We Love Green returned triumphantly this June to the greenery of Paris’ largest park, Bois de Vincennes — marking its 12th year of eco-friendly and forward-thinking festival programming. If you’re used to British festivals and the drunken antics, litter, and filthy toilets that come with them, then We Love Green is an altogether more grown up affair, which, for the consciously minded, puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to sustainability. But that doesn’t mean that it skimps on fun, no, this is a three-day event that delivers world-class acts and revelry in spades, minus, say, the more unsavoury vestiges of modern festival culture.
Its 2023 iteration featured a line-up to contend with some of the bigger European festivals, with the likes of Pusha T, Skrillex, Bon Iver, Phoenix, Little Simz, and Yung Lean all playing (Caroline Polacheck, who was supposed to headline, disappointingly dropped out last minute due to illness). But what really stood out is the country’s loyalty to their homegrown talent and their love for dance music. While Yung Lean, who headlined the opening night on the main-stage, would usually command a riotous crowd, the reception the Swedish star received was muted, making his performance somewhat stiffer in return. In contrast, the crowd earlier at French-Polish rapper PLK was fervent, providing the boost of energy needed for the weekend. Later, the Paris-based electronic duo The Blaze closed out the night with a rapturous set, replete with pulsating visuals.
Still, it’s evident that the festival isn’t just about the music. Bosses have enacted a near 50/50 gender split when it comes to artists, the project team, and even the speakers for its regular Think Tank stage, where people dropped in to hear the likes of renowned environmental activist, Camille Étienne, speak. Elsewhere, the ‘Green’ in ‘We Love Green’ made itself clear — and not just through the overhanging cannabis-esque plants at the LALALAND stage. The festival once again used 100% renewable energy, continued with their policy of zero single-use plastics, entirely recycled waste, and for the first time, went fully vegetarian. It’s these credentials that have earned them the right to consult for the Paris 2024 Organisation Committee for the Olympic Games.
While meat-eaters may have mourned their kebabs, we were satisfied with the array of artisanal food purveyors that spanned a diverse range of cuisines. And even more impressive was the fact that revellers couldn’t move for natural wine; in fact, there was a Septime La Cave wine stand that lessened the blow of not being able to secure a reservation to the famous restaurant. Food aside, and a fizzy red in hand, day two at We Love Green saw the sun continue to beat down on the park as the next round of headliners took their places. Pusha T was a highlight, with his resident MC setting the tone for the Saturday. Later, French pop-rock outfit, Phoenix, commanded the biggest crowd of the weekend with a dreamy set.
On Sunday, we arrived more energised than we’d usually be on day three, and thank god, because the French finally tore the house down. Masked duo Two Shell set the pace in LALALAND with their avant-garde brand of electronica, followed by an incredible set from Nia Archives, whose upward trajectory only seems to be continuing after opening for Beyoncé last month. There was scarcely a moment to breathe before Skrillex took the reigns, and delivered an hour of sweaty, pulsating dance, which sent the crowd euphoric and spilling out of the green-house enclosure. This schedule meant that we missed Bon Iver’s slot, and sadly, choosing between headliners did become a common theme throughout the weekend — something that will hopefully be rectified next year.
Still, this is a minor complaint, 2023’s edition of We Love Green proved why the festival has become such a tour de force on the European festival circuit; it’s grown up, considered, and a foot-stompingly good time.