Shazamfest 2024 Preview

as edited from press release

ShazamFest, the much-beloved carnival of music, circus and burlesque returns for the nineteenth year, hosted in an angelic site nestled in Quebec’s Eastern townships that’s set in and around lush riverside woods and a natural amphitheatre.  From July 11-14th the sleepy town of Barnston West will be hopping. 

ShazamFest’s four official stages (which are all hand-built from recycled or reclaimed materials found on the site) the Shazam Stage, the Amphitheatre, Small Stage and the Temple – will host outdoor music, burlesque, comedy, circus, dance and wrestling. The weekend kicks off in raucous style with pounding punk from DVTR, who are, “up and coming superstars in the Quebec scene,” according to festival director Ziv Przytyk. The Francouvertes winning neo-soul duo Rau-Ze and Brooklyn’s finest, That Handsome Devil, whose melange of styles ranges from rock, jazz, blues, surf, to creepy hip-hop. Closing Saturday’s festivities are multi-instrumentalists Kamendja who fuse polka, klezmer, tango and electro. Other highlights of the weekend include Kirá Chao the son of Brazilian superstar Manu, who is forging his own manguebeat identity. Sherbrooke’s Rotin and the Princes with their ‘80s-themed rock-kitsch repertoire are not to be missed. As well as ShazamFest’s three Battle of the Bands winners: Moronic Inferno, a punk trio from Montreal with a Hendrix and hip-hop twist. 

For those who prefer to trance out, hot vinyl will be provided by a host of DJs including Da Joint Doctor (connected to ShazamFarm since the ‘80s), reggae maestro DJ Morzion, holistic DJ Prana Papa (primal soundscapes, with a serving of twisted hot yoga!) and wacky electronic duo Pain Naan. Montreal hip-hop godfather Will E. Skandalz makes a welcome return to ShazamFest, as do groovy big band Plomberie, who join forces with Townships trad folksters Excavation & Poésie for the final show of the fest. Together, they'll present Rénoviction: an epic musical spectacular and a protest against Quebec’s tenant-abusing Bill 31. Says Ziv, “A lot of our friends have been renovicted since the new law passed. We’re going to raise some money to help the cause and for anybody who’s been wrongfully evicted.”  

Aside from the music on the main stage, Saturday night brings the festival’s famous neo-vaudeville/sideshow/circus. This year’s highlights include ShazamFest burlesque veteran Bonbon Bombay, Bibi Lolo Bangbang, Mania (“the Iron Jaw”) Knox, world renown strongman The Mighty Leviticus and sword-swallower extraordinaire Daddy Red.

Since its inception in 2006, ShazamFest has been a proudly diverse, cutting-edge and family-friendly event. This year the organizers are going all-out to make families feel extra-welcome with the festival’s specially-devised outdoor space KidzZone. Which this year includes a wealth of workshops and activities – circus skills, hula-hoops and inflatable costumes. Over at the Temple of Doom, Doctor Doktorâh’s Laboratory will keep the kids entertained with its mixture of mad scientists, strange musical instruments and mind-challenging games, while the mysterious Malicio (of Sherbrookes’s premier clown collective Les SomnamBulles) will enthrall young and old with his amazing giant bubbles. This year, for the first time, a free round-trip shuttle service is being laid on on Sunday, bringing in festival-goers from Sherbrooke-Waterville-Compton-Coaticook and taking them home at night.

Clifton Hanger is the host of Brave New Jams, Saturdays 10PM-Midnight on CJLO