Wedged between a castle and the reminences of 20th century war battles lays 80,000 people and North America’s largest freestanding stage. It’s almost like a scene from a movie, but replace the swords and guns with mics, and war captains with artists. Welcome to Québec City’s Festival d’été.
Although celebrating their 50th anniversary, it’s only in recent years that the festival seems to incorporate hip-hop music; this year through Jazz Cartier, Migos, Anderson .Paak and headlining act Kendrick Lamar. While we were only there for 48 hours, the festival spans across 11 days, incorporating a variety of genres from around the world, as well as local Québécois acts that generally don’t get shine elsewhere.
While the festival bubble in Toronto, and at large, continues to burst and result in low ticket sales and cancelled festivals, Festival d’été has found the key to remaining relevant: make tickets affordable and transferable. For 11 days, you’re festival pass starts at $95 CND, and if you sleep on it, the most you’ll pay is $105 CND. Reminder: Jay-Z is selling concert tickets for $200 US for two hours.
We were graciously given the oporutnity to cover the first weekend of the festival, which hosted the aforementioned Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar, as well as Pink. While .Paak and the Free Nationals sweated their way through their set and got the crowd moving, Kendrick Lamar spent his time educating the crowd performing singles from DAMN..
And even with the sound being off on Kendrick’s set a few songs in, they reset, regrouped and kept it moving. However, the downfall of Kendrick’s set wasn’t his performance, but rather the crowd’s inability to understands the deeper meaning of songs like “DNA” and “King Kunta.” But they did know the words, if that counts.
But to my surprise, it was neither Anderson .Paak (who is a phenomenal performer who everyone should see) or Cornrow Kenny who left me in awe – it was Pink. Or as my friends specified, “black-era” Pink. You know, when she had the bops and you someone had it on your playlist wedged between 50 Cent and Destiny’s Child.
As only her second concert in two years, and first in Canada in who knows how many, Pink performed flawlessly. While the crowds gifted LED wristbands lit up the park as the beat changed, Pink self-raditated performing all her classic cuts, as well as some mash ups like No Doubt’s “Just A Girl” and “Funhouse.” But the grand prix, so to speak, was when Pink was propelled into the air and flew across all 80,000 people, doing flips and and carrying a mic. I don’t want any rapper to ever complain about being out of breath again, by the way.
This festival may be one of Canada’s best kept secrets – perhaps like my renewed love for Pink. For 50 years, it’s stood strongly on Québécois grounds – now I just hope the rest of Canada will get to give thanks and experience it too.
Photos by @tsedanielphotography.
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