Konnexion Music Festival Evolves: Big City Lineup, Provincial Community Vibes

July of 2014 Esthetic Evolution, a festival that had an incredible impact on the art and music communities in Idaho, called it quits after 10 years. For some it had been a mind altering experience, changing the way they see themselves and the world around them. For others, it was a way to get away from the outside world, and express themselves in a safe and welcoming environment— something that in the conservative state of Idaho, is not always the easiest.

Enter Konnexion Music Festival (KMF). KMF picked up the mantle that Esthetic Evolution left behind and, with a small community of people dedicated to “creating space for like-minded individuals to gather and connect” is closing in on its 7th year now — but not without trial and error.

Konnexion has struggled for years to find a permanent space for the festival, an issue emblematic of the conservative views in the areas most fitting for a music festival. Last year, Konnexion organizers found the best location yet, on land owned by Zip Idaho, in beautiful Horseshoe Bend. This partnership with Zip Idaho has created a space where the festival has the room and the freedom to evolve as the years progress.

Last year was also representative of the festival’s growth in overall presentation and organization. KMF organizers custom built each wood stage, creating a natural immersive experience with the woods that they are now permanent structures in. The organizers intend to add on to the stage designs as the years progress and the festival expands. The sound was also better than it has ever been — complete with Funktion One speakers, which elevated the stacked lineup that graced the newly built stages.   

I have attended KMF almost every year since year one and have seen the ebb and flow of the development phases and the inevitable growing pains for this festival and its community. This year will undoubtedly be one that rivals the ever growing number of festivals in the Pacific Northwest as a whole.

With attendance capped at a thousand, KMF creates a unique experience for its attendees. Each performance allows for a more intimate experience of every artist. Attendees are able to get up close and personal with headliners like Dirtybird’s leading lady J Phlip, who is sure to dominate and get every dedicated house and techno lover out kicking up dust on the forest floor, and Little People, who is known for his sampling prowess and hip hop roots, will have the entire festival swaying with the forest trees to his downtempo electronica, and most recently, his upbeat, jazz infused, triphop production.

If you’re like me, this beats being cramped in a crowd so tight that people are getting trampled and homeboy with his shirt off and his arms up won’t be rubbing his armpit sweat all over your head and body as he jumps up and down. Those of us that are height challenged, we know the ones.

These headliners are playing colossal festivals like Shambhala, Lightning in a Bottle and east coast heavyweight, Moonrise Festival. Unlike at those festivals though, KMF attendees are able to see these artists for a fraction of the price in a more organic, familial way. And don’t you dare stop at the main headliners!

Artists like Arms and Sleepers who refuse to be pigeonholed into any one genre and consistently release banger after banger, OAKK a Canadian up and comer’s bass laden, eclectic sound is catching everyone’s attention right now and for good reason, A Hundred Drums, who is an incredibly talented producer and DJ, her live sets are so intensely intricate and emotive experiences — just her live set alone is reason to make it to KMF this year, Ouri a Montreal based producer, DJ and interdisciplinary instrumentalist with a strangely intimate and dynamic way of approaching sound and dance music — her set will be a vivid gift for all in attendance, and so many more.  

KMF wouldn’t be the modest community festival that it is without always making sure to highlight the talent in its own backyard. Idaho has a vibrant music community with talented artists like No Prophit, Evolushawn, Deeveaux, Dos Amigos and Kissay as well as local Idaho favorites like Soul Catalyst out of Los Angeles.  

Bottom line, KMF lineup is MAJOR and I am so excited to transport to the mini forest paradise and relax and enjoy this festival with all of the forest nymphs in attendance this year! I hope to see some new faces among the familiar ones out there immersing yourselves in the workshops and art installations, meeting new people and making long lasting connections at the theme camps and enjoying the next level lineup that KMF has produced this year.

In the end, like with Esthetic Evolution, it all comes down to joy and freedom. The gratitude that you feel to each and every person that welcomes you and congratulates you for being completely you and no one else, the freedom to live without a clock, and an atmosphere that takes you out of the everyday “real world” patterns and routines. Festival’s like this allow even the most reclusive individual to communicate and Konnect in an authentic way. See you at KMF, June 6th – 9th!

Luna Reyna

Luna Reyna (she/her) is the founder of RIZE Entertainment, an arts and culture company that centers artists who challenge injustice and champion equality through their art. She has worked in radio, in print for multiple magazines and with too many digital media platforms to count. She continues to work as an independent freelance journalist to uplift marginalized creatives who are otherwise often neglected because of their identity and/or their message.