KOI Fest brings the noise

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KOI Fest is the lauded project of Kitchener natives Cory and Curt Crossman. For five years, every year, downtown Kitchener has welcomed festivalgoers to one of the largest alternative music festivals in Ontario.


New this year was KOI Con, a conference about the future of the indie music industry, and a charity drive for Kitchener-native organizations.  Against the backdrop of smog and grey clouds from the rain on the weekend, KOI Fest delivered again on a vibrant experience.


This humble music festival has grown to a three-day festival which hosted a roster of serious headliners like Every Time I Die, USS, Four Year Strong, and Courage My Love. Not to be ruined by the thunderstorm on Saturday, performances were moved indoors and attendees were packed like sardines into venues such as the Wax and Bobby O’Briens. KOI’s lineup definitely caters to the indie-rock, punk rock, and heavy metal crowd.


Here are the top five bands from KOI Fest to name-drop after last weekend:


<strong>1.</strong> Courage My Love is the name of a cheap beads and jewelry story in Kensington Market, Toronto, but it also happens to be the name of a three-piece pop/punk rock band from Kitchener. They represented the only Canadian talent on Van&rsquo;s Warped Tour this summer. Courage My Love features frontwoman Mercedes Arn-Horn and her drummer twin sister Phoenix Arn-Horn, who are both dead-on Avril-Lavigne-and-Kristin-Stewart-made-a-baby look-a-likes. At KOI, they did a phenomenal job &ndash; at one point even covering a punk rock version of Katy Perry&rsquo;s Dark Horse. Notable songs:&nbsp; &ldquo;Bridges&rdquo; and &ldquo;Cold Blooded.&rdquo;


<strong>2. </strong>The Beaches is an all-girl, four-person rock band. Another pop-rock crossover, they are baby Haims &mdash; impossibly cool, teenage girl rock stars.&nbsp; Some of the band members have been playing together since the Done with Dolls days, a pop-rock group that aired a few music videos on Family Channel.&nbsp; Those days are gone as &ldquo;Loner&rdquo; was featured as the track for FCUK&rsquo;s 2013 autumn/winter collection campaign. Notable songs: &ldquo;Loner&rdquo; &ldquo;Wanna Know Your Name.&rdquo;


<strong>3.</strong> Do you kiss on a first date? Danko Jones does. Danko Jones is the frontman of a band called Dank Jones. But his band-mates, bass guitarist John &#39;JC&#39; Calabrese and drummer Rich Knox are very much part of the equation. They opened for Blonde Redhead in 1998! They have a few earworm tracks that make them universally appealing. Notable songs: &ldquo;First Date&rdquo; and &ldquo;Code of the Road.&rdquo;


<strong>4. </strong>USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker) is way famous and doesn&rsquo;t really belong on this list of breakout bands, but they&rsquo;re worth mentioning over and over again if only for the fact that one half of USS, Ashley Buchholz, is from Markham! A lame suburb with the only saving grace being good Chinese food. USS was the main headliner of KOI Fest and for a duo, USS has huge stage presence. Notable songs: &ldquo;Yin Yang&rdquo; and &ldquo;Yo Hello Horray.&rdquo;


<strong>5.</strong> No, Macklemore and Gerald Way did not recruit three other friends to form St. Andrews, but yes, there are two other celebrity look-a-likes on this list. St. Andrews frontman vocalist Lucas Duncan with his wailing vocals is a throwback to 2007 My Chemical Romance frontman Gerald Way, in a good way. Band-mate Bradely Thibodeau, who plays drums, channels the Thrift Shop rapper.&nbsp; They&rsquo;re a rock group but they cite Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd), fellow high school classmates, as an influence. St. Andrews was voted in to perform at KOI by their fans through a contest off of Facebook, but due to weather conditions, they ended up closing the entire festival. Notable songs: &ldquo;Battles&rdquo; and check out their cover of &ldquo;Hold On We&rsquo;re Going Home&rdquo; to get a sense of their R&amp;B influences.&nbsp;
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