Creative Loafing says our second BOOM festival and our executive director, Manoj Kesavan, are the BEST OF CHARLOTTE in 2017. Here’s the full writeup:
Last April, BOOM detonated in Plaza Midwood for the second year in a row, unleashing a bigger, brighter fireball of avant-garde and grassroots arts, dance, music and theater. For 2017, BOOM multiplied the number of performers and added two new venues. Twenty-Two gallery and International House joined the previous year’s mainstays — Petra’s, Snug Harbor, Rabbit Hole and a free outdoor stage dubbed the Intersection — and all were just a short stroll from each other. Despite the upgrade, BOOM’s essentials stayed the same. It was cheap, with show admissions ranging from $10 to free; easy to navigate; and unconventional, with performances including a goth-rock musical set in the suburbs, an automotive-centered autobiography and dance piece for and by the visually impaired. It’s official: With BOOM, Charlotte finally has the performing arts festival it deserves.
Manoj Kesavan is a former architect, the prime mover behind Charlotte’s Pecha Kucha nights, and founder of Que-OS, a platform for creative people to come together on a large scale to further a social purpose. Today, he can best be described as a Rogue Arts Ninja. In 2016, noting that that several cities smaller than Charlotte had fringe festivals, Kesavan joined forces with area artists including Quentin Talley, Camerin Watson and Sarah Emery and launched BOOM. The gathering of musicians, dancers, actors, spoken-word artists and performers that defy classification detonated an arts explosion in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. In 2017 the festival was even bigger, pulling in more performers, extra venues and new partners, including the Tosco Music Party, AfroPop! and Urban Züe. Kesavan is tasked with topping last spring’s success when BOOM returns in 2018, but anyone who knows him can attest he’s more than up to it.