KAABOO Del Mar which kicks off its third annual edition this weekend at the Del Mar racetrack and the adjacent fairgrounds, is an upscale music, comedy, food and drink festival. Except that it is not an upscale music, comedy, food and drink festival.
Confused? Don’t be.
To quote the KAABOO website: “We’re not a ‘festival.’ We’re a new kind of entertainment and arts experience designed around comfort, quality and good times ... an adult escape, uniquely curated to appeal to all five of your senses...”
Make that a constantly evolving adult escape - dubbed a “mixperience” by the festival’s founder - replete with a swimming pool, private cabanas, concierge service, gourmet food, craft drinks, art exhibits and much more.
“We are never complacent about the experience we will present,” said KAABOO mastermind Bryan E. Gordon. “We always want to be new and fresh, and offer up some surprises - hopefully, delightful surprises.”
Surprises that can’t be disclosed just yet, or, well, they won’t be surprises, will they?
What is known is that the music lineup features Red Hot Chili Peppers and David Guetta on Friday, Pink and Muse on Saturday, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Jason Derulo on Sunday.
The comedy lineup features Patton Oswalt and Nick Swarsdon on Friday, Sebastian Maniscalco and Maria Bamford on Saturday, and David Spade on Sunday.
Altogether, more than 75 music and comedy acts will perform this weekend, including Weezer, Arsenio Hall, Ice Cube, Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Kesha, The Wallflowers, T-Pain, Michael McDonald and his partial near-namesake, Norm MacDonald.
For good measure, the Palate Culinary Stage lineup on Friday includes vocal star-turned-celebrity-chef Kelis, who just might make a milkshake while singing her suggestive 2003 hit song of the same name.
Then there’s the ever-increasing visual art component - which mixes outdoor public displays with works displayed in a hall-sized gallery to add another dimension to the festival.
The works of nearly two-dozen muralists and installation artists will be on open-air display, including some by Brazil’s Bicicleta sem Freio. Indoors, there will be works by many more, including Gloria Muriel, Spenser Little and other San Diego artists.
New to KAABOO this year will be Club Elevate, a late-night dance club with DJs and bottle service, and the repositioning of the Grandview Stage, which has been moved out to the fairground’s east parking lot.
Also new is the option to go cash-less all weekend at the festival by linking your festival wristband to your credit or debit card. A similar approach was utilized at the Rock in Rio USA festival two years ago in Las Vegas.
For those unable to attend who still want to get a flavor of the event, look no further than your smart phone or tablet. This weekend’s festival will be streamed, at least in part, on Livelist.com and kaaboodelmar.com/live.
“We want to document the entire KAABOO experience,” said Jason Felts, the festival’s newly appointed Chief Marketing Officer. He is also the CEO of KAABOO-partner Virgin Produced, which is based in Los Angeles.
While the racetrack and fairgrounds remain largely unchanged from last year, the festival’s footprint this weekend will be somewhat different than at the 2016 and 2015 editions of KAABOO.
“We have revised the layout somewhat this year to try and increase capacity and improve crowd flow, which was a little tight last year at times,” Gordon said. “So we paid a lot of attention to try and improved the experience this year.”
What about the indoor spaces?
“They’ll have changed also,” Gordon replied. “The whole layout of the site has been tweaked from last year to try and provide for better crowd flow and a little more of a central core for late night activities, including comedy and our silent disco.”
Likewise, the festival’s ride-share program has been expanded to provide a larger and easier arrival and departure area, which is centrally located and specifically designated for those using Uber and Lyft.
“We think this will make it a lot more convenient for people and eliminate some of the traffic congestion and the disruption of people picking up and dropping off people willy-nilly around the (surrounding) neighborhoods,” Gordon said.
“I think Uber told us we had the single largest number of rides of any event in their history in Southern California last year. So ride-sharing is a big deal. And with an increasing number of patrons, we wanted to be very mindful.”
KAABOO Del Mar
When: 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Where: Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar
Tickets: $129 daily; $259 two-day ticket; $299 three-day ticket
Phone: (855) 798-5995