MooseFest ‘100 per cent’ returning next summer after successful debut

Scott Roos

Special to the Herald

The energy in Bellevue Community Hall was palpable and the joy on the faces of the bands and fans alike was evident at MooseFest on Saturday.

With COVID restrictions in the province eased on July 11th, festival coordinators Mark Poppen and Joel Gaudet had very little time to prepare but made the best of the situation with the planning and execution of a first rate inaugural edition of their festival. 

“I’m pretty happy how it’s turning out,” a grinning Poppen told the Prince Albert Daily Herald in a brief conversation moments before final act The Steadies took the stage. “The feedback we are getting from people here is already so awesome. It’s a no-brainer to do it again next year.”

“There is somewhat of a structure/plan going into this being an annual thing for next year. For sure it’s happening next year, 100 per cent,” added Gaudet. 

MooseFest 2021 provided an excellent platform for up and coming garage rock power trio Seven Mile Sun, from Harris, to strut their stuff to a potentially new fanbase. Their ambitious set, chock-full of trademark heavy riffage and soaring vocals from Kevin Stevens backed by the powerhouse rhythm section of sister Kimberley Stevens on drums and friend Joanne Genest on bass provided a strong opening act on the night’s festivities.

“I think it’s tough after the pandemic,” remarked Kimberley Stevens after the Seven Mile Set. “We’ve still been doing our own thing in our comfort zone and then expanding our comfort zone and expanding our crowd. (I) definitely (felt) some nerves. But I think all around it turned out good.”

Kimberley, like all of the artists that took the stage at Moosefest, was all smiles. Throughout the course of the pandemic, many artists found different ways to perform via livestream events, socially distanced concerts to reduced capacity crowds, and drive-in shows, but being able to perform in front of people, in a live concert setting such as Bellevue Community Hall has been a game changer. League of Wolves frontman Dillon Currie took pause to reflect on the moment.

“It feels really good. Especially when you go to a new place. It’s kind of a reunion show. The reception (from the festival goers) felt amazing,” Currie told the Herald.

Poppen and Gaudet have used their podcast, called The Sit Down, as a catalyst to promote many local acts, and keep music alive during an otherwise precarious point in history. For League of Wolves, MooseFest 2021 was a full circle moment as The Sit Down guys had brought them together at the height of the pandemic to chat on their podcast and, with their festival, have brought them all together again – this time to perform. It was their first time the band had performed together in roughly 500 days.

“It was (last) summer when things kind of opened up and we came together and did (The Sit Down) podcast together from the basement where our studio is and then (Poppen and Gaudet) brought us together for the first time here tonight which is pretty cool. So we owe those guys. They were kinda the catalyst for getting our butts in gear here,” added Currie.

League of Wolves showed absolutely no rust as they powered through a strong set of melodic heavy rock. The Steadies followed up with a rollicking, danceable, party vibe to put an exclamation point on an already enjoyable evening. Cadillac and Old Sols’s Kitchener Langfield also played a pair of engaging acoustic tweener sets. 

At the end of the day, MooseFest can call this first kick at the can a win. Poppen and Gaudet can check “plan a music festival” off their bucket lists. A good time was had by all in attendance, but for the Funky Moose guys now the real work begins as they begin to already look ahead to next year’s gathering.

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