KAABOO TEXAS: NEW FESTIVAL COMES INLAND FOR THE FIRST TIME - SHOULD IT STAY?
Well Dallasites, KAABOO Texas has come and gone. While I'm sure crews were still tearing down the festival site at AT&T Stadium a few days after, I've been pondering the best way to give my review of this festival of all festivals' inaugural opening this past May 10 - 12.
I've reviewed events in the past, including festivals and I always want to incorporate every aspect in the review because I know that's what I'd like to read if I were looking for information. But I'm a bit OCD when it comes to conveying information and I'm pretty sure that what people want are just the facts, am I right? "Just the fact ma'am, just the facts!" I've put together an info-graphic that highlights and scores some of the main elements of KAABOO Texas that you might find interesting and helpful. Along with the photo gallery that is in this post, I think you'll get a pretty decent overview of the event's pros and cons and how these play into deciding if you want to attend next year!
My overall opinion on KAABOO Texas is this: I think Texas, specifically DFW, definitely has the demographic KAABOO targets. There are those male/females in the 35 - 55 age group that are music fans and make over 50K a year. These targets love to travel, love art, love food and fine dining. Without knowing the breakdown of how many attendees upgraded their weekend experience vs how many 3 day passes were sold, I am only going to guess that the price to upgrade to the first or second tier of VIP wasn't a stretch for many of these festival goers. While the ultimate access VIP or the most expensive level seems like a bit much for this freelance writer, it might not be for some people. This cost was way over $20,000 per ticket, which included complimentary drinks, but it's a stretch to see the value unless you just like that kind of exclusivity. And if you had $120,000 to blow for you and your date or maybe you and a couple of your kiddos for a festival so you could meet some of the performers and not pay for drinks, it would seem to me that you could just pay them to come to your house, maybe not for all 100 artists that KAABOO Texas had on 6 stages over 3 days, but I'm sure a couple of those bands would come over for dinner for $120,000!
Nah, I'm kinda kidding of course but I'm thinking I'd choose to go to KAABOO Cayman than stay at home here in Dallas. However, KAABOO Texas is perfect for those that don't want to leave home and still want access to some of our generation's best and top performers. I did talk to a couple of travelers that came to see KID ROCK all the way from California! DFW is a great destination for a festival. However, I would be interested to know where they stayed because there is one hotel close to the grounds and I would be that it was sold out. There aren't many hotels in walking distance from AT&T Stadium that are festival worthy - meaning there's nothing else to do at the hotel, no shopping, and maybe people just need to put their heads on the pillow and go to sleep, right? I mean, we are kind of old - you know?
PRO: Stellar music and bands over three days with a twist of incorporating the other 4 senses into a three day experience!
CON: Not your typical festival, many people didn't know what was happening at AT&T Stadium or what KAABOO Texas was.
Which leads me to the Entertainment portion of the weekend. That's the most important part, right? I mean it's not everyday that the rockstars on this bill come to Dallas at the same time, right? I have never seen LIONEL RICHIE, LUDACRIS, BLACK EYED PEAS, VIOLENT FEMES, or LYNYRD SKYNYRD. I have seen BLUE OCTOBER, ALANIS, BUSH, LAUREN HILL, and THE POLICE. I would see BLUE OCTOBER and ALANIS anytime, anywhere - they're literally that high on my list of favorites. I loved seeing JUSTIN FURSTENFELD on the main stage, but I would have liked them to have played later in the day, but that's just me.
PRO: Great variety of bands and music styles.
CON: Waiting between the bands I wanted to see and traipsing all over the HUGE grounds to get to the stage where the band was scheduled to play.
Side note about Festival bookings: It is INSANELY difficult to plan and coordinate and then solidify a lineup for a three day festival. I know that things change all around frequently and sometimes bands have to drop off or change dates due to their schedules, so it's not an easy feat to book and schedule 100 bands that probably 40% are touring and using that date as a tour stop so they have to leave for the next stop and can't participate in some of the festival activities like meet and greets or simply hanging out on the grounds. I thought KAABOO slayed this aspect of KAABOO Texas and they should get massive accolades for the three days running as smoothly as it did despite a few late shows. The schedule only changed dramatically twice, so that was pretty sweet.
PRO: Getting all of the talent they did to commit! It was amazing to see LIONEL RICHIE!
CON: I would h ave liked to see more current or newer talent on the bill like rock bands BLACKTOP MOJO, LULLWATER, CANE HILL, JOYOUS WOLF, BLACKLITE DISTRICT, HYRO THE HERO, ARIEL, and others. I realize that it's the talent that brings the patrons, however newer artists need to be exposed to the masses and this would be a killer way for bands to get exposure.
The vendors that were listed on the website were attractively displayed and really made me want to try the spin on the corn dog, the pizza, and other foods that were listed. I was also interested in seeing some of the chefs do their thing and experience a live cooking event. However, when at the festival, I saw nothing about times, where these cooking events were going to be held, who was going to be featured - zero. So, I didn't get to catch that part at all. I'm not sure if the KAABOO App had this information and if you could set reminders for when the demonstrations were going to happen and where, but once I was at the venue, I focused on getting to the bands I wanted to see and the rest went out the window.
PRO: Not your typical carnival food and drink!
CON: Many people were unsure of the schedules for several presentations or where all of the food was located.
Initially when I saw the lineup for the weekend, I was totally jazzed about seeing the bands. However, while at the festival, the bands that I wanted to see were so spaced out over the whole weekend it felt like I was waiting around for them to start. Ideally, this is what you want for attendees because this is the time to grab food, check out the vendors, and drink, however at KAABOO Texas, I was so exhausted from walking back and forth from stage to stage, I didn't want to walk around at all towards the end of the day. And Sunday afternoon, I literally didn't move much around at all.
The AT&T Stadium is a massive complex inside and out. I mean, there are semi-trucks underground lined up for load in/load out. Of course, AT&T Stadium is where the World Famous Dallas Cowboys play and everybody knows that everything is bigger in Texas. America's Team has an owner that doesn't do anything small so it's no surprise that Jerry Jones and his family backed this festival monetarily. In fact, there is a rumor that the Jerry Jones Family locked in the festival contractually for several more years.
PRO: I loved that it was at AT&T Stadium because of it being the Home of the Cowboys and that's kind of a draw for a lot of people that are coming from out of town and want to see the stadium in this capacity. (Note, there were no tours or access to things you can see on a tour, but being there was a positive for football fans, nonetheless.)
CON: Even though walking a ton is expected at a festival, there are usually places to pop a squat or kick back and relax before the next show - KAABOO Texas, was very stingy with comfortable seating outside of the stadium. Inside the stadium, fans were sitting on the cement ground or in the stands if they had tickets to sit there. There were seats that could have been utilized but for some reason, these were closed.
It would be RAD if next year, a portable chair vendor was there selling or renting those chairs that you wave in the air and they fill up with air and stay inflated by some magical property! Or there was a lounge or bar that didn't cost an upgrade fee.
This inaugural year's chilly AF weather was an oddity for DFW but not unheard of. In fact, I think I would prefer to be a little chilly than the temperatures be hotter than Hades. I was sweating even with the chilly and rainy weather so I can't imagine if the temperatures were in the upper 80's or 90's. That said, the majority of the time if the dates stays around the middle of May the temperatures would warrant patrons paying an up-charge to enter the "Bask" Vegas style pool to chill out, take a dip, and order bottle service. Unfortunately, I didn't see where the information was about the up-charge or and at least Friday and Saturday, the only festival goers that were in the "Bask" area were those that pre-paid for that access. Sunday, with the sun shining and warmer temperatures, there were more people in that area. But I never spoke to anyone that bought an upgrade or purchased tickets that included the "Bask" area.
PRO: It wasn't too hot.
CON: It wasn't hot enough.
Reviewing the major points of the offerings of the festival, there is one constant that I'm bothered with. The lack of information that I have about the happenings that were second to the music is a bit disheartening. I wanted the information that I had questions about by reviewing the site and the information dispelled by the KAABOO Texas organizers to be gained organically, just like it would be if I was an attendee that bought passes just because I was a music fan. There are tons of other reasons for people to purchase tickets, I realize that. But since this was KAABOO Texas' first year, I planned on focusing my review on the music and comparing it to other festivals that I have been to from a music fan's perspective.
KAABOO Texas though, and maybe to its fault, is so much more than a typical "music festival". It's an experience that incorporates music in the mix of the activities. Perhaps my mistake was not looking at KAABOO Texas as an experience, rather than a music festival.
Either way, I think that people looking to attend this in years to come should align themselves to thinking of the three days as a convention or a trade show featuring things to enhance all five of your senses. Industries have trade shows all the time, right? You've probably been to a trade show in your work's industry. Why not have a trade show that you actually enjoy attending, that focuses on rejuvenating yourself via the five senses you use daily? I mean, hell you might even get your company to compensate a portion of the price as "team building" or get the festival deemed an "employee benefit" because coming back after something that bolsters your senses have to be good for production, right? (Note: I am creating this idea as I write so this isn't something that I pondered about for a week...but if you're interested as an employer in providing this event as an employee benefit, I'll be happy to help you out in getting the best deals for your group! 🙂 Ha ha! But seriously...).
PRO: As an experience as opposed to just three days of music with some added "stuff", KAABOO Texas offers attendees the chance to experience best in service amidst a variety of offerings.
COMMUNICATION CON: While the KAABOO Team might have made attempts to reveal the offerings of the festival as more of an experience rather than a music festival, the message wasn't received. Patrons were confused, they didn't know what they were supposed to do during the three days, some people that I spoke to didn't realize that there were tiered levels of passes that included different aspects of seating, VIP, amenities, food, and drink. One person thought that the even cost $20,000 for everyone. Social Media was overlooked with an emphasis placed on Traditional Media for advertising. As a journalist in the alt media space, I do not rely on mainstream media outlets and platforms to get my news. Since I create and deliver content via alternative media, this is where I spend a majority of my time. And while some still watch local TV news a majority of people are bypassing traditional news and bypassing commercials altogether because of "on demand" and the ability to pay more to see less or no commercials. (5% of people age 18 - 29 watch TV via digital antenna, 52% of people 30 - 49 watch TV via cable/satellite and 37% of this group stream their TV) Advertisers have less than a second to grab the attention of their targets.
If KAABOO used more social media advertising, I didn't see it on the platforms I'm on daily. I saw Google ads appear on sites that I visited, but that was from the fact that Google's smart spiders saw that I was talking about KAABOO and just replicated the ad word from my account onto other sites that I'm betting didn't sell advertising to KAABOO because they don't sell advertising, they use Google place markers that fill in ads from Google's sources. I didn't see any YouTube offerings at all or Pinterest or Periscope. I only saw interviews on news stations after the fact, and the festival mentioned during the week of the event during a weather report; again on local programming. Maybe this was due to the first year and the organizers wanted to get a baseline for who and how old those people that purchased tickets were and where their purchase came from. Unless they were really targeting the age group that has the highest percentage of people that have and get news from a digital antenna, which were the 50 - 64 year old and even then that percentage was 15%.
As for radio, I don't even listen to AM/FM radio.
Suffice to say, it seems that KAABOO Texas kinda "kaabooted" themselves in the foot by relying and counting on traditional media to generate ticket sales and that just didn't happen. Which speaks volumes for the alternative outlet's potential reach that actually pays attention to stats like this because there is a huge market that hasn't even been tapped into and hooray for those outlets that figure it out first!
PRICING CON: The price of this event was at the top of ticket prices for a three day festival. Parking was $135 for three days near the entrance. A domestic beer was $11. A vodka Red Bull, single shot was $20. A gourmet corn dog was $6. Bottled water was $5. General Admission started at $499 when the tickets initially went on sale. The lowest I saw them listed officially through the festival was $199 for the three days. A day pass was $99.
PRICING PRO: The price included the grounds to the best stadium in the world: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas - in the middle of Dallas and Fort Worth, the heart of North Texas. The price of this festival helped coordinate shuttles, road closings, superb security, a constantly clean facility, a lot of staff around the grounds and even though most with "working" laminates had no idea of anything but what they were there to do, at least they knew that. The high priced ticket also provided amazing talent.
PRICING SUGGESTION: Some of the breakout for next year might include more seating or an area for GA wristband holders to chill outside maybe not a pool and bottle service, but maybe a sprinkler and some lawn loungers with baby pool full of iced down beers? That's be kinda sweet and they could even call it "Bash" or more descriptive "Brash", instead of "Bask"!
Who knows what they'll come up with for next year and just like everything, I'm sure it will get better and more defined to our way of doing things in Texas. Because they say everything's bigger in Texas; and that's true but sometimes bigger means more than size, you know what I mean? Everything is bigger in Texas because of the way we are, our attitudes and the way we do things is big enough for everyone to enjoy and to have a good time, ya know?
In closing up this festival review for the first ever KAABOO Texas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, I want to make a point to sincerely congratulate The Jerry Jones Family and Richard Branson/Virgin Produced and the KAABOO Team and KAABOO Texas for doing this festival. Seriously, a ton of work went into the production, the grounds, the planning, marketing, advertising, the manpower, every aspect of the three day event was spot on and damn near perfect from a production/planning sense. From the graphics on the side of the stages rotated around each day, to the sheer mass of the two main stages, to the lighting, sound, the spot ops outside that braved climbing up and sitting in a box to operate a spotlight, to the placement of the artists inside and out - it was an overwhelmingly beautiful thing to soak in. Even if I was tired and didn't like trekking on the concrete jungle - it was truly an awesome event! I know that next year these folks will fine tune the hiccups that weren't even noticed by patrons and even the things we noticed as patrons, will be considered to make KAABOO Texas better than whatever we are expecting from not knowing what to expect this year! Ha!
As crazy as that sounds, I'm totally looking forward to seeing the walls being blown off again for 2020! You can find out about KAABOO Del Mar and KAABOO Cayman by clicking on the links in both names. And keep KAABOO Texas bookmarked or in your memory for all the updates as next year's festivities are announced. Hopefully, next year will be met with more social technology interface, alternative media sources, a few streamers offering live updates via their streams or channels on Roku or Amazon Fire and YouTube, and that KAABOO continues to #bringit like they did this year! We are so lucky to have KAABOO Texas right here in DFW!
PHOTO CREDIT(S): Unless otherwise stated, all photos were taken by Robb Miller Photography and I hope you love them!! Make sure you go give him some love - he had to deal with me for three days #bosslady #notbossyjusttheboss! He did an amazing job capturing the artists and the whole vibe at KAABOO Texas for CherriBird.com and I would love for y'all to give him some huge traction for his work - share it, like it, love it, and remember Robb Miller Photography. You'll find him at concerts in Deep Ellum and other venues around town. He's super cool and if you do see him out and about or in the photo pit, go say hi! He's on Instagram and Facebook, so look him up on both by following the links in the icons below!