Entering its second year of musical existence, KAABOO returns to the Del Mar Fairgrounds to provide the sunny city of San Diego with a musical bonanza. Last year, Bryan Gordon, one of KAABOO’s founding organizers, was quoted as saying that the upstart music festival was a “fictional world” that he hoped had a real “SoCal flavor”.  With a killer line-up that featured No Doubt, Snoop Dogg and The Killers, he certainly came through on the promise.

This year, KAABOO has an equally impressive line-up with Jimmy Buffett, Aerosmith and Jack Johnson (whose only performance of 2016 will be on the KAABOO fairgrounds) headlining. Not to mention Fall Out Boy, LennyKravitz, Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Avett Brothers, etc, billed as the “undercard”. Not too shabby at all.

But festival goers would be remiss to turn a blind eye on those slated to play earlier in the day. In fact, we’re going to try to convince you to get to the fairgrounds early by highlighting a few acts that we think you should make an effort to check out. It’ll be a chance to see them up close and personal, and will give you something to brag about in the future when they end up headlining somewhere else 😉

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THE KICKBACK: Friday, 12:00-12:30: Grandview Stage

The Kickback. Kaaboo Del Mar 2016. Photo Courtesy of Kaaboo. Used with permission.

Based out of Chicago, Illinois, this indie rock trio released their debut album, “Sorry All Over The Place” last year. Produced by Jim Eno (Spoon’s drummer). Their brand of rock and roll has been described by Rolling Stone magazine as having the “very best parts of the Viels and the Walkmen and The Killers, writing lean, nervy songs that snarl and snap”.

If that endorsement doesn’t do it for you, I’ve heard (from friends who actually seen this band live) that their live performance kicks some serious ass. With only half and hour to impress newbies and convert non-beleivers, I have a feeling that they’ll be putting their all into their set at KAABOO.

LAWRENCE TAYLOR: Friday, 1:00-1:45: Sunset Cliffs Stage

Lawrence Taylor. Kaaboo Del Mar 2016. Photo Courtesy of Kaaboo. Used with permission.

I know very little about Lawrence Taylor. In fact, I only discovered him as I was checking out this year’s line-up. There isn’t much of his music (at least that I could find) available online, but what I could listen to intrigued me.

This singer-songwriter seems to have been able to channel his emotions into his voice which is both raspy and delicate. The video below had me feeling some Jeff Buckley vibes when he went into his falsetto, and Bonnie Raitt swagger with the way he strummed his axe. With 45 minutes to play, I feel it in my gut that this could be quite the performance.

BAHARI: Saturday, 1:10-1:45: Grandview Stage

BAHARI. Kaaboo Del Mar 2016. Photo Courtesy of Kaaboo. Used with permission.I spent a lot of time listening to this SoCal trio’s music, trying to get my bearings on how I would go about describing them. At first I got a a very folky vibe from them listening to their acoustic version “Dancing On The Sun”, then I got a very Luscious Jackson kinda vibe listening to their studio recording of the same song! (I’ve embedded both videos below so you can see what I”m talking about) “Wild Ones” was very folky. “Alter of the Sun” was very alt rock.

Either way they go though, I thought to myself that this group has a lot of promise. The KAABOO website quotes one of their producers saying, “[o]ur first impressions of them were that they all sing from such a deep, unaffected place […] It’s very connected and from the heart.” I could definitely hear that … and you should too!

THE STRUTS: Saturday, 3:00-3:55: Sunset Cliffs Stage

The Struts. Kaaboo Del Mar 2016. Photo Courtesy of Kaaboo. Used with permission.I always thought that music was missing a little glam rock. Thankfully, The Struts are here to fill that void.

Originally, from the UK, but now based in Los Angeles, this quartet, simply put, rocks. Their sonics harken back to 70s, but its carefully crafted to give a modern edge. Their lead singer, Luke Spiller, is as charismatic as other legendary UK frontmen (i.e. Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, etc.), and I’m of the firm belief that as long as they keep putting out killer albums, and rock the stage like they have been, they’ll eventually reach that status. They’ve got 55 minutes during the middle of the day. I doubt that they’ll be playing day gigs much longer.

EMILY WARREN: Sunday, 12:00-12:30: Grandview Stage

In today’s music scene, Emily Warren. Kaaboo Del Mar 2016. Photo Courtesy of Kaaboo. Used with permission.the songwriter can sometimes outshine the recording artist. Take for example, most notably, Sia. Or how about the recent rise of Bebe Rexha? The point is, a recording artist is only as good as the songs they record. But if you ARE the songwriter, you’re probably well on your way to setting yourself up for a recording career as well. Emily Warren is a songwriter who has written for many different types of recording artists: Jessie J., Fifth Harmony, 5 Second of Summer, Shawn Mendes, etc. My interest in seeing her perform at KAABOO is whether she’ll bring out new music that she’s been working on, or perform the songs she has written the way she originally thought they should be performed. Either way, this should be a very intriguing performance to watch.

THE WALCOTTS: Sunday, 1:00-1:30: Tourmaline Stage

The Walcotts. Kaaboo Del Mar 2016. Photo Courtesy of Kaaboo. Used with permission.Americana has got another torch bearer, and that band’s name is The Walcotts. If you’re looking to kick your day off with some rabble-rousing good times, I highly recommend going to check out The Walcotts’ set.

They’ve only got 30 minutes, but I’m expecting them … all nine of them … to bring it immediately, and get whoever’s at the fairgrounds to jam with their revivalist sounds. We did a little interview with their founders, Tom Cusimano,  that you can check out by CLICKING HERE.

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