By RACHEL HENRY
You could not be in downtown Kitchener on September 17 without being surrounded by it.
With a section of King Street blocked off, the street was packed with merch tents, crowds of people, food vendors and, most importantly, live music.
The second annual Kitchener Ontario Independent (KOI) Music Festival made its presence known, boasting approximately 150 bands playing rock, punk, indie, metal, ska, reggae, acoustic and blues that rocked nine indoor venues and two outdoor stages in downtown Kitchener.
Not bad for a grassroots operation, spearheaded by Kitchener’s Arc Clothing Co.’s Cory and Curtis Crossman.
The brothers have been organizing music events since the age of 15, and have made it their goal to foster the local music scene and help it grow.
“Our goal with the festival is to show people that the tri-cities (Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge) has some amazing talent and you don’t have to drive an hour to see quality live entertainment,” Cory said.
KOI was started with the goal of opening up the local independent music scene to residents who have not previously been exposed to it.
While international artists are booked to headline the festival, 50 per cent of the performers are from Waterloo Region and Wellington County.
“Residents need to get engaged in their communities more and try something different,” Crossman said. “Nothing will ever change if people aren’t willing to go explore their community and their music scene. If you’re not sure where to start KOI Music Festival is a great start … ”
Although the number of ticket sales is not yet known, festival organizers have high hopes to surpass last year’s attendance.
“In our first year as a festival (last year) we had over 2,500 people come out” Cory said. “We’re very pleased with the reaction and all the positive feedback we received.
“This year going into the festival our goal was to secure a larger outdoor stage and bring the attendance level up to 4,000,” Curtis echoed the all-around optimism about this year’s event.
“With another successful fest this year the third edition of KOI can only get better,” he said.