An Amazing Weekend At The Inaugural KAABOO Del Mar | Music, Comedy & Cultural Festival Already Sets 2016 Weekend Event After Successful Debut

September 24, 2015
Photos Courtesy of WireImage

We were blown away by how indescribably awesome the inaugural KAABOO Del Mar experience was this past weekend. We endured the aggressive heat and enjoyed four fantastic evenings at the Del Mar Racetrack for the event's debut, and eagerly anticipate its second incarnation next year during the September 16-18, 2016 weekend. The musical and comedy performances were riveting, the art installations awe-inspiring, the culinary aspects tantalizing, and the overall event layout and organization was nearly flawless and extremely impressive. Read on for highlights from our experience and enjoy glimpses into KAABOO 2015...and start planning for next year's return of San Diego's own music, comedy and cultural festival.

KAABOO weekend started with a Thursday night VIP welcoming party, featuring tray passed appetizers and special performances by Live frontman Ed Kowalczyk, Sanho "The Indian," and the lovely Sheryl Crow. Kowalczyk's performance was especially enjoyable, as he played the entire Throwing Copper album in order, acoustically, which made me reminiscent of seeing him play the first concert I ever attended over 20 years ago.
Ed Kowalczyk and Sheryl Crow
We studied the Kaaboo schedule and planned the acts we wished to see, our first being the shock comedy of Anthony Jeselnik. Humor Me, the indoor, makeshift comedy club, pleasantly surprised us with how well it was decorated to make it look and feel like a real life laugh house. Albeit it warm in the summer heat, people packed it in (Humor Me seats 1100!) for some hearty chuckles, and a respite from the blaring sun. After laughing our asses off at Jeselnik, we perused the Palate tent where many local eateries and chefs offered portions of their most popular dishes for purchase. We eventually made our way to the main stage, dubbed 'Sunset Cliffs', which featured boardwalk pathways, sandy areas, hammocks and even a ticketed pool area with cabanas and a beach volleyball court. Foster the People played a great show as the sun set over the racetrack. We closed out the evening vibing with Snoop Dogg, who put on an exceptional performance, then made our way to hear the final songs from No Doubt, where front-woman Gwen Stefani had the crowd awestruck.
Anthony Jeselnik, Mark Foster of Foster the People, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, and Snoop Dogg
Day 2 was packed with acts we were excited to see, but the problem was that many of them were scheduled to take place at the same times or overlapped, resulting in a bit of a runaround. We arrived in time to see most of The Roots before making our way to the trackside stage for AWOLNATION's set. Unfortunately, we missed the performance of their mega-hit song, Sail, in order to return to Humor Me to see Jeff Garlin, known from his roles in Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Goldberg's. Unfortunately, Garlin's funny did not translate very well to stand up, so we moved on to catch the closing moments of Counting Crows on the big stage. We caught a lively set by Young The Giant then finished the night with Zac Brown Band. We usually are not country music fans, but Zac Brown seems to crossover well into the mainstream and his performances of Metallica's Enter Sandman and his rendition of The Devil Went Down To Georgia were the cherries on top of an incredible day.
Questlove of The Roots, Counting Crows, Jeff Garlin, and Zac Brown Band
The last day was the one I most looked forward to, as Ben Harper is probably my favorite live performer and we make it a point to go to his shows anytime he comes to town. We arrived just in time to see Tim Meadows at Humor Me. Known for his stint on Saturday Night Live and his character The Lady's Man, Meadows filled the venue and had the crowd rolling with laughter during his set. We next made our way to see Michael Franti & Spearhead, who always put on an uplifting and engaging performance, as Franti is known to do most of his show from among the crowd. From there, we made our way to the main stage early to secure a prime spot to watch Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals. We loved how he allowed each member of the band to shine during designated solo performances. The Killers came on to close out the festival and lead man Brandon Flowers had the crowd in the palm of his hand with his flawless vocals and exuberant stage presence, and a great final act of the weekend. As we were leaving the venue, fate brought Ben Harper crossing a pathway in front of our car. After sharing with him that we have seen him countless times, he responded with a handshake and grabbed my phone to snap a selfie. What a glorious end to the perfect festival weekend!
Tim Meadows, Michael Franti, and Ben Harper
KAABOO producers put on a near perfect festival - one which San Diego can be proud of for years to come. Lines were short, free hydration stations were provided, luxury portable restroom trailers were stationed at every turn, parking was easy and the entire venue was beautifully seems like they thought of everything! They even utilized super convenient virtual lost and found software! We cannot wait until the event returns in 2016, besting itself. For more information on KAABOO Del Mar, visit and check out the photos below for more scenes from this year's event.
Parking lot selfie courtesy of Ben Harper!!
Troy Johnson of San Diego Magazine and Chef Javier Plascencia
Chefs Jason McLeod and Chad White
Chefs Brian Malarkey and Javier Plascencia
Minnie Driver
Lewis Black

Gwen Stefani
Nahko & Medicine For The People