by Scott Roos
Pics by Deanna Roos/Contingent Colours Photography
It's been a week since MooseFest 2022 wrapped but in Bellevue the sturm and drang is still pretty much reverberating. Six artists all graced the mainstage. Two artists performed on the secondary stage. Those in attendance were treated to a montage of primarily hard rock stylings throughout the day and night. It was pretty epic.
This was the first time that the festival had been held outside and the selection of the Bellevue Sports Grounds proved to be the perfect location for the festivities. Festival co-organizers Mark Poppen and Joel Gaudet seemed to echo this sentiment.
"I’m very pleased with how this turned out. It looks amazing. I got some nice pictures of the crowd and everything. It looks awesome," Gaudet told NSMZ in a brief interview towards the end of the night.
"It’s a good crowd. I’m happy with it," remarked Poppen.
Bellevue expat Christie-Anne Blondeau kicked things off on the second stage with The Hourhand's Cole Van Woert accompanying her on guitar. Blondeau's bilingual set was primarily cover songs but, all the same, was a nice nod to the town to have one of their own perform on the home turf. In the meantime, Prince Albert's Traitors' Gate were the first band to perform on the main stage with a set of very ambitious and daring cover tunes. Other groups performing included The Northern Royals, Ex Omerta, The Hourhand, W3apons, King For A Day and The Radiant.
The community aspect of what Poppen and Gaudet have crafted in their two and half years as hosts of the popular "The Sitdown" podcast was on full display as the day wore on. All the bands performing had been past guests on the show and over time had also all gotten to know each other via that common bond. They've all taken an active interest in the music that
they've each been making. There's a mutual respect between everyone and it definitely shows.
"All the artists, honestly, it’s just how connected everybody is as soon as you get here," raved Radiant vocalist Mikhaila Anderson, "They hear you play and instantly it seems like an automatic friendship as soon as you’re in this group of people. That’s how it is."
The Radiant, a last minute addition to the festival lineup, were a clear highlight of MooseFest 2022. Taking the stage in the late afternoon, the five piece group launched into a series of drone-laden, heavy, industrial, progressive, pop infused anthems. Musically kind of the sonic lovechild of Tool, The Doors, Florence and the Machine weirdness, the group is quarterbacked by Anderson who howls out Morrison-esque style vocals whilst she writhes, slithers, twists and turns about the stage. With the freedom to move thanks to highly skilled bandmates Mike Reece (keys/sax), Paul Hillacre (guitar), Evan Knouse (bass) and Jordan Ahmed (drums), Anderson's stage presence is inspiring - without a doubt possibly one of the more engaging vocalists in the province right now. All hail to Saskatchewan's "lizard queen".
"We’ve definitely been putting in a ton of work - as much as we can. We try to push the docket every year and we keep writing new music so we can keep bringing what we do best," said Anderson.
*pics by Deanna Roos
Here's some other quick thoughts and impressions on the rest of the artists:
Christie-Anne Blondeau: Wow! What a voice and Cole did admirably as her very capable sideman on guitar.
Traitors' Gate: As stated above, very ambitious set fellas. When a band rips into "Rainbow in the Dark" and "Tied to the Whipping Post" within a 45 minute timeframe you know you're in for a roller coaster ride.
Ex Omerta: Great punk rock energy. Fun to watch the guys crash around the stage. Solid.
King For a Day: Cover tunes in the style of Tenacious D. They even played "Tribute". These guys were the true heroes of Moosefest 2022 as they did the heavy "tweener" lifting through four sets. Awe inspiring.
The Northern Royals: They must know how to party in Winnipeg because these guys brought good time vibes to the MooseFest crowd and then some.
The Hourhand: These guys cut loose like they had been shot out of a canon. Holy shit. From the moment they took the stage they DID NOT let up and our faces were melted as a result. Awesome.
W3Apons: Silky smooth stage presence. They make it look easy. Their cover tunes are well placed and on point whilst their originals are memorable enough to ear worm their way into your cranium for days on end. What's not to love about these guys?
At any rate, huge shoutout to Poppen and Gaudet for pulling off what likely seemed to be a monumental task for the second year in a row. Thank you from all of us at NSMZ for being so supportive of the indie scene in this province. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and here's to another great year next year.