Entertainment

Mutemath heads to Kelowna's newly hot summer festival scene

Mutemath plays the Keloha Festival this summer as beach festivals make a big return in the Okanagan - Contributed
Mutemath plays the Keloha Festival this summer as beach festivals make a big return in the Okanagan
— image credit: Contributed

Six months ago, exactly two hours after performing a show in Bâton Rouge, Mutemath drummer Darren King became a father.

His phone was sitting beside his drum kit as the prelude-to-birth got rolling, ten days early and right along with the last concert of their tour. He prepared himself to walk away mid-song should a text arrive from his wife.

"I told the audience we would come back and play the show again," he said. "But I had to go if she called."

Since the birth of Scarlett—who was riding in the car seat, her mother, Stacy DuPree of the rock band Eisley, presumably seated shotgun for the duration of this interview—the frenetic pace new life creates has opened doors for the musician and his New Orleans-based rock band.

Writing the material for an album to follow their critically acclaimed Odd Soul—"an absolute mother of an album," according to Andy Peterson of contactmusic.com—they are once again refining a new direction.

Funnily enough, it's a bit of the same feeling the Keloha Music Festival has given the music scene in Kelowna, and Mutemath will be among the headliners this summer.

Wet Ape Productions opened the doors on Keloha in 2012 to rave reviews. The indie-styled music mélange is the company's second beach festival in Kelowna. Owner and ex-professional volleyball player Scott Emslie has quickly, but quite quietly, built a new route to beach-side entertainment by working closely with local businesses and political-types to mold a scene that works for the community, after the mismanagement of Wakefest, not to mention actual riots at Peachfest and the Kelowna Regatta, nearly brought this form of entertainment to its knees in the Okanagan.

After several years of operating Centre of Gravity without issue, Keloha's inaugural weekend opened with acts like The Sheepdogs (now the subject of a documentary on their lightening-rod success), California's Awolnation, and local fan favour Dan Mangan headlining.

This year, along with Mutemath, the company has invited Shad, MGMT, The Trews, Arkells, The Zolas, Washboard Union and Tanlines to heat up the beach for the July concert. And Tiësto, Kaskade and Dada Life will take the stage the next month at the Centre of Gravity, held at City Park each August.

Altogether, Wet Ape figures Keloha will contribute about $2.5 million to the local economy and Centre of Gravity double the figure— and all while bringing in acts Okanagan audiences would likely miss otherwise.

A shift in the entertainment scene, particularly in Kelowna, has seen live music fans streaming to small intimate venues to hear generally West Coast-focused touring bands cater to a reasonably diverse range of musical taste, though without the stadium-style, large-scale concert events of years gone by.

Had they never grown, Mutemath might have fit the bill in the Leon and Bernard Avenue bar scene as well, striking a balance between light-leaning alternative rock and the Christian background so many artists touring the Kelowna area claim.

King said he grew up in an ardently religious household, raised with ideas that promote courtship over dating. And while he now finds the idea preposterous, the loneliness of an adolescence spent without female interaction left him with the time and pent up sexual frustration to learn how to tear up a drum set like no other, he claims.

These days, his work is more about trying to impress one woman, his wife, and that might even include learning more vocal accompaniment.

"I've always wanted to be a singer," he said, noting he practically stalked both Mutmath singer Paul Meany and his wife. "I want to be one of them, to just have enough confidence to write ideas and create ideas."

As it stands, he typically does have the idea and it's up to Meany to refine it, and they should have some new tunes refined by the time they play their set in Waterfront Park.

Tickets for Keloha, July 5-7, are now on sale ranging in price from $189.50 for a three-day platinum pass to $49.50 for a single day admission.

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