Over the weekend, KAABOO Del Mar took over the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds, bringing with it a truly diverse lineup of well-known musicians and comedians. Traditionally, without the distractions of a full-fledged modern music festival (e.g., giant stages, posh hangouts, gourmet dining, captivating art, and, of course, a wide variety of music), the racetrack and fairgrounds give way to a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean. Instead, for the third time running, the site was home to a top-notch event, and between the Grandview Stage on the east end and Sunset Cliff on the west, there was something worth seeing in each corner.
A pool party presented by Wet Republic allowed attendees to bro out while watching everyone from Smash Mouth, DJ Diesel (a.k.a. Shaquille O’Neal), Logic, T-Pain, and Jason Derulo rock out on the second main stage, though the standout set was Muse and its otherworldly and sensational production on Saturday. Upscale food vendors, Posh Nosh and the Pub + Play, allowed visitors to satiate their hunger while watching sports or playing old-school arcade games. Nearby, the Trestles Stage served as a steady space for older throwbacks—think Traffic’s Dave Mason and the Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald, the Animals’ Eric Burdon, everyone’s Jackson Browne, and a cover band simply known as Led Zeppelin 2.
Across the way, guest could find even more newfangled festival entertainment. A fine arts show at Artwork & Palate allowed patrons to sample eats from Red O and the Oceanaire Seafood Room—chicken-fried lobster tail, anyone? Beyond that, a tented stage hosted culinary stars demonstrating recipes, tossing arancini into the audience, and ragging on Robert Irvine. Comedians like Arsenio Hall, David Spade, Patton Oswalt, and Maria Bamford all earned laughs at the comedy tent, Humor Me. A near-empty mini-warehouse dubbed Club Elevate let the chemically driven crowd waste the night away to the tunes of Kap Slap, Martin Jensen, and The Him.
Wandering around KAABOO Del Mar’s festival grounds during the day, chances are, you poked your head within grooving range of the Tourmaline Stage. Nestled on a patch of the venue’s fake grass in the eye of the racetrack grandstands and near a silent disco and some sit-down restaurants, this haunt gave haven to energetic newcomers like Lawrence, Band of Gringos, and The Steppin Stones. Not far beyond the confines of the racetrack came the wails of some of music’s biggest names: the drab, Daria-approved drones of Weezer and wild rhythmic whips of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, plus the defiant tones of Ice Cube and the familiar twinge of Tom Petty’s voice, all of whom have deep ties to the City of Angels two (sometimes three) hours to the north.
The range of amenities at KAABOO Del Mar was remarkable, especially for those with the means to afford them. A cigar lounge here, a women’s wonderland of massages and makeup there, and staffed corporate cabanas everywhere under the sun. Where festivals are concerned, KAABOO had only as much in common with, say, Woodstock as Dave Mason’s rendition of “All Along the Watchtower.” But a festival being a big business doesn’t mean it can’t also be awesome. In the end, KAABOO Del Mar is a festival worth frequenting—if you can afford it, anyway.
See the full weekend gallery below, courtesy of Brandon Weil.