Revelations of the Trans Musicales
When France Inter moves its antenna to Rennes, who does the public radio contact to talk music on street corners? Bikini Machine. The saturated guitars and a big drums under the country Sarabande scene of the Opera’s painted ceiling? It is not hard to guess. This is Rennes. Fred was wrong. “I thought it was the only venue where I would never play. So wrong! “. The singer of Bikini Machine and fifth-generation Rennes citizen should know. In the capital of Brittany, one does not look at pedigree or CV. Bikini Machine are proof.
The band was formed in 2001, launched from the Transmusicales without any real album. “It was only studio experimentation. We had never worked live.” When the festival programmer, Jean-Louis Brossard, asked if they were ready, they lied. “We did well. That is boldness, risk taking and very typical of Rennes. We give an opportunity to emerging groups “. Intuition.
Eight albums, a tribute to Jacques Dutronc, a long tour with Didier Wampas and one Desperado concert film later, the Bikini Machine is still running. They appear often at the Bistrot de la Cité. Just a stones throw from the Place Sainte-Anne, the boozer stuck nestled in a blind angle faces the City concert hall. “This is the most rock’n’roll bar in the city, the place of where Breton expatriates meet and of nights that never end.” Vinyls, stickers, posters, tiles; the place is a mosaic of patterns, colours and wonderful encounters. A minimal 8 m² serves as a Dantesque stage. The little rhum arrangé has been deemed dangerous.Franck the guitarist laughs: “It is the pub spirit. Young people talk with the old. The girls can go to the counter without getting hassled. We sing, we play … My southern friends are amazed.” At the Bistrot de la Cité, conviviality is the order of the day.A café, a concert and the billBehind the bar, Philippe Tournedouët, owner of the place, is responsible for the Transmusicales festival “off” scene, the Bars en Trans. “Do not break the bosses balls! Not even a little,” warns a sign. “I am the Little Tramp,” says another. A short summary for someone who organises around thirty music events a year, and showcases smaller associations. This is also why the Rennes agglomeration, proud of a well-established network of café-concerts, still has around 400 bar bands. “It’s time to do a little pub time at the Melody Maker, Oan’s Pub, and at the Bernique Hurlante“.
Under student influences
Other alternative locations such as Ateliers du Vent and the Jardin Moderne are sources for Rennes musicians. “There is a veritable cultural breeding ground without the overwhelming personality. Everyone has a chance, assures Fred. With the students, we also have an energetic public. Rennes is a host city, open and cosmopolitan. ” No wonder people love it; “old and new” to the airs of Gainsbourg, Jon Spencer and the Black Keys.
From Daft Punk to Beth Gibbons
From one concert venue to another, a trip with Bikini Machine always ends up at the Ubu. Named as a reference to Alfred Jarry, former student of the local high school, the legendary club on rue Saint-Hélier is renowned – a little – for its pillar that blocks the view. It is famous – a lot – to have hosted many big stars before they were that. “There was Daft Punk without the masks and the singer of Portishead, Beth Gibbons, completely freaked out.”
It is at the Ubu that Bikini Machine presents their latest album previews. It is at the Ubu that several members of the group work the sound and lights. “The Ubu is our place of music learning, says Pat the bassist. We meet the groups intimately. Artists mingle with the public; there are no borders and barriers. “And who oversees the vanguard programming of the place? Jean-Louis Brossard; him again?
A store, a rehearsal studio
Along the cobblestones past the timber framed houses, the musical voyage of Bikini Machine inevitably continues on to the record stores and free traders. The Guitare’n Ko store, on rue d’Antrain, is an annex to their rehearsal studio. “We can stay there the whole day to try out guitars; no one tries to throw us out! “.
Blame Fabrice Charon, luthier by training and quite the atypical vendor. There are no big brands, he lends out pedals and does not push a sale. He behaves as if music was above all a lifestyle. “This is Rennes. Do you know a lot of major cities in France whose elected cultural representative was a musician, in a crazy group such a Billy Ze Kick? “