French band Flagas’k is determined to try and change the way the city reacts to reggae, finds Zeenab Aneez

“How are audiences in India different from those in France?” On being asked French reggae band Flagas’k a few hours before their performance in the city, “They sit,” they replied, accompanied by looks of bemusement. After seven concerts in the country, including ones in Kathmandu and Pondicherry, Flagas’k is quite surprised that concert halls in India have chairs. “In France, they may not come close to the stage as in a rock concert, but they are always standing and moving around,” says Brice Barbesange, the band’s sound and light engineer who is also essaying the role of drummer for the Indian tour. Still, they are determined to try and change that scene.

“We want people to get up and dance,” says Antoine Laveuau, when asked what he is expecting from the evening’s show.

The seven member band was formed in 2005 by two childhood friends Antoine and his friend Thomas Caille, who plays the lead guitar. “We simply wanted to play the music we loved,” says Antoine, who is on the rhythm guitar and lead vocals. “We grew up with reggae and ska music and as 17 year olds, used to listen to a lot of Manu Chao, La rue Kétanou and other French reggae bands. So when we began to play, it was only natural that we chose this genre,” he explains.

The band which became known for its upbeat music and rich sound has done over 200 shows in France, two studio albums and one live album. The line-up includes Francois Bienaime on, Polo Geanneau on bass, Geremie Ferchaud on trumpet and Paul Ferchaud on Trombone. Out of the seven band members only Brice is a full-time musician. “But I am also a sound engineer, that is where I make my money,” he clarifies. The others have day jobs that range from plumber to electrician to carpenter. Being a musician in France, they say, is just as tough as it is in India. “In the West Coast, there are many venues for musicians to perform so there is a lot of opportunity, but that also means there is a lot of competition,” says Brice, adding “It would be much tougher as you move closer to central France.” The band is thankful for the exposure the internet allows them, “It helps us spread our music both in India and in France,” says Antoine.

Flagas’k’s recent performance at Marigold Hotel was organised by Alliance Francaise, Hyderabad.