I went to one of Nicolas Ullmann’s famous Kararocké nights last month at Le Bus Palladium because they’re always a lot of fun (no amount of alcohol will get me up there to sing, but I like to encourage my friends, and on this particular night I went with an actual musician, so he had no excuse).
In case you’ve never been, the Kararocké is a live karaoké event, meaning you sing with a real band behind you (and if you’re really bad, they’ll even sing back-up), and the Master-of-Disguises Nicolas as the MC. On September 1st a French group called Marshmallow were listed as the opening act. As Nicolas usually has good taste in music (it doesn’t hurt that he listens to a lot of indie American music), I made sure we got there in time to hear them.
“Not such a great choice in band name if they ever want to tour in the US,” I said as they stepped onto the stage. But apparently they opened for the Beach Boys (or whatever group of people are calling themselves the Beach Boys these days) at their Paris show, so someone besides the French seems to think they’re good.
And they’re very good!
I’m always trying to find French rock-pop music that doesn’t make me want to throw up. Their music actually makes me want to go buy the album. “Wow, a french band that can sing in harmony,” said my Anglo-American musician friend. Ah yes, they do indeed sing in harmony, a rare thing in French pop. The group is made up of four young Frenchman from Clermont-Ferrand (central France), two guitars, bass guitar, and a drummer.
Some of the songs are very, very pop (A l’Heure d’Eté). Others more rock (La Réalité). They seem to be a hybrid of the Monkees and the French rock band Téléphone. And they perform wonderfully live, which seems to be another rare feat these days. The video for A l’Heure d’Eté is hilarious (also rare that the French can laugh at themselves; it must be noted they are not Parisians!). I thought it was spoofing something from the 80’s, but it’s actually spoofing a TV show from the early 90’s called Hélène et les Garçons (and I do recall how oddly unfashionable the French TV shows seemed to be back when I was a student…they’ve come a long way, lol!)
And here’s a video of them like they really look, playing live on France Culture radio station (the blah blah blah goes on for the first minute, and the band look as bored as you’ll feel if you don’t fast forward).
Stay tuned for their next live performances in Paris! In the meantime, the next Ullmann Kararocké Night is October 6th at the Bus Palladium, 9:30pm doors open, €6.