smelt the same as it ever did ,of diesel and I tried to find somewhere to sleep .Earlier in the day there had been very high winds but they had dropped by this time and the crossing was pretty calm I had a pint in the bar and asked one of the women behind the bar whether the water from the tap was ok to fill my bottle .She said it was from a tank as expected ,but it was drinkable and she filled it from the bar sink tap that they wash stuff up in  .She was having a laugh I took a sip of it and it tasted toxic .Paris rush hour was alot busier than last time I had traveled through it and the coach hit heavy traffic before it reached the Gallieni bus garage .The french still predominately drive French cars . I occupied my self looking into the vehicles, and watching bored grid locked drivers .caught up in the crawling snake The coach entered the concrete ramp, grey and covered with graffiti and we all got off .It was slightly late but I still had a hour to kill until the Nantes Angiers coach arrived .This one had better seats and individual plugs for phones to recharge by the seats .I was glad when it departed .It was another 4 hours till it reached its final destination .The driver stopped at a motorway service station and I was disappointed the French had allowed the scourge of American branded Hamburger and coffee outlets into their culture .My mates had sorted the accommodation in Angiers They were coming from different parts of Germany by train but I was the 1st to arrive . The coach actually drove past the venue on the way in following the river parallel and past the castle . When I left the coach I stopped for a beer in a Tabac and my French came back to me .I had put Google maps on but I never trust it and I asked directions In French and Phoned the hotel and a girl who wasn't there ,gave me the outside door combination and the numbers of the 2 rooms that my friends had booked .I took a pretty round the houses route Google said 15mins walk .Angiers is very pleasant and mostly pedestrianized with plenty of bars and artisan shops Its old too ,bits were new but here it was century's old ..The Hotel was a cheap dive with a steep winding staircase and the rooms were dark with 2 double beds in each room a shower and a separate communal toilet The window looked out onto another building across a narrow street .I had enough time to take a shower before my mates arrived and within a hour we had found a nice bar with a happy hour and live bands .I had asked one of the owners directions on the way in .I drank a Ricard with water and ice and chased it with a large beer and we got talking with the locals .An American man was singing alt country and there was another band .I ordered a pizza from the pizzeria across the square and they delivered it to my table .The festival didnt start till the next day at 4.pm .So this was our own pre party, tonight was as good as the festival nights .We ended up watching a group of young people waltzing to classical music in another place synchronized couples and I filmed some of it the light was very surreal .Angiers was pretty lively for a Thursday night . The next morning we went out for Cafe coffee and patisserie breakfast and found an artisan bakers and I ordered an off take pan au chocolate filled with toasted flaked  almonds and confectioners custard, It was the dogs bollocks .and ate it sitting with my mates outside a cafe on a square dipping it into a large cafe au lait .French coffee still tastes and smells like french coffee but I missed the aroma of Gitaines and Gouloise .Not once did I smell the pungent black tobacco of my past memories and was denied the  pleasure of passive black tobacco smoke mingling on the back of my pallet with  espresso coffee  .Maybe all the filter less Gouloise smokers of my youth had died and their kids hadn't carried on the "French ness" of it . Not once did I spot the distinctive blue and white packet same as the iconic sleeve of JJ Cales shades album .They seamed to have swapped to chemical  Virginia blond tailor mades a bastardization of the tobacco plant and the heavily processed fat soaked poor nutritional filth of US fast food and kebabs 

Levitation

The promoters had sent an email out that I hadn't read, saying that due to Frances increased state of emergency once people entered the venue they couldn't leave until it ended on the saturday and that all cameras would be confiscated ..This freaked one of my mates out who needed insulin injections but it turned out either to be some kind of sick practical joke or a way of keeping the photographers who were licensed by the organizers exclusive right to film securing copy right .Our tickets were bar coded and once read, individual red wrist bands were issued with a chip ..I had put 30euros beer vouchers on mine when I bought the ticket on line .All the food and drink was purchased like this so who ever organized completely  controlled all the money that was being spent even on the food vendors .Kronenburg cost 5.50 e 500ml and a plastic glass was 1euro that was returnable deposit A bowl of Dal was 8 euros .I registered my chip number but still dont know what was left on my chip (It would have been very small amount )and apparently the money left over would be electronically returned to the credit card account as long as the owner of the chip went back on site within 6 days after and registered the chip what they must have known already .I forgot to because I was busy .So I still dont know if the promoters pocketed the money ? A 1 euro fee was taken on the chip any way for having the privilege of using it too if I read right on the web site .The merch and poster screen   prints were all cash purchase They had levitation branded guitar FX peddles and some guy selling T shirts with transfers not screen for 50 euros a pop if my memories right  . The main hall with the headline bands in faced the river and had a glass front and a very high ceiling that the sound bounced off for the 1st few bands .I headed into the smaller room for Pigs x7 with my mates who love them too .I was gutted at Rocket 20 when they canceled due to a family emergency .and hadn't seen or spoken with them since (see review ) the lexington gig in Jan (see Review ) and before that when Baba yagas Double wammy d them with Acid Mothers Temple up at the Dome .Levitation had given them a ludicrously short set and the sound man butchered the vocal mix .It was so bad I actually had a go at the Muppet after the set.He wasn't fit for purpose .Pigs x7 set superb we had especially come to watch them play the new material off the new album I knew I was unable to make the album launch the following Friday .up the Moth because I would be getting battered up Caister Soul weekender for 3 days for the other half of my birthday weekend ..I did get a Selfie with them though The better bands till the Brian Jones Town Massacre came on as far as I was concerned were in the t400 space .I am seeing them in London this month too .up the Forum Kentish Town  .They are iconic and drip an opiate d stoned rhythmic groove  and I stood hypnotized watching the man with the Nesbit  (We are the monkeys )side burns and beanie Tap his tambourine and shaking his maracas in some kind of perfected art of sedated  minimalist performance .Other bands of note Prettiest eyes .Something about them reminded me of the superb Italian band signed to Rocket Mamuthones  .La Luz I missed Blank tapes flat lined me .JC Satan noise wall .Holy Wave I have no recollections of 

Saturday  

We took a late breakfast and had a wonder round the town and ended up in a park Angiers goes up in hills when walking away from the river and then stopped off for a beer ,sitting outside a bar watching an anti Fascist march of about 300 people go past .The majority of marchers were wearing black, hooded and wearing bandanas so they couldn't be recognized and some were firing blanks out of starting pistols in the early Autumn sunlight .some had black flags with white A's painted onto the fabric  . The 1st bands were on at 5pm so we ate again and headed over the river .I caught the Flaming Gods .I hadnt seen the full band just bits doing Dj sets since Psych Fest .They are very hypnotic with 2 drummers but seemed to be having some equipment problem with some of the singers Keyboards. Mien were superb and much better than the album .It seems to be a work in progress .Radar Men from The Moon I loved them  They  hail from the home of the Eindhoven Psych lab  and were having it . 

Spiritulized .I was chatting with my mate Chris before we decided to check this festival out whilst Psych Fest took a year off and  both couldn't understand why the organizers had booked this band as a Saturday main room head line .I was standing next to a French girl waving a lit Zippo in the air and that said it all .and I was over the moon when it ended .Back in the day I used to frequent a psych ciub in the vault of a church in Depford called the Crypt in the 80's and I watched Space men 3 lots and I loved them and still do .Then back in some where in the 90's possibly. I was up in the balcony in the Brixton Academy at a Primal Scream all nighter with the Alabama 3 opening and Spiritulized came on after the Primals and bored me shitless It wasnt the bestest time that I had watched the Primals that night but.back in the day when they were completely drug fucked they  were never consistent but I kept with them, because for every bum gig ,there was always going to be the one that would blow my head off .Last time I saw them was at an open air in Black Heath and  it was like watching a consistent primal scream tribute band headed by Bobby Gillespie .Earlier this year I watched Sonic Booms Spectrum project up the Moth and loved it .Spiritulized did have a good back projection and the sound was good but other than that we  all wanted to get away from them .

The last band was on in the Small Room and they were called Rendez-vous and were pretty lively fast and loud but I wouldnt have called them a psych band but I enjoyed them and it partly antidoted the aural liquid cosh on the main stage earlier on  .It was odd when the event ended .The security denied anyone access to the toilets and seemed to be pushing everyone out towards the open air bar and food trucks opposite the Merch bit .There was no after party same as no pre .I stood next to the lead singer of the Black Angels for a bit having ran out of beer vouchers  and then wondered back over the river dying for a slash 

So what did we make of it ? We found it weird, it seamed to lack the 48hour intense mind fry that the Scousers put on on 5 stages as it peaks, kicking off simultaneously.There were no heavily political bands booked either nothing to push any perimeters  out into the scary zones of the psychedelic underground very little that made me want to think or question .Everything was very safe  The high ceiling glass walled space lacked the claustrophobic closed space and darkness  that the blade district warehouses have and until the sun went down it was like standing in Islington business design center .I had a chat with quite a few French people and they were impressed that I had made the journey and I recommended they head out to Liverpool .It could be a very good and economically sensible thing to do what with the clueless incompetent Tory governments right wing coup wrecking Stirling and every thing else at the moment  .My other comparison was with Rocket 20 that was earlier in the year in London and showcased the record labels superb band roaster   (I wrote that up too see my blog )and it lacked the intensity and diversity  of that too .but I guess it was better than staying at home .As for new outstanding finds .Psych fest and Rocket 20 had loads for me .This had none at all except possibly Prettiest eyes 

The hotel kicked me out at 11am and my mates had already left for Germany  I checked out and walked up in the powder rain and killed the 4 hours till the coach left the bus station .France still shuts  on a Sunday ,almost everywhere was shut, except the boulangerie patisserie  of course  and the odd cafe and restaurant .I watched the artisan baker older than me finish the loaves of bread at machine speed before he placed  the trays into the bread  oven keeping up with the endless streams of people queuing for the delicious product I sat in  a brasserie watching the waiters carrying endless plates of opened Rock  Oysters ,Steak au frits and Charcuterie plates I boarded the coach and took a seat .The motorway into Paris had miles of miles of spray tag graffiti and as I looked further than the grey concrete crash barriers I couldn't help but notice the sink estate endless social housing tower blocks and the Black and white imagery of the film La Haine came into my mind .

The channel border I found  degrading not because I am some deluded extreme right wing "We will fight them on the beaches "illusionist Gammon Patriot   but because of the inhumanity of the place   I waited in line in a snake of bodies and watched the 6 odd opened manned   points .It was the 1st time I had witnessed Calais 1st hand , It was 2 am .I think mine was the only  burgundy coloured passport, the rest seemed to be black .I looked at the painted shoe marks in front of the raised  desks that align peoples faces to the  barometric iris scanners and the  sinister almost para military uniforms of the officers looking down on the people  and listened to them interrogating children and young women like watching a war time propaganda film depicting Nazi  prisoner interrogation .They took a couple of men away .The coach missed the  ferry and we had to wait for the next and all I wanted was to get out of this shit hole .At about 9.30am I reached Victoria coach station and the homeless rough sleepers  and the 1984 today banks of cctv cameras  I knew I had arrived back into Neolibertine Austerity Brexit Britain and It didnt give me that feel good factor  at all !

Campfire x

 

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