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Music festival creates a bang in Bangor

Born and raised in New England, Northeastern alumnus Tim Lo often wondered why the region didn’t host its own yearly music festival. That’s why, after returning to his hometown in Maine, he jumped on an opportunity to start something unique, the KahBang Music Festival.

“Bangor has a ton of infrastructure that’s perfect for a festival,” said Lo, who graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He pointed to the city’s transportation, lodging, and natural beauty as its most vital assets.

The fifth annual festival will take place Aug. 8-11 on the newly restored waterfront of the Penobscot River, a five-minute walk from downtown Bangor.

Headliners for this year’s six-stage show include Paper Diamond, The Weeks, and Dr. Dog, but the spotlight is not solely focused on up-and-coming musical acts. The festival also features an assorted lineup of artists and filmmakers. Artistic mediums range from traditional forms like paintings and sculpture, to interactive pieces and performance art. With an audience as diverse as those drawn to KahBang, it’s important to Lo that no fan goes underserved.

“We’re about discovering your next favorite band or artist or filmmaker, we thrive on the concept of discovery,” said Lo. “We’re big advocates for having a balanced lineup with a little something for everyone.”

It’s safe to say KahBang’s business model is working. According to Lo, some 12,000 festivalgoers attended last year’s show. Many of which take advantage of a campsite not far from the festival grounds, where a late night stage will have acts until 3 a.m.

Since the festival’s inception, the majority of its most passionate employees have come from Northeastern’s co-op program, including the three music industry students who are helping Lo plan this summer’s show. He said students looking for experience in event production or festival branding covet the opportunity to work in the live music business.

“My experience at KahBang helped me realize that putting on and booking shows is what I want to be doing,” said Abbey Mahan, a senior on co-op with KahBang for the third consecutive year. “I’m happy just knowing that I was part of putting this festival on for three years. That impact is the best I could have.”