KAABOO Keeps Growing Up With Diverse Lineups and Creative Options

The music scene is assorted and plentiful in 2018. With festivals and national tours rolling through OC on a regular basis there’s no debate we offer music lovers a taste of everything.

While SoCal is regarded for its eclectic tastes in music and the arts, the three-day experience known as KAABOO Del Mar is unique to its own. Not billed as a festival by its organizers, the weekend soirée combines comfort, hospitality, and good times with a memorable lineup.

The Weekly spoke with Jason Felts, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer for KAABOO as his team prepares for another action-packed weekend at the Del Mar racetrack.

Find out how the lineups are assembled, why this is not your typical music fest and what to expect at the fourth rendition next weekend.

OC Weekly (Michael Silver): We have to start with your headliners. It includes the Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Katy Perry and Robert Plant. How did you come up with this group in particular?

Jason Felts: Every year we continue making this lineup be a hybrid of bucket list artists and today’s hit makers. We’re prideful that we don’t replicate any lineups that are out there. We work really hard to be diverse. Foo Fighters and Robert Planet are certainly bucket list artists and that fusion of Katy Perry and Imagine Dragons who are some of today’s hit makers. If you go down the list there’s something for everyone.

Do you find it more challenging to one-up yourself each year curating the bill or is a blank canvas starting from scratch?

100 percent blank canvas, and I’m glad you said that. It’s not a challenge really at all. We’re getting calls from artists now wanting to play KAABOO. We used to dial them and now they’re dialing us which is great. The challenge is less about programming it, more so balancing the incoming calls and our brand focus, which is a diverse lineup.

In the hip-hop realm we see Post Malone, N.E.R.D., Wiz Khalifa, and Gucci Mane on the bill. All of them have released big records this year. Is that a coincidence or great timing in your mind?

We’re certainly aware of the industry and what artists are doing. We get excited about new music and it’s definitely something we don’t discount by any means. We live to provide a really cool experience with surprises. We definitely have our ear to the ground. This is supposed to be a beneficial stop on their career trend as well.

On the comedy side you have a list of heavy hitters from Craig Robinson, Whitney Cummings, Judd Apatow and Craig Ferguson. When did stand up become a focal point when putting this experience together?

It actually has been since day one. We’ve always wanted to have a balance between music and comedy to try and create a multi-sensory experience versus most festivals which are just music, right? It’s always been a focus but what’s happened in recent years is that people are really responding to comedy and divert yourself away from the music stages, go sit down and have a drink, being in the air-conditioning and so on.

Can you talk to me about the VIP and upgraded amenities that you offer? What makes these worthwhile and stand out compared to other fests may provide?

One thing that I’m trying to dispel is that this is some elitist festival. Yes the festival is elevated but it not elitist. Our general admission pass (Hang Loose, $311) by far is the best value out there in terms of 3-day entertainment. It’s the equivalent to VIP let’s say at Coachella. Of course you can go up to Hang Five, Hang Ten and Ultimate Hang, paying $15K and that’s important to some folks.

Beyond the music, there’s an emphasis on art installations and various cuisine options. How long of a process is it to research and book these vendors?

We are the largest contemporary art exhibition in Southern California. Our artwork and palette program goes through the same meticulous process as the music and comedy side. We want diversity, and to ensure from a culinary perspective that we’re infusing world-renowned chefs and local favorites. We’re careful and don’t go through a phonebook. Our team works all year long and actually are booking talent for next year, during the week of KAABOO.

Is there anything unique or special this year that fans should look out for as they travel to the Del Mar racetrack in September?  

Two things, if you’re coming from the OC and want some rest and recharge we’re offering sleep pods this year. It allows you 15-minute relaxation periods, which is cool and unique. Also all the five senses of KAABOO are coming back this year: music, art, comedy, culinary, and indulgences. That includes massages, the sleep pods, and our BASK ‘Vegas style’ pool club. It’s going to be bigger and better this year!

Weather you’re into classic rock, hip-hop, EDM, 80’s and 90’s nostalgia, or comedy relief, KAABOO offers something for everyone. The three-day extravaganza takes place Sept. 14-16 at the Del Mar racetrack and passes are available on the event’s website at kaaboodelmar.com

Michael Silver is a journalist and photographer based in Southern California. He covers music, sports, technology, and streetwear. Tips & pitches: michaelsilvermedia@gmail.com

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