Last weekend, loads of Londoners and other assorted dance music fans flocked to Sète, a small fishing village in the South of France, to attend Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival. For the past six years, it has turned this picturesque landscape into a scantily clad hotbed of tunes, booze, and dancing. While Sónar is about listening to music all day and making separate beach excursions, Worldwide smacks the two together, turning the concept of a sun holiday into something much more appealing than those old-school cheesy family vacations.
One caveat: The venues are quite far away from one another, and the official festival buses seemed virtually nonexistent. Renting bikes, scooters, and mopeds is definitely the way to go—and there’s nothing like a 6 a.m. bike trip home along a stretch of road directly overlooking the sea, with a stop off at the just-opened boulangerie for some pain au chocolat.
Here are our five favorite things about Worldwide:
Gilles Peterson knows what’s up.
As an internationally recognized tastemaker via his BBC Radio 1 show, Gilles Peterson (above) is the perfect person to curate an electronic-leaning five days of beats on the beach. Known for his eclectic musical palate and constant support of new talent, his prowess as Artistic Director truly shined this year. There was something on offer for fans of garage, cumbia, dancehall, post-dubstep, funk, Afrobeat, techno, house, and tons of other genres, from Flying Lotus (backed by Dorian Concept on keys) to Konono No. 1, and Brandt Brauer Frick to Mount Kimbie. (photo Pia Clarke-Ebrill)
Location, location, location
The three main venues that festival guests inhabited were a lighthouse on the water, an open-plan theater on the water (which looked like a castle and came complete with FIVE disco balls, and featured amazing projection mapping on its exterior), and a giant beach. Each one provided a unique locale for the ultimate music-appreciating experience. A real standout was James Blake’s live gig at the theater (clip above). Set up so that the audience was looking towards the sea with him set in front of it, his haunting, melancholic voice carried beautifully over the space, and the thoughtful lighting and breezy weather gave everyone the warm-'n-fuzzies. The 18-hour closing-day waterfront party was also great for Extreme Beach Bogling and raving while swimming; calling out “TUNE!” during Rainer Trüby’s set from atop a yellow float is a nice way to spend an afternoon. Dancing on sand does eventually wear on the calves, though. (photo Pia Clarke-Ebrill)
Funktion-One sound outdoors
Leave it to an expert like Gilles Peterson to ensure that, even in outdoor rural France, the sound at the festival is impeccable. With trustworthy Funktion-One speakers set up at each venue, it was actually possible to wake in the morning and brush your teeth without those awful ringing ears. This also meant there was no harm in getting right up near the front when David Rodigan (directly above) played “Uptown Top Ranking” and Kode9 threw down Ossie’s “She’s In Control.” (photo Pia Clarke-Ebrill)
No dodgy festival food
One of the coolest things about Worldwide Festival is that you’re also in France, and can thus take advantage of the region’s superior cuisine. Local restaurants served up prawns, shellfish, and squid pulled straight out of the sea, and the rosé flowed like water. Inside the venues, stalls sold foie gras sandwiches, and there was always a stand hocking more locally sourced fresh seafood. (photo Gynelle Leon)
Jamie xx still wears all black when DJing in the scorching sun
Amazing, but true: Even under the blinding rays of the sun, the young producer/DJ sported his trademark black clothes during his set, which was broadcast live via Boiler Room (and, his recently released “Far Nearer” was the unofficial tune of the entire fest). It was interesting to see how he and other afternoon selectors like Jeremy Sole and Sofrito Soundsystem adapted their playlists to fit the daytime vibe. (photo Pia Clarke-Ebrill)