Le Festival d’Été de Québec – A Marvelous First Day

I smell smoke all around me. Hipsters, tragically cool kid wannabees, older generations and every human being imaginable are gathered at this venue to witness the first day of the Quebec summer music festival unfold. On the itinerary: Skrillex, Vance Joyce and Family of the Year, to name a few. These aren’t the big names you’ll find in Osheaga, a similar festival happening in Montreal. They’re you’ll swoon in the presence of: Of Monsters and Men, Florence and the Machine, and Marina and the Diamonds. Nonetheless, the festival is an eleven day tour of hundreds of popular to obscure artists, hosted on different stages around Quebec City. Not bad for $98 a pop (not counting the over-priced food and beverages, of course).

My first day here was, as you might tell from the title, marvelous. I arrived early to get a place closer to the stage. One of the bigger venues, to host Skrillex later in the evening, was on the Plains of Abraham; though the historical significance of my surroundings were masked by the context of the situation: low quality, over-priced beer, smoking of the “medicinal” kind and, you guessed it, the loud music. I later found out that the venue I was at was only going to be hosting EDM artists, of which I’m not a fan, so I left to find my friends  near another stage. After some difficult navigating and fumbling my French in hopes of being properly guided, I found my way to a much smaller venue. It lacked the large screens and numerous vendors, but maintained a certain charm and exclusivity that got me pumped about the performers to come.

Each performer has approximately an hour to engage and thrill the crowd. Genre of the night: Indie Rock. Current Swell’s opening for Family of the Year and Vance Joyce went on a little longer than expected, but the representation of a B.C band in a Canadian music festival felt very sentimental and nostalgic for an audience that generally outsources its artists. Once Family of the Year came on, I was thrilled and already a little buzzed (Molson Canadian and Jack Daniel’s really bring the mood). The atmosphere was incredible. The sun was setting, air was cooling to a crisp whisper on the skin, and the Quebec flag waved its Fleurs de Lys proudly above the stage. Once the final song, Hero, came on, the crowd united to sing the verse together, and there was deafening cheer that still rings in my ears as I write these words.

Vance Joyce came next, singing folk rock and livening the crowd with his Australian accent and versatile guitar playing. All in all, what really brought this night together was the enthusiasm of the concert-goers, who showed support through cheering and waving flashing cell-phones in the air. The smell of smoke and beer was pungent the entire night, and still sticks to my hair and clothes, but I don’t care. I might be sentimental, but they’re reminders of a great first evening.

Next, I have Keith Urban to look forward to, followed by Foo Fighters, Iggy, Icona Pop and The Rolling Stones. It’s going to be an interesting week!

~ I

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