Musique Magnifique! The Quebec City Summer Festival, Part 1

by Kevin Wierzbicki

You know the party is something special when Mick and Keith show up. That was the case this year at the Quebec City Summer Festival, where the Rolling Stones played the final date of their Zip Code Tour on the festival's Bell Stage located on Quebec City's expansive and historic Plains of Abraham. And while the Stones drew the biggest crowd at the massive music blow-out, fans were living large through the entire run of the 11-day event as there were 300 other shows to see!

The Quebec City Summer Festival began in 1968 and always takes place in July. Festival organizers believe that the FEQ, (the festival's French acronym for Festival d'été de Québec) is the largest music festival in Canada if not North America. Certainly FEQ is tops in fun as it plays out on 10 stages situated in or adjacent to Old Town Quebec City, a scenic part of the city that, with its countless bistros and bars and architectural delights is already geared to showing visitors a good time.

Photo by Renaud Philippe

Anyone who had the chance to indulge in all 11-days of FEQ this year had an amazing list of shows available to them. Fans of classic rock could see Boston, the Doobie Brothers, Deep Purple, the Alan Parsons Live Project, and yes, the Rolling Stones. Foo Fighters made an appearance as did Megadeth, Iggy Azalea, Keith Urban, Run the Jewels, Primus and the Chocolate Factory and Paul Oakenfold.

Besides the international stars, FEQ features dozens of shows from acts from Quebec and throughout Canada, some known in the States and some not. And with the unique setting of Old Quebec City, the festival is particularly suited to presenting homegrown talent. One of the best shows by Quebec-based bands came from Montreal's Heat, a Velvet Underground-influenced band that has a very Lou Reed-sounding lead singer in Susil Sharma. With all four band members wearing dark glasses throughout their set, the guys gave off an aura of detached coolness that matched Sharma's vocal delivery. Highlights of their set included "25" and "Chains," both coming from the band's debut EP Rooms.

Photo by Francis Gagnon

Another Canadian band that put on a terrific show was Calgary's Viet Cong, who really let loose a whirlwind of psych rock, perhaps with extra vigor because they'd just come from being "out in the woods, recording" for 12-days. With a light show to match their mind-blowing music, Viet Cong ended their set with a lengthy take on "Select Your Drone" that completely blew away the recorded version.

Viet Cong
Photo by Renaud Philippe

For an idea of what a typical day at FEQ offers, the same night that Heat and Viet Cong played saw shows from Interpol, Canadian folk stars the Barr Brothers, the Quebec Redneck Bluegrass Project and Patrick Watson along with dancehall star Admiral T who came in from his home base on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Playing a raucous set that had the crowd moving throughout, it was fun to see the audience pogo into the air as one on Admiral T's command.

Admiral T
Photo by Renaud Philippe

The audience reaction to the Admiral T show typified the joyous vibe of the entire festival and many festival-goers couldn't wait to do it all again the next day. Fortunately for them, another 25-or-so shows would be on tap then to accommodate! And the next day...

Information on the 2016 Quebec City Summer Festival will be posted at www.infofestival.com

To plan a trip to Quebec City visit www.quebecregion.com/en

Musique Magnifique! The Quebec City Summer Festival, Part 1

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