In Toulouse, the Rio Loco festival exalts the rebellious energy of singers

The singer Liraz, during the Rio Loco festival, in Toulouse, June 15, 2023.

Without making it the main focus of the program, as in its 2019 edition, the Rio Loco festival celebrates, once again this year, the voice of women. A particularly blatant common thread on June 15, the second day of the festival. While on the “village stage” the energizing Colombian singer Nidia Gongora and her traditional band Canalon de Timbiqui perform, together with the Toulouse global bass trio Reco Reco (a Rio Loco creation), perform on the main stage, the Israeli Liraz, followed by the Franco-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux.

“We are moving towards parity, but without making it an obsession”, explains Fabien Lhérisson, new director of Rio Loco and Metronum (contemporary music hall in Toulouse), who arrived this year from the Paris region, where he directed Le Plan, a concert hall in Ris-Orangis, for ten years.

The day before, on the sodden lawn of the Prairie des Filtres, the heart of the festival, the most unifying moment (16,000 spectators) was a bubbling tribute (with some twenty artists, including Damon Albarn, Oxmo Puccino, Cheick Tidiane Seck , Mah Damba, Pongo…) to a maestro of groove: the Nigerian drummer Tony Allen (1940-2020), pioneer of afrobeat with Fela Kuti (1938-1997), of which he was the musical director.

Iranian flag and exiled Cubans

If, this year, current music takes the lion’s share, Fabien Lhérisson plans to give their place to traditional forms, to heritage, during the next edition. Accompanied by a rock quartet, born of Sephardic Jews from Iran, Liraz explores her cultural heritage in her own way. On oriental melodies, she sings her texts in Farsi, covers songs from her latest album, Roya (Glitterbeat), recorded in Istanbul, in secret, with musicians from Iran. “I am about to see some of them again as part of a festival in Europeshe tells us. They are the leaders, leaders of this revolution that is happening in Iran. They embody freedom, they have courage. » We will not see their faces on stage, except for a woman who does not want to return to Iran. “She’s a feminist. She fights for freedom and wants us to see her face. »

At Rio Loco, Liraz unfurls an Iranian flag, on which an inscription proclaims the freedom of women, cries out the resistance they lead in Iran with their fighting brothers, embodies a rebellious energy. An insolent ardor also illustrated by the Cuban rapper Telmary, imbued with Yoruba rhythms, who closes the program after midnight with HabanaSana, her small band of Cuban musicians exiled in Europe.

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