Published on July 15th, 2015 | by Juliette Jagger1
Le Festival d’été de Québec – No Longer Canada’s Best Kept Musical Secret
By: Juliette Jagger (@juliettejagger)
Though still in full swing in the heart of downtown Québec City, the 48th edition of Le Festival d’été has once again proven to be a massive success. Continuously referred to as one of the country’s best-kept musical secrets, the 11-day citywide festival, which kicked off on July 9 and will run until July 19, has already clocked close to half a million in attendance.
So, how do they do it? Well, the fact that their festival wristband is a mere $98 dollars helps. But time and again, it’s really about the level of care and curation that goes into the Festival d’été lineup. With an emphasis on rock, hip-hop, electro, jazz, blues, world music and more, these guys really shine when it comes to programming. Their famed Bell Stage, which overlooks the historic Plains of Abraham and will host all of this year’s headlining acts, continues to serve as the centerpiece of the Fest d’été experience drawing more than 80, 000 concertgoers to the grounds each night. This past weekend alone, I caught performances by the Foo Fighters, Royal Blood, Iggy Azalea, Icona Pop, The Doobie Brothers and Boston, which doesn’t even begin to cover the laundry list of other shows taking place simultaneously. These days you’d be lucky to purchase a ticket to one of those shows for under a hundred bucks and yet some how Festival d’été manages and continues to impress.
I’m sure by now most have heard that the Foo Fighters show was canceled four songs into the band’s set Saturday night due to excessive winds and rain, but it was a memorable one nonetheless. After kicking things off with a heavy-duty rendition of “Everlong,” Grohl addressed the crowd from atop of the regal rock thrown he’s been touring with as of late. Assuring fans that he did not give a shit about a broken leg or anything else Mother Nature intended to serve up, the band planned to power through and play. Unfortunately for the Foos and for everyone else in attendance, those good intensions went straight to hell when the weather got more than a little unruly a few minutes later and Grohl could be heard yelling, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it just isn’t safe! We have to take a break!” before being helped off of the stage. As everyone ran for cover, myself included, it was pretty much a soggy ass mess. Thirty minutes later, they were forced to call the show. Surprisingly, in spite of the cancellation, a quick scan of Twitter later revealed that although disappointed, most festivalgoers were just thrilled to have been there.
Sunday evening brought with it warm, dry weather and a pair of interesting performances from Icona Pop and Iggy Azalea. Having shot to the top of the charts on the back of their hit “I Don’t Care” Ft. Charli XCX back in 2012, Sweden’s Icona Pop surprised me. Wielding an arsenal of party inducing anthems with just the right amount of throwback 90’s Brit pop appeal, the duo totally delivered. At the same time, they had some of the most busted dance moves I’ve ever witnessed in concert and yet managed to be totally endearing. It was something like watching a couple of best girlfriends jumping around while lip-syncing to their favourite track. The lesson here is that if you have great songs and the performances to match, if you show your audience that they are everything, they are much more inclined to forgive you for having two left feet and a complete lack of rhythm.
When Iggy Azalea took to the stage later that evening the reviews were mixed. Personally, I thought she did her thing and she did it well; it was hardly the worst performance I’ve ever seen. People need to try and remove their personal politics from the equation when it comes to an artist such as Azalea. We get it, she’s white and she raps, so what? Has she made some ill-advised career choices that played out publicly on social media platforms in recent months, sure, and is it likely that we have already seen her peak, probably, but at the end of the day rap is a genre and it just happens to be her genre of choice. You don’t hear people pissing and moaning about all of the blues songs Led Zeppelin or The Beatles stole right out from underneath countless poor black musicians who never even made it up and out of the deep South, but they did just the same. Iggy Azalea’s got chops, whether or not it’s your taste is a totally different story.
Monday evening was a change of pace as festivalgoers had the chance to see both The Doobie Brothers and Boston. With close to 40 years of touring experience under their belts and upwards of 60 million in combined record sales between the two groups, both were pretty much spectacular. They burned through their hits, many of which are now classics, for a crowd that unsurprisingly wasn’t concerned with recording the moment on an iPhone but rather just wanted to sing along.
With four more days to go, I’m sure that Festival d’été has plenty left up its sleeve, including this year’s big draw, The Rolling Stones. Set to take the Bell Stage this evening at 9:30pm, here’s hoping the weather holds out.
Till next year Québec!