La Coopérative de Mai

Right of passage

Having been around for almost 20 years, this place is pretty much part of the furniture. Although, you’ll not believe that the mighty Coopérative de Mai (or the Coopé, so called by regulars – which you’re sure soon to be one of) has aged definitely aged well. 20 years old – it’s basically still a teenager, right? Night after night, this place continues to prove that it hasn’t forgotten its initial intentions: host no less than 130 gigs a year, championing the local scene and promoting cultural initiatives… The result? Elliott Smith, The National, Marianne Faithful and even Morrissey have all played here, so too have Cocoon, Jean-Louis Murat, Mustang or Jain. The White Stripes even made an appearance back in the early days, playing to a crowd of roughly 200. Following a seven year-absence, Alain Bashung made his big comeback with his La Tournée des Grands Espaces live album. More recently, Vald emptied out the rows of seats, inviting the 400-strong crowd to join him on stage. The owner also emotionally recalls having a coffee with Patti Smith in his office in the early hours of the morning.

In fact, the Coopé is more than a sum of its parts. It shines a welcoming spotlight on emerging projects (and even welcomes numerous associations) while also being the place-to-be for mega star shows (Jared Leto and his group Thirty Seconds To Mars have made an appearance, so too have Muse and Indochine). La Coopé doesn’t have just one concert hall, but two. Le Club, aka the Petite Coopé, is an intimate space with an energetic vibe that has a capacity of 500. As for the Grande Salle, with a capacity of 1,500, expect bigger and bolder shows from national and international artists alike. When you come to Clermont, this venue is sure to have something on offer to tickle your fancy, even if you’re into something with a more intimate vibe or a thundering noise. Sometimes, there might even be a free gig going on. But beyond the music, the Coopérative de Mai is part of the region’s cultural, social and political fabric. In fact, the building that’s home to the Coopé is built on land once owned by the former Michelin cooperative, a superstore for blue-collar workers. Once one of the city’s major economic sources, now it’s a place for celebration, partying and discovery.

Nico Prat

I want more!