Q’s With Festival D’été De Québec Programming Director Louis Bellavance

An aerial view of the crowd at Festival d’été de Québec’s Bell Stage,
which is located in the historic setting of the Plains of Abraham,
in the charming Québec City.
Photo by André Olivier Lyra

Festival d’été de Québec will welcome over 100,000 music fans for the return of the 11-day fest that boasts an electric lineup packed with big-name artists, arguably one of the cheapest tickets available and one of the most charming locations you could dream up.

FEQ returns to the capital city of the Canadi- an province of Quebec July 4-14 with headliners including Post Malone, J Balvin, Nas, Jonas Brothers, Killer Mike, The Offspring, Zac Brown Band, 50 Cent and Nickelback.

Pollstar caught up with programming director Louis Bellavance, who serves as vice president of content and artistic direction at BLEUFEU, the organization behind the FEQ, to chat about the latest developments.

Louis 1
FEQ programming director Louis Bellavance

Pollstar: What’s new this year at FEQ?
Louis Bellavance: The main stage is a Stageline [SAM]750 … and this year we’ve built hydrau- lic screen holders, massive ones. So that’s a very big improvement — a new technological aspect of the festival. We’ll be able to con- nect those to the main stage to hold massive LED screens on each side. I’m talking 90 feet wide by 50 feet tall on each side of the stage. This is going to be very Coachella-esque, and I don’t think there’s anyone else using that many screens — no one in Canada, for sure.

We’ve also been able to pull the stage a bit back. So the main field will have a better capacity. It was already 90,000. We’ll be able to hold five or 10 [thousand] more. And we’ve added a fifth outdoor stage [for] emerging talent in another part of downtown [the Crave Stage at Place D’Youville]. Lots of very good up-and-coming artists that we’re excited to see and we’ve also added a few con- certs indoors at the Grand Théâtre de Québec … There’s some different content, a bit of jazz – stuff that we would not do outside typically. For artists there’s a big improvement this year — the artist world. [Our] disconnected stages used to have small backstage and dressing room areas — [but] there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for artists and industry players to connect. … So we’ve created a small village … We’re excited to be able to provide that kind of opportunity.

Are there any artists you’re particularly excited about playing FEQ this year?
Post Malone’s a big [get] for us. We’ve been trying for years [to book him]. He’s typically not open in our window because it’s the Fourth of July and it’s also his birthday and he’s never playing in that two-week stretch around the festival. … This time around another offer was out there and they heard about what happened with Imagine Dragons last summer — they played for close to 100,000 people — and I could tell that they were for the first time really thinking about it. We’re really happy the way it turned out. Other than that, tons of smaller [acts] I’m excited to see at the festival. I’m a big fan of Charley Crockett. He’s playing in front of Zac Brown Band. He’s straight classic country and he’s just brilliant. Jessie Murph’s playing in front of Post Malone – I’m hearing good stuff. There’s a guy playing in front of Ava Max – charlieonnafriday. He’s 21 and doesn’t even have a full record. But there’s lots of good vibes and feels maybe like a young Post Malone.

How did ticket sales go this year?
We sold everything we had in 90 minutes. So that’s even faster than the year before. It’s almost out of control at this point. It’s probably 140,000 tickets that went away instantly. … There’s definitely a hype. It’s not just the lineup; it’s the experience. It’s the fact that it’s been good for so long — people are expecting it to be very impressive.

And the festival still encourages wristband sharing?
100%, especially this year … so please share. If you can’t come [all 11 days], allow someone to enjoy the show. The field can hold it. The artists want to play for as many as they can. Trust us; try bands that you don’t know. We’re programming in every freaking direction. So it’s not designed for anyone specifically — it’s designed for all of us. So, of course, there’s lots of stuff that you’re not a fan of. You cannot be into Mötley Crüe and Jonas Brothers. I mean, I don’t think there’s a lot of [overlap]. Go on and try [the festival] or share.