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Noah and the Whale

This is bohemian life. Crashing in Paris to play a festival you don’t know anything about, arriving at Gare du Nord and being welcomed by some Frenchies you met a couple of weeks before who decide to take care of you. They take you to wander in the streets, to courtyards, to apartments; they lead you to your hotel and then to the venue, but make a dozen detours; they carry your luggage and cases, get the guitars and pocket pianos out of your luggage and cases, film you all along, ask you to play everywhere. Talk about an awesome job… They never stopped smiling.

We’ve been supporting Noah and the Whale for ages, and we’ve been dreaming of doing something with them for a long time–all the more since Moon filmed them at SXSW and had a strong desire to do it again. What was the occasion? Them being in Paris for just a few hours, to play at a Inrocks / Sony party. We suggested that we spend the afternoon together, and we promised only one thing: to guide them, and to promise that they would arrive safe and sound…

Three cops ruined their arrival, asking us to shut down the camera right when they appeared–yellow, blue, bright, colorful–among the crowd. Their clothes, their accessories, their smiles appeared as many promises. This would be funny, energetic, unbridled, and fresh. We were walking in the rue du Faubourg Saint Denis and they were joking all along: Urby quipped as he tried hard to remember his French, to read le Figaro out loud, and to talk us into dressing just like him and joining the band.

What should be remembered of Noah and the Whale? That they have a brazen talent for pop songs–obvious but not cheesy melodies; square but somehow free structures; impulses, pauses, staggering moments. That they have a science for making a full, complex, and consistent sound. That they are cute and charming, like fictional characters–almost too easy to film. But what’s more important to remember is that they are a band in the most exact definition of the word–four individuals in harmony. Colors, wittiness, guys and instruments who match perfectly. Doug who set the pace by beating on Urby’s bass, Urby who pointed his finger at Fiddle as he started a violin solo, and Charlie who said almost nothing and guided everyone.

In the end, we spent so much time with the band that we achieved a condensed Take Away Show experience: the métro, an apartment, an old guy yelling, people trying to catch the camera, a freight elevator… the only thing missing is two or three kids.

Translated by Nora