Review + Photos: Downtown Festival (including Vacationer, Kiesza, Zebra Katz, + more)

Zebra Katz
For those who have did not see the AMBY festival alert last week, Downtown Festival is an annual festival held by Downtown Records showcasing their artists. The festival is dedicated to shedding light on these artists that may not be as well known, and giving people exposure to their music and hopefully converting some new fans. There is no better way to connect with music than seeing it live, so it was definitely a success.

I was not familiar with most of the acts playing, but I definitely added many of the artists I saw to my music library. The festival was held over three days with one show at Irving Plaza on Thursday, and 12 acts over Friday and Saturday at Webster Hall. There were three floors with acts playing, so you could move around and see different shows throughout the night. There were a few conflicting times which was disappointing, but all of the acts were full of energy so even if you did not see all of the performers, it was still a great time.

I did not get to see Saint Pepsi unfortunately, but the most notable shows on Friday were Zebra Katz and Kiesza. Zebra Katz came onto the stage wearing two masks (freaky masks I’ll admit, thankfully he took them off eventually) and with two amazing backup dancers. He had a great show and his dancers were great at energizing the crowd. I had never seen him live before, but he was great, he pumped up the crowd and almost everyone was singing his songs back at him. There was never a slow moment during his set and I would definitely see him again.

Kiesza came on right after and I was blown away by her performance. I had only heard her on the “Hideaway” track before, but I am definitely a fan after seeing her live. She is incredibly talented and did an amazing cover of “Hallelujah” that gave everyone chills. She managed to dance the entire performance while effortlessly hitting every note and I was very impressed. Unrelated, but I loved her wardrobe choice, a metallic jacket, it reflected the many colored lights pointed at her, and made her stand out from her dancers who were wearing all black.

Saturday I interviewed Kenny Vasoli of Vacationer (coming soon) he was great to talk to, and put on a great performance later in the night. One of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, check out the video to hear about Vacationer’s favorite brunch spots, their new album, Relief, and Kenny’s favorite shows on Netflix. Vacationer had a cool projector where they showed short clips of rolling waves flashing across a screen throughout the show, typical of their chill summer vibe. They also brought along “chiller whale” a large inflatable whale that they threw into the crowd and the crowd was instructed to “keep afloat”. A few minutes later, Kenny threw beach balls with globes on them into the crowd and performed their hit “The Wild Life”. There was a great energy, the multicolored lights reflecting off the beach balls bouncing, and chiller whale surfing across the crowd engaged the audience perfectly. Vacationer’s performance exceeded my already high expectations (I’m a pretty big fan) and anyone who has not seen them; buy tickets as soon as they come to your city.

Downtown Festival was a great platform for these artists to get exposure, and everyone at the festival was incredibly nice, everyone had a love for music and were open to discovering some new music. AMBY readers in LA and Houston go on the Downtown Festival website, the festival is coming to you shortly!


Follow updates from Downtown Festival here.

Photos and Review by Emma Donahue | | Website

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