Festival Musique Emergente FME is situated in the small mining town of Rouyn Noranda and is fast proving to become a cultural hub. A 10 hours drive north of Montreal or a 2 hour propellor plane flight across a vast horizon of forest. We arrived at night, in the soft air to a really welcoming FME team who showed us around and stopped by for some poutine, before mixing in with the late night festival crowd. One thing was how generous and supportive the team were they pulled out all the stops, we felt blessed.
The festival brought together a diverse range of talent with a sway towards psyche and garage rock, but anything from the spellbound folk sounds of Philippe Brach to the wild bouncing LLA. Thanks to government funding, the organisers have put together a diverse line up and there seemed to be a heavy international media presence despite its remote location.
The next afternoon saw us attend the fantastic pool party thrown by Montreal based indie label Bonsound. It was a particularly glorious day,where the sky was shiny and blue. As we entered the garden, there was a live performance happening by the amazing Safia Nolin haunting melodies and touching lyrics a definite one t watch in 2016. The atmosphere was buzzing as industry types and musicians sipped cocktails and nibbled on corn around the inviting pool, where handful of hungover types bathed. Label owner Gourmet, explained ‘we always like to do something at FME to showcase our artists and thank the industry, so better way then to host a pool party. Plus this was no ordinary pool party, as the gorgeous detached house backed onto the Rouyn-Neranda’s very own Lake Osisko.
Following this blissed out day event we went head first into visceral garage rock. The sing along tracks from Ponctuation with there easy to remember chant along chorus "oohs", this got the crowd going. The tall ominous frontman struck shadows behind the red and white strobes. Shortly after followed the mighty Duchess Says, a batshit crazy take on electronic punk rock, or 'moog rock' as they refer to it. Frontwoman Annie Claude Deschênes mesmerised and captivated the revellers, as she transformed into a witch robot, with crazy eyes and manic hand movements. Everything from crowd surfing and getting the audience to unroll a long veil of fabric from the stage to the back of the room were the order of the night. Perfectly illustrating the music with her body and losing herself to every track.
Day three started with mellow tones in the sunny afternoon, the angelic voice of Australia’s soap actor turned musician Hein Cooper performing in the courtyard of a nursery playground, laying loops together with pitch perfect vocals. Next up the haunting sounds of Jeanne Added at the sweltering and packed Agora venue, huge bass and textural sounds accompanied by ghostly accapellas left the crowd entranced. I couldn't help but shoot off before the end to catch the Montreal hip hop at former movie theatre Paramount.
Definitely noticed a much younger audience here, Opulence Family started the riot with that class rap sound then LLA raised the roof with their bilingual 'drakesque' montreal sound. The two rappers jumping into each drop in a non stop set of bangers.
Then once the night began to swirl, we swung over to catch all the hype behind the 'flesh tones' these guys have been soldiering it since the 70s with their garage noise Ramones sound, the only difference now is perhaps the grey motops, although this doesn't take anything away from the performance they jolted to and fro on the stage kicking legs in alternating fashion, full of energy and at large with the audience.
For what is considered to be a fairly small festival there seems to be quite a lot of passion and drive from the team running it. FME even has their own festival app, which was fantastic for keeping you updated on secret gigs, artist profile info and just general goings on. The organisers of the festival sure do know how to organise am enjoyable event. But what puts them over and above their competition is how the team go out of their way to make you feel really looked after, from the free transport, industry BBQ’s to subsidising the travel and accommodation. Team FME we LOVE you and can’t wait to come back!