Live Review: Glauque – Le Trabendo, Paris

Glauque perform at Le Trabendo, Paris (14/12/2023) (Photo: WHAT A TUNE)

Belgian band Glauque bring their unique brand of industrial techno meets French rap to Paris.

The French language and rap music have long gone hand in hand, France is the second biggest consumer of the genre (after the United States) and today the French rap scene is thriving. In France and Belgium, established acts such as Grand Corps Malade, Lomepal, Roméo Elvis, Damso, Tiakola, and Jul continue to reach new heights (Jul was France’s most-streamed artist this year), while also giving rise to new talent.

Namur-based band Glauque are the current coup de coeur of the francophone music scene. Their blend of European industrial techno and French rap places them in a unique position within the electronic cross-over sphere.

A word to be said first for the support act. Fils Cara hails from Saint-Étienne and is now based in Paris. He’s an entertaining and self-assured performer and in his music, catchy piano motifs lend themselves to his ice-cool rap bars. The audience is singing along and for the final song, he jumps into the crowd, raising the energy to the next level (unfortunately he lands on top of me, but that’s rock ’n’ roll, I guess).

Glauque in French has two meanings: bluish-green or, according to their bio, “that which gives the impression of sadness, misery”. Safe to say, their music is not for superficial listening.

Lucas, Aadriejan, and Baptiste of Glauque arrive on stage and set the scene with atmospheric synth, then lead singer Louis arrives on stage. They open with Noir, a hypnotic dance number about dissociation.

The band has been touring for the last few months and tonight they’re a tight unit. For artists playing back-to-back shows, it’s often a careful balance between not seeming too slick or business-as-usual and having a well-rehearsed show. Glauque strike this balance perfectly, the emotional intensity of their music translates into raw energy on stage, and yet, Louis never misses a beat. He dances and spins as if possessed, Lucas head-bangs manically, while Baptiste and Aadriejan sway in time with the music.

Although they only released their debut album (Les gens passent, le temps reste) this year, the band already has a significant French fanbase, especially judging by the fact that the audience tonight know all the words and enthusiastically sing along.

Glauque mainly play tracks from the album, but they also perform a few unreleased tracks, which explore a new sound. Here, bouncy hip-hop riffs rub alongside their signature brand of dystopian experimentalism, in what feels like a slightly disconcerting mashup.

Plan Large is a highlight, “Quand je me sens trop mal, mes couplets sont trop bien.” (“The worse I feel, the better my lyrics.”) Louis repeats, raising his voice with each iteration. He clicks his fingers, the music cuts, and the lights go dark. The effect is electrifying.

Louis is a charismatic presence on stage; tall, broad, and dressed in black wearing his signature silver cross earrings. He doesn’t talk much between songs, apart from the occasional “Ça va, tout le monde? Vous êtes chaud?” (“How’s everyone? You ready?”) preferring to let the music speak for itself. 

However, for the final number, he asks for calm. Deuil is the final track on the album and closes every Glauque show. Louis is softly spoken, pausing between bars for dramatic effect and allowing his words to resonate. He finishes and leaves the stage, and the other three wind down their ambient instrumental, it feels cyclical, ending the way it started.

Except, it’s not over yet. The static chords distort, a heartbeat bass begins to pulsate, and then, suddenly, a cathartic release of industrial techno and noise. It’s a captivating finale to a stellar show.

Total Score
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