As the last guitar string’s vibration fades and drum kit goes silent, Kelowna residents will silently mourn three days of non- stop music.
Bands from across the world took over the downtown core to grace music lovers’ ears. But it was home grown talent from B.C. that ruled the stage with 21 bands, Alberta came in second with 12 and Manitoba with 10.
During the BreakOut West kick off concert the four-piece punk band, Like a Motorcycle, lived up to their reputation and delivered a ferocious sound. Vancouver band, Little Destroyer— headed by Joplin-esque lead vocals and guitar, Allie Sheldan and brothers Chris and Michael Weiss— brought the fans to a rock and roll climax with a set that included a song titled, Mansions that is about mental health and creating more visibility around the subject. Then Kelowna’s own The Wild! came on stage to close the night off.
The Wild! were great, but their introduction cast a pall on the performance. “We’ve had the Punk, we’ve had the sexy and now we will have the Rock and Roll,” the MC said.
Little Destroyer is a rock band in their own right and shouldn’t be reduced to “sexy” just because they have a female lead.
The statement foreshadowed a documentary screened Sunday afternoon from Canadian singer, song-writer, Kinnie Starr.
Play Your Gender examined the deeply embedded misogyny that runs through the music industry. The documentary follows Starr as she interviews producers, musicians and players in the music industry about the boundaries that women face in the music industry, seamlessly lifting the curtain to the male dominated teams behind top female musicians.
As a concert-goer the weekend gave of an unfamiliar energy that was unnameable until the weekend was over.
For example, the male gaze was not a looming presence over the weekend. There weren’t men running around from woman-to-woman hoping to buy a drink in exchange for getting something more later. Men and women stood, and danced side-by-side without any grabbing or grinding. It seemed everyone was there for the love of the music and to see these burgeoning bands put on one hell of a show.
Going out in Kelowna, even if it is just for a bike ride, a walk to the coffee shop or going to the bar I have been harassed or stared at to the point where my skin crawls. I have been followed into a coffee shop and harassed by a man who swore “he knew me from somewhere,” and then when I declined his offer to have coffee with him he was angry. He later would “coincidentally” follow me around for the next week to the extent where I had to file a police report. I was told by the officer that she wished more women called when something like this happened. The second I landed in Kelowna I felt like a gazelle stranded in a field, surrounded by hungry predators.
The freedom I experienced at BreakOut West was a kind of freedom I imagine a man has when he goes into a public setting that I have never experienced before. I did not realize it in the moment but now that I have, I long for it once more.
BreakOut West gave musicians the platform to play to a valley where their messages could be heard. It also gave fans an opportunity to revel in their notes without looking over their shoulder.
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