Live Review: La Femme
Larissa Dunn goes international with her review of La Femme in Geneva.
La Femme: sex appeal, synths and smoking. What a wild night—and I’m not just talking about the gig. The sextet, whose origins begin as a Biarritz duo, dominated the stage in Geneva’s Alhambra: a perfect venue for the debauchery that was to ensue. This was their Paradigmes album tour, and from the red velvet balcony I got myself caught up in a coup de foudre. I will recount for you my intimate evening with La Femme—who very much embody the woman you just can’t help falling in love with.
The concert started off as a virgin. The introduction of each band member, the neat placement of four keyboards side-by-side, their impeccably white suits. A blank canvas onto which each song (and there were twenty) would add another vibrant colour. Their eponymous song ‘La Femme’ set the slightly mysterious, sultry tone for the evening—in every way a promise of what was to come.
La Femme are more than performatively explicit. In their music they also advocate sex positivity and feminism.
The vocals of the two female singers, Ysé Zoula and Nina Lilij, were immediately captivating—their feminine allure transported us to some hazy bar in the 60s. Ysé’s spoken voice in ‘Le sang de mon prochain’ oozed sex, whilst also singing of the macabre: I suck the blood of my neighbour. Indeed, La Femme are never afraid to push boundaries in terms of what they can and cannot sing about. Take ‘Antitaxi’ from their first album—four minutes of the lyrics: Take the bus, take the bus… Antitaxi!
The band shuffled between their three albums, arriving at ‘Cool Colorado’, with which the audience were already well-versed on the chorus. For context, it goes a bit like this: Bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah… One of my favourite moments from the gig was when Sacha Got started playing with his arm waving around in the air. A wizard casting a spell upon his starstruck audience? Interesting. The magical instrument was indeed a theremin, and supported the eerie vibe the group were going for. At that moment I thought: Damn, can you get any cooler?
As the energy built, so did the heat. Arriving at ‘Foutre le bordel’ (which I’m not going to translate for you), pieces of white suits started coming off and keyboards started being held guitar-style à la main. However, La Femme are more than performatively explicit. In their music they also advocate sex positivity and feminism—their music video ‘Divine creature’ is a homage to sex empowerment, with a performance by French porn artists LeoLulu. In a country which still has issues with female sexuality, ‘Elle ne t’aime pas’ describes a situation nearly every woman has experienced: unrequited love from a man who believes the woman owes him something. The crowd sang along to its playful lyrics: She gets ready to go out, but she doesn’t make herself beautiful for you… She doesn’t love you, Ciao, bella! Subtle persuasion? Je pense.
La Femme are never afraid to push boundaries in terms of what they can and cannot sing about.
I always like to evoke the atmosphere of gigs; something just out of an artist’s control but that speaks a lot about them. And my gosh, were the vibes immaculate. I noticed quite a few differences from a UK gig. The most striking: no mobile phones. Even for the slower, more romantic songs, lighters were pulled out of sac à mains—with some people even taking this opportunity to light up a cigarette. At one point, one of the female leads accepted an unidentified rollie (much to the dismay of the helpless security guard). The energy never once dipped during the entire two hour set, with the crowd demanding a three song encore. If that is not the epitome of musical success, I’m not sure what is.