Along with long awaited warm weather, summer in Canada, for music lovers, means outdoor festival season. While we at Addicted have spent some time telling you about some local Toronto festivals, we also took a scenic road trip east to experience Festival D’été de Quebec and we absolutely loved it.
Set in the heart of picturesque Quebec City, Festival D’été is an 11 day outdoor festival featuring multiple stages placed around the city’s downtown hub. Close together, the stages or “les scenes”, give fest goers the chance to explore this sweet tourist destination as they make their way around to catch the different performers doing what they do best. While the location may be this small and gorgeous city, this festival is anything but small. In its nearly five decade existence, Festival D’été has featured some serious powerhouse lineups, including Bon Jovi, Social Distortion, Rush, and many more. 2014’s lineup was no different, with Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Phantogram and many others gracing the stages, along with some of the acts we got a chance to check out.
Our time at Festival D’été gave us the chance to not only enjoy old favourites, but to cross some great live experience off our band bucket lists. The Kills took the stage on our first day while the sun was still warming the Plains of Abraham. After seeing them perform in Toronto earlier this summer, I knew what to expect from these guys, and they did not disappoint. Power couple Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince ooze oh so cool in style and attitude. This is a band that needs no flash or flare while on stage; the only fanciness you’ll see is their perfectly synchronized cast of drumming babes. Kept in time by their stylized drumbeats, the Kills played their usual raw yet sleek and sexy sounds, warming the crowd up perfectly for what was to come.
The next band was one that I had yet to see live in my existence as a music lover, and Queens of the Stone Age was definitely worth that wait. Veteran performers, creative and exciting songwriters, QOTSA shows are the stuff of legends, to hear fans talk about them, and now I’m one of those converted. Josh Homme and company did not simply rest on the laurels of their staggering song catalogue, but infused passion and power into their performance. Banter was kept to a minimum; the band clearly needed no fluff to entertainment. Known for his ability to serenade sweetly, Homme’s vocals were rife with pure emotional and near vulnerability at times, and in those times it was the perfect juxtaposition to the deep bass, pounding drums and riff heavy guitars that exemplify QOTSA’s signature sound. Reaching across their discography, Queens of the Stone Age pulled out hit after hit, satisfying fair weather and die hard fans alike. Tunes from …Like Clockwork and Songs from the deaf earned the most vibrant reactions from everyone present, including myself. Seeing my favorite Queens songs performed live, including my most recent obsession “I sat by the ocean.” After that visually and aurally explosive set I sincerely hope I don’t have to wait so long to see them perform again.
Another bucket list band we got the chance to see was Blondie. Iconic isn’t a strong enough word to describe this band or frontwoman Debbie Harry, though an icon she most certainly is. Platinum blonde hair, ruby red lips and that unmistakeable voice, Harry’s beauty, power and charismatic stage presence, while matured, remains untarnished after forty+ years. What was maybe the most pleasing about Blondie’s set was the crowd. Ranging in age from five to sixty five and beyond, male, female and all kinds of people within, it was clear that Blondie has had an impact on humanity at large. Much like Queens of the Stone Age, Blondie played all of their fan favorites, giving Harry the chance to show off her wicked pipes, still strong and true after her extensive and prolific career. Backed by a mix of original members and younger stand ins, Blondie musically was just as good as Harry vocally, rocking their way through “Heart of Glass” like not a day had past. Since rumor has it that this was the band’s last tour, seeing Blondie was not only a bucket list cross off, but possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity for many present. To wrap up the experience, I even managed to snag their record Parallel Lines from Chez Sonny, an amazing local record store that any music lover visiting QC should definitely visit.
Stay tuned for part two of our Festival D’été coverage!
*all photos by Nadia Elkharadly