© Destination_Rennes/ Julien_Mignot
© Destination_Rennes/ Julien_Mignot

Music in Rennes: The Trans Musicales festival

2 minutes to read

Rennes is known all over France to be a rock n' roll city, with a very vibrant and eclectic musical scene. It hosts an amazing festival, during which you will feel this unique atmosphere : the Trans Musicales, a historical rendezvous for all music lovers, that celebrated its 40th edition last year. «New since 1979» is the festival's motto : Jean-Louis Brossard, an eminent figure of the city and creator of the Trans (as people call it here), prepares each year a unique line-up, in which you probably won't recognise many headlining bands. The festival's reputation is that it brings forward artists that only a few people know yet, whom however, everyone will be listening during the months and years to come. Thus, it's in Rennes that Björk, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz and Nirvana played live for the first time, and that La Mano Negra, Justice and Stromae were revealed to the public. The festival grew bigger throughout the years and is now known worldwide, as an exceptional event.

« New since 1979 »

Each year, on the first week-end of December, the city comes to the boil, and I never miss this event. Early in the afternoon, I'm getting ready for the day and the evening, putting up warm clothes to get equipped against the cold of Brittany, as it's going to be a long night. I usually begin the festival at around 4pm, going to my favorite venue in Rennes : L'Ubu, a small spiral-shaped room (symbol of Alfred Jarry's famous character Père Ubu), which hosts shows all the afternoon – and it's free to get in. Many bands play one after another, this year I had the pleasure to see Cyril Cyril playing their dreamy ritual music, and Los Orioles' fiery zumbia. Night hasn't come yet and the big whirlpool of concerts begins, from one dark venue to another, you discover unusual and improbable music from all over the world, the whole body is wrapped up in sound and it's hard to help dancing.

L'Ubu, Rennes
L'Ubu, Rennes
1 Rue Saint-Hélier, 35000 Rennes, France
Cyril Cyril, a psych band from Geneva, performing at the Ubu.  © Sarah Salem
Cyril Cyril, a psych band from Geneva, performing at the Ubu. © Sarah Salem

I go on with another venue, L'Etage du Liberté, a bigger and beautiful room, where another set of performances takes place all along the afternoon. Downstairs, you can also visit a small label fair, with local and international producers showing their selections and vinyl records, a great meeting for DJs and music lovers. Many other events take place all over the city, like concerts in churches, or a festive takeover of the Saint-Georges swimming pool by the collective Les Gérards, where you can have a swim with costumes and music!

Piscine Saint Georges
Piscine Saint Georges
2 Rue Gambetta, 35000 Rennes, France
Le Liberté - Rennes
Le Liberté - Rennes
1 esplanade Général de Gaulle, 35000 Rennes, France
Les Gérards at the Saint Georges pool © Destination_Rennes/Michel_Ogier
Les Gérards at the Saint Georges pool © Destination_Rennes/Michel_Ogier

As the evening comes, you have two possibilities : you can take the shuttle to go to the Parc Expo, a huge airport hall where you can see live bands until 6 in the morning, or else you can stay in the city center and roam the bars, which will vibrate with concerts all along the weekend. Yes, as if the Trans Musicales weren't amazing enough, another hundred of artists are programmed in the Bars en Trans. I'm personnally enjoying the atmosphere of the city, so I take the second option, walking from a bar to another, guided by curiosity and encounters. Let yourself drive by the flow of the night, and maybe you'll end up discovering great bands, making new friends and dancing until dawn, when the bars close but the party goes on ...

Historical Center of Rennes
Historical Center of Rennes
Rue Saint-Yves, 35000 Rennes, France
Parc Expo Rennes
Parc Expo Rennes
Parc des Expositions Rennes Aéroport La Haie Gautrais, 35170 Bruz

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The author

Sarah Salem

Sarah Salem

I live in France, between Paris and Rennes. Passionate about arts, music and literature, I will speak to you about my discoveries, through my travels but also in the places that I know well.

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