Driving up to Quebec City couldn't have been any easier. Seriously, if you live in the Upper Valley- you should go. I'm generally a chicken about driving new places but it was totally easy... Minus the annoying Quebec driving style of racing up to the ass end of your car, passing you, and then squeezing back in front of you with inches to spare, regardless of whether or not there are other cars around or you two are the only cars on an open three-mile stretch of highway. They must teach this as the proper way to drive because everyone did it.
Anyway, straight up I-91 to the border, then a couple straight/flat highways in Canada. Took less than 5 hours. We left early, so Dollar slept in the passenger seat (which makes me want to periodically punch him in the leg to wake him up) until we got to the border. Customs was a hassle (they searched our car- I blame my crazy eyes when they were questioning me about where we was going and how long we'd be there).
Thursday afternoon we arrived and had plenty of time before going to see Rush. For the music festival, they have several stages set up throughout the city as well as the large park, the Plains of Abraham, where the headliners play. We put on our micro-chipped bracelets and blinking pins, and heading down to the entrance. I didn't know this but Rush is a Canadian band and it's kind of their anthem band. Probably about 80,000 people there, all ages, singing along to Rush. It was nice.
The next night we saw the Black Eyed Peas. I'm pretty sure everyone was wasted for this show. I know I was. There were about 100,000 people at this show and yeah, it was crowded obviously, but I saw no fights and I didn't get puked on, so it was a winning night for me. There's lots of pushing from random people snaking in and out of the crowd, trying to find a better view, and it can drive you crazy if you let it. The best thing to do is ignore it and just rock out to the music.
Saturday night the headliner was Billy Talent and since we had no idea who that was, we walked down to a free show that Cirque du Soleil was doing every night under a highway on-ramp at 9:30pm. That's right- a stage, lights and sounds set up under a concrete highway. It was really cool. Stuff was going on on stage and in crowd. At one point a woman on stilts with a cage shaped like an ostrich body around her and a mechanical ostrich neck/head that she puppeteered came through the crowd by us. It looked like a futuristic, glowing woman riding an ostrich. Well, I guess Dollar was in her way because she stopped and the metal beak of the bird extended out to press against his sternum- and push him back. The she kept on going, slowly making her way through the crowd and interacting with other people. I was all, "OMG, she totally touched you! That was so cool!" I love Cirque du Soleil and it was really awesome to see it live and so close. Everything they they do is just a spectacle to behold.
Made it back to the hotel just in time to hear Jimmy Cliff sing "I can see clearly now the rain is gone..." from Stage 2 next to our hotel. People were singing along and dancing in the streets. I looked up to the 3rd floor of our hotel and saw a couple guys hanging out the windows, singing, smiling and waving down to me. Oh, you Canadians are so sweet.
During the day, just walking through Old Town, there's lots of random entertainment happening in the streets. We stopped by the tourist office by Le Chateau Frontenac to get some directions and saw a man cracking a whip and calling out that a show was about to start. So we went over to some metal bleachers to sit and watch.
He juggled some knives. He lit some batons on fire and juggled them. His female partner got on some stilts and he threw her some lit batons:
Which she juggled:
Then he climbed a ladder:
Then they juggled the fire batons:
It was crazy. The show ended with them locking all these knives onto a metal ring and then setting the ring on fire and then placing the flaming ring of knives upright on her stomach while she was in a reverse table yoga pose... then he backed up... ran toward her... and jumped completely through it- head to feet. I did capture a video of it and his jump was rather anticlimactic after all the set-up and suspense. I felt bad thinking, "This video would be so much more exciting if the performance ended in some kind of awful disaster..." Sigh, oh well.
We also saw three male break-dancers put on a performance. They ended up grabbing Dollar from the crowd, put him into a hot pink windbreaker, a silly hat and made him dance around with them. When he was done, members of the crowd were meant to hold up signs and one woman was given a bra to throw at him. Which she did.
It was just crazy and surreal, man. Everything. There was no one dull moment.
The final night- RAMMSTEIN. People were lining up at the entrance at NOON and the gates weren't opening up until 6 pm. We went at 6 and waited. And waited. And waited. In a huge crowd that moved 6 inches every 10 minutes. We waited in line an hour to get in. Once inside, we waited in line an hour to use a port-a-potty. Then an hour to get hot dogs and water.
We got in line for Rammstein souvenirs but the line was moving slow. By the time we got within 4 or 5 spaces of the front, we started to see them taking stuff down, which means they were selling out. Everyone started to freak out a little and I had Dollar pass me two $20 bills. I held them up above the people in front of me and got what was left (a pretty cool camouflage cap with a Rammstein insignia). Then we had to find a spot to stand for the show. I have to say that concerts are the one time I really, really, really appreciate my height. I feel bad for the people behind me who can't see anything but it allowed me to reach over people at the souvenir stand and I can see over most people during the show.
Here's the crowd and this is still probably only two-thirds full:
The show was awesome. Apocalyptica (heavy metal cellists) (seriously) opened. Then Rammstein came on at 9:45 and played for 2 hours. It was such an amazing show. The music sounded so good. Lots of fire (Feuer Frei BANG BANG) and fireworks; Till poured hot sparks all over Flake and then set him on fire. You know- the usual. The only disappointing thing (for me) is that they didn't play Los, which is my favorite song. Everyone was into the music and even though you were in a sea of > 100,000 people (multiple that by 6 and you've got the population of Vermont) in roughly 30 acres of space, everyone's just having a good time.
And in case you want to go next year but you're still not sure, check out this list: Ten Reasons Festival D'Ete Is Canada's Coolest, Best Music Festival. The sound quality and digital screens make the show awesome no matter where you are- standing up front or laying on a blanket way on the back slope.
I saw Rammstein. I freaking saw Rammstein. I still can't believe it.