By Christine Leonard
Your last chance to soak up the sights, sounds and “je ne sais quoi” of summer, Festival de Musique Emergente (FME) is a music and arts festival that is as famous for its idyllic lakeside location as it is for the wide range of breakout and established artists it has been platforming over its 17-year history.
Mushrooming in scope and impact, the envelope-pushing event has grown from presenting a dozen artists in its first year to welcoming over 70 artists to the 2019 installment. While FME has evolved with the times, co-founder and programmer Pierre Thibault firmly believes that the vision and values behind the multilingual music showcase has remained unaltered.
“The original mission of the FME was to make room for marginal projects shunned by commercial radio in Quebec,” says Thibault. “We wanted to focus on this counterculture. We also wanted to invite alternative projects from all over the world to reach an audience that now knows that the independent music here is of the same caliber as the one found abroad.”
The 8-hour Cannonball Run North from Montreal to the festival’s verdant Abitibi Témiscamingue region will see some 20,000 festivalgoers head deep into the province’s heavily forested backyard. There they will take in four days of open air and indoor performances by the likes of DJ Kid Koala, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Daniel Romano, Material Girls, Atsuko Chiba, The Sadies, Half Moon Run, The Young Gods (Switzerland), and The 5, 6, 7, 8s (Japan) to name a few.
“It’s good to go out on the road with friends in Quebec, and to discuss culture, politics, love, and many other relevant things, while going on a weekend of crazy concerts,” says Thibault. “It is unifying to make the way from Montreal to Rouyn. We meet in convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, SAQ on the road and we take off, ready for another dimension — the FME!”
And if you find yourself torn between what shows to attend — that’s all part of the plan.
“We really like the small and medium format rooms that leave you with multiple decisions to make during your weekend,” says Thibault of the schedule. “I think that missing a good concert to see another one that was chosen at the same time is the true definition of a good music festival.” To make matters even trickier, Thibault shares that there’s some geographic sleight of hand at play: “We changed all the street names of Rouyn for the event so that the festivalgoers trust their ears to find the concert halls!”
Discovery is indeed the name of the game when it comes to navigating the unique musical experience that is FME.
FME takes place August 29 to September 1, 2019 in Ville de Rouyn-Noranda (Québec).
Festival de Musique Émergente, FME, Quebec