In Spite Of Some Impressive Performances, The Big Question About Opening Day At KAABOO Texas Is Where All The Crowds Were.
The exhausting saga that is KAABOO Texas won’t conclude until Sunday night, but the book on the California-based festival’s Dallas Cowboys-backed attempt at bringing a three-day luxury music festival to Arlington’s AT&T Stadium is already being written.
Heading into KAABOO’s formal entry into the market on Friday, there were already two vocal camps among those paying attention to its debut — one openly wishing for the first-year festival’s demise and another rooting for its success. Now, with one of the fest’s three days down, each contingent has evidence to back their cases.
On the positive end of the spectrum, many of KAABOO Texas’ opening night performances were top-notch. Confused as we still are by the lineup, its wide-ranging variety translated a lot better into a festival setting in reality than on paper.
On the other hand: Yeesh, this thing is tanking hard. It’s unlikely that more than 10,000 people — which amount to just a fraction of the grounds’ capacity — attended Day One’s offering.
Even with Day Two only now getting underway, there is already lots to talk about. To that end, let’s take a very early look into KAABOO Texas’ opening night by trying to answer some FAQs about its introduction.
So, is this another Fyre Festival?
Not really. For one, this festival is actually happening. And, to their credit, organizers are making good on their promises of luxury accommodations.
Is it running smoothly?
Also no! The rains have been of no help in this regard, to be fair. And, much as he might try to argue otherwise, Jerry Jones isn’t god. Because of the weather, Chromeo’s DJ set got 86’d, and attendees were advised to stay inside AT&T Stadium for another half-hour before leaving the grounds after the Killers’ night-closing set ended. Also beyond the festival’s control, if a predictable turn of events: Ms. Lauryn Hill’s set came half an hour late, which upset the fest’s otherwise punctual adherence to set times. This caused Lionel Richie to also be 30 minutes late, which was obviously not his fault, either. (On the plus side, Hill played 12 out of 14 cuts from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, so that was dope.)
Did anything disastrous happen that they could have easily prevented?
Kinda! Remember those “bask” performances that the festival advertised? The ones with EDM artists playing in a swanky pool setting? Well, turns out, attendees couldn’t just walk over and see those, as organizers were up-charging for admission to that stage — yes, even to those who’d already bought passes to the fest. While KAABOO Texas has repeatedly insisted on Twitter that this was how this stage was advertised as being handled from the very beginning, it still came as news to just about everyone that wanted to see Cash Cash. Even with media credentials, we couldn’t get past the gate. But only about two dozen people tops were on the other side of that wall to see Cash Cash who, by the way, has been commissioned to do official remixes for Katy Perry and Bruno Mars, among others. Nonetheless, and even with EDM fans raising Cain in person and on social media, the “bask” stage looked like an empty dog park. We can’t imagine that’s what anyone wanted.
How were the performances?
For the most part, great! Hill, Richie and The Killers alone put on performances that justified the $300 that most people spent to get into the festival, and they each played lengthy sets. The early afternoon was a bit awkward, though, especially considering the low attendance. While the Old 97’s sounded great as usual, they only played to maybe 200 people. Meanwhile, crowds for Blue October and Bush looked like abandoned ant piles from afar, and even Richie’s crowd looked sparse until 15 minutes into his set. The only performers that saw respectable attendance from the very beginning of their sets were Ludacris and The Killers.
What were the event’s redeeming qualities?
Besides the performances themselves, the food was pretty solid. Attendees can get food from Torchy’s Tacos and Morton’s The Steakhouse, which puts KAABOO Texas’s culinary accommodations light-years ahead of the overpriced nachos and corndogs that have become standard for most festivals. Organizers also truly delivered on the local art front with a number of superb art galleries scattered throughout Jerry World with artists present to converse with spectators.
Overall, what’s the early verdict on KAABOO Texas?
We’ll say this: KAABOO Texas has certainly exceeded expectations in the realms of hospitality and music. But with the weather being an unfortunate encumbrance and the organizers doubling down on up-charging for the “bask” passes, the fest started off on some bad footing. Worst of all, though, was the greater attendance. With only around 10,000 attending the massive event, the festival failed most every eye test, both in person and on social media.
We’ll of course continue to evaluate the festival throughout the weekend, but if KAABOO Texas wants to be able to take another swing at things next year, it’s going to need a number of major breaks today and tomorrow.