EDITORIAL – KAABOO festival: A world-class musical event coming to Cayman

Sit up and take notice, Cayman:

The just-announced KAABOO festival will not only be the largest event of its nature in the history of the Cayman Islands, but could very well transform the world’s perception of Cayman as an entertainment and tourism venue.

Anyone who glances at today’s front page story, thinks “music festival” and envisions heatstroke, mud, mountains of trash and portable toilets … clearly is not familiar with KAABOO.

The creation of Virgin Produced (the entertainment arm of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin brand), KAABOO is so far removed from the traditional music festival experience that organizers eschew the term entirely, preferring to call it a “three-day sound voyage that combines rock ‘n’ roll music and tastemaking socials into a modern wonderland.”

Like all things done by Virgin, KAABOO is a first-class, big-time event. For example, last year’s iteration of the festival, held in Del Mar, California, (in the San Diego area) featured musical acts such as Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink, Muse, Weezer, Jane’s Addiction, Ice Cube, Alanis Morissette, Jackson Browne, Kesha and Live … among dozens of other performers (including The Last Internationale, who recently played in Cayman). Comedians included Patton Oswalt, David Spade, Norm MacDonald and Arsenio Hall.

The musical acts for KAABOO Cayman (scheduled for Feb. 15-16, 2019) will be announced later this spring, but, given the contacts, connections and past performance of anything labeled “Virgin,” we expect a world-class entertainment lineup.

KAABOO’s chief brand officer Jason Felts told the Compass it is his goal to make Cayman the live music capital of the Caribbean. We do not doubt the potential for such success.

Both Mr. Felts and Virgin’s celebrity-billionaire owner Mr. Branson know business and – as frequent visitors to our islands – they know Cayman. The venue, already under construction on Dart-owned land north of the Kimpton Seafire Resort, will include two music stages and an enclosed comedy club.

Organizers expect attendance to be evenly split between Cayman residents and visitors, and are marketing the event in the U.S. and U.K.

KAABOO is specifically marketed to “grown-ups” who eschew the dirt and chaos that typifies other music-centered events, and who have the means to demand quality experiences. KABOO organizers “curate” an outstanding experience – incorporating not only music, but cuisine, art, libations and “premium amenities” aimed at this discerning clientele.

The Cayman event will include as many as two dozen musical acts, plus comedians, gourmet food, arts and amenities to appeal to what organizers call the “five senses” of KAABOO: music, art, comedy, food and indulgences.

Music festivals have come a long way since Woodstock, and KAABOO is committed to taking the genre to yet another level. The flagship event has quickly developed a reputation as a high-quality, inclusive experience. In fact, the KAABOO has become so popular and well-trusted that early passes are sold out for this year’s California event – to be held in September – even before the headline acts have been announced.

Mr. Felts assures us that plans are for the event to reflect our local character and incorporate local artists, craftsmen, culinary experts and style.

By necessity, our festival will be smaller than the California event – but do not mistake a reduction in size for a reduction in quality.

Long before the performers take the stage, let us be among the first to welcome KAABOO to the Cayman Islands with anticipatory applause.

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