San Diego has become a hotspot for the country’s music scene over the past few years as one of the most desirable locations in the country, events and festivals have flocked to America’s Finest City to host some of the biggest names in music. KAABOO, which was a festival project started by the general manager of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, set out on it’s sophomore year to create a ‘mixperience’ for fans, boasting an eclectic combination of live music, art, (yes live art!), food and more.
This year fans flocked to KAABOO to catch an extreme variety of artists, everyone from Jimmy Buffet to the reggae kings Rebelution and even the poster-boys of EDM themselves, The Chainsmokers. The 3-day festival was highly anticipated by event attendees as expectations were high after the inaugural success of last year’s event. EDM Sauce has graded KAABOO on various festival aspects for this year’s 2016 event.
Even though we aren’t an all-genres blog, the wide-ranging amount of genres represented, and those who represented them, were nothing short of impressive. There was a strong representation from every genre that drew in such an eclectic (and wide variety of ages) crowd – from the legendary Aerosmith and Jimmy Buffet to 90’s nostalgia-ridden Third Eye Blind and Goo Goo Dolls, there was always someone exciting to see.
On the dance music side, the ENCORE stage hosted the majority of the DJ acts. SAVI was an opening act and kept the upbeat alive with trendy trap and hip-hop beats that automatically created an ora of energy throughout the entire venue Andrew Luce played Friday night and brought some electro mixed with trap, throwing a bunch of anthems from Rl Grime and Floss in the mix that was surprising for an opening act; but a good surprise at that . Matoma was up on Friday, and as everyone knows tropical vibes are always good vibes – with a very impressive set featuring some of his newest originals. The next day, RAC was a highlight; with indie pop mixed with some dance music, it was such an eclectic set of new and old music that kept everyone on their feet.
Hosted at the iconic Del Mar Fairgrounds the venue was able to accommodate for a large crowd in a clean and safe environment for all ages. The concrete allowed for a no-mes experience as you were able to enjoy the beautiful San Diego sunset all three nights. The main stage even had sand surrounding the area, so the beach vibes were in full affect (VIP tents were also set up like beach cabanas). There was plenty of beer tents set up near each stage and the bathrooms for the most part were clean (no porta-potties).
There was also a pool set up by Wet Republic, but this cost extra to get into. The only downside to having so much space is, having too much space! The walks between the stages were very long and drawn out, so if you wanted to catch a set between conflicting acts you would need at least 15 minutes to walk between them. The ENCORE stage, which hosted a majority of the electronic dance artists, was way to small to accommodate the crowd. By the end of the night, you will be sore from walking, sneakers are a must!
Not every festival knows how to handle large crowds, and sadly KAABOO was one of these festivals. The safety of event attendees should be respected and planned by event planners ahead of time to accommodate the flow of such large crowds. In order to best describe EDM Sauce's experience we want to deliver an honest, credible review of all festival aspects; we've broke these down into two sections:
KAABOO advised people not to drive to the festival, as they should, but also did not create any type of shuttle offering whatsoever which led people to two options (Uber/Lyft or Taxi) and with a festival that’s hosting thousands of participants, you can imagine the nightmare that was getting to and from the festival. The event was sponsored by Lyft but the surcharge prices were in the 500% (even worse than New Years) and there was only one section you were able to get picked up and dropped off in that was only one lane. Friday night was a “lighter” crowd but Saturday after someone was confirmed and hit by a car, caused for a one lane out road to the main highway. People were trapped and gridlocked for over two hours with no reliable rides home, as cars could not get in and out to the festival. With other major festivals in the game there is no excuse for this type of issue, it is simply poor planning.
Crowd Control F
Saturday was the most popular day by far, with headliners like Aerosmith and Steve Aoki stopping by, this drew very large crowds. With large crowd came lines, every beer and food vendor line was at least 30 people and the majority of attendees said they were stuck there for 30 minutes at a time. There was only one small slither of walkway to get to one of the biggest main stages where The Chainsmokers were playing (??) and this caused for a human gridlock that lasted hours. Ludacris was set to perform at a smaller stage to close the night and there was an actual line to get into the venue which also caused for a gridlock – which led to a riot – which led to pepper spray. Crowd control should be taken seriously, as this affects the safety of festival goers, which was again, not planned accordingly.
Overall Grade: B
Overall, despite a few hiccups, KAABOO shines as a Coachella-esque festival without the mainstream appeal. With exceptional talent, and a great atmosphere for all ages, and the “experience” appeal of reaching out beyond the boundaries of music makes this event one worth while.