Le Festival d’été de Québec


It’s time for the annual Quebec City Summer Festival, and I thought I’d share my schedule for the proceedings.

The festival has been going since 1968 and now apparently achieves a total attendance of a staggering 1.5 million. The city is pretty much overrun for ten or eleven days, with outdoor and indoor venues all over the place. The biggest venue is on the historic Plaines d’Abraham, which (when it’s not covered in snow) looks like this:


But during the festival evenings, looks something like this:


Quebec does love its 80’s music, so there’s always a lot of that, with smatterings of contemporary and traditional thrown in for good measure too.

Here’s my schedule:

Friday 4th: This was quite tricky, because for me it was a toss up between
Lady Gaga or St. Vincent. Quite a few people have been saying good things about St. Vincent, and after listening to both her and Gaga‘s last album,
St. Vincents was definitely the better. Actually what almost tipped it for me was the
St. Vincent support act Thus Owls, which is the best music of the lot, but in the end I’m bowing down to conformity and going to see the mystical Lady Gaga on the Plaines d’Abraham, as even though she’s not my usual cup of proverbial tea, the massive sparkling energetic show with 150,000 or more people should be quite something.

So: Lady Gaga it is, supported by Tegan and Sara.

Saturday 5th: Snoop D-O-double-G is in the house! Or rather, on the Plains! That’s going to be amazing, and there’s some hippity-hoppity support acts too!

Sunday 6th: Well, on the Plains there’s the Steve Miller Band and then Journey, but I just don’t think I can handle that, so I’m off to see Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch play some blues at The Petit Imperial instead, because the name deserves it alone.

Monday 7th: Electro night, with Black Atlass, Electric Youth, and Phantogram playing at the Imperial de Quebec.

Tuesday 8th: Black Tiger Sex Machine, GTA, The Crystal Method, and
The Bloody Beetroots all at The Loto-Quebec stage area in the Parc de la Francophonie.

Wednesday 9th: A return at last to the Plaines d’Abraham for The Glitch Mob and Deadmau5!

Thursday 10th: Queens of the Stone Age on the plains were tempting, but I can’t pass up Cypress Hill in the Parc de la Francophonie.

Friday 11th: Blondie and Billy Joel. Blondie would be pretty good, I’m sure, but I’ve a feeling I might bail out and take a day off here, unless I decide to check out one the obscure acts playing at the other venues…

(** edit – ok, I was being a bit mean by omission to Billy Joel here, (I’ll probably enjoy the show well enough even though I’m generally neutral about his music) and after a conversation with @tokidokizenzen I’ve decided that I probably will go see him and Blondie after all!)

Saturday 12th: This is my 39th birthday! Suuns and Marillion at the Parc de la Francophonie. Yes!

Sunday 13th: The last day of the festival, and it’s going to be tempting to go to see Bryan Adams just for ‘The Summer of ’69‘ and to re-live the horror of that Robin Hood song that was pretty good to begin with but took forever to go away…

So that’s it. Bear in mind I’ll have to take the ferry over the fleuve every day, walk to the venue, then stagger back the same way at the end of each night. It’s going to be pretty exhausting, but fun! 🙂



There’s a rat-shaped hole in the Universe. Her name was Athena, and now she’s gone.


There’s a rat-shaped hole in the Universe. Her name was Athena, and now she’s gone.

I haven’t really done death. There was my Grandma when I was very young, but I didn’t go to the funeral because my mum and auntie argued over whether or not she should have a Christian burial. I used to go round Grandma’s house, and then she was gone, but I was very young.

I had a budgie called Dennis and he did karate. If I stood smartie tubes up he would side-kick them. We loved each other very much. One weekend I went to stay at a friend’s house, which I hadn’t done before, and Dennis pined for me and became very ill and didn’t recover. He fell of his perch dead while I was watching, and then I went for a long bike ride on my Grifter. Mum had to call someone to search for me.

My older sister had a boyfriend who killed himself. He did the thing with the car exhaust, but it was all rather distant. Must have been a scandal in our small English village, I’m sure, but I was young, detached.

My mum lost a baby once, and I was young and naïve and I said “Maybe it’s for the best,” and mum was angry. I don’t know or can’t remember who the baby’s dad was. I don’t know who my dad is either, or if it’s the same dad as my sister. It never really came up.

A few years ago in Glastonbury there seemed to be a spate of local people dying, and it was strange and unsettling. There was a guy who I didn’t really know but a few of us had piled round his flat one night after an evening at The King Arthur. He was a bit weird and untidy, like many of us, and not long after that night he was dead. Apparently he hadn’t been around for a few days, and eventually someone thought to check up on him. He was dead. And Brian, he was a visionary peace and love kind of guy who documented all kinds of events on video. I didn’t know him well or very long at all and then he had cancer and was dying. And then he was dead, all rather quick. That was shocking.

I felt some emotional loss from the deaths of Iain Banks and Rik Mayall. Sometimes the passing of people you don’t know personally can affect you too, and you mourn in your own way.

My wife’s mother and uncle passed within days of each other. She was ten years old at the time. Her mother had a rare condition and she died very suddenly and not pleasantly at all. She also left a son of two and a half. It was many years after that that my wife finally allowed herself to cry again. We cry now for Athena.

There’s a rat-shaped hole in the Universe. Her name was Athena, and now she’s gone.

She left behind eleven beautiful children, and we still have eight of them. Athena’s body is in the freezer until we decide what to do with it. At the very least we’d like to keep her ashes, and we have a box with some photos and the piece of cloth we cuddled her in over the past few days when she needed help to eat and drink and clean herself. She’s gone and it’s strange and we feel the loss keenly. I feel the loss keenly. Sometimes we have to acknowledge the existence of death as real, and no I don’t like it at all. Athena is gone and I miss her.

Death is shit, but I am alive, and death reminds me of that.