The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures

Branding Bangor

It's Maine's first large-scale indie music festival
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  August 12, 2009

matt kim main

If a big-league indie pop festival falls in Bangor, will anyone hear it?

It's a cynical but unavoidable question as far as the inaugural KahBang Music & Art Festival, coming up this Saturday, is concerned. The festival will be held two hours north of its poor and difficult-to-motivate target audience (Pitchfork-astute Portland music aficionados), on Bangor's waterfront, and its headliners, the irrepressible Brooklyn keys-and-drums duo Matt & Kim, only drew about 100 people to their first Maine concert, at SPACE Gallery last summer.

Pessimism aside, though, the all-ages KahBang Festival has a lot more going for it than ambition and a marquee act: the festival's 11-plus-band lineup is deep with national and local talent (and, at $27.50 in advance and $35 at the door, tickets are fairly priced for the wealth of acts involved); despite the impulse to snicker about its location, Bangor is already home to one successful, time-tested festival (the annual American Folk Festival); perhaps most importantly, KahBang has a young, hip, motivated, and experienced staff giving the event a distinctive identity and an innovative promotional campaign.

Chris Michaud, 23, familiar to many as the vocalist and saxophonist for the Killing Moon, is KahBang's public-relations director and a part of the team that dreamed up the festival. "Basically, everyone who is a part of KahBang is a born-and-raised Bangor/Bangor area person, most of whom found a lot to be desired while growing up around here." The group dispersed after high school — production manager Chas Burns (27) cut his teeth on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Jimmy Kimmel Live!; financial director Tim Lo (26) worked for John Hancock; others became graphic designers or worked for television or print publications — but, at a Bangor bar in May, they conceived a loose idea of what would become KahBang: an annual showcase of emerging national acts, presented by a set of ears and eyes keen to fresh design and, vitally, marketing on social networks.

"A few days passed, the pipe dream began to fade," Michaud says, "until we received a phone call from Tim . . . 'Guys, I'm in Toronto. I got an investor. We're doing this.' And that was that."

Building on an army of nearly 1500 Facebook fans, KahBang posters and leaflets are familiar sights in Portland and beyond, and organizers are eager to give away tickets to volunteers. Smart viral-marketing contests — on Facebook, the best KahBang-related status update of the day earns a free pass — build the brand and attract more people to the event.

Apart from two alternating stages of music from noon through 10 pm or so (allowing minimal wait time between sets), KahBang will sport an interactive art festival, Apple computer and Best Buy tents, and food and snack venues (and fire jugglers). After it ends, three local bars will hold "KahBang at Night" concerts.

Michaud, whose band reunite at KahBang after a hiatus, is optimistic about the festival's potential, and sees this sort of branding initiative as a key to KahBang's success. "[We] hope that in a few years KahBang will be synonymous with new and upcoming talented, presented professionally and with vigor." With this lineup, he's off to a good start. Here's some info about two of KahBang's most exciting performers:

MATT & KIM One of indiedom's most fun-loving and danceable pop duos, Matt (Johnson) & Kim (Schifino) followed up their self-titled 2006 debut (IHeartComix) — a blunt and sloppy but infectious set of two- to three-minute bursts of energy — with this spring's Grand (FADER). More contemplative and more eccentric than their debut, Grand confirms the pair can make good songs rather than just the prolonged choruses most were perfectly happy with.

IDA MARIA "Female, Norwegian pop/rocker" doesn't exactly drum up the idea of a firebrand singer reminiscent of Chrissie Hynde or Courtney Love (or Ted Leo, for that matter), but Ida Maria lives up to the billing with charisma to spare. Her breakthrough single, "Oh My God," is the most infectious angst anthem this side of Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone," and the wonderful album it comes from, Fortress Around My Heart (Waterfall), would, in a just world, be a staple on the iPod of every teen girl in America.

Christopher Gray can be reached at

KAHBANG MUSIC & ART FESTIVAL |with Matt & Kim + Ra Ra Riot + Ida Maria + Royal Bangs + April Smith + Gay Blades + Killing Moon + Everyday Visuals + Sex + Bay State + Sam & Yuri | August 15 @ noon-10:30 pm | Bangor Waterfront, Main St, Bangor | $27.50-35 | 

Related: Matt and Kim, Shiny happy people, Photos: Best of BMP Concert 2009, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Music, Pop and Rock Music,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article
wow... this actually looks like a sick Indie event. I joined the facebook group, and they have Phoenix promo tickets right now. 20 bucks... that's a whole lot of music for next to nothing. I'll make the trip north...
By BigPaulB on 08/12/2009 at 6:11:18
Re: Branding Bangor
was a great show! the bands were awesome and were partying downtown afterward. great venue....i'm looking foward to next year.
By Jessamine on 08/21/2009 at 11:06:27

Today's Event Picks
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   STARS ALIGNED  |  September 16, 2009
    The days are growing shorter, the magazines are (well, barely) getting larger and meatier, and the first batch of cider doughnuts is on the way real soon: all sure signs of autumn, as is the bountiful crop of prestigious concerts coming our way this season.
  •   GLORIOUS BASTARDS  |  September 02, 2009
    Few bands could serve as a better case study on the influence of Internet hype on mainstream media and popular acceptance than Deerhunter. Before the band "broke" in early 2007, to a glowing Pitchfork review of their album Cryptograms , the Atlanta four-piece were virtual unknowns nationally.
  •   ROCK OF WAGES  |  August 26, 2009
    Huak are the rare local band who, in the two-plus years they've been playing regular gigs, sound bolder and more self-possessed every time you see them.
  •   BRANDING BANGOR  |  August 12, 2009
    If a big-league indie pop festival falls in Bangor, will anyone hear it?
  •   MUSIC SEEN: NEKO CASE + HARU BANGS  |  August 12, 2009
    First things first: Neko Case is the complete package, an unmitigated bombshell (gorgeous, wry, self-effacing) with a singular artistic vision (country/folk songs so heavy on metaphor and animistic and obscure mythological references that you could — and should — unpack them for months) and a voice like an air-raid siren.

 See all articles by: CHRISTOPHER GRAY

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2009 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group