Live Report: Festival d’été de Québec / FEQ 2022

A display of supreme musicianship across artistic disciplines and genres

Nested in the pure and bliss city of Quebec, the famed Festival d’été de Québec, stands as the apex of Canadian festival culture, dominating its industry since its beginning in 1968. With an array of stages and performances after dark — via its Extras FEQ stage, the 2022 July 6th – 17th offering, delivered in presenting to audiences an array of palettes primed for a post-lockdown environment across the city.

Centering a bulk of its offering to electronica, this year’s roster of talent  were both diverse in their offering and allowed for audiences across generational fixtures to merge together in collective moments of euphoria. Snakehips in particular, added an abundance of joy to their offering. Taking to the main-stage on July 13th, the British hybrid pair, surged through their eclectic concoction of synth, electronica and R&B with flair and zest, singing staples such as ‘Water’ and ‘Don’t Leave’. Both intimate and audacious, the duo, thanked audiences for their long journey to super-producer stardom. Nearing the end of their set, working the dynamic stage, they performed, perhaps one of their most recognisable hits ‘All My Friends’ making up for the absence of Tinashe, with smoke, flames and powerful, rainbow adjacent stage lighting. 

Marshmallow, whose now ascended to global resurgence through musical partnerships with Coca-Cola, dominated the July 13th closing, particularly appealing to an older generation of listeners, but still managing to maintain the glare of families who had were in attendance with an even stronger use of the centre-stage, and canons throwing out glittered papers as he bolted across his abundance of musical hits across the ages. As ‘Alone’ blared in the background, there was not a quiet moment outdoors the gleam of the lasered lighting making the environment feel club-adjacent in seconds.  

Beyond the vastness of the mainstage, the smaller stages, such as Loto-Québec and SiriusXM allowed for the future faces of pop, electronica, and hip-hop to shine also. One of the current British faces of hyper-pop Charli XCX, used the intimacy of the former stage to present to music-lovers her aptitude for live performance and direction. Donning a mythical bralet and gladiator inspired leather skirt, the singer emerged from an erected stair-case, leading her dancers with every ounce of engagement. Early on the set, she continued in this vein, performing ‘Yuck’ with an instant echoed response from her Canadian fanbase. Leaning further into her discography with ‘Break The Rules’, it became evident that Charli XCX has not only ascended into a bonafide superstar in her own right, but that she was way too big a personality for the stage she was placed on. Hopefully next year, she’s rightfully assigned the Bell mainstage. 

Tai Verdes, who arrived moments prior to Charli XCX, performed a medley of recent releases taken off of his 2021 ‘TV’ debut, keeping things blissfully calm and centred. Towards the end of his set, after his infamous ‘A OK’ single, Verdes walked into the crowd and tested his commanding actions with them. Leading by his every word, his confidence grew, and as a member of Gen-Z himself, he preached positive sentiments about mental health and vocation before he left the SiriusXM stage. “Go for what you want,” he echoed, leaving a sentimental atmosphere across Quebec’s FEQ festival space. 

Perhaps the most visceral display of musicianship came in Freddie Gibbs’ July 14th showing, performing as the overcast weather persisted, he infused humour with a rare display of showmanship that the likes of Busta Rhymes and DMX championed across the early 2000’s. As torrential rain plagued his set, Gibbs powered through cult classics as well as newer releases such as ‘Big Boss Rabbit’ and ‘Black Illuminati’. Addressing the rain with an undeterred approach to his set, he continued, while fans in large droves stayed, echoing both his diligence in building a legion of eager listeners, but also intrigue amongst newer fans, who you could spot shazaming as the set continued. 

Overall, FEQ delivered an unforgettable experience, and provided listeners of all genres a home of variety and discovery — something that more festivals across the world could hone into at the height of genre-blending and unorthodox collaborations in the contemporary marketplace. 

Words: Nicolas-Tyrrell Scott
Photography: Stephane Bourgeois

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