The Big Love festival was launched in 2015 by the Crab Cake Corporation, an association that has been organising parties and festive events in Rennes and Saint-Malo for years. This group of artists, that includes DJ’s, graphic designers and electronic culture enthusiasts, wanted to create a different kind of event, a festive party that would last all weekend, from Friday to Sunday.
Merging space and time by partying
The Big Love concept is quite simple: partying in unexpected places at different times of the day. “The purpose is to unleash electronic music and open up to other audiences by stepping away from night-time parties and clubs. People just come to have some fun”, explains Luc Donnard – Artistic Director and founder of the Crab Cake Corporation.
A festival like no other, far from the idea of a marathon. Luc actually prefers the term “micro-festival”. “It’s a journey through the town, there is only stage at a time so you don’t miss anything”. During the three days, the organisers set aside breaks and resting times so performers can recharge their batteries and make the most of the good vibes.
“Meet up in a park, dance and have a drink”
As its name suggests, Big Love is a raging cocktail of good spirits and friendliness. “We want to convey good vibes. The message is: let’s dance together and share something positive. A lot of people share this simple desire. Hence our name, Big Love, which we totally embrace. No doubt a little unrealistic…but we all need that from time to time, and partying is a means to an end”, confirms Luc Donnard. And if you are going to party, you may as well choose fantastic venues such as Rennes’ parks and gardens, or historical monuments. Big Love 2 was for instance organised in the Parliament’s courtyard.
“Drawing your inspiration from venues to better highlight them”
The idea of organising electro concerts in local heritage sites came quite naturally. Before branching off in the organisation of cultural events, the founder of the Crab Cake Corporation studied urbanism in Rennes. His Master’s dissertation was on reconverting industrial wasteland into cultural sites, and this later inspired him to think more about how festivities can be held in public areas – namely when he worked for the Nuits Blanches festival in Paris.
And there are so many wonderful sites in Rennes. “The idea was to share something positive in a place that belongs to everybody”, explains Luc Donnard. “As the concerts are free in the parks, this made electronic music more accessible to people who didn’t know much about it”. And it’s a great way to discover the town and its rich cultural and historical heritage.
“We love creating a magical world”
To welcome an audience in all these surprising sites, the team “drew its inspiration from the venues to better highlight them”, like in the Oberthür park and Saint-Georges Palace in 2015 or the Parc des Tanneurs, Saint-Cry gardens and Parliament courtyard in 2016. “We love creating magical worlds with lots of fairy lights and old light bulbs, in collaboration with Zarmine – a group of decoration and scenography specialists who also work for the Transmusicales festival”.
Mixing genres with electronic artists set up in gardens or local heritage sites…that is what makes Big Love so special. Luc Donnard recalls, with a great deal of emotion, the grand finale of the first edition in Oberthür park. “The rain in the afternoon had calmed our spirits somewhat, but people came back in the evening for the finale”, reminisced Luc Donnard. “We finished with Job Jobse with his renowned cover of Grace Jones’ La Vie en Rose…a magical moment! “
They played for Big Love…
The first edition, organised in June 2015, attracted 4,000 people to about ten locations throughout the centre of Rennes for special moments and vastly international groups: The Black Madonna, Tim Sweeney, Horse Meat Disco, Job Jobse, Rebolledo, Mind Against, Permanent Vacation, Christian Löffler, etc.
The 2016 edition opened up the selection even more with artists such as Selvagem (Brazil), Mehmet Aslan (Turkey) or Awesome Tapes From Africa, who all played in beautiful, freely-accessible parks in the centre of Rennes.
A weekend for “curious and open-minded people”
Big Love is one of Rennes’ typical festivals. Just like for the Transmusicales festival, you can trust that you will enjoy every minute even if you do not know any of the bands playing. That is typical is Rennes’ culture. “Here, people are curious about all types of have and have an open mind. Student culture plays a role in that, meaning that we can schedule unknown artists”, admits Luc Donnard, “it’s also a heritage of the Transmusicales festival: no need for big names for people to come to our concerts, they are there to discover new groups and trust the programmers entirely. Not everyone is that lucky in France…”
Crab cake corporation shows off electro
The Big Love festival was a successful transition for the Crab Cake Corporation in its mission to evangelise the people as a “happy parties maker”. In just five years, the group of artists has not only managed to make a name for itself on the electronic music scene in Rennes, but also Europe-wide. The association’s ambition is to show off electronic music by mixing different kinds of art.
Culture without borders
“From the very beginning, music and graphics were our focus point”, explains the group’s Artistic Director. But the Crab Cake Corporation’s scope of activities goes far beyond that. As part of the “first Sundays” framework, the Discologie event – organised at the Champs Libres – attracted 10,000 people over just one weekend. They came to discover photography exhibitions, watch dance performances, attend conferences or take part in events for children…and of course, listen to music. “There is always a common theme. We try to combine club culture with other artistic worlds”, asserts Luc Donnard. “We have managed a number of surprising things in Rennes, such as the project with the National Orchestra of Brittany in the Parliament’s courtyard. Crab Cake’s goal is to create that kind of relation, and to do so on a European level”.