When the debut edition of the Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival was announced in March, the producers of the three-day November event along San Diego Bay promised their ambitious event would feature about 80 acts on 6 stages.
By Monday afternoon, when the lineup was officially announced, the all-ages Wonderfront had grown to seven stages and 86 acts, with more to be disclosed later this summer. Confirmed performers for the Nov. 22-24 music marathon thus far include Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, MGMT, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Vince Staples, Miguel, Preservation Hall Jazz band, Suicidal Tendencies and X Ambassadors.
Also set to appear are such San Diego-bred bands as Schizophonics and Slightly Stoopid, the latter of which holds the record for the most headlining performances by any musical act — national or international — at Chula Vista’s nearly 20,000-capacity North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre.
The full lineup appears below. One of the festival’s stages will be devoted to Latin music, a move designed to reflect the cultural diversity of San Diego’s population and the city’s proximity to Mexico.
Three-day general admission and VIP passes will go on sale to the general public on June 14 at 10 a.m. at wonderfrontfestival.com. Prices are $199 for active military members and $229 for the general public. VIP passes cost $1,200 each and include private main stage viewing areas (some of which will be elevated), multiple hospitality lounges (including some on yachts) and a host of other perks.
A discounted pre-sale will begin at 10 a.m. Friday for anyone who signs up as a Wonderfront subscriber on the festival’s website . Tickets for the pre-sale are priced at $209 on Friday and $215 on Saturday for the first 3,000 tickets sold each day, and $219 on Sunday for the first 4,000. Should all of those ticket sell out in the first three days, the festival’s promoters will have hit one-third of the total 30,000 tickets that will be sold for the event’s inaugural edition.
“Wonderfront has been a long time in the making and we’re very excited,” said Ernie Hahn II, the longtime general manager of the San Diego Sports Arena, now known as Pechanga Arena San Diego. “We have an extensive marketing campaign that will start this week. We’ll be targeting San Diego, Southern California, Tijuana, parts of Baja and some states adjacent to California.”
The festival is the brainchild of Hahn and Paul Thornton, the founder of the Texas-based Tag Presents, which has produced ESPN X Games Austin, Fan Fest Austin and the Republic of Texas Rally.
To provide added local flavor and credibility, three San Diego sports icons — surf champion Rob Machado, skateboard legend Tony Hawk and former San Diego Padres relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman — have signed on as investors and event ambassadors who will both promote and participate in the festival.
They will be joined in the investor/event ambassador/participant circle by San Pedro native Miguel. The Grammy Award-winning R&B and hip-hop vocal star counts Beyoncé, Wiz Khalia, Alicia Keys and Mariah Carey among his past collaborators.
“Miguel fits the brand so well of what we want Wonderfront to be,” said Thornton, speaking Friday from Austin.
“He’s a lot like a new-day Prince, because he so adventurous and talented. He’s a Southern California native who he totally gets the cultural inclusion of what we are trying to do. Most festivals stick in one or two Latin acts and that’s not authentic. We have a whole stage dedicated to Latin music for all three days. Miguel is helping us craft the lineup. He’s our captain when it comes to hip-hop, Latin and urban R&B. He’s curating that part of our lineup and will be for years to come.”
Hawk is a passionate fan of music in general and punk-rock in particular. He made specific suggestions to Thornton and Hahn regarding bands he thinks will work well at the festival. The talent buyers for such top San Diego venues as the Belly Up, the Casbah and the Music Box also had a hand in booking acts for the festival.
“I hope Wonderfront establishes San Diego as a good host city for such a festival,” said Hawk, one of the skating stars scheduled to perform next to Wonderfront’s Tony Hawk HuckJam Stage. “And I hope it increases tourism. But, mostly, I hope it inspires locals to come and be a part of the scene.”
That hope is shared by the San Diego Tourism Marketing District, which is providing $500,000 in underwriting for Wonderfront, and by the San Diego Unified Port District, which is providing value-in-kind support and providing free office space.
The festival’s late November time slot comes during what is traditionally one of San Diego’s slowest periods for hotel bookings. Wonderfront’s digital-chip equipped wristbands will enable attendees to leave as often as they like to go to nearby dining spots and bars, or to freshen up in their hotel rooms.
Water taxis, one with a capacity of 400, will shuttle festival-goers along the bay between Wonderfront’s southern and northernmost stages.
“Millennials make up 70 percent of the audience at most festivals,” said Thornton, who hopes Wonderfront will draw a broad range of ages. “But people who are older also like to get out and have adventures, which is core in San Diego. They love to go discover new bands, have new experiences and feel youthful again. And that’s really what Wonderfront is all about, no matter what your age is.”
Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival performance lineup
Andy Frasco & The UN
Banda Los Sebastianes
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike
Henry + The Invisibles
Los Angeles Azules
Los Tucanes de Tijuana
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Victoria La Mala
Walk The Moon
Zion & Lennox