Kohoutek Showcases Local Musicians And Questionable Merchandise

24-year-old DJ Micah Mahinay, known by her stage name Noodles, spins R&B and hip hop for crowds at Pitzer’s Kohoutek music festival Friday April 21. (Adela Pfaff • The Student Life)

If you were to visit Pitzer College from April 21-22, you would have been greeted by music filling the air, art installations decorating the mounds, and students lounging on hammocks. This past weekend, the college hosted its 43rd annual Kohoutek Music & Arts Festival.

Students from the Claremont Colleges as well as people from the greater community gathered together on the mounds to enjoy two days of free music and good vibes. Some festival attendees even brought glow-in-the-dark hula hoops or practiced their fire juggling tricks.

La Misa Negra, from Oakland, was the main headliner on Saturday night. They energized the crowd with their unique blend of 1950s and 60s style cumbia and Afro-Colombian dance music. Other highlights included Duckwrth, LeiKeli47, Sunlite Soundz, and Jerry Paper.

One of my personal favorites was The Seshen, an R&B, synth-pop, and electronic group out of the Bay Area. I’ve been playing their latest album, "Flames & Figures," on my KSPC show all the time this past semester, so it was an absolute privilege to be able to see them perform up close and personal.

In addition to music, the festival featured some pretty awesome art installations and decorations, made by one Pitzer Art Co. There was a section full of hammocks and string lights where people could hang out, nap, and enjoy the music. There were also vendors selling foods and other goods.

According to Henry Dolin PZ ’20, one of the students on the planning committee, planning for Kohoutek begins in September. Anybody at Pitzer, and potentially the 5Cs, can get involved with the process. Although Pitzer provides some funding for Kohoutek, the committee had to raise additional money through fundraisers, senate, and other 5C clubs.

Dolin said, “Organizing it this year was incredibly frustrating because we had two major headliners drop their contract less than a month before the festival. Nevertheless, I think it turned out pretty cool.”

The event did receive criticism from various students on campus, however, for featuring non-Native vendors selling culturally appropriative items, like dreamcatchers.

Olie Kier PO ’20 said, “I was just confused as to why there was so much cultural paraphernalia on sale as part of the ‘festival look.’ I would’ve expected Pitzer to be more sensitive.”

In recent years, more and more people have become aware of the culturally appropriative aspect of the 'festival aesthetic.' I hope that in the future, Kohoutek organizers will be more aware of cultural appropriation when selecting their vendors.  

Nevertheless, I commend everyone at Pitzer who worked tirelessly to put on a free music festival. As a low-income student, it’s often difficult to watch the flood of Coachella Instagram posts that arrive on my feed in May, knowing that I’ll never have the funds to partake.

It’s also important to support local music, and I love Kohoutek’s commitment to highlighting the talents of lesser-known artists. All in all, the event was a huge success — the music was great, the decorations were beautiful, and, as Caitlin Conrad SC ’20 said, “the hammocks were dope.”