Plover moves festival over
If not for a small, sand-coloured shore bird, Kelowna’s Waterfront Park would be a bit quieter this July.
Last fall, Scott Emslie’s team at Wet Ape Productions had nearly sealed a deal to bring their Centre of Gravity festival — a party focused on electronica and hip-hop, but also skateboarding and beach volleyball — to Wasaga Beach, Ont.
“City council was all ready to sign the papers,” Emslie remembers.
But, just as the agreement was about to be clinched, the Ontario government stepped in, concerned the festival would jeopardize the endangered Piping Plovers nesting in the beach area.
In need of a new idea, the group of indie-music lovers looked to their iPods to create a new summer music festival for their home base.
The result was Keloha, a tropical-themed festival that will hit Kelowna from Friday, July 6 to Sunday, July 8.
The inaugural lineup is a mix of independent sounds, from the punk soul of California’s Cold War Kids to folk crooning from B.C.’s Dan Mangan.
While bands from England and the U.S. are in the mix, Emslie promises plenty of homegrown talent as well, with Western Canadian acts dominating festival stages during the daytime.
In all cases, Emslie says his team selected the bands that have blown them away at previous shows.
“Either they’re bands I’ve seen at Sasquatch or other musical festivals or I’ve researched at what they’re like live,” he says.
Getting the lineup he wanted wasn’t always easy, however.
With more and more festivals cropping up across the country, Emslie says booking bands was a challenge.
He’s hoping Keloha’s setting — smaller and more intimate than mega-festivals across the border such as Sasquatch and Coachella — and its oasis-like atmosphere will set it apart from other outdoor events just starting up — and give Keloha the staying power needed to become an annual event.
Between guitar riffs, the festival offers tiki kitsch — palm trees, hula girls, leis — and interactive art exhibitions, including a graffiti installation and a cutout board for taking photos.
For art buyers, there’s an artisan boardwalk, while music lovers with kids can send them to the Instrument Petting Zoo to work on their guitar chops.
“I think festivals aren’t just about the lineup any more,” Emslie says.
“You can’t just book a bunch of bands and have them play outdoors.”
For a full lineup and schedule and to purchase tickets, go here .
Tickets will also be available at the gates during the event.