In recent years, music critics have argued the existence of “festival fatigue” and have attributed this phenomenon to the saturated presence of music festivals in the country. Despite this economic impediment, organizers of Del Mar, California-based music festival KAABOO have made it a point to deviate from the cookie-cutter curation of the crowded festival landscape.
“We’re very particular about not booking the flavor du jour acts that are doing every festival across the country,” said festival promoter Roger LeBlanc of Madison Entertainment in a May 2018 interview with Pollstar.
And given the lineup announcement for KAABOO’s satellite festival scheduled to take place May 10-12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, that is a drastic understatement.
In all fairness, however, the affair is being presented in partnership with Jerry Jones, and it is not difficult to see where that money went, or why early bird general admission passes went for $259.
Headliners include The Killers, Kid Rock, Sting, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Little Big Town, with a special guest headliner yet to be announced. Undercard additions include The Avett Brothers, The Black Eyed Peas, Garbage, The B-52s, Blue October, Ludacris, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Violent Femmes, Pitbull, Counting Crows and many others.
“Bask performances” include electronic artists, such as Chromeo (who will perform a DJ set) and Cash Cash. The festival also offers comedy sets from the likes of Saturday Night Live alumnus Dennis Miller, star of Everybody Loves Raymond Brad Garrett, deadpan comedian Demetri Martin, comedy music duo Garfunkel and Oates, star of the short-lived revival of Rosanne Whitney Cummings and more.
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We suppose it’s admirable that a festival promoter is going against the grain in trying to cater to those who are dissatisfied with the carbon-copy nature of festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, but at least those festivals curate a tasteful mixture of up-and-comers, heritage acts and everything in between.
This lineup would have been the flavor du jour had it taken place a decade ago, but even then, people would have snarked at the additions of acts such as Collective Soul and Los Lonely Boys. The fact that almost none of these acts are moving the needle serves as fodder for even more criticism from those on social media.
One commenter on the festival’s official Facebook announcement wrote, “It’s like a festival put on in Texas by Californians trying to figure out what Texans like by asking Californians who are pretending to be Texans.”
Another one stated, “I want a refund, even though I didn’t buy a ticket.”
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Some people on social media are even comparing this event with the disastrous Fyre Festival that became the subject of so much schadenfreude that it inspired two competing documentaries on Netflix and Hulu, but in defense of KAABOO Texas, those comparisons are unfounded.
Ever since 2015, its flagship festival in Del Mar has showcased big names such as No Doubt, Imagine Dragons, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith, Hall & Oates, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Muse, Lenny Kravitz, Post Malone, Incubus, Earth, Wind & Fire, Jane’s Addiction and P!nk. If they were really irreputable, they wouldn’t be able to book such big names for four consecutive years. And they certainly wouldn’t be able to land a partnership with Jerry Jones.
But with an indisputable track record and impressive CV, it only makes the confusing car crash of acts we see here even more perplexing.