On a sunny, unseasonably warm afternoon this past weekend, thousands of Arizonans and fans from out of state gathered for a beautiful celebration of life in the form of Katastro’s first ever Kamp Fest. After the loss of singer Andy J. Chaves, the remaining members of the band called up their closest friends for a festival unlike any other- and we were right in the middle of the action all day.
Mesa Amphitheatre was appropriately decked out for the party, with a huge Katastro banner for fans to sign, a mailbox station to send well wishes and memories to the band and tie dyed shirts for miles. The beer was flowing as fans arrived in a steady stream throughout the afternoon, finally stretching to the top of the hill and spilling into the grass.
Pacific Dub and Rome & Duddy took us into the early evening, serenading the sunset with their laidback reggae vibes. Each band took several moments to shout out Katastro and share all of the good memories they experienced with Chaves over the years. Everyone on the lineup stood sidestage to cheer on their friends’ sets, bringing yet another element of positive energy to the celebration.
The curtain went up and the stage was set for Katastro’s headlining slot, featuring various vocalists lending their voices to the band’s iconic songs. Backed by a large video screen playing their music videos and years of behind the scenes clips, it was like Chaves’ presence was filling both the venue and the hearts of everyone present.
It takes a village of dedicated, talented, creative human beings to build the kind of community fostered by Katastro and that love was overwhelmingly evident by the response to this festival. As each guest vocalist took the stage to put their own spin on the band’s many eras, the fans gave them every bit of their energy- and had everyone onstage smiling the entire set.
In addition, Katastro played segments of Chaves’ vocals, playing live instruments to his most beloved tracks and that’s when more than a few tears were shed by band and fans alike. Tanner Riccio, Ryan Weddle and Andrew Stravers made sure to come down to the crowd that has made what they do a possibility for so long as everyone hugged and comforted each other throughout the night.
At the end of the day, it’s really just a beautiful thing to be not only from Arizona but part of this community that reached far past this state’s borders. More than a few hands went up when the band asked who had come in from out of town- a true testimony to the impact that Katastro has and will continue to have on everyone who’s connected with their music. The lights came down on Kamp Fest, but the memories we have from that night and from all of the nights spent singing along with Katastro will never be forgotten.
Check out all the photos from the show!
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel