Megan Nourse
CONTRIBUTOR

Koi festival organizers know how to throw a launch party. The PBR was flowing at the historic Pop the Gator venue while crowds of music fans waited to hear the first wave of the 2015 Koi festival lineup. Heaven Through Hell, Grizzly Waves, St. Andrews and Teen Violence all took the stage to help Koi organizers make the announcement.

“The most important thing about the launch is that it gets people excited,” said Jaimee-Lisa Cotter, the festival’s administrative director. The first wave of early bird tickets went on sale the morning of the launch, selling out in 45 minutes.

Bands like LetLive, I See Stars, Hawthorn Heights, The Menzingers, Teenage Bottlerocket, Make Do and Mend, and The Creepshow were all part of the first wave of lineup announcements.

Now in its sixth year, organizers Cory and Curt Crossman are working hard to keep Koi independent and successful in the face of bigger, corporate sponsored festivals like the inaugural WayHome.

“It’s hard when you don’t have corporate backing or a lot of financing behind you to make it work and to support these little artists who are just trying to get their name out there and get some exposure,” Cotter said.

Koi provides a platform for local bands to perform as well as draw in bigger names that might normally overlook Kitchener.

Cotter said that the growing number of bigger Ontario festivals and the overlap of performers means smaller events like Koi have restrictions on when they can release the names of some of their bigger acts. More lineup announcements for the late-September festival will be coming July 1, 17, and 27.

Koi takes place entirely in downtown Kitchener, with an outdoor main stage and inside local businesses that open their doors to performers for the big weekend. One purpose of the launch event is to thank volunteers and community supporters, Cotter said.

“It’s mostly about involving community.”

It’s nice to see everyone come together to make it happen,” Cotter said of the numerous community members who support the festival.

The 2014 festival was the largest turnout in Koi’s history with just under 10,000 people in attendance and more than 120 bands taking the stages. This year organizers are hoping to push their numbers to over 10,000.

Koi takes place September 25-27.