Reminiscing about Festival d’Ete de Quebec 2012
If you’re wondering why I chose FEQ 2012 and not some other year, the answer is very simple (and, sorry, kind of boring…I could have made up a really juicy story, but I’ll save spinning fantastical tales of debauchery for another day…or for one of our younger writers who doesn’t have to spin them because he or she actually HAS them): The Offspring ~ or rather Dexter. I was going through archived FlashWounds photos and it dawned on me that we’ve shot him and the band a lot…and my mind just happened to wander back to FEQ 2012 because that was the year the band closed out the Festival.
So, yes, once again I had to be physically dragged home from the Festival d’ete that year (I even tried the “Get your hands off me, I’m a member of the press!” line, and that might have worked had I not been saying it to my FlashWounds co-owner.). I swear that in a former life I lived in Old Quebec City (which I guess might have been referred to as just Quebec City back then) because it has felt from the minute I set foot there like a second home…and that’s just the icing on the cake. The cake is the Festival itself ~ the bands, the street performers, the energy, the people…
We were treated to everything from the gorgeous voice of Sarah McLachlan (and the charming Suzanne Vega as her opener ~ having not kept track of Suzanne since “Luca” became an inescapable radio hit, it was a pleasant shock to hear that her voice could transition seamlessly from that of a soft and sweet indie girl to that of a brazen rock-n-roll chic), who shared not only her unparalleled singing but also a wonderful rapport with the crowd, to the high-energy and very polished Alkaline Trio and Our Lady Peace, both of whose music I’d heard before, but whose live shows really won me over…and until you witness it, you probably won’t believe it, but there is something in the Canadian air or about the primarily Canadian audience that brings out the best performances from ~ no exaggeration ~ every band we’ve seen play there. You haven’t seen a band live until you’ve seen them get up in front of a Canadian audience, especially one that seems to go on for miles, sitting under the stars on the beautiful Plains of Abraham and wanting nothing more than to enjoy themselves and show the bands a whole lot of love.
One of the day’s (well, night’s) most anticipated spectacles was Aerosmith…and what can you say about Steven Tyler and the guys that hasn’t already been said? They’re one of a kind, they ham it up and manage to keep a tongue and cheek feel to their theatricality while kicking ass musically, they invariably use parts of the stage (in this case, a long runway that took Steven out into the crowd, who loved his shenanigans) that other bands don’t and never will, after decade upon tumultuous decade they simply boundless energy and palatable chemistry, get a total kick out of what they do even if Steven and Joe are more flamboyant about it, and somehow…I don’t know how they do it or how to describe it…give the finger to the naysayers just be being themselves and letting the audience reaction speak for them. To those who say that Tyler has gotten “soft” by doing television, well, I have two comments, one of which I’ll refrain from making (but if you know me, you know it’s inappropriate) and the second of which is “You’re wrong.” One “life” has no effect on the other and the man would still be a rock n roll whirlwind megaforce if he did TV, took up knitting, and became a male cheerleader. It’s Tyler, guys…’nuff said.
Ahhh…that brings us to the final show of the night (and you do realize, I hope, that I’m intentionally recounting only the last day of the Festival ~ there was, for us, nearly a week of non-stop work and play as we took in as many shows as possible, photographed them, and then wrote what was basically a daily diary entry for those of you who couldn’t be there in person): you guessed it, The Offspring. Now, all the shows drew huge audiences to the outdoor space, but The Offspring seemed to double or triple those numbers ~ their fans were absolutely insane with anticipation and the second the band stepped on stage, it felt like a ginormous ball of energy had been released and was being absorbed by every single audience member.
To put it plainly, we all lost our shit and couldn’t have enjoyed it more.
The Offspring are, to state the obvious, a party. You want to drink, dance, and go crazy (or crazier…I don’t judge) when you hear that first chord ~ whether from one of their classics or one of their new anthems. It was IMPOSSIBLE not to get caught up in the party-punk spirit of the show…if the band had played for another ten hours, the audience would have been right there with them, having the time of their lives.
Hats off to the team who decided that this should be the band to wrap up the Festival, because it left the crowd flying high and pouring out into the streets ready to keep the great vibes going…which in OQC you can do past 10pm (yes, that is indeed a dig at some places on the East Coast that will go unnamed) and the exits from the Plains just happen to lead you right to a glorious street where there are great vibes a-plenty) and seriously, I’ve never seen so many grinning faces after a show and I swear you could see people actually glowing…they, whoever they are, say that we form our opinions and memories of an experience based heavily on its conclusion, not its beginning ~ and with a conclusion like the one The Offspring delivered, it’s no surprise FEQ has a ton of return festival-goers each year…with that number growing nearly exponentially along with a rapidly expanding word-of-mouth crowd.
So as I implore you every year, make all the necessary arrangements, plan to take a few (or more, if you can…I mean, c’mon, if your boss doesn’t understand what missing FEQ can do to a person, he or she is just, well, soulless) days in July, head up to Old Quebec City (bring your passport, of course, and it’s a good idea to check out FEQ’s FAQs and all their “Handy Tips” sooner rather than later), and soak up every bit of one of the most exciting festivals you’ll ever attend ~ and yes, of course we’re all dying to see the big name acts play the amazing outdoor venues, but do yourself a favor and don’t ignore the smaller outdoor stages and the intimate indoor venues. There’s a lot of talent in addition to the main attractions and it’s pretty cool to have the chance to discover performers that hadn’t been on your radar before ~ and rest assured, there’s a huge range of genres represented, so expand your horizons a little…and then go absolutely bat-shit crazy when the headliners take to the outside stages and whip you and 120,000+ other fans into a completely absurd, delightful, you-don’t-have-a-care-in-the-world frenzy… one of the best feelings in the world whether you’re a teenager or a 60-something rocker.
And for those of you who are FEQ virgins, if you start at the Festival’s official website, you’ll already have access to more information than you can imagine; you can easily find all the social media links, info about the artists, tickets, and schedule, read up on the festival’s history, the team that makes it all happen, their dedication to going green, their partners and any new announcements, plus you can check out teaser videos for the current year, full videos and photo galleries of past years, and before you realize it you’ll already be on the phone with your friends planning when to ditch your daily lives and just GO!