in attendance : Kinetik Festival 5.5

Montreal QC, May 23-26 – It’s time once again to stow the earplugs, apply shoe glue to your big stompy boots, and take stock of another Kinetik Festival, Montreal’s 6 year old premium industrial electro music festival. This year I was very selective in the bands I partook, but I managed to get swept into the electric current of the event, enough to connect with old friends, enjoy some truly outstanding acts, and catch the awesome vibe.

Life Cried

Life Cried live at Kinetik 5.5. The new smaller venue made for delightfully intimate performances. 

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2013’s festival was an interesting experiment with scaling down, but not necessarily scaling back the scope, or quality of the four phase event. This translated into a smaller venue, The Belmont, closer to the West of downtown, as opposed to the traditional, grittier stomping grounds in the city core.

Kinetik Crowd

Happy faces in close quarters combined with world class industrial performances!

We went into this year with clear warnings that 5.5 was scaled down (hence the .5 moniker) so in all fairness, the beacon was clearly lit. In previous years the luxurious venues of Usine C and Metropolis facilitated more of a convention-like atmosphere, allowing for a strong social culture to establish with lounge areas, vendors, and well-lit free flow movement. So for those who really enjoy this aspect of Kinetik’s unique culture, there was perhaps some disappointment. On the other hand, satellite events such as Plastik Wrap’s weekend long Bazaar of the Bizarre alt marketplace and the numerous and ubiquitous, ever popular after party, filled this void sufficiently for me and while I can understand the concern, I don’t think it’s entirely warranted given the clear communication by festival PR long before the festival even started.

Displacer

Toronto’s Displacer. Kinetik is known for covering the spectrum of subculture electronic music from IDM to industrial electro to power noise and more.

Let’s face it, Kinetik is a “music” festival, so those coming for the social fashion show are missing the core point. The Belmont served the music purpose well. For me, I admit it did take some adjusting from the expectations built from former years, but I was pleasantly surprised at the true “underground” feeling of the venue. It made for some really intimate performances, which I believe, was a nice change from the big stages of the past. And yes, the room was packed, especially during phase 2 with popular headliner Suicide Commando, but at no point was mobility completely encumbered. If you take the fact the festival dropped fair warning with an excellent price point for the quality of the line-up, this was a very good event. The room had some sweet sound spots, visibility was relatively decent, even from the back, and there was a cozy “pub” area to escape to if you needed a break. In my opinion, if you were coming for the music this was pure fun and well worth it.

Shifty Dave's dubious sheep, Kinetik's unofficial mascot

Shifty Dave’s dubious sheep returns, Kinetik’s unofficial mascot, popular among acts and festival goers alike. This time, with FGFC820’s Rexx Arcana!

But in another light, over the years, one of the great things about Kinetik has been the grassroots atmosphere. This festival has never lost that feeling, whilst it has grown in stature and influence, rising to become one of the flagships of the North American industrial festival circuit. This can be attributed to organizer Jean-François, a man who carefully retains operational control of the festival, working tirelessly year after year (sometimes thanklessly) to produce it. In previous years the stress and logistical concern of such a beast has been apparent. However, with 5.5 being parsed down, an equilibrium seems to have been found. I had a brief handshake with Jean-François during phase 3 and it was nice to see him considerably less stressed, in the crowd, enjoying the show. It just seems so right for a festival commander to be enjoying the fruits of his labor. His entire crew was bubbly and energized and we all know, happy organizers hopefully means everyone wins and more festivals in the future!

As a music fan, that’s what I want and I’m really looking forward to how next year will develop. I have to give Kinetik 2013 and all those involved with putting it together the highest of marks within the context of the scaled back experiment. You guys did a fantastic job! I got what I wanted which was great music, fantastic performances, and lots of smiley moments.

photos : Adrian Onsen

– Hangedman

Hangedman
Contributor
Hangedman is a music contributor for Auxiliary, DJ, subculture pundit, and the host of the weekly live global broadcast "Machina" on eve-radio.com.
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One comment on “in attendance : Kinetik Festival 5.5”

  1. Less of a review and more of a JF ass-kiss isn’t it. “at no point was mobility completely encumbered” is just a straight out lie. I saw lots of people who literally couldn’t get out of the crowd on the second night.

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