Friday, September 7th, 2012
FME 2012 Day Four
Jean-Pierre Ferland and Fanny Bloom at Festival de musique émergente 2012
Frank YangSince I’ve covered the essentials of FME in the first two posts, I’ll just preface this one with a curious statistic. Of all the meals I ordered in Rouyn-Noranda over the five days I was there, I’m pretty sure I got the wrong order at least half of those times. Wrong size, wrong topping, wrong food, whatever. And my French isn’t that bad. I mean it’s bad, but I know what I said. Strange. Anyways.
The Sunday of FME was decidedly light on programming – there were still shows, certainly, but not nearly as much and an itinerary of hanging out with friends new and old doing nothing took precedence. Still, there were a couple of things I definitely wanted to catch before the festival was over. Fanny Bloom was the stage name of Fanny Grosjean, former frontperson for Sherbrooke electro-pop group La patère rose, who came to my attention after being Polaris longlisted in 2009 for their self-titled debut. The band dissolved last Summer and Grosjean released Apprentie guerrière, her excellent debut as Fanny Bloom, earlier this year.
She was showcasing this record with an afternoon show at Salle Evolu-Son by way of a set of piano-led modern pop with a light but distinct synthetic edge. It was less arty than I expected; her persona in La patère rose was kind of manic so I thought that might have carried over to her solo context, but it still got pleasantly unhinged at points. As with all Francophone acts, the language barrier was an impediment to fully enjoying/experiencing the music, but melody, emotiveness, and charisma still go a long, long way.
For the evening, there was really only one option for FME – indeed, for the entire town. I have never heard of Jean-Pierre Ferland, but I was informed he was something of an entertainment legend in Québec and a quick inspection of his credentials would back that up. A recording career that spans more than a half-century and an Officer of The Order Of Canada and Knight of the National Order of Québec are not accolades that many can lay claim to. Nor would the festival have erected a giant stage on the beach of Lac Kiwanis for just anyone, but they did for this rare live performance, and while I can’t find an estimate of how many people came out for the free show, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was in the five digits.
A performer of the old school chanson tradition with a presence not unlike a mischievous uncle, he was accompanied by a big band and backing singers and while I (again) didn’t understand hardly any of what he said or sang, his charm was self-evident and the songs rich with balladry and melodrama, covering bases from folk-pop to disco-rock. I’m sure that it was all slightly – or maybe very – cheesy, but in the very best way and I can’t imagine a more appropriate or authentic way to close out my visit than lying on a hill beside a lake, watching the sun set and the stars rise and taking it all in.
And thus ends my FME coverage. It was a decidedly unique experience and while its location makes it difficult to suggest that people just head over and check it out, if you’re looking for something off the beaten path, can speak passable French – not absolutely necessary, but this ain’t Montréal – and have a taste or interest in Canadian Francophone music, it’s worth investigating. And come on – 24-hour poutinerie. Spinner, The National Post, and Exclaim were also all up there this weekend and have shared their experiences and insights.
Anyone remember Friday Night Videos? Yeah? Congratulations, you’re as old as I am. Here’s some new shorts that came out this week to help distract you from that ugly reality. Stereogum has premiered the new video from Sweden’s Holograms, in town at The Shop Under Parts & Labour on September 11.
Video: Holograms – “Fever”
Video: Calexico – “Splitter”
Video: Beth Orton – “Magpie”
Ellie Goulding has released a video from her new album Halcyon, out October 8, and has confirmed a date at The Sound Academy on October 14. Tickets for that are $25 in advance.
Video: Sigur Rós – “Dauðalogn”
Video: The Cribs – “Anna”