Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quebec Music Festival Hits the Right Note

Much to the chagrin of language militants, the  Festival d'été de Québec, an annual  summer music festival held in Quebec City on the Plains of Abraham, has turned out to be a stunning success. The 42nd edition of the festival is a tribute to organizers, who despite relentless criticism from language militants, produced what is arguably Quebec's most successful entertainment event, eclipsing Montreal's famous Jazz Festival with revenues from ticket sales approaching $7 million as compared to the Jazz Fest's $6 million.

The FEQ uses the massive Plains of Abraham as a giant outdoor venue, which with the addition of giant screens can pack in a huge crowd. For that reason, ticket prices are extremely reasonable and an all-festival pass cost between $40 and $50.

The festival quickly sold out, the over 150,000 passes it made available and considering that the population of Quebec City is under 500,000 that's quite an accomplishment. The FEQ is gathering in popularity and the English component is bringing in tourists from the United States as well as English Canada, who recognize a good deal when they see one.

Extremely well organized, the FEQ has organized hotel and entertainment packages at prices that shame other Montreal giant events. A daily pass is just $25 and represents the best entertainment value available.

Language militants have complained that too many headline acts are English, (Iron Maiden, Black-Eyed Peas, Rush, etc.etc.) essentially watering down the French flavour of the Festival, to which the organizers bravely responded that they never, ever, promised anything but a diverse and entertaining array of artists that would be musically appealing to the broadest of audiences.

In a new conference, the organizers crowed that their programming decisions seemed to please the public and happily reported that all the festival passes were 'sold out,' to which French militants responded cleverly that it was nothing more than a 'sell out' and that the English programming was nothing more than 'fast food' compared to the gourmet offerings of francophone artists. Link (French)

The slam against the festival that they didn't program enough Francophone artists is in itself as bogus as a three-dollar bill. Organizers did their best and explained the difficulty in bringing in European artists who generally prefer to stay at home in the summer. To bring in more Francophone artists would mean scraping the bottom of the barrel and presenting a local garage band or two and the music lovers wouldn't have any of that.

At any rate,  Iron Maiden drew a crowd of approximately 80,000 people and the Black-Eyed Peas did even better, to the point that the fans were tearing down fences to get to see the sold-out show!

Francophone headliners like Laura Fabian, drew in the neighbourhood of 15,000 fans and Gilles Vigneault in the area of 40,000 fan,  not close to the Anglo superstars, but still not shabby at all.

The success of the English artists allowed the Festival to subsidize Francophone artists, an idea that went down like a lead balloon once explained to militants, who had been complaining that a Quebec government subsidy was benefiting Anglo groups.

Reaction to articles written by the language militants like Antoine Caron were quite robust. Commenting on the article that compared Anglo music to McDonalds, one commenter didn't mince words.
"According to the author of this article, the Quebec Summer festival should highlight only second-class artists such as  Mr. Caron, himself,  Honestly!"
With their argument torn to shreds, language hawks were sent scurrying, to fight another battle, another day.


  1. See? This should give you more faith in Québecers than those extremists pretending to speak in our names. :)

  2. Hey editor, the link does not go anywhere.

  3. If you compare Gilles Vigneault to Black Eyed peas, maybe that's demonstrate the problem with this kind of reflexion. Did we compare a movie of Ingmar Bergman and a blockbuster one ? I'm sure that each artist got is place ! Mais vous ne connaissez rien des artistes francophones ? Don't mix a political fight with a big event ! En passant, on le veut notre pays ! :)

  4. To derteilzeitberliner:

    "See? This should give you more faith in Québecers than those extremists pretending to speak in our names."

    The problem is that the extremists always seem have the greatest influence on the policies of the Quebec government, and by extension on the lives of Anglophones. A recent example is when the Mouvement Montreal Francais and Imperatif Francais succeeded in having the QC government remove "dial 9 for English" from the beginning of the phone answering messages of government agencies.

    There are many extremists and extremist groups in Quebec. There are the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Reseau de Resistance du Quebecois, Imperatif Francais, Jeunes Patriotes du Quebec, Mouvement Montreal Francais, Mouvement Monteregie Francais, Mouvement Laurentides Francais, and of course, the Parti Quebecois. Very few moderate Francophones ever speak out against any of these organizations.

  5. To Anonymous:
    I have to agree that the Black eyed Peas can be considered akin to McDonalds. They're a neatly packaged pop/rap band meant for mass public consumption. Having said that, I enjoy them as much as I do McDonalds!
    On the other hand, Iron Maiden is a very successful metal band that just simply has a different musical style, apparently one more appreciated, than Gilles Vigneault. While it is difficult to cross compare styles of music, the point is evident. Regardless of language, people like to listen to good music! And as it stands now, there is more good English music out there.

  6. To Anglo Bashers July 20, 2010 9:52 AM : Canadian Association for Free Expression (CAFE), Canada First Immigration Reform Committee (C-FIRC),Canadian Heritage Alliance (CHA) ,Canadian Nazi Party (CNP),Citizens Foreign Aid Reform (C-FAR), Heritage Front (HF),Nationalist Party of Canada (NPC),Northern Alliance, Western Guard, Ancient Alliance Québec, Brent Tyler, Bnai Brith, Howard Galganov, cities in West Island and many more... Why not the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party of Canada... Je peux vous en nommer d'autres si vous voulez... I can put every group in the same boat like you ! Pour la rigueur d'esprit, on repassera...We never heard the moderate Anglophones speak against the Québec bashing and the non-respect of the political, social choices of the Francophones majority !

  7. My heartiest congrats to the organizers. They figured out a marketing mix that brought out equivalent to 30% of the area population. That is phenomenal, especially if they drew more paying customers than the Jazz Fest in Montreal!

    That was a piece of good business thinking as opposed to appealing to detractors that create lose-lose situations. Language zealots are losers to begin with!

    It's a bigger bonus by having drawn people from outside Quebec altogether as that is an injection of cash into the local economy. THAT is a win-win situation. Festival d'été 1, Moronic Zealots 0.

  8. Anonymous said... I can put every group in the same boat like you!

    What a pathetically deluded response. You Google some names and throw together a simpleton's list of groups. What Anglo Bashers said to To derteilzeitberliner is true not matter how you try to distort and twist your comparison. There is no way you can compare the Canadian groups you listed to the Quebecois groups Anglo Bashers listed; they’re tactics are not the same at all. The Quebecois groups like Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the Jeunes Patriotes du Quebec are openly ethnocentric racists who deliberately and actively harass Anglophones and federalists at every opportunity. They advocate separation, and demonize Canada and Anglophones in order to win support for a cause, which they themselves cannot defend with logic and facts. The seppies can never sell the cause on merit alone; they must always conjure fear and loathing to gain favor for their dream. There are no comparable groups in Canada; if there were, the Quebecois media would be having a field day with it. The Quebecois separatists are actually the militant ones who claim to speak for all Quebecois and constantly beat the drums of war to drive a wedge between Quebec and Canada, so they can claim Canada does not want them. Hypocritical bullshit!!! And the fact that you throw in Bnai Brith, Howard Galganov, cities in West Island and many more...just proves how racist and anti-Anglophone you are. You can stand the fact that Anglos organize and speak out against the discriminatory language policies and socially acceptable Anglos bashing that take place anytime anyone from the Anglos community makes the slightest complaint. Look at the contempt that was hurled at Jacob Tierney for speaking his mind. Howard Galganov is hero in my book. He spoke his mind and paid the price. I’ve read his writings. He is angry for sure and does not try to soften his message with niceties (much like the seppies), but he speaks the truth about the Quebec. The truth does not live in Quebec, as long as it runs counter to the separatist dogma.

  9. To anonymous at July 20, 2010 3:40 PM : It's funny how you treat the list of group I've put together ! I thought the same when I read the one of Anglo Bashers ! Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste ? Mouvement Montréal français ? Because they make the promotion of an other political project and the respect of the french a priority ? It's funny I got a lot of friends who don't indorse the option of independance !


  11. There are enormous numbers of Quebecois who are anti-English in many respects but who hypocritically like listening to English music. This includes the idiot who anonymously comments on this blog in French and atrocious English, with exclamation marks at the end of nearly every sentence.
    There is a great deal of hypocrisy in Quebec. Many Francophones also despise Americans but they don't hesitate to shop across the U.S. border in Plattsburgh and Burlington.

  12. Critics???
    Just take a look at the report of M.Barry Tayler(English Can.) at WWW.CHARTATTACK.COM
    (Ten reasons festival of Quebec is Canada's
    coolest best festival.
    Federalist from QUEBEC

  13. The difference between the groups named by Anglo Bashers and those named by the "opponent" is simple: the "Canadian" groups are fringe and treated accordingly while the the others are seen as credible in the French-speaking media.

    On the Dieppe case, I'd actually like to hear from Francophones outside Québec if they consider their problems with recognition of their rights are linked to a backlash against bill 101.

  14. Excuse me...The show of shows was Rammstein! Not a one of the other groups even deserves mention in the same sentence as Rammstein. The week long line-up of mass crap like the "Peas" and such, are media-hyped junk groups that can't lip a tune! I'm disgusted that a band of Rammsteins stature would not get the recognition that it soo deserves. This is truly a group that is without compare. Shame on anyone who would say/think otherwise. They were the finale and by far the best of the best!

  15. i think it would make a huge difference if other english canadians start to appreciate and take more interest in the quebecois culture (movies, music, even the language itself, ect..) otherwise quebecois seperatistes have no reson why they should consider themselves canadians..il est possible que le manque d`interet envers les produits quebecois dans le reste du canada est un reflet du manque de bilinguisme en general,ce qui est problematique pour l`unite nationale... some people think it wont make a difference to the united nation if english canadians go to the cinema and watch a french made movie or enroll in french emirssion.. mais si on n`a rien en commun avec les quebecois comment est-qu`on peut dire que nous sommes tout le meme, "canadien", comme l`unite national favorise?

    i am a french emirssion student living in bc..