For those located in other parts of the country and don't know SoCal ways, San Diego used to be a hoppin' festival hotspot. Street Scene San Diego was the main catalyst, right around the time when Coachella was gaining steam out in the desert. Those were the good ol’ days… when A-list entertainers performed literally in the city streets. SD residents didn’t have to travel anywhere, no insufferable traffic, no expensive hotel necessary. Well, after Street Scene had its last hurrah, a few festivals rose from its ashes in attempts to take its place – some came close, most fell short. Until KAABOO, that is. KAABOO Del Mar, now in its third year, aligns the biggest names in the music industry (like Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza) and combines them with the biggest names in comedy, art, and cuisine (unlike Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza). Not convinced enough to cough up the admission price yet? We don't blame you to be skeptical, especially when southern California festivals are now a dime a dozen, sprouting up as randomly and rapidly as dandelions, almost all delivering subpar lineups and unfulfilled promises. To prove there's a change on the horizon, here are five reasons why KAABOO Del Mar is altering the festival game for the better.
This modern luxurious twist on traditional festivalgoing is dubbed the KAABOO 'Mix-perience', justifying every cent of that admission ticket… and then some.
1. KAABOO is not all about the music. Like mentioned above, KAABOO goes to great strides to provide festival attendees with not only the top music performers, ranging from rock to EDM to rap to pop to alternative to reggae, but covers every base in the entertainment arena with a myriad of other attractions. KAABOO's reggae love year over year is significant all in itself, with the genre often existing as an afterthought amid the lineups of national fests. 2017 is set to highlight LAW Record hooligans Pepper and DARENOTS (et. al.), and past years have included the likes of Dirty Heads, Steel Pulse, Slightly Stoopid and more. Not too shabby, considering most fests fill their open slots with DJ after DJ. But, the point is, music isn't all. Attached to every year’s agenda is also the most prestigious comedians on the planet, and this year is of no exception. To grace the Humor Me Stage in 2017 is Nick Swardson, David Spade, Norm Macdonald, and Arsenio Hall – to name a few. Hungry? Good thing KAABOO has the most renowned chefs in the biz doing demos in between craft food and beer carts. This is one vendor village you don’t want to pass through quickly! Speaking of vendors, keep your eye out for ‘Indulgence’ booths throughout the fairgrounds that will blow your hair out, give you a perfect smoky eye, touch up your chipped pedicure or work that knot out in your lower back in between live art installations. Just keep your eye out for entertainers on stilts or roller-skates as you browse; they arrive almost out of thin air! This modern luxurious twist on traditional festivalgoing is dubbed the KAABOO 'Mix-perience', justifying every cent of that admission ticket… and then some.
2. KAABOO highlights the new while honoring the old. Too many times these days, a festival starts out promising, attracting all ages and all ears, and then takes a turn for the niche. We’re looking at you, Coachella. What was once a festival with a variety of genres is now an overpriced, overrated hipster orgy. KAABOO knows the importance of preserving the classy qualities of a festival, like flushing toilets, shaded lounge areas, and a solid security team. In this fashion, KAABOO also showcases the up-and-coming bands alongside the established greats. Tom Petty shares a stage with Trevor Hall this year, for instance. And, for anyone with an affinity for the 1990s, this festival stands as the mother of all 90s jams… and 80s and 70s for the matter. The 3rd Annual includes Eric Burdon and the Animals, The Tubes, Smash Mouth, and David Guetta, for God’s sake. Eclecticism is an understatement.
3. VIP really means VIP. Every festival offers upgrades from the standard general admission experience. We all know this. Yet, after you cough up that pretty penny to cover the ticket difference, you arrive to find a limited seating section, an over-crowded 'private' bar and a line of somewhat fancier (yet, just as disgusting) port-o-potties (luxury outhouses?). By the time you’ve been standing 45 minutes in the bar line AGAIN to receive a mixer-heavy $ 15 cocktail in a plastic cup, it hits you that you’ve been royally ripped off. Cue, KAABOO: setting the new VIP standard. Perhaps it’s in the spirit of the affluent Del Mar horse races that KAABOO strides to go above and beyond in elegance and experience – excuse me, MIX-perience – even for its general admission guests. Everyone gets the most bang for your buck, whatever that buck may be, in a more than fair tiered system in surfing terms: Hang Loose (GA), Hang Five (VIP) and Hang Ten (VVIP). Hang Five gets you the upgrade: premium viewing sections, priority access to the Humor Me stage (so clutch when the line starts to form for entry) and access to the Thursday night Sneak Peek pre-party. All VIP guests get AC in flushing bathrooms, as well as dedicated food and beverage outlets. But, then there’s Hang Ten – the pricy, yet priceless MIX-perience. You get even MORE exclusive viewing sections, priority access everywhere, and lounges that offer you top shelf liquor FREE. ALL DAY. ALL NIGHT. You are the belles of the proverbial ball with meet-and-greets, free swag, on-site golf cart shuttles, and even onstage access! It doesn’t get any better than KAABOO’s Hang Ten pass, unless you are actually a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
4. There’s a pool. And, a beach. Festivals are often held on fairgrounds, state parks, or in the middle of nowhere to accommodate the large mass of people amalgamating together from all directions to enjoy the event. It’s hard to corral tens of thousands of people into one place, let alone guarantee them all a good time. KAABOO not only wants people to savor the sounds and sights, but further appreciate the area of the world where the event takes place. It's sunny, southern California! The Del Mar Fairgrounds is positioned smack dab on the Pacific coast, a stone’s throw to the water. However, there are train tracks and several wall barricades in the way to do so. No worries, KAABOO Del Mar says, we’ll bring the beach to you. Every year, KAABOO staff trucks in tons of sand to make a festival oasis for concert-goers, complete with a pop-up pool! Labeled the ‘BASK’ section, KAABOO-ers can lay down to soak up the sun in front of the sandy Sunset Cliffs stage or get turnt in the high-energy pool with a direct view of the Grandview Stage. With the hot San Diego September sun still high in the sky, it’s nice to have a cool-off option halfway through the day.
5. You never know what’s going to happen at KAABOO. Even before you enter the fest, you see beautiful acrobats twirling on spring-loaded apparatuses in the sky above you. You’re walking through the art section to look up and find originals of John Lennon's handwritten Beatles lyrics. You’re meandering through the main walkway between stages to encounter human beings painted as animals walking gracefully on stilts like a live version of the Lion King. You’re watching a band, and the bassist starts climbing the stage almost 50 feet in the air to jump off and continue playing seamlessly. You’re wandering the VIP section and end up shaking hands with a comedian you’ve always admired. You’re in VVIP and the owner of the tequila trailer invites you in for free shots while you high-five the keyboardist of Rebelution through the drink window. KAABOO keeps you on your toes – your sandy, sandy toes.
To be fair, this small list does not even start to do KAABOO justice; even in its third year infancy, there are countless other elements that reign superior over other festivals. To fully encapsulate the MIX-perience, you’re just going to have to attend it for yourself. KAABOO Del Mar 2017 kicks off this upcoming weekend, September 15th – 17th, and weekend passes along with single day tickets are still available. For full details, visit www.kaaboodelmar.com.
KAABOO 2017 Lineup:
Photography by Kristy Rose and Chris Gomez