Canadian performers take the spotlight at Québec City's Festival d'été de Québec
Courtesy of Radicalized Records

When you read that Québec City’s giant annual music festival, the Festival d'été de Québec (FEQ) is hosting shows by major acts like Metallica, Lady Antebellum, the Backstreet Boys, Kendrick Lamar and Fetty Wap, as it did this year July 6-16, you might initially get the idea that superstars are the soul sources of entertainment. And indeed, add to the above list groups such as English classic rockers the Who, oldies band the Zombies, Melissa Etheridge, Gorillaz, P!nk, KFlay, the Struts and Flume and you can see that FEQ overflows with big name talent. But among the 300 or so shows that played out on various stages throughout historic old town Québec City, dozens and dozens of them were homegrown, put on by acts that hail from Québec City, elsewhere in the Province of Québec and from throughout Canada.

Music fans that remember MTV in the 1980’s had a chance to catch Men Without Hats, the Montreal-based band that scored big with the quirky “Safety Dance” back in the day, while other more contemporary Canadian bands like the New Pornographers, Wolf Parade, Arkells, Death from Above 1979 and Groenland also appeared. Two Canadian bands currently on tour and that have a worldwide buzz going right now are the Strumbellas and A Tribe Called Red, and both had tour stops at FEQ. A Tribe Called Red, a band whose members are indigenous Canadians (First Nations), are so popular that they played two shows on different stages in one day.

For fans that like to discover new music, FEQ is an event that can be extremely rewarding; all the performing bands are vetted and there are no amateurs involved. So audience members who choose to go see a band like Québec’s own ska band The Beatdown might be surprised to hear the band playing a ska version of the old Rare Earth tune “Get Ready,” or they might find a new favorite female-fronted band in The Damn Truth. And while Canadian artists appeared on all of the festival’s stages, the FEQ organizers always make it real easy for all comers to hear new music by offering free admission at a couple of the many stages. One night, for example, FEQ’s “Fibe Stage” hosted the gentle tones of singer/songwriter Lou-Adriane Cassidy, pop singer Amelie No and her band and the soulful alt-rock band Zagata, all for free. Fans who attended every single day of FEQ could have, likewise for free, taken in shows by Canadian acts like funk specialists the High & Mighty Brass Band, neo folk band The Wooden Sky, rockers The Beaches and R&B group Nefe just to name a few.

This year’s line-up of shows was nothing short of spectacular, and fans that couldn’t make it can rest assured that the roster of Canadian bands and international performers will be just as stellar in 2018. Information on the next Festival d'été de Québec will be announced here.