It’s been eight years since downtown Kelowna was brought to life with the BreakOut West festival and when it lures 55 bands to 10 venues across the city this October, organizers expect to get an even more animated response.
“I think the demographics (in Kelowna) have changed significantly in the last 10 years,” said Karma Lacoff, a lead member of the organizing committee who was involved in the original event as well.
“I think the audiences will be bigger — there are more people who want this type of thing to be happening.”
In addition to demographic changes, Kelowna’s downtown had yet to build up a significant residential base in 2010. Bernard Avenue hadn’t been revitalized and there were simply fewer venues for people to enjoy on any given night. That said, the event was a success and Lacoff said it piqued the interest of industry insiders.
“Because the music industry received it so well the last time around there will be a lot more people coming to attend the event from other provinces as well as Vancouver and Victoria,” she said.
That attention from fans and fan-makers alike is exactly why the City of Kelowna jumped on the chance to host another BOW festival.
“We had planned on pursuing it for 2020 but as fate would have it, the opportunity to host it came up for 2018 and we jumped on it,” said Chris Babcock, with the City of Kelowna.
“You’re getting people like me who don’t play an instrument at all, but do love live music. And to have something like this come in, animate our local venues and bring the industry, too ..it’s really fun and it gives Kelowna vibrancy.”
Babcock won’t say how much the community had to pay to bring the event here, but acknowledged there is a payoff.
In 2010 there was an estimated $3.1 million economic impact, which Babcock said is the “icing on the cake.”
For one of the hometown performers, Ben Klick, it’s more than just decoration and music. This event means he’s reached a certain level of success and a new level in his career. Some of the acts he most admired as he was making a name for himself found their managers at BreakOut West festivals, and saw themselves catapulted to greater career heights.
He’s also excited to simply be a music fan for the three-day event.
Break Out West is also known as the Western Canadian Music Awards. The annual event was renamed to BreakOut West in 2009 to better encapsulate the three-night showcase and four-day conference that run alongside the Western Canadian Music Awards.
The location of the festival changes between major cities and provinces—B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. BreakOut West serves as a boost to the hosting city each year.
The best emerging acts out of western Canada will be showcased alongside iconic alumni acts, including The Grapes of Wrath, who will be honoured with the Hall of Fame award this year. The award will be officially presented to the band during their showcase performance on Oct. 13. Five additional performing acts from the first-round announcement have also been nominated for Western Canadian Music Awards this year. The winners of the artistic categories will be announced on Oct. 11 at the WCMAwards Reception in Kelowna, and Industry and Specialty Award categories will be presented on Oct.13 at the Industry Awards Brunch at the Delta Hotel in Kelowna.
Wristbands for BreakOut West are available now at tickets.breakoutwest.ca and festival-goers can redeem their online purchase of wristbands, prior to the festival, at Milkcrate Records, and Tourism Kelowna.
First Round of BreakOut West Festival Performers:
3 Ninjasks (SK)
Ben Klick (BC)
Celeigh Cardinal (AB)
The Grapes of Wrath (BC/QC)
Gunner & Smith (SK)
The Heels (BC)
Leisure Club (BC)
Luca Fogale (BC)
Megan Nash (SK)
Micah Erenberg (MB)
The Middle Coast (MB)
Quantum Tangle (NT)
Rob Dickson (YK)
Sarah Jane Scouten (BC)
Snotty Nose Rez Kids (BC)
The Velveteins (AB)
Whale and the Wolf (AB)
BNA Brewing Company
Craft Beer Market
Doc Willoughby’s Public House
DOJA Coffee Shop
The Grateful Fed Pub & Restaurant
New Arts Collective
Stay tuned for more performances to be announced soon!