KahBang organizers cancel music portion of festival; art and film elements to remain

KahBang festival-goers react to the band during the 2010 edition of the festival.

KahBang festival-goers react to the band during the 2010 edition of the festival.

KahBang Music & Art Festival organizer Joshua Gass announced Thursday afternoon that the music portion of the yearly festival — including Friday night performances by indie rock artist St. Vincent and rapper DMX — has been canceled. Gass made the decision known through an open letter to fans and media alike.

“With a heavy heart we must cancel our scheduled music performances. The community in Portland has welcomed us with open arms, but several setbacks in our planning the last few weeks, including the loss of our major sponsors, has made it very difficult for us to stage our music events,” said Gass, in the letter. “We are sorry to our fans for letting them down, but we just don’t have the ability to maintain our vision for the event for this year.”

Publicists for St. Vincent confirmed Thursday that the acclaimed artist will not be appearing in Maine this year. Her Maine tour stop was removed from her website as of Thursday morning.

The festival was originally held on the Bangor Waterfront, and was set to return to Bangor for the 2014 edition of the festival, until organizers announced two weeks ago that they would be moving the entire event to Portland. Organizers cited a lack of Bangor area lodging options for festival-goers and sluggish ticket sales as the primary reasons for the move. The KahBrew Fest, a two day celebration of craft and home brew, was canceled outright.

In response to the move, the City of Bangor revoked KahBang’s five-year contract with the city, which reserved them the second weekend in August through 2016. City officials said KahBang broke their contract by moving the event to Portland without notifying the city.

KahBang is staffed by a team of volunteers, including Gass, and he noted in the letter that he and his fellow organizers are “extremely saddened” that they had to cancel.

“This festival is our passion and our inspiration, our life for 365 days a year. No one is more saddened and apologetic at this development than we are,” said Gass. “While we made every effort to find alternative solutions, ultimately the setbacks proved insurmountable.”

Kahbang posters line shop windows in downtown Bangor. After five years of the festival in Bangor, Kahbang has announced that it will be moving to Portland, Maine.

Kahbang posters line shop windows in downtown Bangor. After five years of the festival in Bangor, the festival is moving to Portland.

The Film Festival screenings will continue as planned in Portland at One Longfellow Square from August 7-10, and free art displays will continue to be held throughout the weekend at CTN, a community television studio located on Congress Street. Some of the KahBang showcasing bands and musicians previously scheduled to perform during the festival will continue to have their own performances not under the KahBang banner; a list of those events, both free and ticketed, will be announced in the coming days.

Gass said that questions about the decision can be sent to help@kahbang.com, and that those who bought tickets online through Ticketmaster can contact the service directly for a refund.

“We are still working through many details, and we understand that this will undoubtedly cause inconveniences and frustration for many festival-goers,” said Gass, in the letter. “Thanks to all our fans, artists and supporting organizations that have continued to stand by us during this difficult time.”

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, a UMaine graduate, a proud Bangorian and an arts and lifestyle writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food, from media and the Internet to theater and dance. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra, to name just a few. She's interested in everything -- especially if it happens in Maine. She welcomes any and all feedback or suggestions for stories.