If you’re remotely in tune with the National Capital Region’s cultural scene, you may have heard a thing or two about the Festival de l’Outaouais Émergent, that is, of course, if you don’t turn your back to what goes on across the bridges that separate Ottawa and Gatineau. Affectionately dubbed the FOÉ, this local festival that strives to give center stage to emerging artists from the region and beyond, will be presenting its 8th edition from September 10 to the 13. Throughout the years, the small festival has incontestably become a key event that’s helping to put Gatineau on the map as a growing hub for the arts. It’s also contributing to the revitalization of the heart of downtown Gatineau, a popular sector just a stone’s throw away from the Nation’s Capital, which is slowly, but surely getting a much-needed facelift.
Since day one, FOÉ organizers have been stepping up their game to offer a rich programming that’s at once eclectic and well-rounded and this year is proving to be no different. There’s going to be lots of talented artists to check out over the course of the 4-day event, so to help guide your choices, Eventful Capital has put together a top 10 of must-see bands to include on your list of performances to check out. Here it is in no particular order:
Milk & Bone
Music journalists and enthusiasts alike will agree that catching Milk & Bone live is a must. The Montreal-based duo has been gaining momentum this past year with the release of their debut album Little Mourning, a first record that was long-listed for the Polaris Prize no less. I had the pleasure of discovering Milk & Bone at the FOÉ last year at what turned out to be one one of their first performances ever, and I was immediately captivated by their soothing electro-synth pop melodies. Right then and there, I knew these girls would blow up, and sure enough, a year later, they just keep rising.
Seeing Timber Timbre live is almost a trance-like experience. The band typically performs with very little lighting to avoid visual distractions and create an atmospheric ambiance, which gives the audience no choice but to absorb the band’s cinematic moody indie folk rock sound. It’s a nice change from the flashing lights that we’re often bombarded with and very appropriate given the group’s approach to music. If you expect a high energy and lively set, you’ll be sorely disappointed. However if you enjoy the haunting and mesmerizing, make sure you catch Timber Timbre.
If you’re into hip hop, do yourself a favour and go see Koriass, you won’t be disappointed. The Quebec rapper straight outta St-Eustache has been around the block and it shows through his rhymes and flow. An influential part of the Rap Queb game for over 14 years, Korey has racked up awards and recognitions left and right, proving that he’s become a staple of Francophone rap.
Montreal punk rock veterans Grimskunk have undeniably paved the way for today’s Canadian punk rock scene and, although they’ve slowed down the pace in the past years, they still know how to party and their live shows are straight Madness…in a good way! If you enjoy punk mixed with a little bit of ska and reggae and are up for a rowdy good time, you certainly won’t regret catching their set.
Elliot Maginot has been on my radar for a couple of years now following the release of his single Monsters at War. The Montréal-based indie singer-songwriter creates beautiful alternative folk tunes with layers of vocals and infused in moody dreamy pop. Although he’s still quite underrated, it’s only a matter of time until he gets recognized on a bigger scale.
Another Polaris Prize long-listee featured as part of this year’s lineup is none other than the talented Pierre Kwenders. The Montréal-based self-proclaimed Bantou emperor with roots in the Congo, has single-handedly created a new genre of afro-pop music that merges traditional sounds from the Motherland with contemporary ones. He’s fresh, he’s fun, he’s charismatic and he knows how to get people moving. Having seen him twice this year, I can affirm with confidence that he’s one you don’t want to miss.
Mackenzie Rhythm Section
Ottawa’s own Mackenzie Rhythm Section is gaining a reputation for itself thanks to its energetic live shows, charismatic band members and contagious funk, soul and rock n’ roll. Their performances are basically a guaranteed good time and with their forthcoming album set to come out soon, their FOÉ appearance is bound to be another fun and memorable dance party.
The name alone is intriguing, and the music in a class of its own. Scattered Clouds aren’t afraid to experiment with weird and moody sounds and that makes them stand apart from everything else coming out of the National Capital Region these days. It’s film-noir-esque, it’s dark and it’s superb. Catch their set on September 11 at 6:45 pm at the main site.
Aylmer-based newcomers Chérie have only been around for the past year or so, but they’re already being noticed and compared to the likes of Daughters, which is promising for the folk pop duo turned-four-piece. Their simple approach to music doesn’t take away from their charm. The leader singer’s soothing voice is an instant catch and that alone will have your ears begging for more.
A proud ambassador of his native 07 region, D-Track has become a true wordsmith over the years. The Montréal-based rapper and spoken word artist has an ease with words that is hard to come across. He delivers intelligent hip-hop and is quite gifted when it comes to rocking the mic for a live public. This time around, he’ll be presenting pieces from his debut spoken word album. It’s always a pleasure to have D-Track back!
And there you have it: Eventful Capital’s top picks for this year’s FOÉ. For more details on programming or tickets, visit the festival’s official website.