September 28, 2020

BY MATT HOWELL

The Big Music Fest will be rocking Kitchener again this summer, and by the sounds of it the second verse will be better than the first.

The headliners for the upcoming summer festival were revealed on Feb. 10, and it reads like a page out of a music history textbook.

Kick-ass and class are the themes for the July 11 and 12 weekend, with Soundgarden, Jane’s Addiction and Extreme making up the kick-ass, and Rod Stewart and Blondie being the latter for the massive spectacle that will once again be held in McLennan Park in Kitchener.

Mark Higgins is the owner and president of Big Music Fest, which after a very successful first run, will be looking to expand on last year’s accomplishment by offering something a little different from other festivals.

“We have real international star power. We have an icon, and we have that Seattle sound that I love, along with some Canadian shit thrown in there too. I don’t know of anything out there like this, and if there is, that’s great,” Higgins said.

It takes a lot of different people, groups and organizations to make something of this magnitude happen. And according to Higgins, planning got under way right after the conclusion of last year’s event.

“We started probably an hour after last year’s show,” Higgins said.

Last year’s lineup had some stellar acts as well, featuring such rock mammoths as Aerosmith and Bryan Adams, but this year there will be new additions to the festivities.

The festival, with the help of some local concert venues, has been extended from three days to seven. There will also be a food festival, a film festival and a live stage in front of City Hall that will feature various local acts throughout the week.

The Friday night will once again feature the Breaking Bands indie night, where in the months prior to the show hundreds of bands will audition and be whittled down to just 25. Those bands will get the opportunity to showcase their stuff.

Festival officials estimate that $7 million was pumped into the local economy last year, but there were some concerns prior to the event about what the surrounding communities would think of having more than 20,000-plus concertgoers being in their backyard.

That’s why city officials, organizers and residents all stayed on the same page through meetings and Q&A sessions, and this time around was no different.

Wanda Kampijan is a resident of the McLennan Park area and didn’t see any major issues transpire during last year’s celebration.

“What I really liked was that there was dialogue with the community as the planning was going on, so the community had an opportunity to voice any concerns or issues they thought could bubble up,” Kampijan said.

Parking and garbage were concerns, but are generally associated with any large gathering of people in a small area. The organizers did, however, visit residents afterward to discuss their feelings towards the performance.

“The organizers came back and looked for feedback after the event to help them base their planning for this year,” Kampijan said.

More bands are to be announced over the next few months, and tickets are on sale now. For more information on Big Music Fest, visit www.bigmusicfest.com.

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