Weezer and Red Hot Chili Peppers Open California's KAABOO Festival
Red Hot Chili Peppers perform in concert on July 20, 2017 in Rome, Italy
San Diego festival draws 45,000 on Day 1
If you’re looking for a good place to achieve your 10,000 steps a day, try KAABOO in Del Mar, Calif. The three-day full-sensory music festival, which kicked off Friday (Sept. 15), has four stages of varying sizes spread over 200 acres of the local fairgrounds, plus a comedy club, a late-night disco and a hall devoted to food and art.
By mid-afternoon of day one, there were 22,000 guests in attendance. By the time the Red Hot Chili Peppers took the Sunset Cliffs Stage at 8:25 p.m., the crowd had reached its 45,000 capacity. Over the three days, KAABOO organizers expect 100,000 unique visitors.
One of those visitors Friday was Hilary Lai, 42, from San Diego, making her first visit to KAABOO.
“I wanted to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” she tells Billboard. “I’ve never seen them live before.”
Earlier in the day, Lai caught Weezer, who preceded the Peppers on the Sunset Cliffs Stage, and tried to see Arsenio Hall at the Humor Me club, but the room was already filled. “I went to Lilith Fair 20 years ago, and I’ve been to a couple of country music festivals in the Chicago area,” said the full-time nurse. “KAABOO is very different than I expected it to be. It’s much more spread out than other events at the fairgrounds.”
Making his second visit to KAABOO in its three-year existence was Stephen Guerrero, a music producer and composer who has lived in San Diego for 10 years. Like Lai, his primary reason for attending was to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“Anthony Kiedis was in rare form tonight,” Guerrero told Billboard immediately after the band’s headlining set. “He was on point, as energetic as I’ve ever seen him. He looked the part of the lead singer we’ve always known. Sometimes Kiedis and the band don’t gel onstage. Sometimes they succumb to the pressure of a really large crowd. Tonight they did not do that. They brought their best game. I’ve never seen them this good. They were a more modern version of themselves, and it was certainly a coherent set.”
Guerrero also had praise for the first act on the Sunset Cliffs Stage: X Ambassadors. “They’re an aggressive, emerging band, and I liked seeing them warm up the stage for everyone else,” he said.
Like most KAABOO guests, Guerrero had conflicts about who to see when all four stages were filled with performances. While he was waiting to see the Chili Peppers, his younger brother Mitchell walked over to the Trestles Stage for a 90-minute set by Michael McDonald, who closed his set with a barrage of solo and The Doobie Brothers hits, including “Own My Own,” “What a Fool Believes,” “Minute by Minute,” “Takin’ It to the Streets” and a song he said was very relevant to today’s world, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.”
KAABOO continued Saturday (Sept. 16) with Jane’s Addiction, Garbage, Machine Gun Kelly, Muse, the Tubes, Eric Burdon & the Animals, the Wallflowers, Sam Sparro, headliner P!nk and many more.