I didn’t go to Quebec City in grade 8 — I guess that’s my excuse for never visiting this gorgeous, historic French Canadian town until this year’s edition of the Festival d’Ete de Quebec. Now, I’m aware that I should have found my way there before. The architecture, the cobblestone streets, the restaurants (special shoutout to L’affaire Est Ketchup, 5-star experience!), the never-ending hills, and the welcoming people all framed a secretly ginormous festival that has to be considered Canada’s most eclectic.
On Tuesday night I saw Sheryl Crow. (Get it? Tuesday Night. As in Tuesday Night Music Club). She blew my mind. It wasn’t necessarily the songs — her perfectly penned hits kept popping up during her stellar set — but it was her passion that thrilled me most. She repeatedly spoke French in her stage banter, wooing the 60,000+ in attendance at the vast Plains Of Abraham, while musicianship was the maintained focus by her and her band. The sincere, raw Nashville sound was delivered with energy and professionalism. It was interesting to see that force come off at such a large venue; down-home country blues played from a huge stage with 4 jumbotrons to give all patrons a good view. The juxtaposition made for a completely original and engaging experience.
That show exemplified the rest of time at the FEQ. My other highlight being an incredible set by the BKO Quintent, where a large portion of the crowd broke into an impromptu line dance by about 30 locals to the band’s traditional Malian grooves. I had never seen anything like this in my life, and I can’t imagine where else I would have.
The festival is big and sprawling (over 120,000 attendees over its 11 days), and so is its programming (245 artists spanning every genre you can think of) but in all this, there are tonnes of opportunities for audiences to connect with quality artists and their work, all set in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.