Hip-Hop Star Iggy Azalea performs at Quebec City Summer Festival

Hip-Hop Star Iggy Azalea performs at Quebec City Summer Festival

Main pic: Iggy Azalea performs at the Festival d’été de Québec (12 July 2015). Scène Bell des Plaines d’Abraham. Crédit photo: Renaud Philippe

Festival d’Été de Québec – 300 Shows – 10 Stages – 11 Days of music.

Iggy Azalea may not have come from the mean streets of Los Angeles or New York, but the brash hip-hop star’s hard edge is hard-earned. Azalea, who was born Amethyst Amelia Kelly, grew up in Mullumbimby, a town of 3100 people in northern New South Wales, Australia.

A hip-hop fan from a very early age, she was determined to learn the craft and succeed in the business. Shortly before her 16th birthday, she left with a friend on a backpacking trip across the United States. A few weeks later, she called to tell her mother she wasn’t coming back.

Iggy Azalea on the Plains of Abraham (FEQ 2015). Photo credit: Renaud Philippe.

Iggy Azalea on the Plains of Abraham (FEQ 2015). Photo credit: Renaud Philippe.

No money, no family/ 16 in the middle of Miami, as she sings in the song “Work,” she worked, got her high school equivalency and started to make inroads in the music business. In Fall 2011, her climb to notoriety started with her first two music videos, loud and edgy hip-hop tracks which she uses to this day.

Azalea’s stage persona is that of a blunt, unintimidated, sexy and empowered young woman, waving her physical beauty and the vulgarity of her self-written rap lyrics like banners. Girls and young women around the world, several thousand of whom crowded onto the Plains of Abraham at the Festival d’Été, are drawn to her charisma and her story. But at times, on the Plains, Azalea just seemed a bit bewildered by it all.

The Plains began to fill well before nightfall, and the evening was kicked off in magnificent fashion by Swedish all-female pop rockers Icona Pop. Their music had the same upbeat feel-good quality as ABBA’s in their prime, but with an added thread of techno and some hip-hop influences. It’s unfortunate that their dynamism wasn’t carried over into the headline performance.

The Plains were about two-thirds full and a cool breeze was blowing by the time Azalea was scheduled to hit the stage at 10 P.M. Azalea’s tour-mate DJ Whizz Kid spun a medley of 90s and early 2000s hip-hop tunes to set the stage, before the woman herself strode onstage in a burst of bass as the mostly young, female crowd chanted her name.

Azalea’s set lasted about 50 minutes, to the dismay of some festivalgoers. However, it was enough to satisfy hard-core fans, who got a loud, bombastic dose of girl-power hip-hop and enjoyable performances from male backup dancers who Azalea held in the metaphorical palm of her hand, a nifty reversal of early hip-hop stereotypes.

“My world, my wishes, wipe your feet with the bad b*tches,” she sang, to the audience’s glee.

She sometimes seemed unsure what city she was in, saying only “How you doin’, Canada,” a few times, never mentioning Quebec.

Although a few words of French have become de rigueur for anglo artists trying to endear themselves to a FEQ audience, Azalea didn’t risk it.

Iggy Azalea at the Festival d'Été de Québec 2015. Photo credit: Renaud Philippe.

Crowd enjoying themselves at the Iggy Azalea gig. Festival d’Été de Québec 2015. Photo credit: Renaud Philippe.

Her attempts at audience interaction sounded scripted, and didn’t always go over with the crowd. “Girls run the world, because we have the pussies, right?” she asked, and the audience murmured back uncertainly.

At various points during her all-too-brief set, a whole new Azalea appeared. The artist covered her face delicately with her hand and lowered her eyes, then raised them again to look silently out at the crowd, as if she herself were awed that tens of thousands of people had come to see her perform.

She performed her most recent hit, “Fancy,” as a parting shot, to the delight of the crowd, which had started to drift away. There was no encore, perhaps because of the late hour, but the crowd didn’t seem to have energy for one.

Her songs are anthems for self-belief, a quality which she clearly has, and which has allowed her to rise so high from such humble beginnings at a young age. But perhaps, to be a truly great performer, she needs a little bit more.

Iggy Azalea at the FEQ 2015. Photo credit: Renaud Philippe.

Iggy Azalea at the FEQ 2015. Photo credit: Renaud Philippe.

Festival d’Été de Québec – 300 Shows – 10 Stages – 11 Days of music.
If you’re a music-lover then Quebec City is always the place to be in July.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Opinion

About Author

Ruby Pratka

Ruby Pratka grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, studied in Ottawa and took the roundabout way to Quebec City via Russia, Slovenia, France, Switzerland, Belgium and East Africa. In addition to writing for LifeinQuebec.com and Life in Québec Magazine, she also contributes to other media outlets in English and French. She enjoys keeping a close eye on international affairs, listening to good music and singing in large groups.

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