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The Best Bands We Saw At Festival d'été de Québec

Nickelback, 50 Cent, and the Offspring bring out the best in Quebec City's annual summer music festival.

by Glenn Alderson

Photos by Pink Palm Media

Nostalgia and second-comings seemed to be the underlying theme of the first weekend at Quebec City’s iconic Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ) this year. 

The annual summer festival has built its reputation on booking the biggest artists of our time to perform on the Plains of Abraham, one of the largest outdoor festival spaces in North America. This year was certainly no different with headliners Nickelback, 50 Cent, the Jonas Brothers and Offspring beaming in as the main attractions for weekend one, each performing to an audience of nearly 100,000 throughout the four consecutive nights that RANGE was on the ground. And thanks to Air Canada’s newly minted non-stop flights from YVR to YQB, attending FEQ has never been easier. 

 

The crowd on the Plains of Abraham at Festival d’été de Québec in Quebec City.

 

Opening night (Thursday, July 4) saw perseverant grunge rock titans Nickelback claim the headlining spot. With a new Netflix documentary (Hate To Love) recently released and an arsenal of hit singles padding their nearly two-hour set, there was more than enough substance to make up for any lack in style. Say what you will about Nickelback, the band has a new generation of pop rock fans sufficiently in their back pocket and, whether your jaded ass likes it or not, they’re not going anywhere. 

 

Nickelback performing at Festival d’été de Québec on July 4, 2024.

 

Nickelback has been riding the airwaves for more than two decades. And while their new documentary might have focused on the divisive nature of the band, there was nothing but love and adoration for Chad Kroeger and co. as they blasted through crowd favourites like “Hero,” “Photograph,” and a sparkling rendition of “Rockstar” accompanied by Juno Award winner Talk

This fandom for the four unsuspecting rockers from small town Hannah, AB is something that seemed to flow throughout the entire weekend. The following day, RANGE had the chance to sit down with east coast indie rock misfit P’tit Belliveau, who was quick to profess his love for Nickelback (and pop music in general). Later that evening he even snuck in a cover of the band’s biggest track, “How You Remind Me,” while visibly enjoying his first live performance with pyrotechnics in front of several thousand fans on the SiriusXM Stage.

 

P’tit Belliveau performing at Festival d’été de Québec on July 5, 2024.

 

Another artist steeped in nostalgia yet seemingly more relevant than ever is 50 Cent. Coming on stage after a triumphant performance from Atlanta rapper/activist Killer Mike, 50 Cent showed everyone how he’s managed to stay so relevant all these years with a sexually charged headline set that had fans looking a little friskier than usual. Accompanied by a team of exotic dancers, the NYC gangsta rap kingpin brought da club to Quebec with style — and more outfit changes than Lana del Rey when she headlined FEQ in 2023. The grin on 50’s face when he sat down on a chair mid-stage for his nightly lap dance was almost as big as when he looked out at the nearly sold-out Plains of Abraham filled with a sea of adoring French Canadians. It felt like all of Quebec City was there for the ride as he took fans through the hits from his memorable Get Rich or Die Trying era past The Massacre (“Candy Shop”), and all the way up to the bold beats of 2014’s Animal Ambition. 

 

50 Cent performing at Festival d’été de Québec on July 5, 2024.

 

Saturday evening on the Plains was sexy in a different kind of way when Carly Rae Jepsen and the Jonas Brothers dropped in to get pop fans shaking all over. However, it was opener Diamond Cafe, a funk-pop newcomer originally hailing from Victoria, BC, who ended up being one of the most surprising revelations of the weekend. He’s got a couple albums under his belt but the last two singles that he’s released via Warner Music Canada have elevated his status. With a 24-carat voice and on-stage swagger to match, it’s only a matter of time before Diamond Cafe is shining bright enough for the rest of the world to take notice.

Ending our FEQ rendezvous on a significantly louder note, the Offspring delivered what will likely go down as one of the most raucous sets of the weekend when they “came out to play” on Sunday evening. The So-Cal pop punk heavyweights ripped through a crowd-pleasing set of singles and even threw in a cover of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” for good measure. Over the course of their set, the banter between frontman Dexter Holland and guitarist Noodles felt a bit like listening to their Time to Relax podcast as they exchanged playful jabs and told the odd dad joke in between songs. Saving the best for last, the band ended the evening with “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” and the almighty “Self Esteem” from their 1994 breakout album, Smash

 

The Offspring performing at Festival d’été de Québec on July 7, 2024.

 

There’s a specific balminess that hangs in the air in Quebec City each summer that will wrap itself around you like a big sweaty hug. And every year, it’s that feeling that Festival d’été de Québec leans into while bringing the city the biggest, sweatiest party that they can throw. It’s no easy feat, but this evolving soundtrack that artistic director Louis Bellavance and his team at Bleu Feu curate is what makes it so special. FEQ is felt in every corner of the city and any music fan who is lucky enough to add it to their music festival passport will walk away with memories that will last a lifetime.

As FEQ continues on throughout the week and into the weekend with other headliners including Post Malone, J Balvin, Mötley Crüe, and Alan Walker, needless to say we’re already bracing ourselves for the FOMO that is sure to set in.