Numbers Down But Spirits Still Up

Solidays and Les Eurockeennes de Belfort, two of France’s major festivals, have reported this year’s numbers being down but both were happy to still call their events something of a success.

Valerie Briois, artistic director for Solidays, said the final figures are likely to show the July 6-8 Paris event, its ninth installment, pulled about 25,000 less than the 135,000 it attracted last year.

She feels it’s mainly because of the number of stadium shows Paris has hosted this year, including The Rolling Stones, The Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Genesis. She also said the wet weather hasn’t helped.

The upshot is that Solidarite, the non-governmental France-based aid organization it helps fund, will get about half of the euro 1.2 million average it’s received in recent years.

On the plus side, and despite the numbers, Briois believes the audience is warming to the idea of having more international acts.

"This year we had Kaiser Chiefs, Lauryn Hill, Editors, Paolo Nutini, Gentleman & the Far East Band, Sum 41 and The Magic Numbers all quite high on the bill and that’s much more than usual," she explained.

Les Eurockeennes de Belfort press officer Herve Casteran also reported sales were down by about the same 20 percent margin as Solidays, although last year’s festival did have French favourites Depeche Mode and the crowd has only slipped back to the 80,000-plus level of 2005.

The 2006 edition also had The Strokes, Muse, Morrissey, Daft Punk, Deftones, Coldcut and Arctic Monkeys, and – without a Depeche Mode to swell the numbers – this year’s June 29 to July 1 gathering on the Lake Malsausy peninsula couldn’t produce as strong a bill.

Among the acts ensuring the 19th edition of Les Eurockeennes still pulled a healthy 25,000-plus per day were Arcade Fire, Marilyn Manson, The Good, The Bad & The Queen, The Hives, Queens of the Stone Age, Wu-Tang Clan and Editors.