Biz Markie at KahBang 2010
With year two now in the books, it's safe to say that standout sets by artists on the rise are what could truly set the annual KahBang music festival apart from similar gatherings throughout New England. It's a rare, thrilling phenomenon when an artist can shatter the audience's expectations, but KahBang was full of moments like that, even amid the chaos of a festival still in its infancy.
While I wasn't able to make it up to Bangor for the festivities on Friday, the word on the street was that it was marred by mistakes in comparison with Saturday. (Festival communications director Chris Michaud explains that bands dropping out and playing shorter sets moved the show ahead of schedule.) However, the early sets by smaller bands went well, and returning favorites the Gay Blades rocked the crowd of between 2000 and 3000, according to Michaud.
The biggest let-down by far was headliner Biz Markie. Apparently he looked like he rolled out of bed, clad in a dirty Hanes T and sweatpants, and his set clocked in at just over half an hour.
"Biz did what he wanted to do and it was a huge disappointment for the whole KahBang staff," says Michaud.
Regardless, the fans were back out for more during day two. I arrived just as things were getting under way around 2 pm. Most of the parking spaces (like the prime space I scored) afforded easy trips back to the car to shed layers, drop off merch, or refill water.
After the schedule mishaps on Friday, the organizers beefed up the number of bands on the main stage to fill out the time. Most bands played solid sets, attempting to win over the passive crowd sitting across the grassy Waterfront.
With the all the daytime action on the main stage, attendees had little reason to venture to the smaller stage or the silent disco and electro tent, which were empty throughout most of the day. Michaud says each band was responsible for generating enough buzz to attract people to the smaller stage so audiences ranged from more than 100 to around 10.
I happened to stumble across the Brooklyn duo Guitars who were playing to a crowd of roughly five people on the smaller stage. While I may have been originally listening out of pity, I stuck around when they hooked me with their heartfelt folk ballads and dark, melodic vocals (think She & Him with a lot more balls).
Boston's Bad Rabbits were the first band on the main stage to get the audience on their side, up and moving. They stuck together tightly, dancing and rocking their way through a high energy set of falsetto-laced, electro-funk.
Soon after, buzzworthy Philadelphia band Free Energy gave the audience a healthy dose of their laid back classic rock (think AC/DC on a beach). While it was hard to take their lead singer seriously (he looked like a cross between a Guitar Hero caricature and Cousin Itt), their music elicited a certain sarcastic gleam.