LIVE: Performance, Poutine, Pride: Festival D’été De Québec 2014, Day 3
By Sarah Chavey on July 11, 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.
It’s an unfortunate thing for a coffee addict to finally discover great coffee on the last day in town, but the beans at Brûlerie Saint-Jean gave me the kick needed to power through a third and final day of navigating Quebec’s hilly streets. Boasting a huge selection of coffee from South and Central America, Africa, and Indonesia, they even roast some of the beans themselves onsite which provides a wonderfully smack-in-the-face scent as you walk through the door.
First stop was the Old Port Market—Marché du Vieux-Port—which, despite its size, held an impressive array of vendors boasting fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and items with more local flair like foie gras, poutine cheese curds, and a ridiculous variety of maple syrups. Nearby was the family section of the FEQ like. Overall, I was impressed with the number of small children and families who attended the festival. Locals didn’t bat an eye when the crowd at Local Natives parted ways to allow a stroller through. Next, I headed to Le Croque-en-Bouche, as word on the street was they had the best French pastries in town. That may be true, but what I fell for was the croissant croque madam with black forest ham and béchamel. On a three-day trip, one does not expect to do much repeating, but for this sandwich I did return—twice in one weekend. It was that good.
By Saturday, it seemed all of Quebec had arrived at the festival. Lines outside every stage were desperately long and the streets, which had been shut off to all traffic, were swarming with pedestrians. Luckily, my first show of the day was on the spacious mainstage. A$AP Rocky is a performer I’ve long listened to but never seen live, and in retrospect it might have been best to keep it that way. While his showmanship was impressive, the crowd hyping far overshadowed the actual performance and seeing A$AP on an outdoor stage pre-sundown somehow lessened his allure. However, similar to the sandwich and the coffee, I had unintentionally saved the best show for last: Bonobo. I’ve always considered myself a fan of the UK producer/electronic musician, but I was not prepared for the love Quebec showed him. The streets outside L’Imperial were packed full, a 150-plus line wrapped around the block and less optimistic fans filled the streets with downtrodden expressions. Shamelessly, I walked past all of them, media badge held high, and slipped into the show in the nick of time. Quebec had gone crazy for Bonobo. Ever wonder who crowd surfs during a flute solo? Answer: French-Canadians. By the end of the show, the venue was thick with fog, sweat, and rain-soaked audience, but it didn’t matter. An encore was demanded by stomping feet and (impressively organized) chanting. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. Belly full and boots soggy, I headed home.