The last day of a festival reflects the dedication of organizers, bands, and fans. It is a day where everyone shows up energized and excitement levels skyrocket for the headlining bands despite being exhausted from the previous days of music, work and dancing. At Keloha, day three had a slow start, but climaxed beautifully in the evening leaving many with that bittersweet “it’s over, but I had fun” feeling.
Starting off the day’s performances was Thomas Kjorven. His unique looping of instruments backed up by a full band produced a powerful, yet chill atmosphere. He took a moment to explain how a loop pedal worked, which took away from the magic of a sound that builds upon it’s self, but it was interesting none the less. Across the park at the Island stage, Devon Coyote’s blues-rock had the early festival-goers tapping their feet in the midday sun. 34ºc tested the endurance of audience members and performers alike as liter upon liter of water was consumed and the smell of sunscreen lingered about the park.
I was very impressed with Michael Bernard Fitzerald’s performance. With a full band (and a puppy) supporting him, his compositions flooded the waterfront with beautiful harmonies. What stood out about his performance was the level of professionalism in the face of a mishap. In his case, three guitar strings broke and his guitar became out of tune mid-song but he managed to tune back up and continue straight through the rest of the pieve. I felt as though the song was still enjoyable and complete, making me very happy they didn’t stop to deal with the problem like The Joy Formidable had done the night before. The issue with stopping is both the audience and the artist has less confidence in the performance. Despite this hiccup, the Sandbar stage was still dancing and enjoying themselves throughout the endeavor.
The afternoon pressed forwards with Shout Out Out Out Out, a funky two-drummer/ four bassist dance band, and Victoria based Acres of Lions. The Sandbar stage began running behind schedule due to some technical difficulties and Said the Whale and Hey Ocean began their sets at the same time, which I took to be a huge oversight in the scheduling. Both of these bands are from Vancouver and have an incredibly similar fan base leaving many (including myself) with a very difficult decision as to which band to see. With the sun pelting down much hotter than the other days, I was perfectly content watching Dan Mangan from the shelter of some trees. The crowd had about doubled in size at this point, and for good reason! Dan Mangan and his guitar delivered a stunning string of music, making me realize why he is one of Canada’s favorite home-grown singer/songwriters.
When The Sheepdogs made an appearance, my partner-in-crime, Linsey, made a very valid point: their style and music pulled you straight back to the 70’s and made everyone else look like they were from the future. Their seemingly Robert Plant-inspired hair and dress suited their raw classic rock sound. If there is one thing the organizers of Keloha did perfectly, it was the lineup. Having bands such as The Sheepdogs and Dan Mangan playing on the same day as Awolnation brings in an incredibly diverse crowd giving each band a chance to make an impression on a different audience than they might usually reach. At first glance, the lineup seemed hodgepodge, but once I was at the festival I realized how great it was to have varying musicians to listen to and experience.
Keloha was capped off beautifully by an explosive performance by AWOLNATION. Crowd-surfers, moshers, and the less crazy head boppers were pressed tightly against each other, saturating the field overlooking the Island stage. Mid-song, frontman Aaron Bruno crossed the moat in front of the stage and leapt into the audience, crowd-surfing before returning to the stage. The audience drank it in, especially during the radio hit Sail. Energy was at a maximum when the set, and the festival ended, so it was a bit of a disappointment that there was no encore. I think everyone left the festival satisfied that it was a weekend well spent. The amount of organization that this festival had in it’s first year was baffling as seemingly every detail was ironed out making for a very smooth-running festival. After getting feedback from some of the artists, many said that they would definitely return to play in this hidden paradise. As for myself, I will definitely come to check it out in it’s second year. Good job, Keloha. Good job.