What to expect at This Year's 20th Edition Festival Musique Emergence

The 20th edition of Festival Musique Emergence (FME) is about to take off over the Labour Day weekend of 2022. For four days the northern Quebec city of Rouyn-Noranda in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Quebec becomes a hub of all things cool. About a seven hour drive from Montreal, the festival aims to reduce travel.  “People used to go to Montreal to see music,” says festival founder, Sandy Boutin, “and it’s a long journey, so we decided to bring musicians here.” Over the years, the festival has grown into a world renowned festival up there with the likes of Glastonbury, South by Southwest and even the Montreal Jazz Festival. Unlike other festivals that take place in a confined space, at FME the whole city gets involved. This is even more pronounced for the 20th anniversary edition, with the addition of a scenic route. A nostalgic scavenger hunt of sorts, artifacts made from scenography from past festivals can be found scattered across the city.   

Thankfully after a two year break from COVID, the festival is once again welcoming international artists. With over 100 performances taking place across the city, from concert halls to surprise concerts in the local pizza parlour or to garage parking lots, FME is all about what’s going to happen; both in the sense of the emerging artists and the spontaneity of the festival itself.  

After a quick review of the schedule, followig acts are only some of the concerts that should be noted. Thursday, the first day of the festival starts the festivities off with a bang. Bringing their Acadian rhythms to northern Quebec are New Brunswick’s own Les Hay Babies. Composed of Julie Aubé on banjo, Katrine Noël on ukulele and Vivianne Roy on guitar the trio mix old worlds and current motifs in their timeless songs. Hot off the heels of their third studio album, Boîte aux Lettres, Hey Les Babies are planning a newly crafted conceptual show, especially for FME.

Returning to the festival are the Medicine Singers, featuring New York City guitarist Yonatan Gat. This year’s lineup is privileged to include past members of the infamous no wave band Swans, Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica and former DNA drummer Ikue Mori as well as trumpeter, Jaimie Branch

Closing out Thursday⁠—or starting Friday as early as midnight at the aptly named “Cabaret De La Dernière Chance,” is Brooklyn New York’s art punk band Gustaf; consisting of Tine Hill (bass), Vram Kherlopian (guitar), Melissa Lucciola (drums), Tarra Thiessen (vocals, percussion), and Lydia Gammill (lead vocals). In contrast to the Medicine Singers' long history, Gustaf only started their musical journey in 2018 when Tarra Thiessen met Lydai Gamill on their way to the South By SouthWest music festival.

Friday night festical-goers can catch The Tallies with Sarah Cogan on vocals and percussionist Cian O’Neille, laying down the rhythms. The Toronto based indie pop quintet will no doubt be playing tracks from their brand new second album, Patina. 

And not to leave old school punk aficionados out in the lurch, Montreal band The Retail Simps and Newhaven Connecticut’s Killer Kin will be rockin’ the wee hours of the morning at Diable Rond. The Retail Simps feature the Pete Shelley-like vocals of Joe Chamandy and their album Reverberant Scratch: 9 Shots in the Dark is infused with the party punk vibe of the Buzzcocks. While Killer Kin is led by the screeching vocals of Mattie Lea,  according to their bio the band plays,“ball-breaking, black leather sporting, soundtrack-to-your revenge songs.” This tandem of up and coming punk legends should provide a great late night smash fest.

One of the bigger names on the festival roster are experimental pop stalwarts, Animal Collective. Formed way back in 1999 in Baltimore, Maryland by Avey Tare (David Portner) on vocals and guitar, Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) on vocals and drums, Geologist (Brian Weitz) on electronics and Deakin (Josh Dibb) on guitar and synthesizer. That lineup is still together to this day and produced their latest sonic excursion, Time Skiffs in 2022, six years after the one before; Painting With. They will be performing their “bigger-than-life musical” Saturday night at the large outdoor stage, ScèneVidéotron. Along with opening acts Elizabete Balčus and CRi.

Fans of the psychedelic and or shoegaze genre should have their heads full with Solipsisme. This new project formed in 2021 by friends from Montreal and Quebec City consists of Francois Lemieux on vocals and Guitar, Maxime Doyer on vocals and bass, Samuel Gadreau on guitar, Taylor Fitzpatrick Johnson on acoustic guitar and synth and William Duguay Drouin on percussion. Since the band’s inception they have released a self-titled EP on the Folivora Records label.

Continuing the shoegaze vibe from Saturday, but with an added touch of angst,  OMBIIGIZI plays at Diable Rond Sunday night. OMBIIGIZI pronounced om-BEE-ga-ZAY meaning "this is noisy" are Anishnaabe artists Zoon (Daniel Monkman ) and Status/Non-Status (Adam Sturgeon). Recorded during the summer of 2021 they released their first LP “Sewn Back Together” in February 2022. The album is a statement shaped by healing and the guidance of culture.    

Quebecois sensation Hubert Lenoir will be playing the big outdoor stage Sunday night. Lenoir’s first album Darlène incorporated glam rock, psychedelic rock and chanson influences and was shortlisted for the 2018 Polaris Music Prize. In 2022 he won the SOCAN Songwriting Prize for his song, “Secret.” Also playing at ScèneVidéotron are Lou-Adriane Cassidy and Rich Aucoin.

A final night tradition at FME is the metal blowout at Petit Théâtre du Vieux Noranda. Past “nuit metal” included the likes of Swedish black metal gods Marduk and Italian symphonic death metal legends, Fleshgod Apocalypse. This year local death metal band Abitabyss are first to pick up the gauntlet. Together for fifteen years, they are currently working on their third album. Their first album Requiem du Secteur Primaire was released in 2004 and Rural Métal, in 2014. Next up is extreme neoclassical metal outfit from Quebec, First Fragment. Based around the virtuoso musicianship of Phil Tougas on guitar and Dominic Lapointe on fretless bass and the guttural vocals of David AB. After a hiatus from the road the band is currently on an extended tour to promote their latest album that was released in 2021, Gloire Éternelle. Closing out the night of imploding ear drums are American death metal icons, Dying Fetus. Getting their start in 1991 in Marlboro, Maryland the band has had many lineup changes over the years but the one constant is lead singer and guitarist John Gallagher. Filling out the power trio are Sean Beasley on bass and vocals and Trey Williams on drums. One can look for plenty of new songs as their ninth album is set to be released later this year.

If aural strangeness is your bag, look no further than Atlanta collective CDSM, who will be  playing a late night show at Garage Rheault. CDSM, short for Celebrity Death Slot Machine, includes current and former members of various Atlanta alternative bands with Tyler Jundt leading the way on synth, saxophone and lead vocals. In April of 2022, the band released its first EP, Hell Stairs

After three days and nights of musical mayhem one might need to slow down and center their chi. To help achieve this state of bliss is Acadian singer, songwriter Julie Doiron. Known for her time with the indie band Eric’s Trip for which she was a founding member back in the ‘90’s. Recently she released the album I Thought of You, her first since 2012’s So Many Days

Scheduled for midnight Sunday Montreal surf punk band No Wave has the weight of closing out the festival fall upon their shoulders. This young, emerging band includes Angel Parra Vela on guitar and vocals, Cyril Harvin Musngi on bass, Sam Sussman on drums and vocals and Jean-Michel Coutu on keyboards. They released their first self-titled EP in 2019.

All the aforementioned concerts are just some of the artists at the festival, a mere tip of the iceberg. For instance Montreal hip-hop artist Naya Ali will be making a return visit and folk artist Johnny Pilgrim will be performing multiple times throughout the weekend. And then there are the surprise pop up concerts that FME is so famous for. All in all, the 20th edition of FME is ready to once again show the world that a small city in rural Quebec can host one of the best music festivals around.