The Fireworks! Festival: Your Field Guide to Iconic Paris Music Venues

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Paris at night is more than moonlit walks on the Seine. For the After Hours Athlete, there's a underground music scene worth checking out.

We all know the best parties are the ones that a) last more than a single night and b) require minimal planning beyond simply showing up and rocking out. And this February, the inaugural Fireworks! Festival in Paris delivered on both fronts, showcasing an impossibly cool range of can’t-miss bands that kept the party going over the span of 10 long nights.

Like South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX or The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, UK, the Fireworks! Festival runs along a similar “divide and conquer” philosophy, taking over a series of smaller clubs and spreading the good vibes of live music throughout the city. Make no mistake: This isn’t your typical festival where you stand a mile back from the stage and strain to see the speck performing on the horizon. This is getting intimate with cutting-edge artists, including tUnE-yArDs, SBTRKT, Noir Coeur and Active Child, in a handful of the city’s most iconic (and packed) underground venues.

In fact, festival organizers describe Fireworks! as “offering a course in symbolic locations of independent music in Paris”. For the After Hours Athlete who may have missed the festival (what was your excuse anyway?), this means one thing: You must check out these venues for your next nocturnal pursuit of music in Paris. For starters, try the following:

La Machine du Moulin Rouge: This place used to be called La Loco for good reason. A raucous techno club with a storied past (both the Beatles and the Kinks played here), La Machine du Moulin Rouge reopened in 2010 to play host to dance parties and international touring bands. 

La Flèche d’Or: The heartbeat of the indie rock scene in Paris, “The Golden Arrow” is located in the abandoned Charonne train station. All aboard the party train! 

Le Point Ephémère (Ephemeral Point): When you can’t decide if you want to dance until dawn or get cultured with some experimental art, why not head to this 10th arrondissement institution and have it both ways? This 300-person venue was in particular demand throughout the Fireworks! Festival, playing host to one of the more unlikely soundtracks to a bleary night on the town. Mixing electronic beats with the subtle twang of a full-size harp (you read that right), Active Child (electro wizard Pat Grossi and bandmates) wowed a packed crowd with an up-close-and-personal set of nocturnal grooves, silky falsetto and, yes, let’s admit it, some amazing harp picking. And that, my friends, is the randomized beauty of the Fireworks! Festival: From indie harps to techno clubs, it’s the foundation for 10 nights out you won’t soon least until the next morning.

Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Sabine Bouchoul.