Bamp Project: Shaping Hawai‘i’s Music Scene

41 minutes ago

Abandon all hope? Mural along the entryway to The Republik, Bamp's 1000 person venue that juts off Ala Moana Center on Kapiolani Boulevard. Now 10 years old, Bamp Project did 130 concerts last year, many of them at The Republik. About 20% of concerts were on the neighbor islands.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

When legendary promoter, Tom Moffatt, passed last month, eyes turned to the team at Bamp Project as the most likely successors in the very important task of booking Hawai‘i’s entertainment offerings.  If that’s the case, the guys at Bamp say they have several decades ahead to prove themselves.  Meanwhile, HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports there’s quality and diversity so far in the 2017 line up.

(l-r) Makana and Matty Hazelgrove. Matty is a co-founder of Bamp Project, he currently handles primarily the production end of the business. Co-founder Philip Pendleton handles most of the booking. Bamp has four full time employees.
Credit Matty Hazelgrove

Young the Giant and The Naked & Famous wrap up this week at The Republik.  

“You hear all these crazy stories about all those big bands and the Motley Crues of the world, destroying dressing rooms and setting things on fire and sex drugs and rock and roll.”

Flash Hansen, marketing and promotion director, has been with Bamp four and a half years.

“And nowadays, no one does drugs.  It’s like not cool.  They’re barely drinking   It’s like fresh, local organic fruits and vegetables, everyone is very health conscious.”

And that’s not the only change, according to Matty Hazelgrove, co-founder of Bamp Project.

“When we started, social media wasn’t a very dominant factor.  Internet and social media has  broadened everybody’s exposure to new sounds and new types of music.  Things that might not have spread as quickly ten years ago when we started, are now, people come up and get pretty popular within a few months.  It’s kinda crazy.”

Cash Cash, an electronic dance music, EDM, group from New Jersey plays later this month.  EDM is the new pop music.

Dawn is The Republik's box office manager. Having their own venue was an early goal for Bamp, and the Republik has kept busy with everything from weddings to comedy and music acts since opening in 2012.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

“We’re seeing a lot of the youth of Hawai‘i migrating to EDM shows, that’s been the trend for the last couple of years, and now it seems like hiphop is starting to gain a lot of momentum.”  Reggae, it seems is beginning to wane.

This past weekend, Chance the Rapper, played two nights at the arena to sold out, and near sold out crowds.

“We weren’t sure if Hawai‘i was ready for him.  At first we tried to do a few shows at The Republik and the agent’s like, I think it’s bigger than that, you gotta trust me.  Went to the arena, put it up, it goes on sale, and it blew out in hours.  It was phenomenal.”

Chance the Rapper onstage at the NBC arena, january 8. 2017. The first concert sold out in hours, the second was also jammed.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

The audience spanned local demographics, mostly thirty somethings and under, they were atylin' and well behaved. Chance ran the show like a revival, with a few Christian references, and total positivity in the audience.  

Hansen:  “From a business standpoint you can’t get any more successful than a sold out show.  So I start looking at other things, you know, when Diplo played at the Republik, he did one night, sold out.  Diplo is an artist that’s on a level that’s way, way beyond the size of the Republik, but he wanted to play a smaller club show.  It was phenomenal.”

Those are the kinds of off the beaten path experiences that can happen in places like Hawai‘i, which, is often the last date of a tour.

Flash Hansen is Bamp Project's marketing and promotions director. says people are voting everyday with their ticket purchases, and their job is to read the trends, the agents, social media, and their own gut to book the right acts.
Credit Noe Tanigawa

Hansen:  “Artists are people too.  They have that same sort of mentality:  “Oh my god, Hawai‘i!”  It’s actually part of what’s made Bamp successful.  Artist are willing to take less money to play the market because it‘s so expensive to get people out here.”

“You just try to win more than you lose.  We book shows that we know aren’t going to make money but we’re just like, this would be really cool for people in Hawai‘i want to see.”

Coming up for Bamp, punk rockers, the Descendents; alternative post rockers Explosions in the Sky; singer songwriter Norah Jones; and indie folk artist Allen Stone who will also travel to Maui and Kaua‘i.

Hazelgrove:  “It’s something that we know that if we continue to bring out these types of shows it will continue to inspire people.  That’s part of what we do too.”

In the works:  an outdoor country music festival, The Paniolo Music Festival, later this year or next. Hazelgrove has a feeling there's a big underserved population of country fans here.

Finale of Chance the Rapper, January 8, 2017 at the Blaisdell Arena.
Credit Noe Tanigawa