It’s quickly become a summer attraction for the greater Bangor area, and it’s the place to be for members of Generation Next.
Those ages 18-25 have been flocking to the KahBang Festival, now in its fourth year in downtown Bangor. The event drew more than 10,000 attendees over nine days last year.
“I enjoy hearing the response from the fans,” said Joshua Gass, the festival’s creative director. “I didn’t know if this would succeed here, but people have been really supportive.”
Gass wasn’t one of KahBang’s founders (that would be Timothy Lo and Chas Bruns in 2008); instead the Bangor native came to do the videography the first year and got caught up in the excitement.
He was surprised to discover “how much I’ve enjoyed it. This is a project that’s extremely interesting to me. There’s seven or eight individuals at the heart of it, and their involvement has brought me back year after year.”
KahBang combines music, film, and art into a cultural smorgasbord for people of all ages. As creative director, Gass is ultimately responsible for the content that makes up the festival.
“The festival is all about discovery,” Gass said. “The whole point is to present a festival that showcases emerging talent. Last year, we showcased 75 bands throughout the festival, from local to nationally known. It’s nice to create that outlet here, in our hometown, and to expose people to things they wouldn’t normally find here.”
This summer, the festival has contracted to four days, Aug. 9-12, from nine days the previous two years.
The change is largely for logistical reasons, Gass explained.
“It’s more difficult to bring in [bands and attendees] over nine days,” he said. “Now it’s a jam-packed party for nine days to celebrate the artists. Many of the acts are playing at least twice, to make it easier for people to get to the different events.”
The 2012 musical lineup announced so far includes electronic musician Bassnectar, rapper Wale, alternative rockers The Deftones, dance-friendly Reptar, electro-pop musician Penguin Prison, Maine songwriter Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, and KahBang alumni such as Bad Rabbits and the Gay Blades. In total, more than 50 bands are expected to be playing during the festival.
The KahBang Film Festival is four days of films that organizers think are cool. The Out of Competition film categories include a “So Bad It’s Good” category featuring the best in B-Movies.
In Competition categories celebrate emerging indie filmmakers, music docs, and music videos. Films are screened downtown and in the Film Tent at the Waterfront Festival Grounds.
On the art front, the KahBang Art Festival hosts pop-up galleries and exhibitions in downtown Bangor and on the Bangor Waterfront. One new location for such displays will be the Pocket Park, restored through the efforts of the owners of Central Street Farmhouse and KahBang Arts.
On Friday, Aug. 10, the Downtown Bangor Arts Collaborative will host its summer art walk in conjunction with the festival. Local artists across downtown Bangor will open the doors to their studios and galleries for public viewing. A schedule and map of this event will be released in July.
The festival offers lodging and camping packages, although this year’s camping site hasn’t been firmed up yet because of heavy rains in the area this spring. The campsite will feature additional musical entertainment throughout the event.
Other activities offered at the festival include the KahBoat cruises, the Brewfest at the opening Kickoff and KahBlock Party, and the closing KahBrunch and Kickball Tournament.
Keeping in touch with festival-goers has helped KahBang to thrive, Gass said.
“We have a knack of communicating with our demographic,” Gass said. “We use social media to promote the festival and interact with our fans. We try to bring in the bands our fans are discovering online so they can see them in person.”
For more information, call (207) 942-9207 or visit www.kahbang.com.