Coachella. Lollapalooza. The Governor's Ball. Bonnaroo. All of these festivals have been historically at the top of the music festival food chain, offering the same recipe of indie acts paired with major headliners and a 2-3 day window of catching everything in between. And by the same, we're talking the same headliners as one another in many cases, which started the first decline in festival attendance in years.
After all, why eat dirt for three days and fight crowds to sit in sweltering heat to watch bands from such a distance that the lead singer looked like an ant from your blanket spot? And it's not like there's A/C anywhere or a bathroom that doesn't smell like a college kid after too many Everclear drinks.
Meet KAABOO del Mar, the answer to all of festival life's problems. As I entered the grounds on Friday, I realized it was the first time I didn't feel like a number at a festival; I felt like a person. The KAABOO staff greeted everyone with a smile throughout the grounds, each of them acting as gracious hosts to their own home. And that was just the beginning.
For starters, the weather in Del Mar, California, begs for an outdoor festival. The festival hovered in the 70s with a perfect sea breeze, and yet, if you did find yourself overheated, there were plenty of opportunities to escape into A/C.
For instance, one of the most impressive spaces at KAABOO is the indoor Artwork area. Galleries fill the space with gorgeous originals from prominent artists, as well as artists working on pieces right in front of you. As you stroll to view all the pieces, you can grab a glass of wine from a local winery or upscale eats from local restaurants, which are conveniently lined up against the wall. Feeling fancy? Dom Perignon was also available to sip on by the glass.
I didn't have very high expectations for the comedy club; in my head, I pictured a small indoor area with folding chairs to watch the acts. I couldn't have been more wrong. I entered on Saturday to catch America's Got Talent runner-up Taylor Williamson, and my eyes almost fell out of my head. The organizers had really outdone themselves with this space- complete with cozy tables toward the stage and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. With "Humor Me" spelled out in light-up letters on the stage backdrop, it felt like a comedian's reception hall. The tables at the front even had servers for drink orders.
And speaking of luxury, Indulgences was every woman's dream. Indulgences was the building that housed spa services like massages, facials, hair and makeup, manicures and more. You could make appointments and come back at a time that fit your music schedule to get pampered. You know, in the middle of a festival. Totally typical, right?
One of the biggest wins: no porta-potties. Yes, you read that right. All flushable toliets. WIN.
Combine all of those things with Posh Nosh, where you could get an array of delicious upscale food, a music line-up that would satisfy anyone from 16-65 years old, the incredible sponsors who were giving away everything from t-shirts to hangover cures, and an on-site nightclub that ended the evening with dancing and DJ's like Snoop Dogg and Steve Aoki, this is the one festival you can't miss.
As a new festival, there were bound to a few issues that come up as they manage growth. The walkway to the Grandview stage was tough earlier in the day, but KAABOO quickly rose to the occasion and created a separate walk-way, eliminating all traffic issues. Saturday night, there were some issues with Encore being at capacity, but KAABOO kept festival-goers in the loop via social media. Even when things go wrong, as they absolutely will with an event this size, KAABOO rushed to fix things so the mix-perience didn't suffer.
KAABOO is the high-end festival experience we've all been waiting for. No mud, no dust, no gross porta-potties. And you don't even have to spend money on a VIP pass to experience luxury (although the VIP pass is pretty sweet, as you would assume). KAABOO, you win.