Thurston Moore and his new band, Chelsea Light Moving. Photo by Carlos van Hijfte
Founded in 1983, the Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville (or “Victo” to those in the know) has long been regarded as one of the greatest experimental music festivals in the world. Eclectic programming has always been one of its hallmarks, bringing together local and international performers for a unique showcase that each year overruns this small city 100 miles northeast of Montreal.
It’s been said that the growing success of the Suoni per il Popolo festival over the last decade has stolen some of Victo’s thunder, as adventurous listeners within Montreal who may have gone to Victoriaville prior to 2001 have gradually stayed home and attended Suoni instead. This may have even contributed to FIMAV’s decision to take a hiatus in 2009 while they readjusted their programming. They returned in 2010 with a shorter, four-day festival, a renewed emphasis on Québécois artists and the inclusion of sound art installations. Though both festivals have been full of diverse programming all along, there is no substitute for the rustic setting and concentrated programming offered by Victo.
Unlike the rigidity of rock group formations, the musicians represented at Victo are constantly seeking out new collaborators and new styles, giving listeners the opportunity to hear the same artist playing with a variety of performers, simultaneously emphasizing the uniqueness of each artist’s sound as well as the magic of collective performance.