Get Ready For Messtival

Les Paiens Perform At Messtival This Weekend
Les Paiens Perform At Messtival This Weekend

What began as a house party has evolved into one of Southeastern New Brunswick’s most highly anticipated cultural events of the summer.

Now entering its sixth year, Messtival is a genre-bending celebration of music from all corners of Canada. But, homegrown talent has been a consistent mandate of Messtival, and the 2013 edition is no exception.

Moncton is arguably among the best represented at this year’s Messtival: Rock band The Motorleague, country outlaws The Divorcees, jazz fusion group Les Paiens and electronic acts Jonah Hache and Paranerd will all be performing.

Many acts that call places outside of Metro Moncton home will flock to Anagance for the festival as well. This includes Fredericton indie-pop band Grand Theft Bus, Halifax’s Scientists Of Sound, Montreal’s Bad Uncle and Australia’s Harley Young. More than 30 acts will perform during the festival.

This year’s Messtival saw a slight dip in the number of applications from bands requesting to play in the festival. There was, however, a bright side to this.

‘We had 69 acts apply to take part in Messtival this year, compared to 81 last year,’ says TBA Collective president and executive director Daniel Anderson. ‘Even though there was a slight decrease in the amount of applications received, the applications that we did receive came from a more widespread geographical area than years prior.

‘The majority of our performing bands and artists do come from the East Coast, but this year we had applicants reaching out to us from as far away as Calgary. We even have a couple of groups coming up from Boston. It is exciting to see how widely known that Messtival is becoming.’

As Messtival has grown over the last six years, so has their audience, which has in turn required additional logistic accommodations. The 2011 edition of the festival saw it move to its current location in Anagance, which has allowed the festival to maintain a permanent kind of infrastructure from one year to the next.

Daniel says that continued refinement is something that the volunteer-driven Messtival has to roll with.

‘As a festival develops and expands, there are always going to be new logistics to be considered as well as a fair amount of time and energy that have to go into co-ordinating them,’ he says. ‘The TBA Collective as a whole, being volunteer run since its inception, has had its ups and downs, and, likewise, planning the festival does as well. Being a volunteer-run collective can be a logistical issue in itself; however, the core we are operating with right now has really been on top of their game. Because of that, any issues that we have run into, we have been able to resolve rather efficiently.’

The summer is an undoubtedly busy time for music festivals in the Atlantic region. As such, festivals tend to cater to either specific music genres or a specific demographic. Ultimately, however, it is the marketing of the festival that can help make or break the festival in the long run.

As opposed to going the traditional route of hyping Messtival, organizers have always opted for a self-depreciating attitude, as evidenced by their choice of slogan for this year: ‘There’s no hope.’ Daniel feels that Messtival’s ability to poke fun at iself, combined with its unique graphic designs, helps the festival to ultimately stand out:

‘One thing I feel that really makes Messtival stand out is its personality, which in large part is attributed to our graphics designer, Ian MacMillian,’ Daniel says. ‘There aren’t really any other festivals that do quite what we do or have the same weird, quirky humour that we do.

‘It really reflects on the main grounds and in all of our promotional materials. I think people are a little unsure what to think at first, but once they get it, they appreciate how unique our approach is.

‘We literally tell people not to go to the festival, which people think is hilarious. But then they come out to the festival and end up having a great time.’

Article published in the August 7, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript