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The accidental success of Kat Kat Phest, and how founder Daniel Anderson is building on it this year

The Hundred Acre Woods | photo by Ally Newbold Photography
The Hundred Acre Woods will play opening night of Kat Kat Fest on Saturday | photo by Ally Newbold Photography

Think of last year’s first Kat Kat Phest as an accident that went almost as smoothly as the organizers could have asked for.

“There were seven or eight different bands that hit one of us up saying, ‘Hey, I need a show,’ in a four-day period, “ says the Philly-based indie label founder Daniel Anderson about what happened around this time last year. “By the end of it, all four days had a show, and we were just like, ‘Whatever, let’s just make it a four-day thing with some after shows.’”

Anderson started Kat Kat Records in order to help out friends’ bands and put out their records, so requests for help booking shows in the area were not uncommon. That’s why his friend Ruben Polo (also his band-mate in the local four-piece Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe) started helping out with promoting events, which he also does for a living.

For a last-minute festival with mostly touring bands on the bill, the two organizers couldn’t have imagined it would go so well, even selling out the show on the final day.

“[Our band] left for an eight-week tour after that, and off and on, we were just talking about, ‘Who should we get next year? We should do this for real,’” Anderson says. “Last year’s was kind of an accident. This year is a test to see if we can make it go as well when we’ve actually meant to do it.”

So this weekend, DIY musicians and local music supporters will once again gather for Phest 2, which will span five days, feature eight all-ages shows and boast about 50 bands. The all-festival passes, a bargain at $22, were sold out by December 20. Saturday night’s show with local heroes Smoother and Marietta, as well as New York-based Lemuria headlining, was moved to the North Star Bar after selling out at The Fire. But tickets are still available for all eight shows, a la carte style, at the show’s Facebook event page, and they range from $3 to $10…so it’s still a lot of bang for your buck.

Several bands associated with Kat Kat Records will also play this year’s Phest, including By Surprise, Hightide Hotel and Tyler Daniel Bean. But Anderson and Polo don’t make it a priority to put their own bands on the bill.

“If bands deserve to play cool shows and work really hard and are good people, then they play what they should play,” Anderson says. Continue reading →

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