A visit to Montreal inherently comes with multiple daily encounters with the French language and Quebecois culture – that’s part of why people visit this city, after all – but during FrancoFolies, touted as the biggest francophone music festival in North America, those encounters happen, well, just about every single minute.
Les FrancoFolies de Montreal, with hundreds of local and international acts playing free and ticketed shows on outdoor and indoor stages, takes over the Place des Festivals area of Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles, June 7-16. Wander the outdoor stages free of charge throughout the festival and discover a diversity of French-language music makers like Diane Tell, who plays the Loto-Québec stage on June 8, French rock-punk-new-wave band Eiffel on June 13, modern-Cajun Louisiana band Feufollet on June 12, hip-hop trio Loco Locass on June 15 plus their hip-hop compatriots Alaclair Ensemble on June 10, and many, many more.
Montreal singer-songwriter Catherine Major is one of the festival openers, her signature piano-punctuated ballads reaching the rafters of Theatre Maisonneuve on June 8. Another singer-songwriter, Richard Séguin takes over L’Astral, a cozy cabaret right in the heart of the Francofolies action, on June 8 and 9. L’Astral also sees the likes of Montreal rocker Stefie Shock, who goes solo on June 13, and French musician Cali is joined by Elvis Costello keyboardist and composer Steve Nieve on June 15 and 16.
Also indoors, the ever-popular Ariane Moffatt, who included English-language songs on her most recent album, is bound to fill Metropolis on June 10. Newer to the scene but perhaps just as popular, in her indie-pop-crooner way, Coeur de Pirate headlines Metropolis on June 12 and 15. And Acadian hip-hop group Radio Radio bring their high-energy lyrics and beats to the same sparkly venue on June 14.
The festival also attracts legends of French music, such as Hughes Aufray, who returns to Montreal after almost two decades to play new and classic tunes at Theatre Maisonneuve on June 12. French singer Michel Fugain, who gained popularity in the 70s, also returns, playing Theatre Maisonneuve on June 14, while rock n’ roller Claude Dubois is at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier on June 15. And classic Quebecois rock tunes hit the outdoor stages with Robert Charlebois and still-dreamy French star Julien Clerc helps close the festival on June 16.
Newer to the scene but just as entertaining and becoming more beloved by the day are rocksters Galaxie, Sagot (the drummer from Quebec band Karkwa), chamber-pop act Hôtel Morphée, the glamourous Jef Barbara, Les Dales Hawerchuk, Groovy Aardvark, jazzy Fanny Bloom, and award-winning Malajube, ending the festival with their brand of fun on June 16.
Les FrancoFolies de Montréal, June 7-16, 2012