San Diego, Calif. – Think Disneyland for adults.
That is a little bit of what KAABOO Del Mar is like.
Much like the famous theme park, there’s simply too much to do and see in the three-day run of the music, comedy and art festival. But that is the intent.
The KAABOO festival coming to Cayman in February will not be on the scale of the San Diego-area event, which hosted about 45,000 people each day on the Del Mar Fairgrounds, a venue that stretches half-a-mile long, incorporating three main stages, a comedy theater and smaller performance areas.
But the idea is to bring the same flavor to the site being developed north of the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, where 11,000 people are expected to float between two music stages, an indoor comedy venue, an art exhibit, and food and beverage stations during the two days of KAABOO Cayman, Feb. 15 and 16. The festival will feature Duran Duran, the Chainsmokers, Blondie, Counting Crows and 16 other musical groups.
If organizers are able to reproduce the same environment in a scaled-down version, concert-goers can expect a comparatively relaxed experience with fairly easy access to amenities on hand. The Del Mar event had enough food and bar stands that lines were short – even during peak times – or nonexistent.
Tom Ngo and Cathy Do of San Diego attended KAABOO for the third time. They said they enjoy what to them is an unhurried pace at the festival.
“It’s different than most other festivals,” Mr. Ngo said, sitting at one of the many bars in the art pavilion where he and Ms. Do had just eaten lunch. “It’s not as crowded. We don’t have to wait a long time.”
Mr. Ngo, 34, said he looks forward to the food offerings at KAABOO as much, if not more than the music.
“We know the music is going to be pretty good, but I enjoy the food and drink,” he said.
He also thinks the event gets better each year.
“It’s definitely improved,” he said. “They’ve worked out the kinks.”
One of KAABOO’s signature features is the offering of premium ticket packages, from the kind of VIP access that many festivals also have, to ultimate experiences, such as the US$500,000 package available for KAABOO Cayman, which includes the use of a yacht, a villa and personalized transportation.
Mr. Ngo said he’s never been tempted to purchase more than the basic ticket.
“The upgraded package is pretty up there,” he said of the US$399 per day cost. “The price point is not worth it to us.” But Bentley Hess, 37, of San Diego, said she enjoys the extra perks her VIP pass provided her.
“I like to be able to sit down and not be in the crowd,” she said, sipping a drink while sitting on a cushioned stool in a grass-sodded lounge area near one of the main festival stages. She said she likes being able to “sit down, get out of the sun and have really good service.”
Donald Krawiec, 68, of Carlsbad, was enjoying his third KAABOO festival with his 13-year-old daughter Hanna. He has purchased the VIP package each year. In addition to preferred seating and access to such things as a pool and massages, he has developed a relationship with some of the marketing personnel. He said they communicate regularly about festival-related things throughout the year.
“I can afford this, and I feel I’m being taken care of,” Mr. Krawiec said. “We just had a meet-and-greet with (singer) Bebe Rexha and it was very enjoyable.”
Ms. Rexha was part of a bill that included such artists as Katy Perry, Imagine Dragons and the Foo Fighters. Many of those attending KAABOO said the festival has always had a more mature atmosphere than similar festivals, such as Coachella.
Alysia Borgman, 50, of Newport Beach, California, said she also thinks the slate of performers is better.
“There’s way more bands that you’ve heard of,” she said. “This has a wider variety of music.”
Beyond the bands, there are the other attractions.
The Artwork and Palate pavilion held a wide array of paintings, sculpture, jewelry and multimedia work by artists from around the world, most of whom were on hand to talk about their work with festival-goers. The perimeter of the building was dotted with foodie stations offering such things as fresh oysters, street tacos, poke bowls, top-drawer spirits and craft beer.
Cubist-inspired nudes, abstract portraits overlayed with graffiti-styled swirls, an elaborate installation of static and hanging paper sculpture, and the mounted heads of some imaginary Dr. Seuss-like birds were among the art pieces scattered throughout the exhibit.
Monty Montgomery is a San Diego-based graphic artist. He was perched on a small stepladder adding black squares to a complex abstract of geometric shapes. This was his third year with KAABOO. The first two years, he said, he collaborated with other artists on a mural they produced during the three-day run of the festival.
“This show is a lot of fun,” Mr. Montgomery said, “because it’s artists from all over the world. I enjoy the camaraderie. I enjoy working live because I feed off of that. I’m like a kid in a candy shop.”
The festival, he said, has a special vibe. “There’s nothing like KAABOO,” he said. “It’s such a variety. It’s people 18-21 to 70 or 80. You can just feel the energy.”
In the Humor Me comedy theater, comedians such as Iliza Shlesinger, Judd Apatow and Louis Anderson were on the bill. Nikki Glaser told the crowd she felt a bit disoriented.
“Doing comedy at 4:15 in the afternoon is not an ideal time,” said the comedian known for her frank talk about sexual topics.
Norm and Kris Johnson of Carlsbad, California, were standing in line, hoping for passes to see Craig Ferguson, before finding out the tickets had already been snapped up. The couple said they have been to many multi-day concert events including Coachella and the country-themed Stage Coach.
Mr. Johnson, 75, said he was only familiar with about half the music acts on the bill.
“I’m a country man at heart,” he said, “but if it’s good music, it’s OK with me.”
Mrs. Johnson, 64, was pleased with the selection of food and drinks at the festival, but admitted she would not have minded upgrading to a premium pass.
“I like the one for $500,000,” she said of the ultimate Cayman package, “where they pick you up and take you everywhere.”
“I tried to get someone to loan me the money for that,” her husband joked, “but no luck.”