Although possessing the high energy of an exciting international goose chase à la Dan Brown, the Hong Kong pyrotechnic display at Les International des Feux by the firm Vulcan was the polar opposite of a cliffhanger-ridden thriller. Celebration, freedom, irreverence and blatant non-conformism was written all over it. In fact, its insistence on bringing back the spirit of the carefree big band era of its musical playlist (Yes, The Alan Parsons Project, Supertramp, Queen, Deep Purple, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Metallica) was immediately made clear by the green-red-gold sea shell formation opening reminiscent of the centre stage in a packed arena show. Intricate technical prowess followed. I was served a full course of red and gold champagne geysers, multihued explosions (I once counted six colours within a single petard: red, green, purple, yellow, white, pink), flat red disks that morphed into a spherical tetrahedron while bleeding fountains of circular golden rotating sparkles, spinning glitter worms and HEARTS. Oh, the HEARTS. Red HEARTS in the middle of green bouquets, freewheeling HEARTS of tiny white eye makeup brilliant, pink, purple, green standalone HEARTS… I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Yep, this was the era of amped up rebellion, fuck-you individuality and sexual permissiveness. Or a mad scientist with an incurable case of boredom and too much free time. Take your pick.
Somewhere between the never-seen-before novelties of two Rutherford-Bohr red rotating atomic models sprinkling candy electrons and the absolutely blinding Big Bang implosion of a single white ray of light, I turned my focus away from the show of skillfully crafted artistic chemistry to the surrounding dark troposphere. Less is more, as the saying goes. And I was maxed out to the point of numb desensitization. My eyes landed on the nearby green structure of the Jacques Cartier bridge to the sight of smoky fingers penetrating it. True to the big band theme, the smoke extended all the way along the St-Lawrence as far as I could see, hanging ominously over the crowd under the bridge and menacing the streets to the northwest of the river. A mini-Hiroshima was now marking the launch site of the petards. In my eighteen years of watching the Loto-Québec competition, never had I seen so much smoke. As more extravaganza exploded above me, I quietly congratulated myself for taking the long climb up the Jacques Cartier.
All of this, however, was simply an entrée to the grand finale. Every excess that had been showcased was back again: the spinning worms, the garden hose geysers, the rotating gold sparkles with a red shape-shifting geometrical centre, the multi-layered colours, all topped off by a gigantic champagne shower explosion of golden glitter that loomed over my head for several seconds. Everyone around me clapped and whistled. The crowd below the bridge cheered. The archetype of a perfect epic finale had just occurred over our heads.
I wish I could have reacted like the girl on my immediate left – an enthusiastic band fan who sang partial lyrics during the entire performance while peppering everyone else with oohs and aahs – by speak-shouting: “THAT’S GOOD !” Unfortunately, the over-the-top beginning had already left an indelible sour taste in my mouth.
Fireworks are on display Saturdays and Wednesdays until August 1. See here for more details.
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