The streets of old town Québec City will be alive with music for 11 straight days as the Festival d'été de Québec, also known as the Québec City Summer Festival, is set to get started July 6 and run through July 16. One of the largest music festivals in Canada and all of North America, the Festival d'été de Québec, commonly referred to by its French acronym FEQ, will present an amazing 300 shows on multiple stages located throughout the city’s charming and scenic historic district.
With a line-up that includes country music darlings Lady Antebellum, heavy metal maniacs Metallica, jazz drummer extraordinaire Tony Allen, reggae star and Marley clan member Jo Mersa Marley, rapper Fetty Wap, Congolese band Mbongwana Star and punk rockers MxPx to name just a few, clearly the festival’s offerings are extremely diverse. While you’re making your list of who you want to see, you might want to consider the half a dozen acts we’ve singled out here as must-see shows.
Grace Mitchell – July 8, 7:00 pm – Bell Stage
Fresh off of wowing the crowd at Coachella earlier this year, Mitchell is an intriguing sort who can lay on the sugar with a sublime interpretation of the Hall & Oates classic “Maneater” one minute and then get all grunge-y with “Kids (Ain’t All Right) ” the next. Expect the unexpected from this rising star. Also see Grace Mitchell Aug. 3 at Great Scott in Allston, MA (tickets here).
Pink Martini – July 9, 9:10 pm – Hydro-Québec Stage
Not to be confused with pop star P!nk, who is also playing FEQ this year, Pink Martini is a 13-piece band fronted by singers Storm Large and China Forbes. Don’t be fooled by the band’s own description of their music simply as “pop;” this little orchestra favors Latin rhythms, classical melodies, jazz grooves and lots more, and they’re likely to have an overflow crowd enraptured by their music. Also see Pink Martini Aug. 24 at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA (tickets here).
Kelsea Ballerini – July 10, 7:00 pm – Bell Stage
This Knoxville girl’s brand new album is called Legends, a fitting title since the singer, often referred to as “country’s next queen,” is well on her way to becoming a legend herself. Already with three #1 hit singles under her belt, Kelsea’s music has drawn praise on Twitter from the likes of Taylor Swift, Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch. Also see Kelsea Ballerini Aug. 29 at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre in Greenwood Village, CO (tickets here).
A Tribe Called Red – July 12, 7:00 pm – Bell Stage, 11:30 pm - Imperial Bell Stage
One of only a few select artists appearing at FEQ that have been given two showcases, this trio of indigenous First Nations Canadians are currently in the middle of a summer tour that has already seen them dazzle crowds from Milwaukee to Berlin with two shows at England’s vaunted Glastonbury Festival in between. The band’s unique “indigenous electronica” will likely be one of the most talked about sounds of the entire festival. Also see A Tribe Called Red July 29 at El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA (tickets here).
The Who – July 13, 9:30 PM – Bell Stage
This one really needs no explanation; the Who are one of the biggest rock bands of all time with an incredible string of hits that include “I Can See for Miles,” “Magic Bus,” “My Generation,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Behind Blue Eyes” and of course “Who Are You.” With front men Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend both over 70-years-old now, the band’s ability to tour in the future may be limited. Catch them now while they’re still red hot! Also see the Who July 18 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD (tickets here).
The Strumbellas – July 14, 9:20 – Loto-Québec Stage
Another band hailing from Canada, the Strumbellas are real road warriors this year; shortly after their appearance at FEQ they’ll head to Europe for a string of dates and then back to North America for a tour that’ll last at least until mid-November. There’s a reason for that! The alt-rockers had a massive hit with “Spirits,” which has been viewed an amazing 44 million times on YouTube, and fans have fallen in love with the rest of their folk-tinged Hope album too. Also see the Strumbellas Oct. 24 at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit, MI (tickets here).
For a complete list of performers and other Festival d'été de Québec information go here.