Catching Up with Kitchener’s Indie Festival

Trevor, Monster Aesthetics

Trevor, Monster Aesthetics

KOI Music Fest attendees didn’t let a little rain dampen the spirit of the Kitchener indie music festival this weekend when one of the main headliner’s performances was moved indoors to the Wax. According to festival vendor, Trevor, owner of Monster Aesthetics, smaller venues are always better than a larger, outdoor performance, and Every Time I Die’s (ETID) Saturday night show was no exception to the rule. The 25 year-old t-shirt artist recounted fans climbing the rafters, jumping into the crowd and “lots of stage diving” as evidence of “everyone having a good time.”

Trevor’s festival merchandise sales have led him to tour with the band a few times, and to form friendships with many musicians. “I’m now friends with the bands I listened to in high school.” Originally a photography student from Sheridan College, he’s been exclusively on the road selling band merch at metal, punk rock and hardcore festivals across Canada and the US for the last two years. The growth of his business allows him to have booths manned at multiple music festivals the same weekend. While he was working the KOI fest booth, he had another booth operating at a festival in Denver. At Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey, he sees over 90,000 people walk through a day. He was a little thrown by the smaller crowds at KOI fest, but says you can still expect to see his merch at next year’s event.

Matt & Jake

Matt & Jake

Ticket holders, Matt and Jake didn’t get in to see ETID because the nightclub was at capacity but they were still pretty thrilled with the bands they saw: Expire, Exalt, Protest the Hero, Silverstein and Four Year Strong. As a third time attendee, Jake heard Expire for the first time at last year’s festival. The third year chemistry student from the University of Guelph listened to the Milwaukee band’s hardcore music all year and was glad to see they had returned to the festival.

Matthew, San Francisco

Matthew, San Francisco

Matthew came all the way from San Francisco to see Courage My Love and Chiodos. He found the layout of the festival similar to one he attended in Austin.

John Friesen, of Bracebridge, attended the festival to support his son, an on scene photographer for Aesthetic Magazine. While Friesen enjoyed the performance of folk-pop band Trouble & Daughter, he was disturbed by the prevalence of homelessness he found in downtown Kitchener, after living here 20 years ago. “The drug culture is also disheartening. I have friends who live in Waterloo who won’t come to downtown Kitchener.”

John, Bracebridge

John, Bracebridge


You can’t keep Andrew from the downtown festival. He comes from Cambridge every year, and this year he introduced the festival to his friend, Jacob. The pair were able to get their tickets $25 cheaper through Conestoga College. Andrew was looking forward to seeing metal artists Protest the Hero and the emo band The World is a Beautiful Place, but was surprised to discover the music of pop punk band, Mixtapes.


Andrew & Jacob


Ashley & Emma

For Ashley and Emma, also from Cambridge, KOI Fest is all about the mosh pit. “Everyone is throwing everybody around and it’s great.” Emma described body surfing as “pretty scary because people can drop you.” But that wouldn’t stop the 18 year-old from trusting perfect strangers with her physical safety again. After all, strangers thrashing together in their love for rock, metal, hardcore, and punk is what KOI Festival is all about.



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