50th annual Festival d'été de Québec sells out, dazzles 135,000 fans
Courtesy of Nova Film

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Festival d'été de Québec (FEQ), the big annual music festival that takes place in historic old town Québec City every summer and that ran from July 6-16. Fans celebrated by giving the festival a really great anniversary present as they bought every single available ticket, giving festival organizers a completely sold out event. That’s a whopping 135,000 tickets sold.

135,000 festival attendees is actually a conservative number, since among the festival’s multiple stages (hosting 300 or so shows) were several that did not require a paid admission, meaning that fans could enjoy shows by the likes of African group Mbongwana Star, red hot blues rockers Los Lonely Boys, jazz big band Pink Martini and local electro-rock performer Yann Perreau without spending a cent. In all about 70 performers, representing a dozen different styles of music, played free shows.

The list of performers that played on a stage that required a ticket is lengthy and diverse, ranging from Nigerian superstar drummer Tony Allen to punk rockers MxPx, from post hardcore act Crown the Empire to metal maniacs Of Mice & Men, and from rap act Migos to the quirky Montreal-based ’80s pop band Men Without Hats. Of course the festival’s Bell Stage (main stage) overflowed with big-name bands like Metallica, Gorillaz, the Who, the Backstreet Boys, Lady Antebellum, P!nk, Kendrick Lamar and many others.

Fans got all they expected and more from the well-known acts that played the Bell Stage, occasionally getting a very pleasant surprise, like when British band the Struts opened for the Who. Most of the audience was assembled to see the Who, but the Struts played their hearts out and got the roaring recognition they deserved. The band is fronted by energetic singer Luke Spiller, who with his flair for stage wear and memorable glam melodies (and a passion for rolling his r’s) reminded of the late great Freddie Mercury. Spiller joked that nobody knows who they are in their native UK; that certainly isn’t the case in North America where the band has been repeatedly mesmerizing every crowd they play to. “We came to Canada to play the show of our lives,” quipped Spiller, and there was no arguing the notion.

FEQ is a great place for fans to catch up with favorite acts like those mentioned above. But as with the Struts show, FEQ also offers a chance to discover something (lots of things) new. And fans can rest assured that after a brief respite the FEQ talent bookers will be working on putting another fabulous line-up together for the 2018 event. What they come up with will eventually be announced on the official FEQ website here.