Last month my friend invited me to attend a taping of “Taratata” with her. My immediate response was, “Yes!”
My second thought was, “What is Taratata”?
I don’t have a TV, and the name of the show didn’t give much away. I texted another friend to tell her I was going, and she responded, “Love it” and “One of the best French shows.”
I would describe Taratata as a free concert with multiple performances over several hours. Aka: My ideal night out.
It was quite an adventure finding the studio. The email invitation my friend had received listed the location as Studio 204 at an address in St-Denis, right outside Paris. Upon arriving there I quickly realized that it was the address for a whole huge complex of studios and warehouses. Signage was limited, and a quick spark of hope upon seeing Studio 201 was extinguished when I saw that the studios were not numbered in order, despite what logic suggested.
I finally found the studio, and my friend joined me shortly after, around 7:30. The line to enter the building was slow to move, and once we were inside we realized why. Everyone had to submit photo release forms and leave all belongings at the coat check.
We found seats and settled in for the concert that was to last until 12:30. The host, Nagui, is well-known in France (again, I recognized him but didn’t know his name since I rarely get to watch TV here). My friend noticed his shiny red and black sneakers, which popped in contrast to his standard gray suit. From then on, we remarked on his shoes, which he changed at least three times during the evening. I especially appreciated his glittery black dress shoes. I surmised that his shoe changes must be for the live audience, because how often would they appear on screen? We also tried to imagine the shoe room in the back.
The concert included at least seven artists, including Ayo, Patrice, Cats On Trees, Babyshambles, Lenox, and Keziah Jones. I admittedly hadn’t heard of most of them prior to Taratata, but I did my homework the night before and listened to their music. They were great live. The energy of the audience was amazing, too. One thing I found a bit odd was that the show staff encouraged us to clap to the beat of the songs to encourage the performers—all well and good, but can you imagine clapping incessantly for several hours? The audience did so willingly and enthusiastically, though. One of the pre-show staff said half-jokingly that we should be like American audiences. My friend explained to me that Americans are known for being a good audience because they’re very enthusiastic. Considering the number of “standing ovations” (this expression has been adopted in the French language) throughout the concert, I think the French audience would give the American one a run for its money.
The musicians were from France, England, Belgium, and Germany, among other countries, so a number of the interviews between songs were conducted in English. Ayo, who is Nigerian-German, and Patrice, who is Sierra Leonean-German, are actually married and sang a song together for the show.
One amusing interaction involved Pete Doherty of Babyshambles trying to explain in French the meaning of their new album’s title, “Sequel to the Prequel.” Nagui then explained to the audience what the words ‘sequel’ and ‘prequel’ mean in French and used the Stars Wars films as an example.
My favorite performance was Lenox’s “Colorblind.” For days following the concert, I bopped to the version featuring Ben Mazué on repeat.
If you want to discover some new music, Taratata is releasing the video clips over a series of weeks, and they are available online.
And in case you were wondering, ‘taratata’ is meant to imitate the sound of a trumpet.