KAABOO Del Mar got off to a decidedly low-key start late Friday morning at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and racetrack.
When Undecided Future, the first band to perform, took to the Gig Town Tourmaline Stage shortly after 11 a.m., their audience consisted of two professional photographers. When the band finished its energetic set, shortly before noon, the audience had swelled to about 30 people.
"I'm sure it will pick up," said Las Vegas resident Ron Peace, 50. "The local news said there will be 30,000 people here a day."
The total attendance remains to be seen for the ambitious, three-day festival, whose Friday lineup includes No Doubt, Snoop Dogg and Bonnie Raitt. KAABOO mastermind Bryan E. Gordon told the Union-Tribune he was confident that his initial projections of "tens of thousands" of attendees each day would prove accurate. By early afternoon Friday, a steady stream of arrivals was entering the sprawling fairgrounds, where performances are scheduled on five outdoor and two indoor stages.
"I love how they've integrated visual art into the festival," said Jessica Cortez, a 34-year-old Encinitas resident who works at the National Association of Music Merchants in Carlsbad. "And with the local bands (on the Gig Town stage) and all the local breweries who are here, it's like a taste of San Diego. You're practically on the beach. It's great!"
Cortez was attending only the second festival of her life (the first was San Diego Street Scene when she was a teenager). She was unhappy to learn KAABOO had recently offered discounted tickets, but still felt she got a good deal paying the full $299 price for her three-day pass.
"I paid nearly $100 just to see the Zac Brown Band at Sleep Train Amphitheatre," she said, referring to the country-rock band that will headline KAABOO Saturday. "And I paid nearly as much the last time I saw No Doubt. So I think my three-day ticket is a really good deal."
Peace and his companion paid $333 for two one-day KAABOO tickets.
"They charged us $60 for a processing fee, which I didn't think was fair," he said. "And paying $9 for a beer is pretty high. But I think this is pretty nice. It's the first festival I've been to, and I'd give it a B-plus. They should have more shaded areas."
Also attending Friday were Audree Ochoa, 16, Nolan Tifft, 16, and Nino Alworth, 17, all of Encinitas.
"There are more things to do here outside of the music," Tifft, a junior at Grauer High School. "The artists, the food and the comedy are other things I like."
KAABOO's aim to attract a multi-generational audience seemed to be working.
"Some of us in the older crowd appreciate the comforts the festival offers," said Lisa Galloway, an Oceanside resident who works in marketing and was attending with her husband, Andy. "having air-conditioning and actual bathrooms is really nice."