Live Report: We Love Green 2022 | Live

We love green has continually proven itself to be one of the most conscientious festivals to gain popularity, seeking to redefine festival culture as one that is ever more welcoming and, above all, sustainable. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary after a two-year hiatus, the festival now returns to the Bois de Vincennes with a strategic lineup that finds its place between commercial and niche, celebrating Gorillaz, Angèle, PNL C. Tangana and Disclosure as main headliners.

At its core, We Love Green ensures a forward-thinking approach and encourages its participants to rethink their own, whether through a cashless wristband system that provides efficient service or a system of reusable cups that avoid unnecessary waste. This instantly creates a bold contrast to the normalized makeshift neglect that results in some festivals opting for an adaptive, communal crowd. No trampling on each other, no chaos.

The land is made up of two outdoor stages and three tents, one of which includes a Think Tank area. Everything in between is dotted with stalls ranging from green-fingered local basil lovers, dental gem connoisseurs, vintage markets and even a voting information point. These are a healthy retreat from the stacked range, offering something even to those who choose to rebel against the music. – Despite the weather which sometimes acts as a detrimental obstacle to the event, the weekend marks a bright and memorable kick-off to this summer’s festival season.

Saturday

Saturday may have found itself abruptly cut short due to heavy rain, but in the meantime, the lineup spends its afternoon jumping between the expansive Altered stage and the depths of the Experimental. The main stage, La Prairie, first invites the visceral notes of amaarae, one of the fastest emerging risers in Ghana. Sporting gladiator goggles, an oversized graphic tee and a red tasseled skirt, it’s debut album ‘THE ANGEL YOU DON’T KNOW’ that commands attention, most poignantly with the viral title track ‘SAD’. GIRLZ LUV MONEY”. Looking for new material, she hints at the upcoming title. “I need a Gemini to go on stage…Libra girl, come on! Bringing her astrological group of fans together, what is most striking is the diversity of expression that remains a constant unifier throughout the weekend. Some are adorned with elf ears, others wear frilly dresses, but all come together for a single soundtrack.

Heading into La Canopée, the New York-based multi-instrumentalist fills the stage with high, energetic vocals that only play a part in the larger world of Earthheater. There’s an ethereal quality to the hyper-pop game-changer, able to lead his crowd into fragile but supercharged “Mitosis,” bouncing back into Aleksandir’s UKG-reimagined “Airborne Ashes.” It’s on ‘High Tide’ that the silver-haired, latex-booted Eartheater daringly indulges a not sparse but not necessarily overflowing crowd who don’t hesitate to wear her as she delivers haunting melodies.

As festival-goers divide, some French rappers CHS with hand-drawn posters while others turn to the main stage for reggae heavyweights Coffee. The Jamaican-born CLASH issue 121 cover star positions himself as the centerpiece of his group, nodding at the green, black and yellow flags waving among his supporters. “Big respect to everyone standing in the crowd. Forming Ws with their hands, there’s anticipation for “W” and “Lockdown” which, despite being so context-specific in nature, still excels. Making a final comeback for world favorite ‘Toast’, rain begins to seep into stormy territory, bringing the festival to a halt.

Sunday

There is a slightly hampered entry into Sunday, wary of We Love Green’s optimism as the weather forecast fears a re-visit of the previous evening’s results. However, it is difficult to fight against the sunbeams falling on the main stage to Greentea Peng’s ‘M. Sun (miss da sun)’. Praising about her group, the one she affectionately calls the Seng Seng family, a heavily pregnant Greentea Peng dazzles in a cropped green blouse and loads for “Downers.” “I know a lot of you connected to this one, I don’t take it for granted.” It’s a mellow crowd enjoying Peng’s distinctive performance and raucous tones, huddled in small groups along the grass. “I love green, we all love green…”

The same music fan later gravitates toward the laid-back cool of Arlo Parks. It’s hard to believe the poised riser is just 21, well-rehearsed but outspoken in her delivery of the Grammy-nominated album “Collapsed In Sunbeams.” Engaging with his crowd in French, there is a distinct charm between the relationship of the two.

Young people are abuzz for the breakthrough of British rap central cee from the start, instilling the urgency of arriving on time to get to the tent at La Clairière. Families holding their toddlers on the shoulders of the previous Ibeyi twin duo walk out, feeling a surge of energy. As the warm-up DJ oscillates between French, American and British rap, it’s Pop Smoke’s voice that resonates the most. As the final countdown approaches, the trap-soaked guitars of “Day in the Life” kick in and Cee follows, sparking a collective roar among the crowd. We Love Green audiences have felt surprisingly tame so far, but it’s ‘6 For 6’ that swells in the mosh pits. Other standout rap performances of the weekend are French duo PNL. Filling the main stage to its absolute brim, the tune-in swagger seduces their audience with slow-burners, no easy task given hip-hop’s more conventional hit formula.

There is an understated grandeur to the festival’s Lalaland tent, nestled in its location. Attracting a more eclectic crowd wearing neon Balenciaga Le Cagole bags and galactic prints, they showcase their moves among the giant disco balls above their heads. Leaning towards heavier impulses, the afternoon moves on with an enigmatic booster mix from Partiboi69, venturing deeper into Detroit techno with metallic balloons spelling out his name in the crowd. While the transition to Shygirl feels slightly ill-timed, it’s a much-needed break for the pumping crowd and reaping their own rewards. “Who comes from the street? Weaving between smoky verses and hooks that cling even to the unknown, the queen of the club dominates with ‘SLIME’ and introduces new material, later making an appearance for Slowthai’s together, the two share a bold spark through the collaborative track “BDE.”

It feels like the Northampton rapper is making a comeback and maintaining his punk-rock anarchy. “It’s a rainy day, isn’t it?” Unafraid to open up about the ups and downs of her journey, Slowthai began to truly solidify a cult following, inviting a fan onto the stage for Skepta’s “Inglorious” verse. Having already thrown his socks into the crowd, the rapper finishes his set in boxers, jumping to “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. It’s the same carefree excitement, with glimmers of retrospect that polish one of the weekend’s most memorable moments.

Without a doubt, the headliners of the evening are Disclosure. Despite the sometimes elitist and divisive nature of electronics, the duo’s vocals on deep house are increasingly accessible and reminiscent of the moments they recorded. Marking an entrance with echoes of ‘White Noise’, there’s no hesitation in revisiting debut album ‘Settle’ and highlighting its publicity impact. As the silhouettes of the two brothers form in the backdrop, they carry the evening away with magnetic live production and uplifting visuals, ensuring the tight setlist leaves its mark on every track. Let’s be honest, who can resist joining in the ceremonial chorus of “Latch,” even if it’s a whisper?

We Love Green 2022 is coming to an end with C. Tangana. Waving the flag for Spain’s next generation, the rapper delivers an engaging performance that excels in its cinematic quality. Sitting around a table with his flamenco group, Tangana dabbles between the traditional and the contemporary to create an intimate setting for his fans. “Guapo! Long live Madrid! (Handsome! Long live the Madrilenian!) Concluding the evening with the banger trap ‘Tranquilisimo’, Tangana cranks up the energy once again, leaving the crowds to walk out in triumphant spirit.

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Words: Ana Lamond

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