As a veteran “Kaabooer,” I have higher expectations than most for the three day September festival that has taken over the Del Mar fairgrounds for the past three years.
In 2015, it was shiny and new and I loved every minute of it. Apache Relay played their last show (RIP) and I saw bands that I had always wanted to see (Spoon, Dawes, The Killers, etc).
But 2016 was a huge let down. From the lineup to the layout, I was disappointed long before it began. The only silver lining was the friends who performed (Wild Feathers), the chance to see The Avett Brothers for the third time (and my friend who is their guitar tech) and Fall Out Boy.
So in 2017, I filed my own silent protest and decided not to buy tickets…
But I’m not a total idiot, so when I was offered free tickets a week before the festival, I happily accepted. It’s funny how much easier it is to let a disappointing line up roll off your back when you don’t spend your own money.
Festivals are a living breathing creature that need to be tweaked year to year and I think they tweaked in the right direction this year. I attended the Thursday night Barenaked Ladies show, skipped Friday (I have kids who play sports), arrived at 4:30pm on Saturday (due to kid’s sports again) and made it for most of Sunday.
Here is what I saw/heard:
Toad the Wet Sprocket:
-We only saw about 6 songs but they left the 3 biggest hits to the end so at least we heard those.
-The harmonies sounded so much better than expected.
ADVICE: Don’t use your set to complain about missing other performers. We’re glad you are a fan, but so are we, so how about you tune your guitar and play a song?
Ages and Ages:
-I thought they sounded great, my husband disagreed enough to leave me there and go watch Garbage.
-Kaaboo tries to marry art and music, but don’t let it collide during a set. Maybe the artist should wait to move the scaffolding crane until the song is over.
-I love Butch Vig and the work (producing) he did with Nirvana and Foo Fighters, so it was fun to see him play drums live.
-The lead singer still rocks and even though she went on an odd “girl power” tirade, I can forgive her because it was meant to be an intro for “Stupid Girl.”
-I knew more of their songs than my husband. We have been married almost 20 years and I am still learning new things about him.
-Perry Farrell sounded great, Dave Navarro shreds and I really appreciated the drummer’s Van Halen t-shirt (and his talent).
ADVICE: The strippers/dominatrixes with the hair choreography and “grinding routine” was a bit cliche. But when the two women, suspended by metal hooks in their backs, started swinging into the audience, I got the heck outta there. That wasn’t “art,” it was a cry for help.
-I don’t buy your anger anymore. You’ve been on Sesame Street with Elmo.
-They started 20 mins late, which was the exact amount of time I allotted to see their show so I could still make it to Pink on time…so I saw about 30 seconds of their first song….not enough to form an opinion.
-She managed to start right on time.
-The perfect combination of badass and adorable.
-Except for one instance, she did not sing any of the profanity in her songs. She later mentioned her kids were side stage, so maybe that played into her decision.
-She sang 5 covers, set up a marriage proposal for a back up dancer, began an acoustic set just as a large train passed by and was so incredibly poised, I could not even handle it…oh, and she sounded amazing (even though she claimed she had a cold).
-She giggly finished off her show with “So What” while flipping, spinning and singing suspended above the audience in one of her now well known contraptions.
-They started about 15 minutes late, but an accidental shot of their set list showed that they only planned to play about 30 minutes of music, so starting late was right on time for them.
-I made my husband stay just so I could hear “Party at Ground Zero” and I was glad we did. They may be a bit long in the tooth and wear crazy looking outfits, but they can still play the heck out of their one hit.
-We later saw them playing inside the “Krave” beef jerky booth.
Advice for the Unknown Artist Who Shall Remain Nameless:
-Don’t start with a cover.
- Don’t have 7 people in your band…that’s way too many people to split the money with.
-You have a problem when I would rather go play free video games than listen to your second song…and I hate video games
-He was good…but sit down good…not stand the whole time good. I was happy to have a patch of artificial grass to chill on while I listened.
-I am pretty sure she forgot the words to her second song, but she was mumbling/singing in such a way that it was impossible to know if she was actually speaking english.
-Her backing band was fantastic…which proved to be a good thing since she seemed to struggle throughout.
-She hit her vocal groove by the end, but there was something “not quite right” with her performance.
-I am 99% sure he was 100% high.
-Loved the drummer and all of the heartbreakers.
-The suspended lights that danced to the music were super cool.
-My husband was mesmerized by Petty’s guitars, “Rickenbacker this..Rickenbacker that.”
-Petty’s set made no sense…neither did he really, so I guess it worked.