Sun, sand, surf and good tunes are the makings of a great way to spend the weekend and this year’s Keloha Music and Arts Festival has so far been the highlight of our summer music quest. Only in their second year of ‘being’, Wet Ape Productions and their many enthusiastic volunteers have done a bang up job – the festival itself is located in downtown Kelowna, BC at the Waterfront Park which borders right on the lake shore. Boasting sandy beaches, beautiful manicured lawns that create a natural amphitheatre, an Island Stage surrounded by a small lagoon, and a Beach Stage surrounded by sand, there are also built in washrooms with running water, ample space for food vendors and artisan booths, as well as plenty of shade for the hot afternoons and a beautiful breeze that comes off the lake to keep things cool.
The highlight of the weekend for us was of course, The Trews! Performing in the early evening with the sun almost going down behind the foothills, the band was energetic, passionate, fun to watch, and relaxed – due in part to the surroundings and laid back feeling of the crowd, and possibly due in part to the band taking themselves less seriously and having more fun on stage (with bassist Jack Syperek and singer Colin MacDonald both smiling more often than usual). The Trews road tested a few of their newer songs from the EP Thank You…. And I’m Sorry including Oblivion, Power of Positive Drinking and a killer rendition of Gospel tune Lord Keep Me in Mind (complete with a shoutout to a fan from stage, and the addition of U2’s Still Haven’t Found What I”m Looking For in the bridge, which blended perfectly). The crowd got down to the rocking hard songs like Not Ready To Go, So She’s Leaving and Poor Ol Broken Hearted Me, with fist pumps and lots of bouncing up and down to Sean Dalton’s drum beats in the packed standing area, as well as looser dancing up on the grassy hill where there was more personal space. Hope and Ruin was one of our personal favorites, and Highway of Heroes wss a tender moment for most in the crowd as Colin MacDonald explained the song’s origin. The Trews rounded out the set with a bang; Hold Me (in Your Arms) had even the crowd on the hill up on their feet singing. Great set by a great band.
*The Trews performing Hold Me
MUTEMATH hit the stage after The Trews with a combination of decent music, and a few surprises up their sleeves. The highlight of the show came when their singer tossed an inflatable air mattress (the sort you use on the lake) out into the crowd and surfed! Pulling a brave male fan up into the floating raft with him, the pair were tossed around on a wave of human hands supporting them 10 or more feet above the crowd. Flashing lights around the air mattress made it easier to spot the spectacle and first night of Keloha ended with a bang.
Saturday had Arkells who were decent, and Matt and Kim who were the band talked about that night.
Video of Matt and Kim courtesy of Chris Gardiner Media
Suffering from sunstroke we decided to skip Saturday and rest up for the big finale on Sunday, and headed down to the park early afternoon just in time to catch sleeper band The Matinee. Scheduled for the Sandbar Stage, the band hit the main stage when one of the bands was stuck in transit – good thing! The main stage could barely contain them!
With a down south rockabilly blues flair, The Matinee were so infectious, down went the camera bag, and dancing was the order of the day. The entire band was tight, and singer Matt Layzell’s voice had a deep resonant quality that just enhanced the sound coming from the other band members, Matt Rose (guitar, pedal steel), Pete Lemon (drums), Geoff Petrie (guitar, percussion), and Mike Young (bass). Very impressed with this band, and had a chance to meet them after the show – super nice guys, very professional and very friendly. They’ll be on our radar.
Capital Cities and MGMT stood out as the only disappointments for the weekend. Capital Cities are a great sounding band, but not much fun to watch. With the band doing mostly covers of other famous tunes, the most enjoyable person to watch in the band is their horn player. The other band members don’t do much moving on stage. MGMT was highly anticipated, but crowd response was much the same as our response.. they didn’t live up to the expectations, and chose to not play their hit song at all.. which of course the sizeable crowd was hoping to hear at some point. Last song came and went, and the crowd left feeling let down.
(*note to bands – don’t hold your audience hostage by keeping your one big hit to the very last song – or not performing it at all)
All in all, the weekend was an amazing enjoyable experience. The beverage gardens were well supervised and nobody got out of hand. The grounds stayed clean and the ‘irresponsible youth’ were very responsible.. just wanting good music and fun rather than making the event into a party hardy weekend. Loved it. Of special note, loved that the organizers gave media a ‘get away’ place – a place to sit down, undisturbed, where we could rest, still watch from the sidelines, take notes and be alone with our thoughts – very very cool.
Keep your eye out for Keloha Fest next year and hit up this oasis Island Paradise festival – if this is only their second year, this Music Fest is only going to get better and better!
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