The Le Festif festival, in 5 “beats”
The word “Festif” has become so identified with this festival that we’ve crossed it out of our dictionaries. But all’s forgiven, so long as they retain the unique fusion of things that gives the Le Festif festival its personality! It’s a “groove” we’ll enjoy breaking down into 5 beats, or musical styles…
1. SOUL: The very soul of the festival!
"Is it a truly legendary creature? Has this little event got life enough in it, in a world crammed with festivals," you wonder, "to even have a soul?" You bet Baie-Saint-Paul’s Le Festif has a soul! A peerless personality that has helped it win over festival-goers everywhere, from the music industry to the venue operators! Maybe it’s the exhilarating mix of sites that takes the city by storm, making the month of July rock with an off-the-chain program that goes off in all directions; maybe its the stunning use of the region’s local assets, from alcoholic drinks to the landscapes, and the surprises to be found everywhere on festival days? When a festival gives you a chance to party ‘til the wee hours in a church courtyard, to see trash-electronica performed in the priest’s garage, to chill out on an inflated float on the rivière du Gouffre opposite a floating stage, to see a pop-up show in a back garden, or watch a marching band go by when you're standing in line with Philippe Fehmiu to order your locavore lunch, for sure it’s an unforgettable weekend! Maybe it’s a bit “all that,” but “all that” is the result of the passion and imagination of two punk teenagers who loved music; they collected LPs and dreamt of seeing their small city kick out the jams: Clément Turgeon and Anne-Marie Dufour! The two young rebels have grown (especially Clément!), but the sacred fire stays strong as they’re both the heart of the festival, surrounded by a great team that supplies ever-trippier plans for this event, one that sets an inspiring standard: Baie-Saint-Paul’s Le Festif!
2. INDIE: The program!
You watch the countdown on the web, see the program unveiled, mark dates on the calendar: You’ve gotta get up on time and get in line (in person or online) to make sure you get your hands on some summer fun! But, as festival-goers, you’ve got it easy! Finalizing the program is a year-round job for the gang at Le Festif! First, you’ve got to know your stuff, stay up to date… Whatever the case, you’ve got to eat, sleep, and breathe music of all kinds, to be a true benchmark in the industry! You need to know how to make the most of opportunities, as well as create them; and be willing to take risks, to try things out! To be a truly authentic festival, you need to please everyone, including yourself! Basically, this is what Clément does: create a varied program, full of surprises and good stuff, but one that still holds together, makes some sense. His “Catch of 2022?” Booking L’Impératrice before the band conquers the world (AKA America, AKA The States) during its performance at Coachella (the festival to play). An intuition that’ll give us a chance to feel that same vibe and see the French group here at home, despite the fact that the entire world is fighting over who gets to see them, at the moment. And that’s all well and good, but once you’ve got their names on the program, there’s still a ton of work to do to get all these great performers to Baie-Saint-Paul, and get them up on stage… That’s Anne-Marie’s job! Together, they deliver a festival unlike any other in Quebec: more artists and performances, more big headliners, more new original, up-and-coming discoveries, more different styles. Just more, more, more! Even the circus comes to town. In other words, a program that plays the “indie” card doesn’t get bogged down in what can or can’t be done!
3. POP: A look that pops!
Le Festif has always had an eye-catching “artsy” side to it! Over the years, many styles of illustration have been featured. Always totally cool, trail-blazing, bold and made by trend-setters, the Le Festif festival is original, intense, and it does what it wants to do! Le Festif’s latest visual look was designed by Arnopeople, a Quebec illustrator with impressive credentials! Because the wolf represents the city of Baie-Saint-Paul the visual focus is a wolf character; on the “set design” side of things, they've been having a blast for 2 years now! Of course, editions of Le Festif that included public health measures required the festival to reinvent itself, specifically to provide a bit of atmosphere for some of the smaller stages (remember the “nest” stage?) and to promote social distancing (old barrels, graffiti’ed by local artists, a true stroke of genius). Then, Frederick Ouellet, visual artist and experienced set designer came in and brought his own touch of madness to Le Festif spaces and stages! The new Baie-Saint-Paul resident brings the team’s dreams of greatness to life! “Greatness,” really? Absolutely! This year, they've been inspired by the city’s forgotten, bizarre, astonishing, and weird legends! This is why the stage design and the visual look includes mysterious giant tentacles, UFOs (lots of UFOs), and a Winnebago escaping from toxic vapours: this ought to be interesting!
4. Acoustic: Naturally green!
Technology and progress is great, but sometimes the easiest way is the best way! Easy, like an acoustic guitar. Easy, like a cup you refill over and over. Easy, like working together with your neighbours. Easy, like eating real food with real ingredients. Easy, like carpooling. As it matures and develops, Le Festif keeps its feet on the ground (clean ground, preferably) and still knows how to use common sense! How? By not selling any disposable products (using reusable, biodegradeable, and recycled items, for example), and in so doing, being a zero-waste festival! Even the performers are hosted in a zero-waste environment, provided with bulk items in the accommodations. A festival where access to water is controlled in order to sell more water? Not this one. Baie-Saint-Paul opts for potable water-supply stations and reusable cups and bottles. Cups which can also be used to enjoy MicroBrasserie Charlevoix microbrewery beer, including one brewed specially for the occasion. That takes care of what to drink! The food is also made locally and from real ingredients. Street food kiosks are set up (by local restos like Les Faux-Bergers) for festival-goers who like gourmet food. With lots of camping spots on-site, a carpooling network and bike rentals, they also try to be a car-free festival, to the extent that’s possible. In other words, Le Festif is really doing all it can to keep the very place it first saw the light of day as clean and as beautiful as possible! Even recycling cigarette butts… And that’s no joke!
5. ELECTRO: Plugged-in projects!
Le Festif, that’s just a weekend in July, right? No, my friend. You’ll see, there are all kinds of initiatives that revolve around Le Festif! Engagement with the community, the Quebec music industry, as well as youth transcend this one event! By way of the Cabaret Festif de La Relève [Next Generation Festif Cabaret], the organization provides a stage for Quebec’s promising new musical acts. Set up as a competition, the event has given rise to several acts who are no longer entirely unknown: Émile Bilodeau, Philippe Brach, Alex Burger, Ariane Roy, Clay and Friends… Plus, they also want to share this taste for Quebec’s music with youth, with Le Festif à l’école [Le Festif in schools]! Begun locally, the project has made small steps forward across all of Quebec by offering performances, classroom visits, speakers, and workshops to students, provided by well-known writers, composers, and performers of all kinds. And finally, they don’t let their Le Festif festival-goers down, even in the freezing cold of a pandemic winter! In 2020-21, Le Festif de Baie-Saint-Paul established La Tournée de portes [The Door-to-Door Tour]: travelling shows on a mobile stage that stops right in front of your doorstep… There’s no doubt: like a true rocker, Le Festif has its community tattooed across its heart!