At the campsite, the Macumba makes metalheads dance and sing to Celine Dion

At the campsite, the Macumba makes metalheads dance and sing to Celine Dion

Big beards, tattoos galore, t-shirts from Slipknot, Ramstein or Black Sabbath and a few guttural cries that rise in the usually so quiet night of Clisson. No doubt, the Hellfest started in the chic city of Loire-Atlantique. Deprived of its festival for two years, the city will resound for ten days to the sound of extreme music. Punk, doom, death, dark, black, deathcore… Since its creation in 2006, Hellfest has earned a reputation for programming the full panoply of metal. What is less known is that the festival also hosts a recreation area dedicated to the variety of the 1980s and 1990s installed on the campsite. Welcome to Macumba.

It’s a small village of die-hard revelers who refuse to go to bed when the last concerts end at 2 o’clock. An hour later, under a large tent set up at the entrance to the campsite, a disco ball lights up and reflects the light from the purple spotlights to illuminate the track. The speakers spit out what this planet has seen the birth of better variety hits. Céline Dion, Cyndi Lauper, Jean-Pierre Mader, the cream of boy bands and even La Bande à Basile and its famous caterpillar. The name of this place: the Macumba Open Air. A spot that has become cult that was born from a simple end of a frenzied evening. “It was in 2015. We were on the Hellfest campsite listening to sound but everyone was falling asleep. We had spent the day listening to doom so we were a bit fed up. » Arnaud then decides to send his discotheque playlist and the miracle happens: his friends get up, dance, sing and are quickly joined by the neighbors under a frail arbour. The birth of a myth.

Rare image of a caterpillar escaping from the Macumba to roam the Hellfest campsite. Animal instinct. – Macumba open air

Since that night in 2015, Arnaud and his group of friends from Rennes have become the unofficial campground entertainers. From 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., they rock the best hits from the July 14 ball to entertain the metalheads. And it works ! “It’s like an underground nightclub. There is a bit of a fairground atmosphere, ”says Alex, another member of the band. As every year since 2015 (except the Covid years), the Macumba settles on the campsite and opens its doors at 3 am. “We don’t want to do it too much before because we have too many people, except with a lot of drunk people”, recognizes Arnaud. Their bamboche is a service to the organizers. By ambience the steps lying down, the Macumba leaves alone those who try to sleep.

In a few years, the self-proclaimed bosses of this dark club had to learn how to manage notoriety. Because what had started as a joke became an event in its own right, attracting several hundred metalheads suddenly fans of Céline, Bézu and other Patrick Hernandez. “We have already had up to 700 people but we have to limit the crowds”. Building on their success, the two Rennais have created their own event called Macumba open air festival, the first of which will be held from August 5 to 7 in Ercé-en-Lamée, near Rennes (see box below).

Since 2015, a band from Rennes has been bringing the Hellfest campsite to life with hits from the 80s and 90s.
Since 2015, a band from Rennes has been bringing the Hellfest campsite to life with hits from the 80s and 90s. – Macumba open air

For them, Hellfest nights are particularly short. On deck from the first concerts at 10 a.m., Arnaud, Alex and their band of friends are furious who have to hold out until 6 a.m. and the closing of the Macumba. “It’s been a little night. We allow ourselves a little nap from time to time,” concedes Alex. Crazy nightas sang Early Evening.

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