KAABOO organizers are expecting a capacity crowd at the two-day festival that starts Friday on the grounds constructed just north of the Kimpton SeaFire resort.
“We have 260 passes left,” Jason Felts, chief brand officer for KAABOO and the man who first envisioned what is the largest concert event ever staged in the Cayman Islands.
That means nearly all the 10,000 passes made available for the event have been snapped up and Mr. Felts said on Tuesday he expected the remaining ones to sell out. And, with the on-site preparations nearly complete, he seemed confident things would go off as planned.
“It feels good,” he said. “I’m very excited to have the event less than a week away. It’s going to be an incredible weekend. “We’re going to feel we built an incredible experience that is here to stay.”
The two-day event features 20 musical acts on stage, including Duran Duran, the Chainsmokers, Blondie, Jason Derulo and Counting Crows, an indoor comedy club with such performers as Norm Macdonald and Wanda Sykes, cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs and an art exhibit.
Mr. Felts, who spent part of his younger years in Cayman, has helped to produce KAABOO Del Mar for four years near San Diego and is also bringing KAABOO to Dallas in May. He started thinking about the Cayman event three years ago. Convincing people it could be done here was the hard part.
“The largest challenge to Cayman is essentially ensuring our guests and the country feel we’re going to deliver on our promise,” he said.
The public got a reminder of how such big dreams can turn to nightmares when two documentaries on last year’s failed Fyre Festival were released in recent weeks. That high-profile concert event was set to happen in the Bahamas. Its implosion – acts pulled out and people were left without food, water and the shelter they were promised – spurred speculation as to whether the same thing might happen with KAABOO.
Mr. Felts said he had no qualms about the comparison because of KAABOO’s established track record and the fact that Cayman has the existing infrastructure to pull off such an event.
“It didn’t cause any trepidation,” he said.
Festival goers will have easy access to food and water, he said. They will also be able to escape the sun when they need to. A rest area and the cooking venue, as well as beachside areas are covered by awnings, he said. Trees and overhangs will also offer some shade.
“With the exception of standing right dead center in front of the stage,” he said, “you can get to shade quickly.”
The Fyre Festival also had the difference of being largely targeted at an audience from outside the country. Mr. Felts estimates that 60 percent of the KAABOO crowd will be from Cayman. Of the approximately 40 percent coming from off island, he said about half had purchased some level of VIP pass.
Plans call for making the KAABOO festival an annual event, at least for another two years. Mr. Felts said he believes the anticipated success of the first year will make selling and possibly expanding the event easier in the future. He also thinks it will be good for the Cayman Islands.
“The event will have a short-term and long-term effect on the country,” he said. “A lot of people in the States don’t know where Cayman is. It’s definitely going to be a boost to the country’s profile. I think the profile for Cayman is going to expand exponentially.”
He said not much is left to do other than to enjoy the show, which is not always easy for the person in charge.
“I have promised my family I’m going to take a beat, take a pause and take in all the work everyone has done,” he said. “I’m going to work really hard to enjoy it.”