We spent two days at the Festival D’Ete—read about our first night here—and, if we have one takeaway, it’s this: There’s a lot to explore in Quebec. Of course, the festival’s headliners, from Wu Tang to Ellie Goulding, are certainly the main draw. But the fest has surrounded their A-list talent with Quebecois favourites, lesser-known locals, and plenty of time to dig around the city itself. And dig we did. Here’s what we found.
Clan in the front. Despite being well into their 40s, the members of Wu Tang Clan—all on hand, save for Inspectah Deck—were in top form, headlining a stacked hip-hop bill with Classified and one-time AUX Magazine cover star Wiz Khalifa. Playing to a mammoth 40,000-person audience bristling with anticipation, the collective’s strongest moments came early: 36 Chambers classics like “Shame on a Nigga,” a bombastic rendition of “CREAM,” and the Ghostface-led “Clan in da Front” whipped the crowd into a frenzy, while the band’s late-game offerings included a Ol’ Dirty tribute in “Shimmy Ya.” Their mid-set offerings sagged some, with each member jostling for the spotlight, but that’s hardly a fault: With a discography as deep as Wu Tang’s, we could hardly fault them for showcasing, as RZA announced to the crowd, “the nine best MCs in the world.” And with the minds behind Fishscale, Liquid Swords and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx onstage, we aren’t ones to disagree.
Quebec city exploration. Much of the Festival D’Ete’s mandate, it seems, was to promote exploration of the city—the mainstage musical acts, after all, only took the stage starting at 7 p.m. So, much of the day was discovering the city in full-stride. Our favourite discovery? Le Knock-Out, an all-vinyl record store specializing in rarities and local releases. There, they played us excellent LPs by dark ‘n’ dirty, Colohan-worshipping locals Cold North and downtempo mope-grunge act Jet Black. We bought them both.
Missing out on everything else. While interviewing Odonis Odonis—a charming act I’d wander the streets with, discussing Kathryn Calder, their newest member, industrial LPs, and Toronto’s best record shopping—I’d missed much of the fest’s other notables: Disappointingly, we missed Wiz Khalifa, who, according to crowd consensus, earned fistfuls of converts, and Classified, who earned rave reviews for an onstage mashup of hip-hop classics. Bummer.
Hooded Fang. Photo: Maryon Desjardins
THE WTF (in a good way)
Festival OFF. When we wrapped up with Wu Tang—the show ended at roughly midnight—we caught wind of Festival OFF, an all-local festival happening at Salle Meduse. Hooded Fang had played earlier the night (and we missed them), but it, too, provided yet another avenue for discovery in Quebec. We caught local pissed-off punks Cobrateens followed by the post-metal assault of Grand Morne, which, while being significantly louder than their Festival D’Ete counterparts, offered an excellent after-hours destination. And, digging deeper, their artist roster’s all-local (and intensely deep), featuring everything from bluegrass to metal.