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TBD Fest brings the heat amid Sacramento’s extended summer

Crowd-TBD_postPhotos by Sterling Munksgard // Written by Molly Kish //

TBD Fest //
The Bridge District (Riverfront Street) – West Sacramento, CA
October 3rd-5th, 2014 //

During last weekend’s sweltering Sacramento heatwave, the inaugural year of the TBD Festival kicked off in a dust-filled blaze of glory. Bringing heavy hitting headliners, an extremely talented undercard and a friendly bill of vendors, artists and local culinary talent, this “little festival that could” superseded its climate challenges and provided festivalgoers with a three-day dance party for the books.

Moby 1

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Top Set: Moby
For those used to Moby’s ethereal trance and commercially sampled funk beats, catching one of his “DJ sets” should be something immediately pushed to the front of your live music bucket lists. Taking the main stage of the festival after Dillion Francis and Gramatik is no easy feat, but Moby did so with authority.

Moby 3

With the bravado of an arena-headlining rock star, the diminutive DJ unleashed his electronic fury upon the Sacramento crowd, mounting his illuminated decks and demanding the audience to “get the fuck up” while donning an iconic Black Flag T-shirt.

Offering exhilarating, chaotic punk energy, he whipped the crowd into a dance-filled frenzy, ending the first night of the festival with a dirty electronic throw down and unleashing the fired-up 1 a.m. crowd into the quiet, unsuspecting West Riverfront streets of Sacramento. Final thought: “Moby doesn’t Play”.

Memorable Moments:
• MNDR joining RAC on stage for a live rendition of “Let Go” from their 2014 album Strangers
• Carousel’s sing-along cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home”
• Kauf’s impressive festival opening crowd at the Beautiful Buzz Stage amidst the mid-afternoon heat

Empire of The Sun 4

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Top Set: Empire of the Sun
True showmen and the epitome of “fucking rock stars”, Empire of the Sun ignited a heat-stricken, second-day crowd, closing out the night in all their grandeur.

Empire of The Sun 6Hardcore fans came dressed to the nines in their own homemade headdresses and were eventually invited on stage to be part of the production. First-time viewers were dumbfounded by the intensity of the group’s fully immersive, theatrical performance with backing band and dance crew.

The spectacle that is an Empire of the Sun stage show is something that can only be rivaled by large-scale arena tours and Broadway productions.

Blowing the minds of a festival crowd is pretty much a just another day at the office for these two, and they left the Saturday night TBD audience stunned in their wake.

Memorable Moments:
• TASK1ne’s early morning fire-spitting, nearly nude hip hop throw down on the Block Stage
• Metz and Explosions in the Sky delivering guitar-shredding, face-melting sets to an otherwise dance-heavy bill
• The inimitable Danny Brown commanding the sold-out crowd during a late afternoon set on the Lowbrau Stage

Yacht 1

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Top Set: YACHT
Owning the nu-disco slot on this year’s bill, Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans brought their infectious energy and touring band members Jeffrey Brodsky and Rob Kieswetter to the early evening festival main stage.

Yacht 3An all-incorporated amalgamation of dance, punk, performance art, graphic design and party philosophy, YACHT’s conceptual stage show brought a much-needed turbo boost of energy to the festival-weary Sunday evening crowd.

At a crucially pivotal point in the weekend, YACHT mainlined their trademarked set of disco infiltration into the TBD festival audience, prepping them for a final evening filled with back-to-back dance parties spanning throughout the four various stages of the fairgrounds.

Reviving the audience as the night time approached with witty banter surrounding their abstract stage design, relentless energy and charisma, YACHT were the unsung heroes of the final hours of TBD.

Memorable Moments:
• Blondie’s free-for-all, DGAF’s set of brand new material, covers and everything in between — nothing short of the sassy, fierce and fan-blown, mini-skirt flashing Debbie everyone came to see
• Justice breaking all local sound ordinances well into the early evening hours, lighting up the surrounding suburbs with their closing set
• Viceroy’s party-rocking remix set, elevating the Sacramento crowd’s energy tenfold into a stage-wide, sing-along dance party

Flash-Mob-Dancers

OVERALL IMPRESSION

The festival, in the grand scheme of things, turned out be quite a success. Affordable prices, not only concerning tickets but also food and drinks, as well as many free samples and accommodating perks amidst the fairgrounds, made for an enjoyable experience, even amidst sold-out crowds.

The vendors had a great array of local fare, crafts, clothing and services to provide a comprehensive display of Sacramento’s budding independent culture. The art installations, cooking demonstrations, fashion displays and yoga classes were popular attractions to kill time between sets and were something everyone was generally excited to take part in all weekend.

The site and midday attendance were a little underwhelming at first impression, and there were some aspects that failed to deliver or were misleading about the location, including the complete absence of “The Barn” and a grassy park that was promised.

There were also some organizational and functionary issues on the production end of the spectrum:

• Mislabeled program guides, credential confusion and lack of signage for the stages

• Some technical issues cut into key sets, including The War on Drugs’ 45-minute soundcheck/guitar-tuning meltdown

Although with every first year festival there are complications, both anticipated and unexpected, TBD Fest made sure their problem-solving skills were on point and offered quick remedies to any issue that took place within their festival jurisdiction.

Extremely accommodating, well-organized and all in all, a very successfully tight-run ship, TBD Fest will only positively mature and evolve as a festival from this year forward. We definitely look forward to the “to be determined” future.

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