High Altitude Society column: Second-annual Kaaboo Del Mar Festival rocks on
DEL MAR, California — During this offseason, locals have ventured near and far to have eclectic adventures involving everything from racing in the Xterra World Championships in Maui (congratulations to Josiah Middaugh on a respectable fifth-place finish on the muddy course) to European excursions to cycling trips to the beaches of Mexico and San Diego County.
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I ended up in the charming beach town of Del Mar, California, near San Diego, to enjoy walks on the beach interspersed with some incredible music, fine foods, pampering and entertainment. As some of you are aware, there were many talks and plans for a potential Kaaboo festival experience here in the Vail Valley. It was always slated as a much scaled-down version of the West Coast event. I headed out to Del Mar to see what all of the hype was about.
The saying, “If you build it, they will come” certainly held true at Kaaboo 2016 in Del Mar Sept. 16-18. The Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds near San Diego hosted concertgoers, comedy lovers, visual and performance artists, foodies and fans of rock star chefs and those who adore a pamper fest.
Kaaboo is a three-day “mix-perience” that attracted a massive lineup, including Aerosmith, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Buffet, The Chainsmokers, Lenny Kravitz, Third Eye Blind, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Lenny Kravitz and about 100 more acts. Through the course of three days, you could listen to and learn from celebrity chefs presenting cooking lessons, have a full manicure and pedicure, followed by a massage and hair blowout, and delight in delicious, healthy fare at the Palate dining experience.
VIP tickets are the way to go, offering a very civilized experience at this fairgrounds venue located on Jimmy Durante Boulevard, just steps to the ocean and surrounded by palm trees. The amenities, concierge services, spa time and high-end music made for a novel festival experience.
Getting up close
It was a special treat to hear bands up close and personal. A highlight was hearing classic crooner Chris Isaak from the front row. Dressed in a classy, bedazzled black and white suit, Isaak had a message to the crowd. “Thanks for being here. If you don’t support live music … and take the time to come out and see live music, without you, I would just be wandering around a racetrack in this outfit,” Isaak said, waving his hand across his flashy duds. Later, during the performance, Isaak walked through the crowd and serenaded his audience.
Other standout performances included those by the dreamy younger version of Chris Isaak, Lawrence Taylor; Michael Jackson’s planned “This is It” tour guitarist Orianthi; edgy, U.K. retro-glam rockers The Struts and Third Eye Blind, featuring my new favorite drummer. And, of course, there were the obligatory Jimmy Buffet fans dressed to the nines in Hawaiian shirts and shorts, carrying flamingos and quaffing beach drinks festooned with umbrellas.
Speaking of umbrellas, there was a cabana-encircled pool dubbed “Bask,” with trucked-in sand for the Las Vegas-type crowd, that I did not venture anywhere near. Also, there were comedy acts including Sarah Silverman and Dana Carvey at the Humor Me venue late into the evening. There was even some celebrity poker players being interviewed in the gambling venue.
All in all, a well-rounded, eclectic soiree of epic proportions. Congratulations to Kaaboo CEO and founder Bryan E. Gordon, who hails from a Denver-based business and made his dream a reality in Kaaboo Del Mar. Let’s see if he accomplishes his dream of bringing his colossal live music event to Colorado.
Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local who covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, galas and soirees of all kinds. On occasion, she leaves the Vail Valley and writes about her travels. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.