Logbook of a weekend of music, pleasure… and excess.
3:30pm – ARRIVAL IN PARADISE
We arrive in foggy, rainy weather. Our little beachside motel awaits for us on the horizon, under skies striving to clear up. The sea is already waving, the beach is already calling, and excitement is building. Our neighbors are already on their 2nd bottle. The rain has subsided. Let’s go!
5:00 pm – THE BARR BROTHERS
Quick, quick, you’re pretty, get ready. We are already late for The Barr Brothers. They are playing at a new stage, another giant tent. The musicians give it their all, while we wonder why they aren’t booked on the main Stage, and why we are feeling like beansprouts in a greenhouse. Sun is shinning, people are sweating, Beggar in the Morning has us listening. The sound isn’t great, but the band is making up for everything. It’s intimate, musical, beautiful. Until Lord, I Just Can’t Keep from Cryin’, which boosts up the energy. The whole crowd is suddenly dancing and practicing their air guitar skills. All smiles, everywhere.
6:30pm – EXPLORING THE COMMUNITY
We are starving!! Terraces are bustling and can barely accommodate the influx of city-folks, but them folks are so nice. They have lived a less stressful life then us – creatures of the city – and it shows. Wine flows, we meet friends. An older couple sits besides us and curiously listens to our nonsense conversation about Celine Dion. On their way out, the older man gives us a lottery tickets “You girls are just lovely” (We swear, it’s the wine) “I hope you win”. We hope so too*. And we are buying HERE goddammit!
9:00pm – HALF MOON RUN
Off to the main stage for HALF MOON FUCKING RUN !!! That one was clearly on our not-to-miss list (and apparently, on all of the festival goers). And the quatuor didn’t disappoint. The multi-instrumentalists shine through the night, with the crowd hanging on their every word, their every beat. Extra eye candy for the girls, as the guys remove items of clothing throughout the performance to end up as that infamous “black tank top” gang. Everything is so hot hot hot. THIS IS SO FUN!!!
Make room for what will become the anthem of our weekend. Brown is the upcoming band of the moment – SEE OUR ARTICLE – and the song Brown Baby is at the top of our list. People jumping, hands in the air (like we just don’t care?), the tent is booming. The keywords of the month: Hip-hop and Rap are Quebec’ new rock. And by the looks of these shows, I am starting to agree. We jump jump. More friends meet, the ambiance is at its peak.
00:30 – DUCHESS SAYS
It had been a while since Duchess Says had graced us with their devilish screams, and what better venue than an incense-smelling, funeral home, church basement. Sweat and beers, Annie-Claude Deschênes, also known as that -singers-who-almost-looks-like-she-needs-an-exorcism (and we’re almost jealous of how into it she is) was true to form, with theatrics and that immensely powerful voice, piercing through as the fans start buzzing. They never disappoint. And we’re starting to think they never will.
2:00 am – FOOD TIME PROBLEMOS + BATTLE OF THE FANFARE BANDS
It’s a small town, not many 24h snack places to fill up an assured hangover-belly. We find food trucks, hurray. We wait an hour. Booh. We are done riding our bikes because we might just end up in the St-Lawrence. We head home …oh wait, what’s that? : BATTLE OF THE MARCHING BANDS in the church parking lot?!?! It’s loud, it’s fun, everyone seems to have taken hallucinogens…there are smiles and new lovers. The neighbors might or might not be sleeping.
3:00am – LIFE IS A BEAUTIFUL MESS
Nightcap and Goldfish crackers, topped with nonsense talk. Bedtime is mandatory.
SATURDAY – FUN DAY, D-DAY
9:30am – OUCH…Bring the Advil and the cold water
Mornings are rough, but in Baie St-Paul, you simply need to peak your nose outside and see this for everything to become peachy again:
Quick stop at the beach. It’s COLD! Quick jump in the pool. Quick nap…. meaning we have to wake up again. Damn.
First show is on the quays. I grab my subpar hotel room coffee and walk over.
12:00 – SAFIA NOLIN
The docks. It’s the best small stage of Le Festif! in my opinion, that is, if you can draw a crowd to it. Safia Nolin doesn’t need to worry about that, her fans were waiting patiently for her. In all her simplicity, she shut up the whole docks for an hour. Not a sound, not a cough. (except for that damn drone buzzing over our heads!) People were braiding grass and flower bracelets. Children were listening. I over heard girls saying: “It’s like I want to be her friend”. Yes, we all do. (Shout out to her translated cover of “My heart will go on” by Celine Dion.) (I would like to point out that Celine has already been mentioned twice in this article. My apologies. But isn’t she making a comeback?)
First real competition here between two shows. Basia‘s secret solo-piano performance on the docks was not to be missed. We split the team.
The setting is picturesque. Basia is beautiful. Her energy is contagious. She radiates good vibes. We love love love. Space was limited at the end of the docks but everyone squeezed in (some even settled for watching from the water!). All agreed: this was the best hangover cure anyone could’ve asked for. It was light, it was gracious, it was the perfect opposite to the blazing heat. And the view… She even admitted it might’ve been the craziest, most beautiful concert setting she had ever played in. She was happy, we were happy.
And best of all, we leart how to say her name properly. #RIPBasiaBoulette
Philémon Cimon is more obscure perhaps for English folks, but he is one to discover if you haven’t yet. Strong in his artistry and aesthetic, and backed by awesome guitarist Nicholas Basque (Plants and Animals), his trio band fills up the air as if they are 6 on stage. It’s stripped-down and full at once. The crowd sings the words. Devoted fans wave to his catchy vocal hooks and daring, not to say taboo, lyrics. May we mention that he’s pretty easy on the eye too, but no, he didn’t strip down in a black tank top à la Half Moon Run. Sigh.
6:00 pm – Anatole
Anatole has to be the most unique acts in Quebec right now. His music is good yes, but it’s his show that will blow your mind. Any artist who wishes to break through, to release their alter-ego need to take tips from this guy, who faces taboos straight on. Dressed as a beautiful woman, or in a barely fitting tight black leotard, Anatole walks around his crowd, drinks their beer, kisses their cheeks and brings the right amount of discomfort all around. A must see once in your life.
7:30pm – Illegal fire on the beach
One of the things we love about Baie St. Paul, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is the scenery. So yes, sometimes, we opt to take advantage of being out of the city and spend time in the great outdoors.
So… Shhhhh…. it was amazing.
9:45 pm – DJ Champion and his G- Strings
We have to say, this was a pleasant surprise. At first, we weren’t convinced. I mean, when you think of DJ Champion, code word DJ, you think massive dance party. But it doesn’t quite start that way. All we have to say is: STAY THE COURSE! Because what you wish for is what you are going to get.
But even though it might start off more mellow-y than you would’ve hoped for, listen to the incredible singers. I mean, WOW. Accompanied by his G-Strings (a bunch of musicians, mainly guitarists), is was a musical delight. Onstage, you’ve got a goup (pretty much a soccer team) of talented musicians that know how to get the party started. By the end of their set, which ended with Oh Lord, everyone was jumping. We were left wanting more.
We went back and forth between those two, given they were at the same time, and it was NON STOP INTENSITY in both place! Once was in a sweaty church basement and catered to perhaps an older, more familiar crowd, the other, catered to the curious ones and Klo Pelgag. The petite singer came up onstage during VioleTT Pi‘s set (at their request. She didn’t just walk up there.) which was kind of awesome since you couldn’t find bigger opposites, musically. VioleTT Pi is eclectic, LOUD and completely wild, and that goes for their music and their live performance. Definitely worth a check out.
1:00 am – Beat Market
I’m glad to end with this, because it might have been the culminating moment of the night. If Le Festif! is anything, it is this, this particular moment, when a band makes everyone dance and jump, including the shyest ones. The set from Louis-Joseph Cliche and Maxime Bellavance was more than solid, and the moment, THE MOMENT, when eccentric pop-singer Yann Perreau jumped on stage with the band to sing his hit J’aime les oiseaux and decided to climb up the post of the tent (under the worried faces of security) was just perfect. Everyone was jumping, screaming and smiling. Indeed, and again, what a euphoric moment.
3:06 am, or 4:11am, or 4:29am – Really, who knows at this point.
A long walk back to the hotel. Random festival goers here and there. Time for bed. Tomorrow will be hard, emotionally, you don’t want to leave, but physically, you need to.
And that’s Le Festif! for you folks!!
Until next year.
*We didn’t win 🙁