Friday afternoon couldn’t have been a more gorgeous day in Bangor, and on the sunny banks of the Penobscot River the main stage of the 2nd KahBang Music Festival opened its gates to crowds of fans. The diverse line-up featured local talent and national acts, ranging from swirling orchestral rock to driving electronic jams and crowd-pumping hip-hop.
The hard work and effort of the team behind the festival really showed throughout a fantastic day of amazing music. But it was not without a few minor mistakes, last minute cancellations by two bands and a surprisingly abrupt end to the headlining set by Biz Markie.
The afternoon opened with another mind-blowing performance by Louisville band Cabin. Their performance at the Kahbang Kickoff show the night before had the crowd buzzing even before they took the stage Friday. Unfortunately, sound issues, and a mid-performance power outage cut short a set of terrific rock epics, featuring soaring vocals from lead singer/guitarist Noah Hewett-Ball and melodic lines from the effects-laden violin and organ of Sarah Welder. But the band did not disappoint, giving an encore performance later in the evening to a full house at local pub Paddy Murphy’s.
The other highlights of the afternoon featured sets by two Portland groups, Billy Libby and Jacob & The House of Fire. Billy Libby brought his brand of indie folk and pop, backed up by a very capable band who announced that their set at KahBang was only their second live performance ever as a group. An amazing cover of Radiohead’s “Knives Out” showcased the true talent in Libby’s voice, a lilting tenor with equal amounts of power and tenderness.
Jacob & The House of Fire was perhaps the highlight of the afternoon, with an eleven member ensemble featuring a blazing horn section and unique instrumentation that enhanced Jacob Augustine’s dark folk and rock without overpowering it. The band oozed raw emotion and power, blending together to create a rock symphony that mesmerized the crowd.
The evening sets by LA hip-hop artist Zeek, and the swaggering catchy pop of The Gay Blades were both very solid. The growing crowd of about 1,000 was worked up to a frenzy when headliner Biz Markie took the stage and then left it almost immediately, leaving everyone with a bit of an anticlimactic end to what was an otherwise incredible day of music.
Saturday promises to be just as interesting as the first day, with acts ranging from the party jams of Boston’s Bad Rabbits to catchy rock tunes from bands like The Yes Way, Free Energy, and Holy Boys Danger Club. Closing up the festival are two of the most anticipated acts, Atlanta based hip-hop phenom B.O.B, and internet sensation OK Go. The festival will also have several “KahBang @ Night” after-parties with bands and DJ’s (including yours truly) at clubs around the area for those that are 21 and over. Festival performers Zeek and Cabin will be giving encore performances at the Thai Lounge and Ipanema’s respectively, right as soon as OK Go finishes their set.