Quebec marks festival model – Top stars, low cost

QUEBEC CITY, July 16, (Agencies): The top names in music playing some of their careers’ largest shows, with tickets selling for a sliver of the price they usually command.

Such is the unique model of Quebec City’s summer festival, which turned 50 this year with a lineup teeming with A-list acts including metal greats Metallica, rock pioneers The Who, and Kendrick Lamar, one of the most acclaimed artists in hip-hop.

The golden anniversary comes as the live music industry sweeps the Western world, with millennial-generation fans flocking to festivals that keep growing in size and number — despite some high-profile flops along the way.

Quebec City’s festival owes its character to the special culture of the city, the cradle of French-speaking Canada where public funding contributes around 13 percent of the event’s budget.

Tickets for the full 11-day event — known in French as the Festival d’ete de Quebec — start at $95 (US$75), less than some headliners charge for their own shows and far below entrance to major global festivals such as Coachella in California, where three-day tickets next year start at US$429.

The Quebec festival’s advantage lies in size. Around 90,000 people can pack in before the main stage — said to be North America’s largest — on the Plains of Abraham where British troops decisively defeated France in a 1759 battle.

Unlike most festivals, which rigorously check that fans keep on wristbands to prove they paid, the Quebec festival encourages buyers to share tickets. It sold out all 135,000 for the 50th anniversary edition.

“Even if we gave out all of the tickets for free, Quebec City is a market of 750,000 people so you need to find 100,000 people who want to see an artist”, said Louis Bellavance, the festival’s programming director.

“So we don’t exactly have a risk of a riot”, he said.

“It’s pretty unique. This would be impossible in a market like Montreal, Paris, New York or LA, where so much is going on at once”.

The gargantuan stage is a selling point for artists. Pop singer P!nk declared during her set that it was her career’s largest crowd, a feat the festival believes is true for many acts.

Metallica seized on the open field for intense effects, with light-beams replicating helicopter air-strikes for the anti-war song “One” and red lasers soaring into the sky.

Metallica — on a global tour for “Hardwired … to Self-Destruct”, the group’s first album in nearly a decade — enjoys a fervent fan base in metal-loving Quebec, with perhaps a fifth of the audience sporting the band’s T-shirts.

But when asking why some audience members had not yet seen the group, frontman James Hetfield nonetheless quipped: “Maybe you were just bored. We’re kind of old now”.


LOS ANGELES: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has released an official Spotify playlist.

Trudeau unveiled his “PM Mix” of 39 songs on the streaming service Saturday. It includes tracks by Canadian artists such as Drake, Shawn Mendes, K.D. Lang and The Tragically Hip, as well as songs by Fiona Apple, R.E.M., Peter Gabriel and Nenah Cherry.

Trudeau asked “What am I listening to this summer? What should I be?” in both English and French when he posted the playlist Saturday on Twitter.

The 45-year-old prime minister is not the first world leader to publicly share a Spotify playlist. Former president Barack Obama released his summer music selections in two Spotify playlists in 2015. The artists included Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Coldplay and the Rolling Stones.

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