Saturday, July 19, 2014

Farewell Kahbang

The time has come for KahBang Music and Arts Festival and Bangor to part ways. The festival will be moving to Portland, Maine and turned into an indoor event. This has caused a bunch of stir in the local media and I've written about KahBang a couple times on my blog, so I thought I would do sort of my own goodbye and share some of my views.

2011- I didn't have my blog back then, but this was my first year at the festival. I was living in Bangor at the time and a friend won a ticket on the radio. We went together and I loved my experience.
Some musical highlightsLupe Fiasco, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Chromeo & Lazerdisk
This was the year that my friends insisted I get on stage during Lazerdisk and hula hoop. Somehow we actually managed to pull it off. I did not want to, I was frightened. I remember my sister and her boyfriend convincing me this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and letting them lift me onto the stage and toss me the hoop. I started spinning and security was not too happy with me but they surprisingly let me wrap it up with a nice little finish and then hop down. I specifically remember doing a shoulder duck out and feeling the energy from the audience. Photo highlights~

My neighbor on 3rd street in Bangor

Hooping friend Heather that won the tickets for us! She's holding one of the first hoops I ever made her.

Silent Disco! They were supposed to have it again this year. I photo bombed this girl!

The stage I hooped on!

This is a picture of the old stage before Waterfront Concerts had it moved. I personally miss the old set up. AND a big thing to note: Before Waterfront Concerts changed the layout around KahBang was actually allowed access to this main stage. Now, for some reason, Waterfront Concerts would not permit Kahbang to use the stage. I really liked how they used the main stage and also had smaller stage around the festival grounds, which was the whole waterfront. It used to seem so smooth. The festival was propelling at this point. It has been speculated that Waterfront Concert Series and Kahbang organizers have not always gotten along.

2012- This is the summer that I'm back in Bangor after being away for almost a year. Like a lot of people I know that graduated from Orono, I felt like I had to move to Portland to be successful. I ended up in Old Orchard Beach during the winter and continuing to work as a waitress at a chain restaurant. This is when I decided it was a good time to hit the road for 3 months and travel. Once I was back in Maine I decided to root myself in Bangor and be proud of it. Portland is a great city. It's beautiful. It just turns out it wasn't in my cards. Some musical highlightsBassnectar, Deftones, Wale, Paper Diamond. Check out my blog post from that year.

2013- This year definitely had indications of some problems. Aside from all of the rain on Friday night, which obviously nobody has control over, there were absolutely no headlining performances that anyone really cared about. There was a lot of offensive rap from what I remember. Don't get me wrong, I can pretty much get down to anything with my hula hoop. Hopsin was very Hostile. Spose was the most memorable for me. Rapping about Maine made me laugh because I could relate to what he was saying. You can read my blog from that year as well.

I first caught wind of the change while scrolling facebook. It was big news, and still is. There has been tons of controversy surrounding the event. Lots of people have questions. There has been a lot of support but a lot of backlash. The short notice and secrecy is what caused all the commotion to begin with. The City of Bangor claims they also first got wind of the change through media, and not from any of the organizers or board members. Posting a facebook status felt like a betrayal. There was no chance for help to be offered. I think if they would be upfront about some of the issues with the city and it's citizens, it would have softened the blow.

The city refused to let KahBang host campers along the waterfront, and according to reports, a big reason why the festival was moved was because they were having an issue finding a space to have a campsite. In years past, campers stayed in Hermon behind the Sport's Arena. Having never camped out there, I can't speak to what it was like. I do remember going to a late night DJ tent at the spot before heading home one year. They ran a shuttle. It seemed to work out. I am curious to know why it isn't an option this year and what went wrong after several years. I'm also curious to know if it would have been possible to just cancel the camping altogether but still have the music performed in Bangor. There are plenty of campgrounds and hotels in Bangor as alternatives. It would be unfortunate but why wouldn't they have a site locked down and in place well in advance?

City Council claims that they knew camping was an issue for KahBang organizers, but didn't know it would be a deciding factor in moving the entire festival. It seems to me there was not enough communication between the city and organizers. I can't speculate what this says about either group, as I'm not involved. But it doesn't bode well for anyone. People are pretty upset. There has been lots of arguments over social media. It's one of those that you pull up a comfy seat and some popcorn for.

Renee Ordway's Op-ed for the Bangor Daily News came under fire for calling out Executive Organizer Joshua Gass. He took to facebook to express his distaste for the article and it's author:

However, more controversy began when Nick Mcrea followed up with an article revealing an email a donor received from Joshua Gass regarding a $500 donation to the festival. It doesn't appear that the donation was offered to be returned, nor an apology for no advance notice about the move to Portland.
“Our organizational mission is not to serve Bangor, but to discover, develop and support artists all over the region and all our events serve that mission, including events we do elsewhere,” Gass wrote in response. “If you feel you were [misled] by our mission, then I am so sorry and you truly have my most sincerest apology.” -Joshua Gass
There's a mix of emotions ranging from anger, to support for the new venue. Some people could care less, stating that "the hipsters should go elsewhere." I think that it would have served the festival and the people of Bangor better if there was some conversation about the possibility of moving in the first place. It feels like it isn't ours. It's not something they care to have us be apart of. Everyone seems to think the grass is always greener on the other side, and that side is Portland in this case. State Theatre will now be one of the venues to host the music. They had a few comments to make on their page:

It is definitely a sad thing for the city to lose this. It sucks it had to come to a complete change. I would hope that the city of Bangor wouldn't of let that happen had they known. I would hope that between all of the people that work for the city and for the festival could brain storm a way to make it work for everyone. As someone that is just part of the general public, I don't have an inside knowledge of what actually went down. There are always 100 sides to any story. I don't run a festival. Maybe they really had to do this to save face. It's going to sting for now but this will pass and Bangor will hopefully make strides toward new endeavors.

Farewell KahBang. I had a good few runs. I do wish you the best of luck in your new location.

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