The final weekend of the 51st Quebec City Summer Festival brought the entire city to it’s feet with not only an epic roster of musicians slated to perform but, the FIFA World Cup Championship game between France and Croatia delivered a historic win for France. Though Quebec is primarily an English-speaking city, it felt as though everyone connected with their French roots throughout the weekend.
Regardless of France’s win, the city had been in full force for the week prior, seeing performances from the Foo Fighters, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls and The Chainsmokers. On Friday the 13th, female Canadian duo Milk & Bone performed at the main Bell Stage, a massive outdoor stage that took nearly two months to build. The pair created an energetic atmosphere that perfectly prepared the audience for the next performance by none other than the epitome of female empowerment, Cyndi Lauper.
Lauper’s emotional set was laced with political references and stories from throughout her career. With hits like “Goonies” and “Time After Time,” Lauper’s vocals soared throughout the packed arena, offering what felt like a beacon of hope and inspiration. At one point, after Lauper bellowed from her back on a trunk on stage, with her legs swinging in the air, the singer admitted that she’s always wanted to perform at this festival. Lauper told the audience that she had always wanted to perform at this festival but back in the 1960s, she had been told that female artists couldn’t headline festivals because they wouldn’t sell tickets. With hundred of thousands of attendees screaming her praises, it was clear that times have changed. Lauper went into her girl power anthem, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and brought out newcomers Milk & Bone to join in on the performance. Her final song of the evening, a mash-up between “Not My Father’s Son” and “True Colors” created a chilling vibe encouraging everyone to embrace their individual personality, just as Lauper did throughout her entire set.
The day closed out with another female artist, powerhouse vocalist Lorde. From one of her oldest songs “Tennis Court” to her newest hit “Green Light,” Lorde frolicked on stage in a flowing yellow jacket with shorts underneath and Stevie Nicks-inspired black combat boots. Her voice never wavered, even as she teared up before performing “Liability,” a song about knowing her lifestyle in the public eye might not be suitable for everyone, and that can cause her relationships to end.
Saturday, July 14th started somewhat shaky with headliner Avenged Sevenfold cancelling their performance due to illness along with My Bloody Valentine. Last-minute replacement acts Alexisonfire and Atreyu brought the entire crowd at the Bell Stage to their feet. Other highlights from the day were Sate at the Hydro-Quebec Stage and Chixdiggit at the Imperial Bell theatre.
The last day of this 11-day music festival came on Sunday, July 15th and with it, shows from John Butler Trio, Sturgill Simpson and Hey Ocean! The true highlight was the back-to-back Canadian punk rock sets at the Loto-Quebec Stage starting at 8:00PM. The crowd started lining up at least an hour before rockers PUP were slated to come on stage, and they were ready to mosh. For an hour and a half, PUP had the entire audience jumping, dancing, moshing and crowd-surfing. Following their set, security members started passing back bottles of cold water and actually spraying the exhausted crowd down.
When fellow Canadians and veteran rockers Sum 41 took the stage, the audience had grown to reach nearly three blocks behind the stage. Frontman Deryck Whibley encouraged fans to not slow down and to continue rocking out. They finished their hardcore set with a White Stripes cover, “Seven Nation Army,” their biggest hit, “Fat Lip” followed by an ode to Linkin Park in the form of a cover of “Faint.”
The weekend was filled with French pride, feminism and unity of music lovers in general. From parents to children to everyone in between, the audience seemed to truly revel in the city’s bright personality and the festival’s positive vibes. Until next year, Festival d’été de Québec.
Main image credit: Renaud Philippe/FEQ