What A Messtival

From its humble beginnings as an annual house-party, Messtival has become a music festival of impressive contention in a short five year span.

Year after year, the festival has continued to grow and this year’s line-up is perhaps stunning evidence of the importance of this home-grown music festival.

In addition to a generous helping of local and regional talent including blues-rockers Chris Colepaugh & The Cosmic Crew, Force Fields, Fredericton’s Grand Theft Bus and Halifax instrumental wizards Kuato, Messtival will also be welcoming Wisconsin buzzband The Daredevil Christopher Wright as well as Boston band The Hornitz, which has played with George Clinton and Guster.

Messtival co-ordinator Geoff Moss could be considered one of the originators of Messtival; he lived in the house that originally hosted the party. He admits that the festival has grown beyond his wildest expectations over the course of the last five years.

‘In comparison to the slap-stick method back in the days of Messfests, to the two-day extravaganza it is now, Messtival has definitely come a long way,’ Geoff says. ‘Year after year, this event has only improved from the knowledge and resources we’ve obtained, the new people we meet, and the quality and capacity of our volunteers who have enduredthrough trial and error.’ Geoff recalls that in the earliest days of Messtival, bands were asked to play via postings on local message boards. To go from that ground level solicitation of groups to having more than 80 bands from all corners of Canada and beyond apply to play has been eye-opening to say the least.

Mario Gautreau was responsible for lining up the talent for this year’s festival.

Mario says that they received 85 applications from bands looking to play the festival this year, a slight increase on the 75 applications received in 2011. He shares that despite initial concerns amongst organizers that adding an application fee to the festival, something that they had not done in the past, would dissuade bands from applying, the organizers of the event were more than pleased with the number received.

‘The fee was added as a way to help us defray the costs of the festival. To see bands apply in record numbers certainly was encouraging,’ Mario says.

Proudly noting that half of this year’s lineup consists of New Brunswick artists, Mario says that ensuring a musically diverse line-up is something close to their hearts.

‘Our line-up consists of no less than 50 per cent artists from New Brunswick, something we feel is easy enough to achieve considering the amazing musical talent lurking in our own backyards. We feel that the quality of applicants this year was surreal and speaks to the wide array of talent located a stone’s throw from us. We really don’t have to look far to find a panoply of talent in various genres, and we aim to have Messtival showcase some of that creativity.’ As important as the musical aspects of Messtival are to the organizers, offering extras to entice people to come out and forget about the world are of almost equal importance. Among those extras, Messtival’s Jonah Hache has a laundry list of activities that festival-goers can look forward to.

‘We have co-ordinated a light show with four VJs, two psychedelic light artists, a larger live art crew, a spot for video games, and a swimming area in addition to activties including yoga and laser tag,’ Jonah shares.

‘I think that people are paying for environments when they go to festivals,’ he continues. ‘They are the grounds for freedom, expression and creativity. Above all else though, they are also a place for people to feel welcome. Music is the foundation of the festival’s vibe but if you are planning on being there for more than three hours, let alone two days, we definitely feel that there needs to be more to it.’ Jonah says that without the cast of volunteers who donate their time and energy to making the festival a success, the festival probably wouldn’t have left the confines of Geoff Moss’s house.

‘While many elements of music festivals such as production, lights, and catering typically get outsourced, we have chosen to keep these things internal to our collective with specific members spearheading each area of the festival.

‘In addition to the time and energy poured into the festival by our collective’s members, we’ve also had the benefit of leveraging people like Xavier Leger, who shared his experience with the Mosaiq Festival in addition to Oliver Weil who pointed us in the right direction for local food, distributors, gear, and supplies. Without people like this, the festival would be extremely hard to pull off.’

Article published in August 10, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript

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