On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending KW Freshtival at Maxwell’s Concert Hall in Waterloo. This event was curated by Algernon Friolet of the band Flowers for Daniel. It’s so important to have these kinds of opportunities for indie artists to immerse themselves in an environment where everyone is out there for the same thing; to play music. It was really cool to see the festival come together, see bands meeting other bands and appreciating each other’s music. This is where people get new ideas, are inspired and make friends; it’s a cohesive atmosphere that encourages creativity and music. I was so glad to be a fly on the wall and observe as these connections were made.
Not only was a great show put on by musicians and singers but adjacent to the stage there were local, artisanal vendors selling their products which ranged from necklaces and jewellery, to clothing and studio time. All of these were marketed by the artists who were more than happy to talk to me about their designs or designers they represented.
Photographed above is apparel designed by Joschka Sawatzky. Check out his website: http://www.mynameisjoschka.com/#home
The first band to catch my eye upon taking to the stage was Shy Harry. Based in Cambridge Shy Harry are a three piece band that has their feet firmly planted in the roots of rock and roll. I had the opportunity to chat with lead singer Eric Bolton about E-Bolt Music which he assured me is more than just music lessons. He and his colleagues also have a recording space, organize live events in their hometown and offer a sponsorship program to make music lessons more accessible. His website and his band are worth reading about. www.eboltmusic.com
Throughout the day I noticed some issues with sound quality and feedback but as distracting as it was at times it definitely didn’t take away from local band Safe as Houses. The alt-folk band from Kitchener-Waterloo graced the stage with a dynamic performance that included the sultry sound of a violin played by Lauren Taylor. Safe as Houses has a brand new EP which is free for download on Bandcamp and have just released their song “Hurricane” in video form!
I was a huge supporter of music in Kingston, where I went to school, and obviously still am. That being said a few of the bands playing on Saturday I have seen before and am able to call my friends. I have an overwhelming sense of pride in these people and desperately want them to receive validation for their talents in whatever way is fulfilling. I’ve watched them play for ten people, I’ve watched them play for hundreds and no matter the size they put everything into their shows because it’s what they love to do.
Based in Kingston, Kasador is a band I have seen play many times. Their catchy indie rock sound, charismatic lead singer Will Hunter and collective good looks have made them favorites amidst their university hometown. After a turbulent few days they showed up ready for anything, putting on a great show against the odds of being down a member, due to illness, and feedback, due to sound issues. Kasador has a new EP coming out September 13th and just dropped a new single called “Talk About It.” Check them out on tour with Foreign Diplomats this week.
Every single time I’ve seen XPrime I’ve been impressed. Their energy and the tightness of their band never falters, not to mention that Neil Carson sounds similar to Alex Turner which is definitely not a bad thing. Saturday was no exception when they stormed the stage with a spirited performance, especially guitarist Steph Mercier spun around and literally jumped off the stage. Back in January they put out a video to their song “All To Myself,” it’s a fusion of pop and rock that is sure to get you dancing.
I first saw Flowers for Daniel in an obscure town in the middle of nowhere having never heard of them and wondering what kind of sound they’d produce with such an odd name. I was pleasantly surprised when lead singer Algernon Friolet’s voice tickled my ears with its sandpaper quality. Rough and smooth at the same time it gives their songs a unique texture that can’t be produced by any effect. The hometown crowd showed them constant love during their set, especially for their single YWG.
From London, Ontario Texas King are explosive, unpredictable, chaotic and so much fun. If you ever go to a Texas King show, find the tallest, sturdiest object and stay away from it, or stand right beside it, because there’s a good chance lead singer, Jordan MacDonald and lead guitar Colin Gray will be standing on it at some point in the show. These guys love to party and guarantee the crowd a good time with their antics. Yes, they have a lot of fun on stage and it’s infectious but it’s not blinding. There is some real talent backing this band so keep your eyes peeled for their full length album set to come out sometime this year.
To close the show Alex Price with Pocket City arrived and smoothed things out with their R&B sound and sizzling vocals. The collaboration of all the different instruments, including a mix table, on the stage really rounded out their full performance. Taking things down a notch was a satisfying conclusion to this day long festival. I had a great time discovering new talent, reuniting with old friends, making new ones and talking to artists about their passion. Hopefully KW Freshtival starts becoming an annual occurrence because I believe the night ended in success and more artists as well as the town of Kitchener-Waterloo itself could really benefit from an event like this.
Enjoy a photo gallery of the event below!