KAABOO is the Perfect Festival to Bookend Your Summer
The beginning and end of concert season may very well depend upon what part of the country you’re standing in at the time. In traditional terms the beginning of a concert season for festivals and large outdoor stadiums and amphitheaters starts in May and lasts through September. One music festival makes a loud statement that summer isn’t over just yet- KAABOO. The three-day festival with the funny name is now in its fourth year with a sold-out status to boot. I will give you the play by play like no other reporter or story you will read about KAABOO, because we keep it real here at Cannapolitan. That said, let’s dig in.
The Music Line-up is Intense
KAABOO’s organizers are music lovers that curate a show for other music lovers. That love shines through in the line-up each year. The wide array of talent has something for every demographic of music fan. The biggest dilemma when planning your days at KAABOO is deciding what artists are a must see and also can you make it to their stage in time to see the full performance, it’s certainly a challenge physically. The Del Mar Fairground and race track is a huge venue that is designed well to handle a festival as large as KAABOO. This year the accommodations were fully utilized with a sold-out status by the first day of the show. Over 100 performing artists and groups, a dozen comedians, and well over a hundred visual artists with their art exposed throughout the venue on display. KAABOO is a well-oiled machine in its fourth year in Del Mar. KAABOO’s organization is confident in their success for producing a quality festival experience that it will be expanding in the next year by adding on two additional KAABOO festivals. The first will be KAABOO Grand Cayman in the Caribbean Islands and another in Texas at the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington called KAABOO Texas.
Comedy at KAABOO
When you KAABOO, you must move fast so that you can achieve maximum artist experience. We couldn’t find time in our schedule to fit in the comedy acts (we really tried), but the line-up throughout the weekend was worthy of a good laugh with: Judd Apatow, Whitney Cummings, Kevin Nealon, Craig Robinson, Louie Anderson just to name a few.
Check out the extensive line-up we witnessed this year in Del Mar:
Getting Around KAABOO
As you can see from the line-up above, there is a lot to see, hear, and taste at KAABOO, your plate can easily overload with choices. Here’s a lay of the land. There are two large stages on opposite sides of the park, it feels like a good half mile walk between the two. The Trestles stage is slightly smaller nestled between two large buildings just outside of the Grandview stage area. Amazingly enough the sound from one stage does not overlap into the next stage area. The Tourmaline stage is a smaller stage set within an area of the park that has a resort like setting with a faux lawn. The Humor me comedy stage is located in the center of the park next to the culinary stage with world class chefs showing off their skills. There is an indoor auditorium that houses all artwork from nearly 100 visual artists. All can be seen here in this map:
Wear Comfortable Shoes
My partner in Cannabis and I had goals to make it to as many artists as physically possible throughout the weekend. I can’t lie, it’s not an easy task to see a full performance if there is another artist performing minutes later on the other side of the park. We chose to see as much of each artist as possible before having to walk to the next stage to catch the next. Thank goodness we came prepared with plenty of joints rolled for each performance or we would have easily collapsed. Do yourself a favor and wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for standing and walking all days.
Friday at KAABOO
Friday we hustled fast so we could see most of each band: The English Beat, Nelly, Tower of Power, Incubus, Blondie, Post Malone, and finally Foo Fighters. That’s three different stages and a lot of back and forth, but we did get to witness great performances from each.
Tower of Power took the audience back in time with a crystal-clear performance of their legendary funktastic catalog of hits, they made it difficult and “So very hard to go” but we had to get to the Grandview Stage next for Incubus. Incubus played all their fan favorites and their sound was on point. We witnessed Nelly earlier in the day suffer through sound problems, so we were a little concerned, but it seemed to be an isolated issue (sorry Nelly).
Incubus deserving of their prime-time slot brought out a taste of each of their albums and hits for over the past 20 years since their inception in 1991. At one point in their performance lead Brandon Boyd thanked the audience and said “You guys having a good time? You smell amazing!” Thanks for noticing Brandon, we came prepared for every performance!
Next up was quick run over to see Blondie take us back to the late 70’s and early 80’s for a mix of their hits. It was a packed crowd, but Debbie Harry’s day-glow pink shirt and bright green sunglasses were not difficult to spot on stage. Unfortunately, there was no time to spare to finish the full Blondie set because we have to get back to the Grandview stage to catch Post Malone’s set.
Post Malone Pays Tribute to Mac Miller
Post had quite the dramatic opening of the sets we had seen up until this point but it felt odd when we discovered it was only him on stage strictly, no band or DJ for that matter. Taking that into consideration I was impressed. His shirt showing respects to friend Mac Miller, who passed away the week prior due to drug overdose. This was my first-time seeing Post perform and the crowd was very enthusiastic and was singing along with him on every song. We got through about half of Post’s set before needing to run to the other side of the park to finish out the night with the Foo Fighters.
Dave Grohl and his Foo Fighters were on fire as always straight out the gate with their hits starting with “All my life” and finishing the night off with “Everlong.” Dave reminisced about the last time he had performed in Del Mar when Nirvana had played there. “It was a pretty good bill! There was this young band opening up for us called…what were they called? Ah ya, Pearl Jam that’s who it was. Then the headliner that night was the Red Hot Chili Peppers…That was good shit, so it’s nice to be back with you people after 27 years.” The set of songs spanned from their latest album Concrete and Gold to the first album. As always, the band was incredibly tight and Dave was screaming like he hadn’t lost his voice 10 days prior when they had to cancel two Canadian shows that are now rescheduled for Oct 22nd & 23rd. The energy that Dave and the band bring on stage is unlike any rock band today, it’s something you have to witness in person.
Saturday at KAABOO
Every day at KAABOO is a buffet for the senses. Saturday served us a plate of every genre of music. The day began with the sounds of 90’s rock acts Soul Asylum and Better than Ezra followed by Bebe Rexha, The Wailers, Big Boi, Stone Temple Pilots, Billy Idol, N.E.R.D., Earth Wind & Fire and finished with the fire from Imagine Dragons. Friday’s walking workout had partially prepared for the ultimate human pinball game. Needless to say, it’s a good thing we stayed medicated with our cannabis edibles and joints, it enhanced our experience and kept us moving.
Bebe Rexha came out on to the hot Grandview stage with her set dressed to impress minus her 39.99 boots that began to fall apart on stage. Bebe kept it real and attempted to fix the wardrobe malfunction but in the end, she kicked off the boots. This girl has tough feet because that black painted stage was hot and she became a cat on a tin roof with her moves, but she didn’t miss a beat or a note throughout her performance. She also performed songs that perhaps the audience wasn’t aware were songs she wrote including “Monster” a song that Eminem and Rihanna recorded. Her performance was flawless and we will be looking forward to even more from this female force of nature.
Reggae Royalty & Positive Vibrations
We finished Bebe’s set and walked directly to the Trestles stage next door to vibe with our favorite family band The Wailers. They kicked off their set list with “I shot the sheriff” to a jam-packed audience ready to smoke one for Bob Marley and we did! Our neighbors were also prepared, one had a full cannagar ready to spark up for 4:20. The Wailers set consisted of everyone’s favorite songs that both Bob Marley & The Wailers created together, they are Reggae royalty. My partner in Cannabis, Pete Marrero had an opportunity to sit down with Aston Barrett Jr. of The Wailers, so stay tuned for the exclusive Cannapolitan interview coming soon. The set was absolutely beautiful. There is something about Bob Marley and The Wailers music that really brings people together and makes everyone kinder to one another, good vibes!
Big Boi Played the Jams
We floated on back over the Grandview stage to catch some of Big Boi’s set as he was performing Outkast’s hit “The way you move” with Sleepy Brown by his side. It’s hard to not bump to “Ms. Jackson” and “So fresh, so clean.” He also performed his latest hit “Kill Jill” and “All night.” Continuing on with the mission of staying on schedule we headed to the press room for some refreshments and to check out Stone Temple Pilots.
STP with Fresh Blood
Stone Temple Pilots are one of those special bands from the 90’s that can stand on their own for hits and reputation. The late Scott Weiland helped his band create brilliant music, therefore finding a singer that can create that magic along with his own is not an easy task. STP went hunting and found their singer in Jeff Gutt a Michigan native has been playing music for years with his own band, but through the doors of fate should land a deal with an already successful band that he can grow with. Seeing Gutt on stage, hearing the band perform those songs and then hearing and watching Jeff sing and move on stage as he dances between verses is somewhat spooky, similar to Scott too. Definitely one for the books.
Billy F’n Idol – (need we say more?)
We didn’t waste time and headed back to Grandview stage to witness the legendary Billy Idol, also known as BFI (Billy Fucking Idol as his fans call him.) Billy Idol is flawless and even more so when he has his trusty band and Steve Stevens, his axe man and collaborator behind him. Billy has been busy since I had an opportunity to talk with him during a fund raiser concert he helped raise money for medical cannabis in Los Angeles years ago. Since then he’s written a best-selling autobiography “Dancing with myself” (the audio book is read by Billy and is awesome.) Toured the globe a few times and has even picked up some short-term residency shows in Las Vegas. At any age he’s at the top of his game. His voice is better than ever and the band was fired up for the huge crowd. His set included all the hits such as “White Wedding,” “Eyes without a face,” “Flesh for Fantasy” and “Rebel Yell.” He also brought back a song called “You Don’t Need a Gun” which was somewhat relative to today’s senseless gun violence.
Billy just released a complete reimagining (that’s how I’m describing it) of his greatest hits album Vital Idol into an electronic remix called Vital Idol: Revitalized. It’s totally unique and oddly enough catchy for old and new fans. It’s a faster, more multi-dimensional version of Billy Idol’s biggest hits. See all his latest by visiting his site here.
Odd Dance Party with N.E.R.D.
Back to Sunset Cliffs to experience N.E.R.D. perform their set. Pharrell Williams and his collaborators reunited for a rare performance. As a music nerd, I was intrigued to hear and see. The set felt like it started out with Pharrell telling the crowd to give each other space and to put their camera phones down and enjoy the show. He even went so far into the set that he came down into the crowd to start a dance party. He did seem a bit off and frustrated with mentions of having his set watered down. As a first-time experience with this arrangement of musicians I was left wondering what was really going on, but all in all Pharrell and the guys brought their game and energy with them to finish the set. Once again, we’re back on the move to get to one of our most anticipated shows of the day- Earth Wind and Fire!
Bring on the Elements
Friday’s crowd for Foo Fighters was huge, but the crowd of people that came for Earth Wind & Fire was equally impressive. Back on the walk back toward Grandview stage and passing the Trestles stage (the band Cake was playing) we make it to the edge of the sound barrier. Slowly as we approach the sounds of horns and soul start to come into the ears. It seemed like the whole festival was there to watch the legendary band perform all their greatest hits. “Shining Star” was playing when we arrived. The audience was dancing and grooving with all ages seemingly knowing the songs. It was difficult to get anywhere close to the stage it was a thick audience on all sides. No matter where you stood the sounds of “September” were perfectly clear.
Lastly (can you feel how tired our feet were by reading) our journey back to the Sunset Cliff stage would be to see the fired up Imagine Dragons.
Imagine Dragons with No Shirts
Seriously, their lead singer Dan Reynolds was topless and looked like he just left the gym, thank you sir! Their set began with an electronic display behind the stage that resembled machines and computers. The band rushed on stage to all bang drums and quickly explode into their hit “Radioactive” with a force of energy. Next, Dan picked up two rainbow flags that he draped over his shoulders and began to sing “it’s time.” Imagine Dragons have a single called “believer” which is also the title of a new documentary about LGBTQ Mormon youth that Dan has helped develop with HBO. In the film he tries to reconcile the Mormon church’s policies against the LGTBQ community. Clearly the band stands for more than just their own music but for social justice and equality. Imagine Dragons are moving up the rock and roll ladder to create their own historical story and their headlining performance at KAABOO proves why they are moving in the direction to the top. The setlist continued with their hit “whatever it takes” and a rendition of The Police’s “Every breath you take.” The night finished with their hits “Demons” “Thunder” and “Believer” to complete the day.
Sunday at KAABOO
TLC Brought the “Red Light Special”
One of the highlights of the weekend for us was seeing TLC. The band came onto the music scene at the golden age of 90’s hip-hop and R&B. T-Boz and Chili took the stage after a montage of images on the large screen with their dancers and broke into “What about your friends” After years without the uncompromising words and voice that gave TLC their edge, Lisa Lopes is still with T-Boz and Chili. Yes, Lisa’s parts are played from the recording, but her spirit and her voice is still with her girls on stage. It must be a bittersweet moment every time for these legendary ladies perform at some point in the performances. The blazing hot sun that day and time was tough for all but TLC delivered the goods regardless. TLC deserved a later time slot in my opinion. They nailed their set beautifully with all their hits including: “Red Light Special,” “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg,” “Creep” and many more, the whole set was banging. The last three songs were a fitting tribute to the group that made it Crazy Sexy Cool a thing. A remixed version of their most recent single “Way Back” opened up with a mix of Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg’s “The Next Episode” at the beginning, it was rad! The last two “No Scrubs” and “Waterfalls” will always be in my memory. TLC are performing at random shows throughout the country, don’t snooze and miss an opportunity to jam with these ladies when the time comes.
Sunday was an easier day walking wise as most of the artists we wanted to get to would be on one side of the park at the Sunset Cliffs stage.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators
Slash reminds those of us who were alive when Guns N’ Roses graced the stages of arenas world-wide of a great time in rock & roll! This guy has a presence about him like no other and can play the guitar like a god! As a first-time experience seeing Slash perform with his new accomplices of rock, I was impressed with the sound of the band. The material brings back the sound that drew us all in during the late 80’s early 90’s, heavy guitar and strong vocals from Myles Kennedy. Overall a head banging good time, but now we got to get to War.
When You Hear “Lowrider” you know you’re in Southern California
The Southern California car culture that started the movement of lowering your car to the ground and pimpin it out had to have its own song and “Lowrider” is it. We got to the Trestles stage in time to hear “Cisco Kid” and most of War’s set that included their hits. Of course, we sparked up another fat joint for “Why Can’t We Be Friends” and in the process made some friends in the crowd. Lastly, they finished out the set with “Lowrider” and it had us all feeling a little more chill.
Wiz Khalifa Takes His Audience Higher
Wiz Khalifa lights up his audiences everywhere he goes. I’ve seen him perform at numerous venues and shows over the past few years, so I was interested to see his set at KAABOO. Going back to Saturday with Pharrell Williams of N.E.R.D. complaining that his setlist had been watered down, it had me wondering WTF Pharrell? Back to Wiz, who never compromises his beliefs about Cannabis and definitely not with his music either came to play and play hard. Of course, we had two fat joints rolled for this set- Wiz brings enough to share with the crowd. His setup for his stage is always exciting with fog blasts that look like smoke and several massive inflatable Raw (rolling paper brand) joints that bounce over the audience during “Young, Wild & Free.” Wiz puts all his energy into his performance and it’s apparent with his set time showing his rise to success. Wiz properly baked the stage for Katy Perry to close out the KAABOO festival for 2018.
“California Gurls are undeniable!”
Katy Perry came to KAABOO in a spaceship and landed her ship on stage. This native California girl is no alien, but she sings about one. She steps out of the rocket and tells the audience “KAABOO! Will you be my witness?” Immediately she starts off the set with her song “Witness” from her latest album of the same title. The set is vibrantly decorated along with her dancers, the band, and Katy never disappoints with her costumes throughout her show. It was quite the feat to get 18 songs into the time slot that night, but Katy was serious when she said “I don’t know about you, but when I come to a festival I want to hear all the hits!” She certainly did put out hit after hit and costume change after costume change too! At one point she referred to smoking cannabis, which made us happy, thanks for the support! We’re happy to give Katy Cannapolitan status. Her set finished off with an explosive performance of “Firework” to complete the evening and finally drop the cherry on top of an amazing weekend of music and memories that will last a lifetime.
If you don’t KAABOO, you’re missing out!
There is absolutely a huge amount of value that gets packed into a KAABOO weekend. This being the fourth year of this festival, and with a sold-out status- they have set the bar high. Each year the festival continues to impress and please the music lovers that flock to see once in a lifetime performances from incredible line-ups. This year was again another successful KAABOO experience for us at Cannapolitan. As a reporter/ photographer it makes the job easier and more rewarding when the festival goes above and takes care of the press with proper spaces to rest and recharge and I have to give KAABOO organizers a big thanks and shout out for knowing how to treat press! Thank you KAABOO for creating a festival that music fans can get behind every year.
Tickets are already on sale for next year’s KAABOO, you can get them here. There may not be a line-up yet, but I can guarantee that you’re going to love it! That’s how they roll at KAABOO, only the very best- sounds like us here at Cannapolitan, we only roll the best too!