The Grateful Dead stage debuted at KAABOO Del Mar, even though the Grateful Dead is not staging its debut at KAABOO.
That may sound like exactly the kind of fractured riddle Deadheads would devise after a late night of listening to rare Jerry Garcia solo bootleg recordings while reading the “I Ching” and engaging in related activities.
But in the case of KAABOO Del Mar, the three-day music and food festival, which debuted Friday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and continues through Sunday, it is indeed the Grateful Dead stage debut. As in, the stage itself.
KAABOO’s Sunset Cliffs stage first came to life, so to speak, in late June when the reunited Grateful Dead performed on it for the band’s two “Fare Thee Well” farewell shows at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The largest of KAABOO’s seven stages by far, it measures 170 feet from side to side, is 60 feet deep from front to back, and stands 65 feet tall.
It is on this enormous stage that KAABOO’s biggest acts perform, including No Doubt (Friday night), Zac Brown Band (tonight) and The Killers (Sunday). On Saturday afternoon, Ozomatli kicked into high gear on the same stage, romping through “Cumbia De Los Muertos” as a train whizzed by behind the stage (a real train, not a imagined or simulated one).
“I believe there are only two like it in the United States,” said KAABOO mastermind Bryan E. Gordon, who attended one of the Dead’s two Santa Clara concerts and saw his first Dead concert in 1979 while attending college.
“In order to accommodate the vision we had for what was to happen on the main stage at KAABOO, well, there are not very many stages like this,” Gordon said. “So it’s a bit of a coincidence and bit of luck that we have it.”