BreakOut West swept through the city this past weekend and though the dust has settled the impact the sold-out event had on its 1,500 attendees still lingers on.


With over 60 bands from across Canada, The United States and Europe conquering over 10 local venues, BOW illuminated the careers and hard work of up and coming musicians all the while bringing music lovers and industry professionals a chance to dive head first into the unknown.



With so much to see and do I have to admit tackling coverage for the festival seemed a bit daunting, and attempting to photograph in “creatively” lit bars a little nerve wracking, however, my anxieties were quickly drowned out by the muffled sound of guitars, drums and synth that hit the padded walls of each venue I passed.

To start off the weekend, I spent my Thursday evening at the KCT in the presence of some of the most rambunctious acts to grace the festivals line up — Like A Motorcycle, Little Destroyer and some of my favourite dudes on and off the stage, The Wild!

After a night of grease slathered garage punk, social justice infused alternative and the warm familiarity of rock and roll, It was safe to say I was riddled with anticipation for what else my ears, eyes and camera would feast upon over the rest of the weekend.

The contrast between morning BOW and BOW after dark was one of the most intriguing aspects of the event.

Mornings brought forth the education that I didn’t know my brain was hungry for. With the Delta Grand acting as festival headquarters, I melted into the stream of curious attendees who visit each seminar, eager to sop up all the knowledge possible in hopes of catapulting dreams skyward.



From dominating the social media scene, to learning how to hold one’s own in the cutthroat industry along with networking opportunities up the wazoo, the conferences acted as a crash course on all things music related, a lot of which took me by surprise.



One of the reasons I most looked forward to revisiting HQ was for the opportunity to see the sporadic “Lobby Sessions.”


A chance to see acts I didn’t know I wanted to in an intimate yet quirky setting, the public mini shows offered attendees a chance to scope out their peers, and passersby a taste of the magic BOW mustered up.


Though I didn’t have the chance to catch them all, I managed to see Sarah Jane Scouten, along with Gunner & Smith — both of which specialized in genres that normally I would’ve disregarded (Folk and Country.) But upon hearing the first song from each I was hooked, giving me that first dose of discovery I was promised by the festival.

Despite the education, networking and bonding offered up being so staggeringly important and informative,the impact it had on me was nothing compared to the nights where bands who dwell underground resurfaced.

Night one had me running across downtown like a madwoman — constantly checking my phone for the pre-loaded and curated schedule I had made using the extremely helpful BOW app, I wanted to be sure I hit every venue and sample as many bands as possible.

I managed to hit 12 of the 13 venues, accomplishing my initial goal while also catching some incredible performances from local musicians Andrew Judah and Ben Klick.


From BNA for Nêhiyawak of Edmonton to Muninn’s Post for UK, indie outfit Kidsmoke, to eventually just throwing my schedule to the wind, which may have been my best decision of the weekend.

It led me to the holy stoops of stages in front of acts like Too Soon Monsoon, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Local Boy, (both of which blew my mind and will undoubtedly be added to the roster of only two other hip-hop acts I listen to) and The Mariachi Ghost.

After fumbling through the trial and errorthat comes with photographing in the dark pit of despair that is the red and blue lights housed in smaller venues, I managed to finally come across that sweet spot for shooting which helped to make my second night a bit less hectic.

Starting out at BNA Brewing, KelownaNow’s sponsored venue (shameless self promo #sorrynotsorry). I was serenaded by the angelic again country (I know, I’m shocked too) trio, The Heels.

Three beautiful girls, with vocal registers even more beautiful, The Heels stripped down covers and originals acted as a testament that you don’t have to have deep rooted relationships to create musical chemistry.

Afterward it was off to the races once again! Akin to the Looneytoon’s, Tazz, I was a rip-roaring through downtown mini tornado leaving no venue unturned.

Stopping at Craft to see Aussie act, Busby Marou (who are simply lovely), then to the New Arts Collective for Steph Cameron.

Followed by being taken aback by the showmanship and artistry of multi-instrumentalist, NAHGA at Doja and the full on interdimensional hyms of Efflo at Fernando’s — all before heading back to my post at BNA.

Upon my return, I could sense there was something a bit different about the performance that was currently gyrating the brew pub — and I was right.

Walking in right as Nuela Charles was in the midst of tearing it down, I was starstruck.

A warm, full-bodied vocal range, a soulfully palpable energy and a presence the world has not yet seen since the passing of Winehouse, Charles, was a soul-train on a rampage, flooding the space with her modern motown sound.


Up next, the grand-finale, a performance that most of Kelowna had been anticipating since it’s announcement, The Grapes of Wrath.

The crown jewel of Kelowna’s music scene, the Grapes have been blazing a trail for Okanagan musicians since the mid 80’s and finally got recognized for it. Prior to their nostalgia dripping set, the alt-rock trio received their coveted award for being inducted in to the Western Canada Music Hall of Fame.

Short and sweet the group played a seven song set filled with their most popular tracks.

Before calling it a night, I had to spend a bit more time with one of my favourite acts of the festival, Like A Motorcycle. Downright grimey, this Novascotian group served up some of the rawest, most honest and wicked shows of the weekend.


Playing at breakneck speeds, their trashy tunes, and genuine happiness to be on stage stood out among the jam packed lineup.


After all is said and done, I thought I would be a bit relieved to have some down time, but the yearning for more new music, photo ops and constant learning is already settling in.

Sparking new obsessions, igniting motivation and flooding with knowledge, the launch pad that is BreakOut West elevated the careers of blooming artists, deepened the musical library of those lucky enough to attend and left an entire city with hopeful hearts that it will once again return (hopefully sooner than eight years in the future.)