By Dylan McCullough
July 11-13, 2014
WATERFRONT PARK, KELOWNA — During a summer saturated with music festivals, it’s difficult for fans to differentiate one football field of people watching Outkast from another. Upon arriving at Keloha on July 11, it became apparent that this festival has no problem standing out from the rest. One can easily groove at the Sandbar stage while refreshing in Okanagan Lake, then cruise over and catch a great view at the main stage amphitheatre. In comparison to other large festivals, a hundred-dollar weekend pass is a fabulous deal to spend the weekend taking in music from the beach.
Keloha’s unique location perfectly sets the stage for an equally diverse lineup. The weekend showcased some of British Columbia’s best talent, with rising acts Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer and Hey Ocean! drawing huge crowds and even bigger applause from the stoked attendees. Local Natives took over the weekend with their Saturday night headlining set. The sky-scraping harmonies and move-ya-feet percussion had the amphitheatre transfixed and the encore performance of “Sun Hands” was perfectly rock and roll. After playing Coachella and Sasquatch! Music festivals this year, the Naked and Famous closed Sunday night with a dynamic road polished set, getting the sun soaked crowd up dancing.
Like any great festival the Keloha 2014 experience was made of equal parts music, setting and people. Here are some highlights:
The Sandbar Stage – Instead of seeking shade all weekend, attendees worked on their tan as they dipped in Okanagan Lake and boogied to the Funk Hunter’s bass lines, the Balconies’ riot inducing pop rock (seriously those lead vocals, whoa) and tossed the frisbee to Bend Sinister’s groovy piano.
Rising Stars – With no indie or college radio station on the airwaves, Keloha is a great opportunity for British Columbia’s interior music fans to catch bands on the rise. Terraplane Sun, St. Lucia and Blondfire left a lasting impression and no doubt scored new fan bases. “The Kongos are who…?” was being whispered before the band took the stage late Friday night, but after closing the set with a pounding rendition of their single “Come With Me Now” the chorus was chanted all the way out the festival gates.
L.A. Bands Dig The Okanagan – “We live on the beach too!” joked Local Natives during their epic headlining set. The weekend was full of sunshine music as West Coast acts like Cayucas and the Mowgli’s all mentioned how Kelowna’s Waterfront Park and record-breaking temperatures reminded them distinctly of home, making songs like “San Francisco” instant crowd pleasers.
Canada Rocks – If much of the indie rock was supplied by California, the weekend’s heaviest rockers came courtesy of Canada. Monster Truck’s headlining set Friday night had the crowd throwing down in Keloha’s first ever mosh pit and on Saturday axe man Devon Coyote and his band performed a set of gritty blues rock that was ridiculously easy to dance along to in the sand.
The music festival business has exploded in 2014, with Bonnaroo and Electric Daisey cookie cutter festivals popping up in every parking lot and hay field across North America. Keloha is distinct festival experience and different from that pack. The weekend doesn’t rely on big-name EDM or reunion tour acts, but puts great Canadian musicians and up and coming bands to work, and the music shows. Along with the chilled out beachfront and excellent beer gardens and food options, Keloha is an experience any fan of music and music festivals must check out.Balconies, BC, Bend Sinister, Blondfire, British Columbia, Cayucas and the Mowgli’s, festival season, Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, Hey Ocean!, Keloha, Keloha 2014, Keloha Music & Arts Festival, Kelowna, Okanagan Lake, St. Lucia, Terraplane Sun, The Kongos, The Naked and Famous