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Rock en Seine festival turns 20: Here are the unmissable acts this year

The best acts of this year's Rock en Seine festival
The best acts of this year's Rock en Seine festival Copyright Amy Harris - Balazs Mohai - Owen Sweeney / AP Photo
Copyright Amy Harris - Balazs Mohai - Owen Sweeney / AP Photo
By David MouriquandTheo Farrant, Saskia O’Donoghue, Savin Mattozzi
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It’s one of the biggest dates on the French music summer calendar and an unmissable European festival. Here are the acts you shouldn’t miss.

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Held at the stunning Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, west of Paris, Rock en Seine festival kicks off tomorrow (Wednesday 23 August) and is an unmissable four-day event that features some of the best music acts around.

The festival has gone from strength to strength over the years and it celebrates its 20th edition this year with a line-up chock-a-block full of goodness.

Plus, they take their environmental considerations seriously, which is always a plus.

To help you make your picks, Euronews Culture’s music-loving team have selected the acts you shouldn't miss from this year’s impressive line-up.

And just to make it simpler, we’ve listed our picks in schedule form. 

You're welcome. 

Tove Lo

Wednesday 23 – 18:40 - Grande Scène

AP Photo
Tove LoAP Photo

The first time I saw Tove Lo live was at Belgium’s Rock Werchter festival in 2015. I had no idea what I was getting myself in for. I only knew her songs ‘Habits (Stay High)’ and ‘Talking Body’, and what I got was a lively and captivating set that featured the Swedish pop star delivering banger after banger with verve and a style exuding sex appeal that is, frankly, unacceptable in polite society. But who wants one of them? Ever since that live show, her star has risen considerably – her albums ‘Lady Wood’ (2016) and ‘Blue Lips’ (2017) also delivered the hits, and her newest record ‘Dirt Femme’ (released last year) is no slouch – with tracks like ‘How Long’ and ‘No One Dies From Love’ - the former featuring on the soundtrack for the second season of the TV show Euphoria. I’ve tried to never miss her shows during festivals, as they showcase her incredibly strong stage presence, as well as provide a passionate and contagiously euphoric pop high. What better way to start Rock en Seine’s first evening festivities? David Mouriquand

Hannah Grae

Wednesday 23 – 19:30 - Scène Firestone

YouTube - hannahgrae.lnk
Hannah GraeYouTube - hannahgrae.lnk

Her name might not be a household one yet, but you’ve probably heard of Hannah Grae because of her 2021 melancholic piano version (and feminist reworking) of Aqua’s hit 'Barbie Girl'. She went TikTok viral, and while a stamp of approval from that particular platform is usually ample reason for me to go about my business, I’m glad I stuck around. Putting aside the phone, the 20-year-old Welsh talent headed to the studio and delivered a promising debut album, 'Hell is a Teenage Girl'. It boasts her affinity for 90s pop-punk, and fans of Bikini Kill and Paramore need look no further. Having never seen her live, I can’t recommend from experience; but her solid debut is enough to warrant Grae appearing on your Rock en Seine schedule. DM

Billie Eilish

Wednesday 23 – 22:00 – Grande Scène

AP Photo
Billie EilishAP Photo

While Billie Eilish might not be everyone’s idea of a rockstar, she’s certainly proved her genre-crossing stripes and is well known for her impressive live performances. Audience members say they feel as if the 21-year-old superstar is taking them on an immersive journey through her varied back catalogue. We can’t guarantee she’ll play her rockiest songs - 'Bad Guy' anyone? - we’re hopeful as Barbie fans that she’ll sing her instant classic ‘What Was I Made For’ from the movie’s soundtrack. Is it strictly rock and roll? Non. But that’s the beauty of the Rock en Seine festival. There truly is something for everyone. Saskia O’Donoghue

boygenius

Friday 25 – 18:40 - Grande Scène

AP Photo
boygeniusAP Photo

I am not responsible for the torrent of colourful language I’ll be unfurling - with rage, I might add - should anyone even think of skipping boygenius (stylised in lowercase like they intended) on stage at this year’s edition. If you’re a regular in these cultural parishes, you’ll know that the debut album by the supergroup composed of indie rock singer-songwriters Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Davis featured very prominently on our Best Albums of 2023 So Far list. In the Top 3, in fact. It’s a stunner of an album and the fact that I haven’t seen them live yet is nothing short of a crime. Listening to 'the record' and its collection of catchy and disarmingly genuine tracks, you feel like you’re privy to a mic-sharing session between three friends who genuinely enjoy their creative time together and who know that alone, they’re strong, but together, they’re unbeatable. If their live shows are anywhere near as good as ‘the record’, Grande Scène on Friday evening is the place to be. Miss out, and I genuinely don’t know what you’re doing with a festival pass. DM

Altın Gün

Saturday 26 – 16:00 - Grande Scène

Rock en Seine
Altın GünRock en Seine

Altın Gün, the psychedelic-folk rock band hailing from Amsterdam are set to grace the Rock en Seine stage for the first time this year - and trust me, you don’t want to miss it! These musical maestros have concocted a one-of-a-kind vibe by mixing traditional Turkish folk melodies with more contemporary music genres. Whether you're in the mood for Anatolian rock, a synth-pop party, or a splash of 80s-inspired disco fever, Altın Gün's got you covered. Imagine legendary Turkish singer Neşet Ertaş having a jam session with ABBA, while Dua Lipa and Khruangbin drop in for a few tracks. Over at Euronews Culture, we love this group so much that we even featured their 2021 album ‘Yol’ in our list of the Best European Records of the 21st Century. With their upcoming performance at the French festival, an unforgettable dose of funky, groovy goodness is assuredly on the horizon. Theo Farrant

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Saturday 26 – 20:40 - Scène Cascade

AP Photo
Yeah Yeah YeahsAP Photo

NY indie rock legends Yeah Yeah Yeahs don’t need an introduction at this point. Much like boygenius on Friday, they are the unmissable act of Saturday. Led by the ever-wonderful Karen O, the band have always been a treat to catch live, and with the release of their latest album last year, the excellent ‘Cool It Down’, expect great things. Their fourth album – and the first in nearly a decade – is one of their most consistent and showed that they’d lost none of their edge. Give me one good reason you would turn away the opportunity to hear tunes like ‘Heads Will Roll’, ‘Y Control’, the recent ‘Spitting Off The Edge of the World’ and their habitual closing number, the raucous ‘Date With the Night’, live? I’ll wait. And while I’m waiting, I’ll recommend Lizzy Goodman’s 2017 book 'Meet Me in the Bathroom' (and the 2022 doc of the same name) for an enlightening snapshot of the New York rock scene from 2001 to 2011 – in which Yeah Yeah Yeahs (and The Strokes – playing on Sunday) feature prominently. A must read, see and hear. DM

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The Chemical Brothers

Saturday 26 – 21:50 - Grande Scène

AP Photo
The Chemical BrothersAP Photo

Few electronic dance music acts across the globe can rival The Chemical Brothers in their ability to orchestrate a live spectacle that is as simultaneously epic, mind-bendingly impressive, and utterly electrifying. Comprising Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, this dynamic duo have firmly established themselves as trailblazers within the British big beats movement, and have been delivering unforgettable live performances for nearly three decades. And the legendary pair show no signs of slowing down. Backed by their iconic catalogue of thumping rave music hits, spectacular trippy visuals, and eye-frazzling strobe and lighting effects, their set at Rock en Seine this year will be hard to beat. TF

Wet Leg

Sunday 27 – 18:35 - Scène Cascade

AP Photo
Wet LegAP Photo

If you like your rock music with an indie edge, you absolutely must not miss Wet Leg. The most bizarrely-named act in recent times, this British female duo have taken the musical world by storm even before dropping their self-titled album last year. Hailing from the Isle of Wight, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers have put out bop after bop since their first, insanely catchy single 'Chaise Longue', released in 2021. Often wrongly accused of being an ‘industry plant’, the duo’s success speaks for itself. The eponymous album was shortlisted for the 2022 Mercury Prize and they’ve won Grammys and Brit Awards as well as playing at Coachella. From hits like the irreverent 'Ur Mum' to the endlessly quotable 'Oh No’, Wet Leg have the quirkiest lyrics to go alongside their fresh-sounding tunes. 'Chaise Longue' arguably boasts the best of them all: “Would you like us to assign someone to worry your mother?” We’d only be worried if you missed your chance to see Wet Leg! SO'D

Bonobo

Sunday 27 - 20:50 - Scène Cascade

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AP Photo
BonoboAP Photo

If you're heading to Rock en Seine in search of pulsating basslines seamlessly intertwined with orchestral interludes and organic trip-hop inspired grooves, then you must check out British maestro DJ and producer, Simon Green, better known by his stage name, Bonobo. Following the triumph of his seventh studio album, ‘ Fragments ’, which received widespread acclaim, Green indisputably stands as one of the most respected artists in the realm of dance music. And his live performances are just as revered. Attendees can expect a mesmerising spectacle as he collaborates with a talented ensemble of musicians, to deliver a cathartic and genre-defying musical masterclass on stage. TF

The Strokes

Sunday 27 – 22:00 - Grande Scène

AP Photo
The StrokesAP Photo

Bursting onto the scene right on time for the rock revival of the early 2000s, The Strokes are now carrying their rock rhythms to Parc de Saint-Cloud for the first time in the band’s 25-year history. The band has helped me through my fair share of breakups with shoutable lyrics in songs like 'You Only Live Once' and 'Someday', that hit that sweet spot between sadness, anger and acceptance. Some of their more recent songs like the 2020 hit 'The Adults Are Talking' have slid into popularity with the help of TikTok, introducing a new generation of youngsters to the cathartic beauty of old school rock. If you want to experience one of the last great bands that have kept true to the rock genre, head over to their concert on Sunday and enjoy these legends even more, thinking of those who can’t make it. Sniff. Savin Mattozzi

Rock en Seine festival takes place from 23 - 27 August 2023(Thursday 24 excluded).

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