Over the past half-century, Festival d'été de Québec (or FEQ) has established itself as one of the best major music festivals in North America, if not the world.
This year promises to be no different, with festival organizers curating one of its most star-studded lineups yet to celebrate its 50th anniversary, including the Who, Metallica, Muse, Kendrick Lamar, P!nk, Flume, Migos and even a rare North American appearance from the newly reunited Gorillaz.
That got us thinking about all the amazing shows we've seen on the historic Plains of Abraham since we started covering the festival. So, without further ado, peruse our picks in Exclaim!'s Top 10 Favourite Festival d'été de Québec Performances, organized chronologically from most recent to earliest.
Click the links below to read our reviews or see snippets and full songs from past sets. If we missed anything, feel free to let us know by commenting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
July 9, 2016
"If anyone on the Plains of Abraham had any doubts about O'Shea Jackson's dedication to hip-hop… they were most certainly put to rest with an explosive, career-spanning setlist," Exclaim!'s Calum Slingerland wrote in his glowing review of the former N.W.A. member's headlining 2016 summer set. "No matter how many children's movies and buddy comedies he's appeared in, the West Side legend thankfully hasn't cooled off in the slightest."
Sting & Peter Gabriel
July 7, 2016
Festival d'été de Quebec opened last year's (2016) festivities on a high note with this one-of-a-kind concert that found '80s pop legends Sting and Peter Gabriel performing hits from each of their respective careers, sometimes swapping vocal duties and even joining forces for a blowout encore of the Police's "Every Breath You Take" and Gabriel's "Sledgehammer."
July 11, 2015
Dave Grohl got dealt a bit of bad luck in 2015 when he fell off a stage in Sweden and broke his leg. To help make the best of a bad situation, the legendary rock frontman had a massive throne lined with strobe lights, old guitar necks and the band's logo, constructed to keep his injured leg elevated.
Sadly, their summertime set in Quebec wasn't meant to be. Heavy rain caused the whole show to be called off four songs in. That being said, it was still a night many will never forget, and the band promised to return to the festival in the future.
July 9, 2015
One year after fellow A$AP Mob member A$AP Rocky wowed an enormous Québécois crowd, A$AP Ferg delivered one of the most high-energy and memorable performances of the festival with this set — heavy on tracks from his debut, crew cuts and subsequent solo mixtape — as part of Skrillex's Full Flex Express.
July 6, 2014
American arena rockers Journey have been a band for over four decades, but they played one of the biggest shows of their career on the first Sunday of Festival d'été de Quebec's 2014 festival. Classic singles "Any Way You Want It," "Wheel in the Sky" and "Faithfully" had the whole 80,000-plus crowd singing, but it was set closer "Don't Stop Believin'" that caused the loudest sing-along of the weekend.
Lady Gaga / Tegan and Sara
July 4, 2014
Lady Gaga's vocal abilities were on full display during this headlining set from the artsy pop star, complete with costume changes, on-point backup dancers and solid gold hits ("Poker Face," "Born This Way," "Bad Romance," etc.). Making it even more memorable was Canadian siblings Tegan and Sara, who played hits from the previous summer's Heartthrob at what was then (and probably still is) the biggest show of their career. ("We feel like we're U2 in the '80s!" Tegan Quin hilariously shouted at one point during their set.)
Eagles of Death Metal
July 6, 2013
"Desert rocking greasers Eagles of Death Metal looked ready to let out some aggression when they finally arrived at Festival d'été's Bell Stage 15 minutes after their scheduled start time," Exclaim!'s Matthew Ritchie wrote of the band's 2013 performance on the Plains of Abraham. But it was pure love as soon as Jesse Hughes and his crew kicked into "I Only Want You," with the sizeable crowd eating up every minute of their too-short set.
Father John Misty
July 6, 2013
It's pretty rare for Exclaim! reviewers to give a 10 out of 10, but there was no score more fitting for Father John Misty's set opening for the Black Keys at the festival's 2013 edition. Part stand-up comedy, part freakish folk-rock, the then up-and-coming singer-songwriter gave it his all, and was invited back to play a more intimate solo set the following year because of it.
July 5, 2013
One of the rare shows to feature almost all of its original members, the Wu-Tang Clan took the thousands-upon-thousands of hip-hop heads in attendance back to the early '90s with this 2013 festival highlight that found the East Coast rap crew playing a set heavy on their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Each rapper — Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, RZA, GZA and Method Man among them — got some time in the spotlight to perform their solo cuts.
July 11, 2012
Believe it. Four years after he reinvented himself as an EDM artist, Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex) came to Quebec and played in front of over 50,000 fans as part of the festival's 2012 edition. "Skrillex is on top of his game, folks," our reviewer wrote, praising his elaborate laser/pyro/smoke show that even included a spaceship that transformed mid-set and hoisted him 40 feet above the crowd. We still can't stop thinking about this show.
Check out Festival d'été de Québec's full lineup and get passes to this year's festival here.