A rainy Paléo, but a happy Paléo! With 62.1 mm of rain falling in the space of 8 days – of which 57.8 came in 4 days, representing ¾ of normal rainfall for the month of July – and 6 rain contingency plans over 6 days, the 36th Festival made a historic entry into the annals of Paléo. But the rain, mud and cold weather did nothing to dampen the spirits of the 230 000 festivalgoers, 4015 volunteers and almost 1700 artists and technicians.
This edition saw a succession of big names appearing on the Grande Scène, from the romantic pop of James Blunt, to the dream-like universe of Mika, the enlightened dandyism of the Strokes and the legendary voice of Robert Plant, one of the founding fathers of rock and roll. An unforgettable evening saw a tidal wave of bass and light accompanying the Chemical Brothers following on from the classy, delicate touch and intelligent music of Portishead, who seemingly defy the laws of musical gravity. As for PJ Harvey, she took the audience on a cosmic journey through her personal universe, all fragility and grace.
The Indy scene was brilliantly represented by the likes of The National and the airy and elegant Beirut, in melancholic but inspired mood under a captive Chapiteau. Meanwhile the newcomers were knocking on the door of the Club Tent, with the organised chaos of the English band Pulled Apart By Horses and the sublimated rage of Anna Calvi. Stromae and Soprano took turns in enthralling a Chapiteau bursting at the seams. Cali then responded generously to an enthusiastic audience totally won over to the cause of his French rock-chanson while the eternally young Jean-Louis Aubert cast his spell over fans of many different generations. Just like the Cowboys Fringants, a musical UFO from Quebec, whose delirious energy wreaked havoc over at the Grande Scène. The Swiss music scene boasted a few of its most talented exponents, including Oy, Fiona Daniel, Pierre Omer and Great Black Waters.
In the Village du Monde, with its coral reef and Caribbean colours, audiences applauded the electro hip-hop ragga of Bomba Estéreo, the Systema Solar sound system and the Latin jazz of Chucho Valdés. La Ruche, this year in circus mood, offered the public a variety of shows, filled with poetry and laughter, and provided a rallying point for the many itinerant street theatre troupes as they set out across the Festival site.
For the very first time in 2011, the installation Galets Bleus provided the public with a haven of tranquillity on the slopes of the Quartier des Alpes in the form of water mattresses and mysterious lighting effects. At the HES-SO area, the architectural installation Woodblock.ch, constructed out of some 7500 palettes, provided a fitting backdrop to the 16 innovative projects thought up by 300 students from 14 disciplines.