FME 2022 Wrap-Up

Matt Hertendy

As the Festival de Musique Émergente (FME) heads into the final days of its 20th-anniversary edition, contributor Matt Hertendy files his final festival dispatch from Quebec’s Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

September 3, 2022: Day 3

Oh boy, another day at FME! As of Saturday morning, it is now halfway over. It feels like it just started, but also like I’ve been here for weeks. Time does funny things when you work and party at the same time. But hey, there is no time to reflect on time – we have shows to see! 

12:00 pm: thaïs

thaïs Matt Hertendy

thaïs was dealt an unfortunate hand this afternoon. Bad weather prompted a change in venue, on top of playing a free show scheduled at the same time as an industry event taking place elsewhere. I adore thaïs’ two gorgeously arranged EPs, so I skipped out on networking to see her live show. 

What transpired was a strange vibe, as the number of children at this free event could have outnumbered the adults. I don’t blame adults for finding ways to keep the kiddos occupied for an hour or two – rather, good on these parents for introducing them to lush synth-pop at such a young age. 

All in all, thaïs’ set was very strong, and perhaps she has made lifelong fans today. 

thaïs Matt Hertendy

8:00 pm: Fernie

Fernie Matt Hertendy

This festival’s biggest discovery for me is Fernie. A golden-voiced, incredibly charming soulful artist whose sound comes from the school of Frank Ocean. 

Along with his two-piece backing band, Fernie took us on a journey from the depths of despair to the peak of happiness through his straightforward but effective songwriting and hairpin tonal shifts.

Fernie Matt Hertendy

9:00 pm: Lydia Képinski

Lydia Képinski Matt Hertendy

One word I would use to describe Lydia Képinski’s sound is “seismic”, as the bass, drums and her faithful fans pound it out along with her heavy heavy songs. The people are doing less dancing and more thrashing out any pent-up energy that they brought into the room with them. These are cathartic tunes. 

If there is one criticism I have heard volleyed about at this festival it is that the indoor shows are extremely loud. I would tend to agree. At this point in the night, I have a splitting headache. The marathon is getting the best of me, and I leave this set after Képinski rips through the fantastic title track from her latest record, Depuis, to get some air. 

Lydia Képinski Matt Hertendy

I cut through the festival ground and catch a bit of…

9:25 pm: CRi

CRi Matt Hertendy

JUNO award-winning electronic maestro CRi is playing to a surprisingly small but unsurprisingly engaged crowd on the main stage. At one point the sound drops out and a giant exasperated moan rings throughout the festival grounds. It comes back on shortly after and the party is back on. Technical difficulty or unconventional beat drop? 

I fought through my headache to fulfill a teenage dream of seeing Animal Collective live. Huddled with fellow reporters, we marvel at how we are in rural Quebec watching Animal Collective next to the VIP heat lamp. FME makes dreams come true.

September 4, 2022: Day 4

2:00 pm: Surprise Artist Elizabete Balčus.

Since the festival lineup had been announced, I pencilled in the Sunday at 2 pm show as one to catch, eager to be surprised by who would show up. The surprise artist was Elizabete Balčus.

Elizabete Balčus Matt Hertendy

The only thing bigger than Balčus’ sound is her hat. With just herself and a pile of synths and pedals, Balčus filled the botanical garden with her space-age art-pop strangeness. Beautiful sounds on a beautiful day. 

6:00 pm: Ombiigizi

Ombiigizi Matt Hertendy

Anishnaabe noisemakers Ombiigizi brought the ruckus to the FME stage. In a set that was all too short, the band crushed out songs from their Polaris Music Prize-nominated album Sewn Back Together.

Seeing Ombiigizi live hits different, particularly Adam Sturgeon’s spoken word section in the song “Birch Bark Paper Trails.” On the album, this section rings extremely poignant. However, in person, right in front of you in the moment, it is immediate and wrenching. Ombiigizi has a way of using noise to make you listen. They are the real deal. 

Ombiigizi Matt Hertendy

8:00 pm: Lou-Adriane Cassidy

Lou-Adriane Cassidy Matt Hertendy

Lou-Adriane Cassidy is another young Quebecoise singer-songwriter making waves right now, most recently winning the Slaight Music Prize for Emerging Francophone artist of the year. 

Cassidy’s performance is raw, straight-up guitar rock. She throws herself around and headbangs like the best of them but there is a level of vulnerability to her performances both in lyrics and her stage attire. She is a brave and talented performer and is one to look out for in the future. 

Lou-Adriane Cassidy Matt Hertendy

9:00 pm: Rich Aucoin

Rich Aucoin Matt Hertendy

Rich Aucoin came prepared to give us a good time with his signature blend of multimedia, crowd work, and upbeat, easy-to-sing-along-to-tunes. Aucoin’s new supporting lineup adds some body and depth to some of his older catalogue and is excellent at holding it down while Aucoin does his thing.

Matt Hertendy

Aucoin’s set is peppered with news clips, viral videos, memes, clips from the movie Cats (2019, you know the one), and is narrated in part by actor Michael Caine. It is a dance party for the terminally online, urging all of us to be in the moment with him, under his infamous giant parachute.

Rich Aucoin Matt Hertendy

10:30 pm: Hubert Lenoir

Hubert Lenoir Matt Hertendy

 Here is a list of things you may or may not see at a Hubert Lenoir show:

High visibility clothing, stage dives, camcorders, a self-constructed garbage costume, stage dives, a whole bottle of rum vanishing, not one but two saxophones, stage dives, a Nintendo switch for some reason, chain-smoking, blood, stage dives, riding the bassist like a horse, “Party Rock Anthem,” keyboardist sharing crackers and hummus with the audience, beer can baseball, stage dives, and one smashed guitar. This list can’t possibly be comprehensive because there is SO MUCH going on at all times at a Hubert Lenoir show. 

Hubert Lenoir Matt Hertendy

The true miracle of this absolute chaos is that the music is incredible. There is a reason why Lenoir is a transatlantic superstar at the moment. Lenoir is an absolutely magnetic performer, can hit incredibly high notes or death metal-esque screams, and is backed by a dynamic band and cast of singers/dancers. The word “spectacle” does not begin to describe the festival mainstage’s final show. 

Hubert Lenoir Matt Hertendy

And with that next-level performance, our FME adventure draws to a close. In total, I was able to see twenty-two artists play over the course of four days. That is a pretty incredible number, made even more incredible by the sheer quality of these performances. This is a credit to the FME Programming team, who are able to pull this incredible lineup together, creating an easily walkable festival area, keeping us on our toes with numerous surprises, and their extremely generous hospitality. 

Thanks for a great weekend, FME, and congratulations on an excellent twentieth-anniversary festival!


Thank you for Visiting DOMINIONATED

When you make a flexible one-time or monthly donation to DOMINIONATED or subscribe to PRESS PLAY, our $1/month new music feature, you join a community of supporters who are keeping DOMINIONATED’s conversations going. Your contribution ensures that our collective of writers and creators can keep producing valuable content like this in the future. Thank you for your support.


Previous
Jonathan Personne 
Jonathan Personne