Music Marc Hauser & Nicolas Przeor

There’s this anticipation as people wait for the festival line-up to be revealed because we book bands that wouldn’t play anywhere else.”
© photo 1: Marc Hauser / photo 2: Nicolas Przeor © Eric Engel

A real highlight of the summer in Luxembourg, Congés Annulés is a great showcase for emerging talent and a chance for music fans to catch international independent artists from the festival circuit in a more intimate setting. Programmers Marc Hauser and Nicolas Przeor are justifiably proud of the month-long festival.

Congés Annulés has been at the forefront of bringing exciting upcoming artists to Luxembourg. Do you think local audiences are now more accepting of going to see bands that they may not know or who are under a bit the radar?

Marc: I would say so, yes. We have managed to find and nurture an audience that is curious. I remember at the beginning people would always ask why should I pay to see somebody I don’t know?’ We no longer get that reaction. And you can see that in the number of people attending the gigs. Also our audience now really respect the band that is on stage. They are showing a bit more love to the artists. They don’t go nuts like in other cities, but it’s getting there, and we have had some crowd-surfing at the more punk gigs.

Nicolas: What I have tended to notice is that people really look forward to Congés Annulés. There’s this anticipation as they wait for the line-up to be revealed. It is a highlight for many because we book bands that wouldn’t play anywhere else. I always say to Marc that the more adventurous the music, the better I like it when I see it live. The freedom we have here musically is the most exciting thing.

M.: But I would say it is a real rendezvous in the summer. People pop by for a drink or to attend a gig, or more.

Yes, you create this whole atmosphere around Congés Annulés, with DJs playing in the Parvis before and after the shows. That attracts an eclectic crowd. 

N.: I mean, it’s important for us that even people who come just for an after-work, maybe they hear something and think it might be interesting to go to a to a gig here.

M.: And I notice that sometimes, towards the end of a show when the box office is closed, a few people just pop in to take a look because they are curious. That’s good and maybe will attract a new audience. 

N.: Our location near the train station means there’s a lot of movement around here and we get a few people who visit for the first time and discover that we put on gigs.

During the pandemic you had to move shows to the Parvis, and you continued that last year. Will there also be shows outside this summer?

M.: Yes, we’re going to have a mixture of gigs outside and inside the Klub. But it always depends on the kind of music. If it’s too hard or too intense then it’s better we do it inside, so we don’t disturb the neighbours.

Congés Annulés always includes shows by local artists. Is part of your mission also to promote the Luxembourg music scene?

M.: Yes, we promote them, give them a support slot or sometimes we do a special event with two Luxembourg headliners. It’s important, for sure. 

N.: It’s also a good gateway for some people to get to know underground bands from abroad. You know, if their friends are playing support they might discover new music as well. I think it’s always good to have a mix of local bands and international artists, because it creates more of a connection between the scenes.

So, how do you find the international artists? Do you attend many festivals?

M.: There are three festivals we go to. We start in January with Eurosonic in Groningen in the Netherlands, and in May we go to The Great Escape in Brighton. Then there is the Reeperbahn festival in Hamburg in September.

N.: The Great Escape is huge. The list of bands playing there is amazing. But we also listen to new music all the time and we talk about music all day long.

The line-up is always quite eclectic, and you manage to get a few artists that make a real splash. How do you maintain that balance?

M.: We have so many shows in a row that you need to go in different musical directions, otherwise, you will not get enough people all the time. 

N.: We always have two or three bands that are a bit more gnarly and powerful or really energetic. I guess it depends on the cycle of scenes as well. At the moment there’s been quite a lot of punkier kind of stuff which I think works well with the venue. Then, because we’re doing some stuff outside, we have artists that are more festive or joyful; music that everyone can enjoy.

So, what can audiences expect this year?

M.: We have A Place To Bury Strangers, a new band called Ekkstacy, a young pianist called Hanakiv who is on the same label as Hania Rani…

N.: …a psychedelic band from Sweden called Death And Vanilla. And we have many options. Booking is always like a marathon, but Marc has a different analogy. 

M.: I always say it’s like fishing. You cast your lines and negotiate and some of them get away. You have to be patient.

As well as the music, there are always other events like film screenings…

M.: Yes, there will be a documentary about Courtney Barnett. There’s also going to be a big exhibition in the Rotonde 1 building. So there will be more of a connection, via the Parvis, between the two buildings. 

N.: There’s also the record fair, though not for professionals. It’s more like a record exchange, a kind of flea market.

Finally, as professionals can you really step back and enjoy the shows at Congés Annulés yourselves?

N.: It goes in cycles. Sometimes I am really into the music side and think oh, the drummer’s shit!’ (laughs) But after seven years here I now try to relax and just enjoy the show and not analyse everything.

M.: Even though you’re there to organise or supervise, sometimes I do just get hooked by the show.