Kaaboo Festival’s Creator Talks

Kaaboo is only about five weeks away, and its creator Bryan Gordon admits he will soon be rounding the clubhouse turn.

I asked him recently how the festival, scheduled for September 18-20, came to be located in north county San Diego. He had been looking for a music festival venue in a great metropolitan area, and he was introduced to the folks at Del Mar Fairgrounds via a business acquaintance, and upon first sight it was a lock. Discussions started 18 months ago, with a parallel vision on both sides of the negotiating table. “Our landlords have been great to work with,” Gordon confirms. “It is great to be in SoCal, just look at factors like the environment, business travel, tourist destination, and the large amount of hotel stock nearby. Plus, there is no event like this in the area.”

KAABOOlogoGordon considers himself a serial entrepreneur of different endeavors, mostly in hospitality. He has built the Kaaboo team with people with many decades of experience in music and live events, and he highlighted the team’s passion, knowledge, contacts and experience.

“Mistakes may be made, but they won’t be rookie mistakes,” he assures listeners.

Kaaboo’s acts have been contracted via experienced talent booking veterans, who were early members of the team. It was a collaborative effort in building the line-up. Gordon had strong opinions about the fabric of the line-up, and he wanted a broad demo to be addressed. As a result, the lineup ranges from Zac Brown, No Doubt and Killers as the headliners and a wide swath of supporting artists ranging from Snoop Dogg, Slightly Stoopid and Counting Crows to Brandi Carlile, Train and Foster the People. As the font size decreases, an even broader range of artists will be on offer.

Bonnie Raitt was announced late (due to proximity restrictions for another date), but she was locked in early.

Gordon is pleased to have a multi-year, long-term relationship with his landlords, as he sees Del Mar Fairgrounds as a home that will grow with the festival. “The venue’s 350 acres provides flexibility, it hosts 350 events per year, and the San Diego County Fair there is one of the largest in the country,” asserts Gordon.

The Solana Beach and Del Mar city fathers have been open in discussing issues, with concerns being assuaged. “We are in a good spot with both communities,” confirms Gordon. “We are hiring locally for temporary workers, mostly from the greater San Diego community, and most vendors are from the nearby area.”

Gordon and his team recognize “the need to earn our stripes to reach the Coachella status of selling out before the line-up is announced, but we are encouraged and on track in ticket sales for this inaugural event. Our ticket buyers range from 25 to 60 years old, the average age is late 30s. Most festivals target the 17-29 year demographic.”

As we wrap up our conversation, I inevitably ask about the origin of the festival’s name. Around the firepit at a hotel in Del Mar, over the course of a long evening, by early morning and a few shots of tequila, Kaaboo won the day in the nomenclature conundrum.

Gordon concludes, “Each visitor will find their own pathway for the weekend. We offer an amazing but well-curated range of art, dance, craft food and beverage.”



Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.