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Live Report MVRKFEST @La Friche Belle de Mai (Marseille) 2023.10.11

Updated: Jan 14

I'm glad to tell you about the first MVRKFEST. I got on the TGV to Marseilles (which I missed), all happy and excited about the line-up. In a nutshell, it's a three-day festival, mainly focused on metalcore, organised by a small, obscure band called LANDMVRKS.

First of all, a quick look at the organisation and concept of the fest. This event made a point of mixing the metalcore universe with other, more urban ones. There were BMX ramp demonstrations, a BMX Flat contest, skateboarding shows, and a tattoo stand.

In short, the festival had two stages: Les Grandes Tables, the smaller of the two, showcased local, punk-oriented artists. This part of the fest was free to all. The Cordonnerie, on the other hand, was a beautiful new venue for more established artists, mainly from the metalcore scene, and was only open to spectators who had the precious pass. It was an interesting idea: it allowed local bands to shine the spotlight on the festival's headliners, as well as benefiting from the popularity of the Grandes Tables bar's customers who didn't necessarily have the means - or the inclination - to buy a ticket. In fact, the Grandes Tables were full to bursting on both Friday and Saturday. Unfortunately, with no concert at the Cordonnerie, Sunday was much quieter.

I enjoyed the location: the Friche Belle de Mai is a former factory converted into a cultural space where urban arts and contemporary music are perfectly at home. The aesthetic may be very rootsy, but the quality of the installations is top-notch. And let's talk about the installations. The sound and lighting at La Cordonnerie were simply incredible - a big well done to the sound and light engineers for their great work. Even at Les Grandes Tables, the sound and lighting were more than adequate, despite the slightly more rudimentary equipment.

The very specialised line-up included some of the best in the genre. It was a gathering of the new must-see bands on the core scene, with a special focus on French bands: Rise of the Northstar, LANDMVRKS, Ashen, The Novelist, Resolve.... So as not to overwhelm you by detailing all the bands one by one - which would be counter-productive - I've put together a small selection of my ten favourite performances.

– Affenpinsher

La Cartonnerie – Friday

Affenpinsher had the difficult task of opening the hostilities on the Cordonnerie stage. Despite their opener status, the crowd was already there, eager to set the pit alight. To the crowd's delight, they kicked things off with some angry deathcore. We could literally feel the bass throbbing in our guts, and the breakdowns had the walls shaking. I didn't get a glimpse of the drummer for the whole show, though, because of the - too? -dense smoke. It lacked a bit of contrast for my taste but, honestly, I'm nitpicking. There couldn't have been a better way to start this festival.

– Glassbone

La Cartonnerie - Saturday

Glassbone were nothing new to me - the more assiduous among you will know that they were booked for the BGP evening at the Glazart on 19 April 2023. But that didn't stop me from feeling as smitten as on the first day. The drums made a particular impression on me: the way they managed the silences and played in unison made the whole thing both heavy and groovy.

Another special feature was the mix of rap and growl, bringing a hip hop influence to the set. On stage, the frontman was running and jumping, and the energy was explosive: in short, a show perfectly executed.

– Ashen

La Cartonnerie - Saturday

Some familiar faces take to the stage - Ashen were also part of the BGP line-up on 19 April. This is honestly the best show I've ever seen from the band. The sound was just perfect: every part, every instrument was highlighted. The clear and saturated vocals were just right.

The band took advantage of the launch of their cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit to pay tribute to a friend who had recently passed away. The message, like the song, had an effect on the crowd, who were claming for more. It was honestly my favourite show of the day. Well done to them.*

- Resolve

La Cartonnerie - Saturday

Resolve arrived to a packed and teeming pit. The Lyonnais - who need no introduction - have a hell of an ability to create hits, and an even better one to make them resound on stage. Their metalcore is incisive and effective, and immediately set the already boiling crowd alight. 

The highlight of the show was the appearance of Zelli, lead singer of Paleface, who spent the night in Marseille to perform Older Days as a duet with Anthony. A real pleasant surprise!

– Landmvrks

La Cartonnerie - Saturday

Landmvrks and their pretty butterflies were on conquered ground. He's Marseille's representative on the French metal scene, but above all he's the organiser of this great fest. So it's only natural that they should take on the role of headliner on Saturday. As with all the bands mentioned so far, the vocal and instrumental technicalities are there for all to see.

The apocalype in the pit started from the very first beat. They gave us a show worthy of a release party. We were treated to a cover of Metallica's Fuel and a guest appearance by Anthony from Resolve. What better way to round off La Cordonnerie's line-up.

– Scarlean

La Cartonnerie - Friday

Scarlean's concept is simple: combine power, efficiency and melody. A little easier to hear than their predecessors on stage at La Cordonnerie, the band had an easier time luring the audience in.

There were slightly too many vocals in the mix for my taste. Apart from this minor flaw, the performance was beyond reproach. 

Musically, you could tell that hip hop was very much at the heart of the band. During certain passages, the influence of Rage Against the Machine was almost palpable, particularly on the vocals. It made me want to jump into the middle of the pit, especially during the performance of Wake Me Up. I guess this title worked on me.

- Alea Jacta Est

La Cartonnerie - Friday

Alea Jacta Est was my favourite Friday gig. This band from Toulouse have already made their mark and served up some good hardcore just the way we like it. The energy they generated blew me away. The bass, very present in the mix, had the effect of a steamroller. The vocals were heavily effective, sending out a mix of power and precision, and the breakdowns shook the walls. I'm sure you'll be seeing me in the pit at their next show in Paris.

- Paleface Swiss

La Cartonnerie - Friday

The first non-French-speaking band finally arrived. This was one of the bands with the highest international profile. As soon as they took to the stage, their strong visual identity catches the eye, even though they've adopted many of the aesthetic codes of metalcore.

Musically speaking, the energy swirled between the musicians, making for a highly dynamic show. The vocals and instruments were in constant response to each other. The drums, alternating between double kicks and slow rhythms, provided contrast. The drummer even got up to headbang with the crowd. In short, I wasn't bored for a second.

- Wake the Dead

Les Grandes Tables - Saturday

For me, Wake The Dead were the revelation of Les Grandes Tables. The band's repertoire is varied, with a succession of fast, double-kicked tracks and ballads. The singer's scream never let up and, despite this, melodies - rare for hardcore punk - found their way into our ears.

Wake the Dead, who formed in Marseille in 2010, have built up a wealth of live experience and put it to good use. The result: I had a blast.

– Novelists

La Cordonnerie - Saturday

Novelist were one of the festival's headliners, and undoubtedly one of the most melodic bands of the weekend. This sophisticated fusion of metalcore and djent brings newness and creativity to a genre that sometimes struggles to keep up with the times.

This was one of the first concerts for new singer Camille Contreras, who was became the official singer in September 2023. Her voice perfectly matched the band's aesthetic. But the others were not to be outdone: the guitar parts evolved on improbable scales. A complexity that contrasts with the more traditional metalcore sound of the bass and drums.

The crowd were particularly receptive, especially when Heretic was announced. Given this show, I'm glad that the band were able to overcome their difficult moments.

[Bonus] Sunroof

Les Grandes Tables - Sunday

Sunroof's set had a special flavour. Indeed, the project was -really- brand new: we had the chance to attend their very first show. The band hasn't released anything on the platforms yet. But despite this state of genesis, they came through with flying colours. The performance exuded professionalism. You could tell they'd worked hard on their date, but more importantly, they exuded a certain ease on stage. Sunroof performed an effective and energetic punk rock set to the Grandes Tables audience and, even if it wasn't particularly original, it sure shook a lot of heads. To be continued.

I really liked the idea of going to a metal festival in Marseille - an area that's been somewhat ignored by the extreme music scene. I made some great discoveries there. The only downside was that there were only two stages and I still had to choose between them. They were quite far apart and the sets were often played at the same time. Out of personal preference, I've gone for the concerts at La Cartonnerie . That's why they're more heavily represented in my selection.

Nevertheless, I sincerely hope there will be a second edition next year. In the meantime, I'll be back with more reports, interviews, and reviews.

Ciao !


Thankx to the Photographer & to Nico for the nice pictures !

Crédit photos : Anthony ARBET


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