by Leah Bloom
Last weekend, the first annual Kaaboo Festival came to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Many didn’t know what to expect and wondered if it would make a big enough splash to be a reoccurring thing, but like myself, they were thoroughly impressed. Having to compete with already famous music festivals such as Coachella and FYF, Kaaboo pulled out some big guns to win over the hearts of SoCal natives and out-of-state music-lovers alike. With 7 stages, and entertainment varying from rock music to comedians and celebrity chefs, the weekend was nothing short of incredible!
Here in Del Mar we are fortunate enough to be called one of the most beautiful and desirable places to go in the country, so there’s no surprise that Kaaboo was able to book some of the most well-known music artists in the world; Headliners included No Doubt, Zac Brown Band, and The Killers. Among others were Neon Trees, Young the Giant, and even Snoop Dogg.
Best Live Performance:
Being successful in the music industry is no easy feat. Being able to perform live concerts with the same quality sound as the studio recording is an entirely other challenge. One band that executed this flawlessly was none other than Young the Giant. Hailing from Irvine, California, this alternative rock group has grown quite popular since its self-titled debut album in 2009. The band's first three singles, "My Body", "Cough Syrup" and "Apartment" reached the top five of the U.S. Alternative Songs chart. Playing a mixture of their older songs as well as those from their 2013 album Mind over Matter, the band produced a killer show. A Stanford Med-school dropout with an unwavering gorgeous falsetto and a stage presence that makes Mick Jagger look boring, lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia is a talent beyond belief. The group’s dynamic and honest show is one you will never forget, if given the opportunity to experience. There are full-on rock moments and groovy tracks that'll make you dance till your feet are sore, but also some more subdued introspective moments in which you really get to take a step back and appreciate how talented these guys really are, both musically and lyrically.
Most Unique Performance:
While festivals like Kaaboo are packed with many incredible acts, there are always a few that stand out, ones that surprise you. Last weekend, the performance crowned “Most Unique” was without a doubt, that of Rodrigo Y Gabriela. Like most Americans not up to date on Spanish pop culture, I was expecting the duo to reflect the modern, upbeat yet musically simplistic work of artists such as Enrique Iglesias. I have never been more wrong. The childhood friends from Mexico City played an entire instrumental set of classic spanish acoustic guitar, but with influences from genres such as flamenco, rock and heavy metal. The fervor and speed with which the two strummed was mind blowing. The percussive style Gabriella hit the body of her guitar could convince you there was an entire band on stage. Most of all, it was the sheer humility the two exuded that was most magnetic. They were so grateful and happy to be performing on the Main Stage, it made them so much more enjoyable to watch.
Artists to Watch:
The Silent Comedy- If you’re searching for some badass vocals and the occasional sweet sound of a mandolin, look no further than this San Diego-based rock band, known for their folk, Rock and Roll, and Americana-inspired music.
The Revivalists- Wanna be serenaded by a beautiful brunette man from New Orleans with a soulful Rock n Roll voice and witness some killer saxophone? Check out this amazing 7-piece band’s new album Men Amongst Mountains.
The Drowning Men- This indie-rock quintet from Oceanside, California is a live performance you wouldn’t want to miss. Their use of peculiar instruments like the Theremin, which uses merely electronic frequencies to create music, makes for an unconventional yet captivating sound.
The Jamestown Revival- To say this Texas-native group is easy on the eyes and the ears, would be a huge understatement. Their relatable lyrics, heart-melting harmonies and Southern twang made this Americana-folk band an instant crowd favorite at Kaaboo. Their album Utah was deemed by Itunes as the Best Singer-Songwriter Album of 2014.
Garrett Lee Robinson- Inspired by the big choruses and raw guitar style sounds of the Indie Rock Movement, this band incorporates high energy sing-along melodies with intimate lyrics. With a broad range of musical influences from bands like The Clash, The Who, Black Sabbath, Nirvana and Queen, this Los Angeles group has developed their own unique niche of rock music.
Unique to Kaaboo, there was also an amazing presence of art at the festival. An entire building was dedicated to local painters, sculptors and other artists to showcase and sell their work. After several hours of being out in the heat, it was to be able to pop inside and take a break from all the noise and just enjoy an entirely different artform. There was so much talent in one room, it was almost overwhelming.
Among the incredible art, was the various murals being created in live-sessions by highly-esteemed graffiti and spray-paint masters. The pieces they perfected over the span of the weekend were truly unique and beautiful works to witness. This aspect of the festival really showcased all the different ways people can express themselves and connect to others.