Stranded in Paradise
Is this the future of Kakaako?
Hawaii has long been a place where the arts thrive, influencing modern culture around the world, and the 7th annual Pow! Wow! Hawaii! carries this tradition. This year’s event is growing with a finale concert, called “Stranded in Paradise.” The concert is headlined by Steve Aoki, celebrating his record label DIM MAK’s 20th anniversary on Saturday, February 18, at the Fisherman’s Wharf venue at Kewalo Basin and is presented by BAMP Project.
Pow! Wow! Hawaii! is one of the fastest growing art and music festivals, and is the creation of Jasper Wong and 20 For the Next 20 cohort Kamea Hadar. This event takes place through mid-February in the Kakaako district of Honolulu. Pow! Wow! brings in over 100 international and local artists that collaborate on gallery shows, lectures, art and music schools for kids, murals and live are installations.
Pow! Wow!’s music and event coordinator, JP Kennedy, believes that “Stranded In Paradise” bridges the art and music of the festival together. Kennedy’s vision for the concert is to eventually evolve the show into a multi-day event similar to festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza and Tomorrowland. Last year, the event’s concept proved its ability to draw a significant crowd and demonstrated the potential to attract thousands of people in the coming years according to Kennedy. He also thinks that the Fisherman’s Wharf venue can be something used more regularly outside of Pow! Wow!, adding to the rapidly developing Kakaako community and the Hawaii music scene. Growing the festival provides a significant economic opportunity for the community as well as a showcase for the indigenous culture of Hawaii.
“It’s a new space for people to further appreciate the arts right there in Kakaako that’s not a building or a mall, it’s just a space,” says Kennedy. “We can do cultural style events and Hawaiian stuff there.”
The owner of the 90,000 square foot venue is the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) and Kennedy hopes his vision for the venue is consistent with OHA’s mission for this property as a revenue generator while creating a Hawaiian a sense of place.
“I want to bring in big names and put Hawaiian music with it […] incorporating Hawaiian culture, hula and community aspects throughout the space is the long-term goal,” he says.
“A lot of people don’t do shows here because it’s hard, there are small venues or really big ones,” he says. “So, this space can hold 2000-3000 people allowing more a
Pow! Wow! has an educational aspect to the festival too, creating a platform for young musicians to connect to established music professionals and receive mentorship through their Pow! Wow! School of Music. Kennedy believes he can use the festival as a teachable moment for the students who are 12-18 years old.
“With this project, we can show the students another side of the industry, how art and music work beside one another,” says Kennedy. “We can teach them how to put together shows and the entire package of show business.”
Kennedy sees “Stranded In Paradise” as a positive evolution in Hawaii’s music scene. He would like to eventually have 10-15 shows a year at the location, hosting all genres of music while instilling a Hawaiian sense of place. Having a second successful show at this year’s Pow! Wow! will highlight the potential of the space and Kennedy hopes that OHA will incorporate the venue into their future development plans.