Festival sparks community’s interest

The first annual Spark in the Park Music Festival was held this past Saturday, providing an active and engaging opportunity for young people in the community to come together.

Held in Waterloo Park, the festival was an all day event showcasing Canadian musicians, while encouraging environmental stewardship, sustainability and social justice.

Sponsored by radio station 91.5 The Beat, the event was headlined by Kae Sun and Zeus.

Volunteers from the local organization Reaching Our Outdoor Friends (ROOF) spent time explaining to festival-goers how their organization has assisted homeless youth in Kitchener-Waterloo for 22 years.

ROOF’s various programs, like the Lunchbox program, have not only provided practical skills to homeless youth but have also given them work opportunities making lunches for businesses in the downtown core.

A uniquely symbiotic way of helping marginalized youth learn valuable skills and gain employment, the program simultaneously provides a service for establishments in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Other groups like the Sustainable Technology Education Project (STEP), which is part of the University of Waterloo’s Sustainability Project, were there with an innovative human-powered bicycle generator.

The bike generator was meant to provide people with a better understanding of how difficult it is to produce energy by demonstrating the grueling effort it takes just to power one string of lightbulbs.

The demonstration had volunteers breaking into sweat well before producing the first bits of light.

Arguably, the best part of the festival was the musical acts that played throughout the day.

One group from Toronto called Jumple got the crowd enthused with their outrageous stage antics and over the top outfits.

They brought to the stage a unique brand of energized pop-rock with notable musical influences from Serbian and Ukrainian culture.

Other bands, like Guelph’s Dance Hall Free for All, entertained the crowds with some funky hard rock grooves and environmentally-minded rapping, preaching the importance of protecting the environment and human rights.

After these opening acts had performed, the unexpected cold weather and rain subsided in time for headliners Kae Sun and Zeus to wow the crowd.

Toronto based singer and songwriter Kae Sun was first up, promoting his latest album On the Lookout.

Originally from Ghana, Kae Sun’s musical style and performance reflects his culture.

Borrowing from an array of musical genres like soul, reggae, hip-hop, folk and rock, his style has been described as “urban folk.”

Kae Sun played the title track from On the Lookout – an energetic song showcasing his hip-hop side, then quickly switched over to songs like “Lion on a Leash,” featuring the acoustic guitar and a more laidback reggae-folk sound reminiscent of artists like Bob Marley.

Soon after the sun went down, Zeus took the stage and got the crowd heated up with their loud and gritty alternative indie rock.

Formed in Toronto, Zeus have garnered attention for touring with artists like Jason Collett and Bahamas.

They played a number of songs from their album Say Us including “Kindergarten” and “I Know”.

Not to be underestimated, Zeus’ live performance is really what sets them apart.

Intricate piano and guitar work combined with seamless transitions between songs made their set a memorable one.

The music sounded crisp and exciting, while the band members’ talent was highlighted as all three front-men swapped between the piano, bass and guitar.

The Spark in the Park Music Festival was an innovative and educational way for organizations to connect with the community, while delivering an evening of great fun and entertainment.