FME 2022: The Unhinged Experience Day 1

Photo: Dominic Mc Graw

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Photo: Louis Jalbert

To be completely honest; prior to hearing about Festival de Musique Émergente (FME), this was my first time ever hearing of the small town Rouyn-Noranda, Abitibi-Témiscamingue. 

With an absolutely stellar lineup of Canadian and International artists such as CRiRich Aucoin, and beloved Animal Collective, this was definitely not something I wanted to miss. 

There was just one small hurdle. The painstakingly long 627km 9-hour bus ride between Montreal and the weekend of a lifetime. Yikes… 

Although, I did end up falling in love with the scenic views of interior Quebec’s landscape consisting of small lakes, rivers, and continuous forests. I quickly discovered they was much needed in preparation of what lay ahead of me.

Finally arriving at my hotel, I quickly changed into my dancing shoes and almost quite literally fell asleep in the process. I then bolted out the door just in time to see my first show of the night, at the intimate venue Le Paramount.

Philip Després 

Upon arriving, what immediately caught my attention was queer icon, performer, and bandmate Philip Després literally crawling across the dance floor on their hands and knees breaking into a full body and spirit dance, giving me all the performance art I needed and so much more. 

Narcisse (left) Philip Després (right) Photo: Louis Jalbert


A standout for me this weekend was Narcisse, correlating the perfect storm of musical genres such as Electropop, Alternative Dance, and Psychedelic Rock. 

I already knew they bring well over 100% for every single performance as I remained entranced by their consistent energy. I have never seen anything quite like what Narcisse brought to the stage. 

Narcisse Photo: Louis Jalbert

These are the kinds of artists I will continue to think about later on and think to myself, “I remember them from FME that one year!” 

Although I wish more people were present to witness the magic created on stage (and off stage), it was an absolute pleasure to witness them in person for the first time. Make sure to download their latest album “La Fin N’arrive Jamais” which debuted September 9th. You don’t want to miss it!

Naya Ali

Moving on to my next show I realized it was also virtually empty in Le Paramount. Curiosity finally dawned on me… Where was everybody else? Surely there was something I was missing here, and I was not about to let that go unnoticed. So off to my next adventure!

I started my journey by following what appeared to be large crowds and the sound of dominating bass echoing from a distance. I then followed by walking along a small lake and soon discovered the answer to my own question. 

I had just found the incredible and unstoppable Naya Ali.

Naya Ali Photo: William B.Daigle

From the moment she took the stage, the crowd was immediately commanded…I mean literally! 

She yelled out “Bring it in!” and had everybody up close and personal in a matter of seconds. 

With roaring cheers circulating and the introduction to “Air Ali” starting to play, I was immediately sucked in. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her sound is just so unique, with hints of Rico Nasty and XXXTentacion recognized almost instantly. I can humbly say she is now one of my favourite Hip/Hop artists. 

Ahead of her latest album release “Godspeed: Elevated” followed by a long-awaited tour of the same name with only one more stop after FME, it’s not a surprise she would want to go out with a bang in true Naya Ali fashion.

The biggest highlight from her set would have been when she had the crowd split down the middle. She stated she had only done this once before and seemed a bit hesitant that her idea would catch on. However, almost instantly those feelings vanished as she began orchestrating a group interactive performance of “Godspeed”.

The energy was truly a one-of-a-kind experience to witness. Every single person was bouncing on their feet in unison. 

Unfortunately, her set came to an end, and closed with “King” as her final song of the night, a beautiful piece about healing and moving on from loss. 

Naya Ali Photo: William B.Daigle

Words just aren’t enough to describe the level of energy created here tonight. It was something you had to witness in person, which left me with a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I can’t help but admit I was pretty worn out after that, as well as being completely frozen as I had made the poor decision to not check the weather in advance. 

What a day already, I could not wait for the sun to come up again just so I could start my next day of shows. I wonder what tomorrow will bring!

Writer:  Rachel Billings is a passionate live music lover and barrier warrior, who is always front & centre of the action.  Follow her on Instagram

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