KAABOO Announces Del Mar Lineup, Talks ‘Extinguishing The Fyre’ With Cayman
By: Ryan Borba
The fifth-annual KAABOO Del Mar festival has dropped its music and comedy lineups, promising to please all five senses Sept. 13-15 with headliners Kings of Leon, Dave Matthews Band, and Mumford & Sons topping the lineup.
Additional musicians on the bill of the event at the Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds overlooking the Pacific Ocean just outside San Diego include Duran Duran, Black Eyed Peas, OneRepublic, Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, Snoop Dogg + Wu Tang Clan 25th Anniversary Set, Mark Ronson, The Revivalists and many others. The comedy lineup, part of the “Humor Me” component of the event, is led by Pete Holmes, Bert Kreischer, Wayne Brady and Kevin Smith.
Tickets are on sale now.
The KAABOO brand started with a simple idea – to do an “elevated” adult music festival with heightened customer service and amenities rather than dusty fields and port-a-potties. General admission tickets include perks that many festivals would consider VIP packages and exclusive VIP packages offer once in a lifetime experiences such as wine tasting or yoga classes with artists playing the event.
The Del Mar lineup announcement comes after the 2018 edition sold out (Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry) and the inaugural KAABOO Cayman sold out as well, going off without a hitch with 12,000 people on site each day Feb. 15-16 with Chainsmokers, Duran Duran, Zedd, Jason Derulo, Sean Paul and many others.
KAABOOKAABOO CaymanRichard Branson and Flo Rida
KAABOO partner and chief brand officer Jason Felts said the Cayman event made an impact beyond everyone having a good time, although there was plenty of that, with Blues Traveler frontman John Popper joining Counting Crows for a rousing set of ’90s nostalgia, Wanda Sykes hanging out throughout the event after knocking it out of the park with her comedy set, and Virgin founder and KAABOO backer Richard Branson partying with Chainsmokers and Flo Rida.
“We pulled off something that really made a lot of noise and not just PR noise but really changed the country forever,” Felts said, adding that KAABOO is the fifth-largest employer on the islands in February with just shy of 800 staff, and seventh-largest the rest of the year. “We threw an incredible event with zero arrests on site at the event, nobody going to the hospital. It could not have gone better.”
While the team did everything in its power not to acknowledge the Fyre Festival of 2017 that left would-be island partiers stranded on a deserted Caribbean nightmare, Felts said he had to “extinguish the Fyre” once and for all.
“At the event, there was not one media outlet that did not ask me about Fyre,” Felts said, as a recent Netflix documentary reminded millions of the island debacle just before KAABOO Cayman. “Not one. So while not deliberate, I had to address it, and it was very easy to address: Other than both events had palm trees, there is no comparison.”
Felts said that it was important, however, to show that the industry could recover from such a public disaster, and said KAABOO Cayman’s success was a win for all who do it right.
Blue Dot Studios c/o KAABOOKAABOO Cayman scenerySeven Mile Beach “It took us three years to plan it and 1.5 years to build the site. We wanted to do it right,” Felts said, adding that the Cayman Islands has sophisticated infrastructure (far from a deserted island), the festival site is permanent and KAABOO-specific, and the hundreds-strong team has decades of live music experience behind it.
“I would prefer to never say the word ‘Fyre’ again, and hopefully we extinguished the Fyre,” Felts said. “Going forward next year we’re setting a company-wide rule that that word is not even in the vernacular.”
With KAABOO taking its brand to the Caribbean for KAABOO Cayman, another location is getting its first incarnation and with a Texas twist. In partnership with the family of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and taking place at the team’s home field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the inaugural KAABOO Texas takes place May 10-12 with The Killers, Kid Rock, Sting, Lynryrd Skynyrd and many others.
KAABOO talent buyer Roger LeBlanc of Madison Entertainment says the event keeps the KAABOO continuity while adding some local flavor.
“We really look at an artist’s repertoire and their hits,” LeBlanc said. “I think for our demographic, they want songs they recognize, they want to sing along. When we did Bryan Adams at Cayman, the audience sang that whole set with him from beginning to end. That’s the experience we’re trying to create. The bill in Texas is very similar to the what we did in Del Mar and Cayman, maybe with a little more of a rock edge, and I think that’s going to work for Texas.”
On tap will be a new fashion and indulgence component for the Mother’s Day weekend event to go along with the “Palette” celebrity chefs and culinary offerings, “Humor Me” comedy and top-notch art exhibits.
While the football stadium known for having the world’s largest video screen may not seem an obvious fit for a high-end music festival, Felts says the Jones family and AT&T Stadium have much in common with the KAABOO ethos.
“We’re trying to dispel the myth that we have one stage inside the stadium and everybody is sitting down in the seats,” Felts said. “That’s not the case. It’s the entire interior and exterior of one of the coolest stadiums in pro sports. Jerry Jones is very similar in sensibility to our founder Bryan Gordon. He’s an entrepreneur that bettered the live entertainment experience with a focus on the look, feel and customer service.”
It’s probably safe to expect more KAABOO destinations. However, it wasn’t always easy or certain to be a hit. The event that is now referred to as a force in the festival market and somewhat of a disruption to the local concert scene faced some skepticism in the beginning.
“When we went into San Diego, people said we were crazy and shouldn’t do it,” LeBlanc said. “We didn’t listen, and we did it, and we got bigger and bigger and now we’re way past where we were last year just on the blind presale this year. It gets easier and easier to book. People are now coming to me asking to play KAABOO, while in the beginning sometimes I had to convince them.”
KAABOO Del Mar 2019 lineup:Kings of Leon
Dave Matthews Band Mumford & Sons Duran Duran Black Eyed Peas OneRepublic Sheryl Crow Maren Morris Snoop Dogg + Wu-Tang Clan 25th Anniversary Set Mark Ronson The Revivalists REO Speedwagon The Bangles The Cult Sublime with Rome Boyz ll Men Colbie Caillat Silversun Pickups Squeeze Lifehouse Switchfoot Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness Cheat Codes Cash Cash Xavier Rudd Alec Benjamin Toots & The Maytals Edie Brickell & New Bohemians Keuning Plain White T’s Vintage Trouble
COMEDY Bert Kreischer Pete Holmes & Friends Wayne Brady Bob Saget Kevin Smith Jimmy O Yang Tig Notaro Tom Green Jen Kirkman Cristela Alonzo Cameron EspositoTaylor Tomlinson Hosted by MK Paulsen