02/09/2015 11:43 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Pierre Karl Péladeau slammed for yelling 'En français' at music festival

Performers say Pierre Karl Péladeau was misguided for insisting that a singer at a music festival in Rouyn-Noranda sing in French.

The PartiQuébecois leadership candidate made an appearance at Quartiers d'hiver, part of the Emerging Music Festival, which ran from Jan. 29 to 31. The festival featured three bands that sing in English.

Witnesses reported Péladeau repeatedly yelled out, “En français!” as the band Groenland was performing.

Caroline Keating, a singer who opened for Groenland, said she was backstage when Péladeau made the comment. When she stepped out into the crowd shortly afterward, the vibe had changed.

"It was pretty awkward but I wouldn’t say it ruined the celebration,” Keating told CBC’s Daybreak Montreal.

“I’m not a political analyst at all but my impression was he might have thought that that was what the public wanted him to say. But I was delighted to see that that was not the case, and after speaking with people later, on the consensus was that it was totally misplaced."

Groenland's singer Sabrina Halde performed in English, but addressed the crowd in French between songs.

Halde said there was a ripple through the crowd as people realized what Péladeau​ was shouting, but most people didn't agree with him.

She said she’s passionate about the French language, but argued she's still entitled to sing in English.

“My reaction was, ‘Poor you! You’ve chosen the wrong show. You’ve got three shows in English,'” Halde said.