Day 2 at Festival dete de Quebec: No Skrillex in sight

Festival dete Day 2, by the numbers:

Acoustic guitars: 6

Bands with vocal harmonies: 3

Fun size bags of chips consumed by this reviewer: 3

Outkast rendition: 1

Babies at The Tragically Hip in giant headphones: 12

While my first day of Festival dete was all about EDM and pop stars, day two was filled with good old rock and roll which is exactly what I needed after seeing Skrillex and Diplo speeding around on a Segway-like contraption.

Here are four stray observations:

1. Its possible to kill it on lead guitar whilst wearing a cast

Dave Grohl isnt the only one gracing the stage with a broken limb at Festival dete. Family of the Years lead singer/guitarist Joe Keefe strummed away on his guitar in a white cast during the L.A. bands afternoon pop-up show. Playing in front of the Quebec parliament building, Family of the Years stripped-down, acoustic set was filled with folky tunes and summery vocal harmonies. They ended their 30-minute set with breakout single, Hero, best known as the sentimental sing-a-long tune from Boyhood. Considering the band played to thousands the previous day, it was a real treat to see them in such an intimate setting to a crowd of about 75 people.

2. Gord Downie rocks leather pants, white cowboy hat.

While Keith Urban crooned at Plains of Abraham, Gord Downie dressed in leather pants withered across a much smaller stage with The Tragically Hip. Unlike my NOW colleague Joshua Kloke, who has seen the Hip play a whopping 37 times (at least by my last check), this was my first time catching the legendary Kingston band. And they did not disappoint. They opened their 90-minute set with My Music at Work, Ahead by a Century and New Orleans Is Sinking before jumping into a full rendition of their landmark 1992 album, Fully, Completely. Theres an incredible intensity to those songs, and they translated well to the packed crowd of die-hard Hip fans, who enraptured with even slower tunes, like Pigeon Camera. Big points to Downies quirky dance moves, who guitar-less, focused entirely on his vocals and shimmying.

3. The Quebecois bands are the real stars here.

Festival dete brings in legacy international bands as headliners, but it feels like the heart of the festival is still with the Quebecois acts. My first taste of local flavour came via Dylan Perron et Elixir de Gumbo, who played an early evening set at a downtown public square on the cusp of Old Quebec. The excellent five-piece band is all strings, and together they create a lush, rollicking sound thats equal parts bluegrass and folk, with a touch of Celtic foot-stomping.

Next up I saw Pascale Picard, a Quebec City darling who wears a plethora of musical masks on stage. Sometimes shes like a less angst-y sounding Alanis Morisette shredding on her acoustic guitar or shes a pop songstress with an insane vocal range. At one point, she rapped a dozen stanzas before breaking into a karaoke-like stream of consciousness, starting with La Vie En Rose, then singing snippets of Postal Services Such Great Heights, Gin and Juice, Take Me Home, Country Roads and Outkasts Roses. It was a great finale to an already tight set.

4. Babies with headphones, drunk middle-agers, brace-faced teenagers and everything in-between makes the fest.

One of my favourite elements of Festival dete is the variety of the audiences, which is a testament to the diverse programming. On my first night, it was neon-clad teenagers piling up on each others shoulders (the highest tower I saw was three people) and last night it was parents swaddling babies and toddlers on shoulders. It was refreshing to see thousands of people of all ages and interests swarming together peacefully. (And when the main stage shows end, all eating poutine together.) | @SamEdwardsTO

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