*header photo by Philippe Ruel
This July, Mark and I had the pleasure (me for the second time, him for the first) of attending Festival D’été de Quebec, one of the premier music festivals our great nation has to offer. For five days we got the chance to explore beautiful Quebec City by day and indulge in both Canadian Independent and world class music every single night, including a once in a lifetime musical experience I will never forget.
We started our festival experience with Icona Pop on the main stage. This energetic Swedish duo was the perfect way to get us revved up for the music that was to be our soundtrack for the rest of the week. Alternating between rapping, singing, and rocking some fun dance moves, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo owned that massive stage. The pair gave the crowd exactly what they wanted: a fun, lively performance, a showcase of their DJing skills (seriously, is there nothing these gals can’t do) and their fan favorites, including new single “Emergency” and of course their claim to fame “I Love It.” We were sad to see them leave, especially since we’d wondered why they were opening for the following artist, instead of headlining themselves.
I’m not sure what we expected from Iggy Azalea’s set. The diva kept her audience waiting for a good 20 minutes before she took the stage for what was the shortest set the Scène Bell hosted. When she did finally decide to grace us with her presence, the performance that followed was amusing at best, and awkward at worst. It’s clear that Azalea’s career is in dire need of resuscitation or euthanasia. Attempted heartfelt moments, nonsensical shout outs to invisible duet partners (are we still talking about Ariana Grande and her donuts?) and frankly embarrassing dance moves made much of the set cringe-worthy. That being said, we decided to enjoy it for what it was and danced to our favorite tunes, including “Change Your Life,” “Work” and “Fancy.”
We started off the next day with Montreal’s own Operators, and their gorgeous yet melancholy electro pop sounds. Dan Boekner is the perfect frontman for such a style, with his soulful eyes, impeccable style and Tarantino-esque cool. We only managed to catch some of the set but it was enough to put Operators on my list of bands I need to delve deeper into. Fellow Montrealer Owen Pallett is an artist I’ve been blessed to see multiple times, and every time I watch him I can’t help but marvel at his passion, and his abject love for creating and performing his beautiful music. Having just seen him at Bestival, I nearly passed on watching him at FEQ, but once I regained my senses I joined the rest of the mesmerized audience and let his classically infused music, sweet yet powerful voice and inspiring lyrics wash over me.
I’ve been meaning to catch Future Islands live for some time now, and I’m actually happy I was forced to wait until FEQ, because that made my first time all the more special. Singer Samuel T. Herring’s stage presence was positively electric – he’s constantly moving and dancing those quirky yet endearing dance moves of his. But it was his voice that stole the show. Equal parts guttural growl and sweetly melodic, every word he sang gave me goosebumps. Despite not being all that familiar with the band’s music, I found myself completely drawn in, unable to pull away or leave. The only thing I could do was dance to their signature electro pop stylings and count my blessings that music like this exists in my world.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our FEQ adventures this week!