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Legendary festival for all Rennais and a pioneer of talent for over 40 years, the Trans Musicales is a key event of Rennes cultural life, but also of the musical scene in France.
One word: discovery. New Rennais are sometimes surprised by the lack of top names at the most famous festival in Rennes, the Trans Musicales.
Nothing could be more usual. Those familiar with the "Trans" know: the programme is rarely reserved for well-known names. The principle of the festival is instead based on novelty and public curiosity.
One comes to the Trans to be surprised. It is an original musical project: up-and-coming young groups, foreign musicians in France for the first time, known artists with original or experimental projects and more. This is all good enough for Jean-Louis Brossard, historical programmer and tireless headhunter since 1979 and the first Trans. The festivals of the time could hardly be described as such, rather at the time one spoke of a jam between groups of friends in the legendary City hall in the city centre.
Gradually the jam has grown. Explorer of sounds, the Trans Musicales originally militated for rock music, gradually opening to all musical genres. Songs, rap, folk, hip hop, techno, jazz, world music, electro and more. The ideal remains steadfastly focused on openness and curiosity.
Today the festival is held in December and aims to warm the city, from the old centre to the suburbs and the exhibition centre, beating to the heart of the Trans Musicales. This is one of the few winter festivals, which creates a very special atmosphere attracting festivalgoers in caps and jackets into the soft wet of the Breton winter.
Festivalgoers have a choice. One can opt for the natural heart of the festival, at the Exhibition Centre depending on the programme, which hosts dozens of groups every night in several venues where it is very easy to walk around. It is a kind of ephemeral town not far from the city, less than 30 minutes by bus where one can easily eat, drink, relax, dance, and float from concert to concert, taste oysters and champagne or sausage crepes, and the Loire wine.
However, the festival also makes for a festive city, "Bars in Trans" soaking up the very special overexcited atmosphere catching in Rennes at this time. From Thursday to Sunday, the first weekend in December, Rennes lives as it were the centre of the musical world.
There is not enough room here for a complete list of the groups that have appeared at the Trans Musicales, and who have gone on to a (very) good career. It is simply too long. But let’s mention some milestones.
After Étienne Daho in 1980, at the 1986 Trans, a young and fairly anonymous Bordeaux group appeared. Noir Désir. In 1991, grunge reached the Liberté, the venue then hosting the festival. Nirvana appeared on stage while their first album, Bleach, was experiencing a rather moderate success. Nevermind was released just before the festival and was a global hit. In 93-94, the Trans began exploring trip-hop, with Massive Attack and Portishead, relatively unknown at the time. In 1995, Jean-Louis Brossard invited two groups that had not yet released any album: the Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk! The same year, one could have also met DJ Krush, St. Germain, DJ Shadow and Laurent Garnier.
Rennes was the first French venue for others such as Björk, Ben Harper and Lenny Kravitz. The Trans revealed the Négresses Vertes, Bérurier Noir and Mano Negra. More recent discoveries include: Justice, Stromae, M.I.A., London Grammar, Django Django, Benjamin Clementine, Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains, Breton, Sally Ford, Bon Iver, Birdy Nam Nam, The Black Angels, Metronomy, The Dø, 2Many DJ’s… All these artists who are the delights of summer festivals were revealed at the Trans. Did you say flair?
Close to the train station, adjoining the National Theatre of Brittany (TNB), the Ubu is one of the venues enlivening nights in Rennes. Since 1987, this concert venue has been managed by the Trans Musicales Association (ATM)
throughout the year. It has hosted countless artists during the festival and on other occasions. Manu le Malin, My Bloody Valentine, Mr Scruff, Daft Punk, and Franz Ferdinand have thrilled the audiences here.
But Ubu, is not only for the Trans. To support the local cultural diversity and to participate in its dynamism, ATM offers Rennes associations to rent turnkey at preferential rates. For example : The Crab Cake evenings, which in recent years are full house events and have become an electro and house phenomenon. The Summer Sessions, in summer, are a must for techno fans, while the Bargain nights offer techno and acid mix between coolness and frenzy.
A word about the Dooinit association which has been, for some years, a highly respected reference in the world of hip-hop, bringing global celebrities to the Ubu. The have a sincere and committed approach, far from the glare of advertising and communication.
It is also at the Ubu that Rennes groups develop their shows, rehearse, record and more, accompanied by the Trans Musicales Association, actively participating in the vitality of the local scene.