This year I had the opportunity to attend the Kaaboo Del Mar Music Festival in Del Mar, California. The festival was held from Sept. 13-15. I attended the festival with my aunt and uncle who live out in San Diego, California.
I flew out of Cleveland, Ohio at 7:30 PM on Sept. 12 and after a quick layover in Los Angeles, I landed in San Diego shortly before midnight west coast time, making it almost three a.m. So needless to say, I was tired.
Friday was the first day of the festival. We arrived to the Del Mar Fairgrounds a little after 1 p.m. and got the tram to the gate. The doors were supposed to open at 2 p.m. However, the doors did not officially end up opening till 2:23 p.m. After getting inside the venue we headed over to the USAA Grandview Stage to catch some of Plain White T’s set. We did not get to catch their whole set, but we got to catch the end of it. Which meant we got to hear their iconic song, “Hey there Delilah”. Hearing that song live was an awesome experience. They let the crowd sing a lot of the song and the band smiled while everyone sang along. That song launched the band into the spotlight, and it was amazing to see and hear that song live. Especially since I remember signing that song in the car when I was a little kid. It was definitely one of my favorite moments of the weekend.
Next we headed to the other side of the festival by the Sunset Cliff stage. We arrived to that area towards the beginning of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. I was familiar with his work but did not know the majority of his music. We watched his set from the Bask area while we played jumbo Jenga. After watching him, I will say I am a new fan. He sounded great and put on a great show. He was dancing, singing, playing the piano, surfing the crowd on a blow-up unicorn. He sounded phenomenal and brought each song to life. He is a great performer and I cannot wait to check out more of his work and hopefully see him live again.
The next band we checked out that day was REO Speedwagon. My aunt was super stoked to see them live since she listened to them when she was in school. I was not too familiar with them, but I enjoyed watching my aunt enjoy their set and sing along to all their music.
After checking out some local art and grabbing some food we headed back over to Sunset Cliffs to check out Maren Morris. I had seen her live one other time when she opened up for Niall Horan last year. She is a great performer. She promotes self-love and girl power and I love it. She sounded great love and told some stories about how she got where she is today which was cool. She of course sang “The Middle” and everyone sang along. It was a great set.
We watched the beginning of Wu-Tang Clan’s set before we headed home to rest for day two.
Day two we arrived a little before 1 p.m. After getting into the venue we headed over to the USAA Grandview Stage to catch some of Mixmaster Mike’s set. My uncle was excited to catch his set. I was not familiar with him at all, but I enjoyed to part of his set that I was able to see.
About halfway through his set my aunt and I headed over to Sunset Cliffs so I could Badflower’s set. This was the band I was most excited to see out of the whole weekend. They are a newer band in the music scene and their debut album “OK, I’M SICK” was released in February and I love that album. I was almost against the barricade for their set which I was stoked about.
Once their set started, I immediately freaked out and started singing along. The band asked who had heard of them before and was shocked by how many in the crowd knew who they were. They even booked a show in San Diego for their fall headline tour while they were on stage. They sand my favorite song by them titled, “Promise Me”. It is a sad song, but I know all the words and cannot help but sing along. The guitars, drums, vocals, bass, everything was great, and they have a great stage presence. I hope I get to see them live again soon because they were my favorite set of the weekend by far.
We relaxed in the shade for a little bit before we headed over to the Trestles stage to watch Blind Melon’s set. This was another band I was not familiar with, but it was a band my aunt loved in college, so she was excited for their set. I enjoyed their set, I thought they had a great stage presence and the vocalist was great. I will most likely check out some of their music in the future. They are definitely a talented band.
After that we sat in the shade and watched some Bryan Adam’s set at the Sunset Cliffs stage. He sounded great and I could tell the crowd was loving his set as well. I knew some of his music and there was a song or two I could sing along with.
We left his set a bit early and my aunt and uncle went to meet up with some of their friends to watch Sublime with Rome at the Grandview stage while I waited for One Republic’s set.
I think a close second for my favorite performance of the weekend would have to be One Republic. I listened to them quite a bit in middle school but hadn’t in the last few years, but their set reignited my love for them. Ryan Tedder is a great songwriter and lead singer. His vocals and performance skills were killer. The instrumentals were also amazing live, everything from the drums, guitar, cello, all of it. They performed for an hour and did all of their hits: “Stop and Stare”, “Secrets”, “Good Life”, “Love Runs Out”, “Counting Stars”, “I lived” among more. They did their new songs, “Somebody to Love” and “Wanted”. They also performed songs that Ryan Tedder wrote like, “Halo” and “Sucker”. They were awesome and I do plan on trying to see them live again.
That was the last set of day two we caught before we headed home and prepared for day three.
My aunt and I were the only ones who went on the last day. We explored Ocean Beach, tried to find the secret swings and ate some lunch before heading to the festival.
Unfortunately, I do not have to report about day three. We got into the festival around and headed to the Sunset Cliffs stage to watch Zavier Rudd’s set. My aunt loves him and was enjoying his set. I left a little early to head to the Grandview stage for Alec Benjamin’s set, who was a new artist I am loving.
I stopped at the restroom on the way there and was not feeling well. I called my aunt to come to the restroom. We were sitting outside the restroom and I will spare you the details, but I got sick and we decided to leave for the day.
So, unfortunately the only Alec Benjamin I got to see that day was passing by on our way out. We went home and relaxed the rest of the day. We streamed Mumford and Sons set on their t.v. and enjoyed it from the couch.
The next day I flew back to Cleveland and arrived back to campus at 10:45 p.m.
Overall, I enjoyed the festival and was grateful for the opportunity to attend my first multiple day festival in California with my aunt and uncle. I got to enjoy some awesome music and spend time with family I do not get to see very often.
There are some elements of the festival that could be improved. The doors opened late every day, there wasn’t much free shaded space or places to sit, the stages were organized in a way that didn’t completely make sense. But I am overall, just grateful for the opportunity and cannot wait to attend more festivals in the future.