Published Aug 31, 2019Festival de musique émergente's Desjardins stage, situated in the fest's main square, hosted a litany of rappers on Friday night (August 30), starting with Quebecois rapper and singer Sarahmée, whose infectious, celebratory hybrid of DJ culture and guitar-based music blended hip-hop, highlife, moombahton and dancehall.
Decked out in a yellow jacket, flanked by two dancers and backed by a guitarist and a DJ, her set might have been in French but it felt universal. Over trap-influenced skittering hi-hats and bouncing, rubbery guitar licks, she blended singing and rapping, cutting a charismatic figure by chanting in support of her dancers. By the end of her set, she had won the crowd, as they screamed and jumped around at her command. I caught her set on a whim, and it felt like a lucky discovery.
The more in-your-face rapper KT Gorique, who followed Sarahmée, had the first five rows' hands immediately in the air. Her energy was infectious from the get-go, when she bounded onstage to a track from her DJ and her drummer's lively, kinetic beat. Though she rapped in French, it was evident she's a bars-first MC, and she spat enthusiastically, prioritizing crowd work and endlessly engaging with the front row. She's silver-tongued, but every few bars, she offered the crowd a way into her dense, multi-syllabic world via chanting, arm-swaying or a verbal reach-out: "What's my name?!" she called in one of a few English phrases.
"What the fuck is up!?" were the first words out of Quebecois rapper Loud, whose vibes were fairly Post Malone-adjacent. There's a lot of sing-rapping, and a lot of Frenglish; he has broad, Drake-like appeal, and the way he casually talk-raps evokes the Toronto rapper, too. Loud was visibly a star — the Rouyn-Noranda crowd seemed to know his every lyric — but it was an act one couldn't help but feel they'd seen before.
Later, inside the more traditional rock venue Cabaret de la Dernière Chance, VICTIME took the stage around midnight. They played a chaotic brand of thrashing, frenetic post-punk that became straight-up punk at the drop of a hat, cycling through screaming, distortion, cowbell and disco grooves from moment to moment. There wasn't quite a mosh pit, but by their fourth or fifth song, they'd gathered an incredible amount of momentum; their energy was infectious, the bass lines lithe and groovy. Singer Laurence Gauthier-Brown was a cool-as-hell frontperson, too, wringing passion out of her bass-and-vocals performance as she alternated between crooning and wailing.
In-between sets at the Cabaret, over at the Diable Rond, the 18.104.22.168's — you may recognize them as the "Woo Hoo" Japanese surf-punk band from Kill Bill — played a set characterized by nonchalant coolness, swinging through their energetic songs like consummate pros after years and years of shows, the trio making simple major third harmonies sound incredible. It was a straightforward, lovable set.
Last up at were Atlanta's Material Girls (pictured), whose mix of angular guitars, glam, disco and punk was one you don't see as much anymore. Dressed alternately in giraffe print, velvet, suede and with open shirts, the fivesome churned out a captivating, dance-heavy set propelled by bass and disco hi-hats, all Gang of Four cowbell and hard rhythms. In the hot Cabaret, it became a sweaty dance party, a fitting way to end the second night of FME.