LIVE: Performance, Poutine, Pride: Festival D’été De Québec 2014, Day 1
By Sarah Chavey on July 9, 2014
Festival d’été de Québec might not be the most well-known on the crowded and competitive summer music festival calendar, but considering it’s been around for forty-six years, sees more than a million visitors each year, and is home to the biggest outdoor stage in North America—take that, Coachella!—it’s clearly doing something right. We went straight to the source to find out why. The prospect of poutine didn’t hurt either.
July 3–13, 2014
Quebec City, Quebec
Poutine: part of a balanced breakfast. And lunch…and dinner.
Having never been to Quebec, I spent the days leading up to the trip asking around for tips and tricks, and unearthed one resounding piece of advice: POUTINE. So, upon landing in the Great White North, like any self-respecting tourist, I waltzed straight to the nearest restaurant and ordered poutine for breakfast. Not that there’s anything wrong with eating french fries smothered in gravy and covered in cheese curds, but as I sat in the otherwise empty poutinerie, I realized waiting until noon might be the more culturally acceptable route. With that daunting task out of the way, I set off to explore Quebec City.
Walking up and down the hilly, cozy roads, littered with cafés, pubs and shops, I began to regret my hasty decision as to where to sample some poutine. It’s everywhere. Even McDonald’s in Quebec City offers poutine on the menu. Realizing my mistake, I decided to poll the locals for “the best in town, and the consensus surprised me: fast-food chain Chez Ashton. At first I scoffed at the idea that a fast-food restaurant could offer anything considered “best in town,” but then it struck me: Chez Ashton is Quebec City’s In-N-Out. It may be unassuming in ambiance, but it can’t be beat. And the comparisons to California’s cult burger joint aren’t just by reputation: there’s a secret menu featuring spicy gravy in lieu of In-N-Out’s beloved “animal-style” option. Curiosity piqued, I went in for a second helping and Chez Ashton did not disappoint. Physically unable to eat any more, I headed over to one of the festival’s three outdoor stages to take in some tunes.
Some songs are good enough to soar, even through soggy weather.
First up for my day was Groenland, an indie-pop outfit from Montreal that started the night off with catchy, bouncing melodies. I’m a sucker for strings and Groenland boasts both a cellist and violinist, so I was sold pretty much immediately. While the band was new to me, the mostly local crowd was clearly familiar, singing along even as the rain began to fall.
It might seem odd to travel to the opposite end of the continent to catch a show by a band local to my own city of LA, but seeing Local Natives in Quebec turned out to be the highlight of my night. Despite having seen them more than a handful of times before, this was the first time catching them on such a small stage and it proved an entirely different experience. As opposed to their grandiose shows at Coachella and the Hollywood Bowl, this performance felt intimate, warm, and personal. This was only heightened by the weather, as increasingly heavy rain saw the crowd cuddling together for warmth and shelter. The predictably glorious performance charmed the crowd enough to keep them cheering despite the weepy skies.