Why Rock'n'Roll Won at This Year's KAABOO Del Mar Festival

KAABOO Del Mar. Photo per Alive Coverage.

KAABOO Del Mar. Photo per Alive Coverage.

This past weekend, KAABOO Del Mar Festival returned for its fourth year of bringing Southern California music fans together to celebrate and dance to musicians of all genres. Katy Perry brought the pop, Wiz Khalifa and Post Malone brought the hip hop, and Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power brought the funk. But even with these star-studded artists, it was evident that rock’n’roll stole the show this year to make the point that while your streaming service might disagree with us, rock’n’roll is alive and well.

Friday, the first day of the festival, Jimmy Eat World took the stage and set the precedent that although there were a handful of bands performing at the festival that haven’t seen a huge hit in the last decade or so, it does not mean they’re no longer making great music and giving one-of-a-kind live shows. Of course Jimmy Eat World stirred up plenty of energy in the crowd when they played classics like “Sweetness” and “The Middle,” but the group still received plenty of positive reception when they played their 2018 release “Love Never,” a song that seems to captivate everything people love about the band while still providing something new and never-before-heard.

Later on in the day, Calabasas, California band Incubus began their late afternoon set with zero apologies. Lead singer Brandon Boyd opened with arguably two of Incubus’ most rambunctious songs: “Anna Molly” and “Megalomaniac.” The energy stayed constant thereafter. For a group that has released only 40-minutes of new music in the past six years, it was surprising that the younger attendees of the festival were jumping and singing as if it was their favorite band growing up. It goes to show that these rock legends have created songs that remain memorable in the collective consciousness of American rock music.

Foo Fighters. Photo per Alive Coverage.

Foo Fighters. Photo per Alive Coverage.

To close out Friday night, Nirvana-alum-turned-Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl embodied rock’n’roll throughout the band’s set. It wasn’t just the classics he was playing that proved his incredible reign as a rock lord- originals like “Learn To Fly” and covers like Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust” were heard- but the sheer confidence and appearance that he was hardly trying, yet epicly succeeding in firing the crowd up really amped things up. At one point, teasing at his legendary status, Grohl yelled to the crowd, “We have 35 minutes left to play 116 songs!” At another point in the band’s set, a train loudly passed by, distracting the band and fans. Seizing the moment, the band played a one minute blues-sounding song just for kicks. It was just another example that proved these performers are professionals, and are still as lively and fun as ever.

Saturday was another rock-filled festival day, and this time with more of a focus on rock that is currently popular. Early in the day, Austin groove rock band Mamafesta brought a completely new style to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. With a hint of funk and plenty of jam band qualities in their sound, this melodic four piece group is one to definitely watch out for in the near future if you’re not already!

Imagine Dragons. Photo per Alive Coverage.

Imagine Dragons. Photo per Alive Coverage.

Closing out the second night were international stars Imagine Dragons. It seemed that the band played hit after hit for a full 90-minute set. Not only was the music good, but lead singer Dan Reynolds was simply inspiring. Speaking out about mental illness and suicide prevention, he acted as a true leader to the younger fans in the crowd. After his words of wisdom, once again the group got the crowd jumping with the epic number “Believer.

Sunday closed out with, you guessed it, even more rock, this time both new and old. Many fans stayed at the “MGM Resorts Grandview” stage from 3:00PM to festival close to see bands like The All American Rejects, Alice In Chains, and Robert Plant.

The All American Rejects did a great job of not taking themselves too seriously. Although the band played fan favorites like “Gives You Hell” and “It Ends Tonight,” they joked between songs that while they may not getting much radio play now, in the early 2000s, it was “hard to escape our music if you walked in a TJ Maxx.” Still, the group gave it their all and played new songs that they were clearly proud to perform.

Following All American Rejects was Alice In Chains, a band that had a larger crowd considering the KAABOO attendees were a bit older than other festivals. Alice In Chains did not disappoint, and it is safe to say that their hit song “Rooster” had the loudest-singing crowd of the festival.

Robert Plant. Photo per Alive Coverage.

Robert Plant. Photo per Alive Coverage.

As exhibited by a large number of KAABOOers walking around sporting Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant shirts, it was clear that Plant was the most anticipated act of Sunday, even while competing with Katy Perry during the headlining time slot. It was no surprise that Plant payed homage to Led Zeppelin by opening up with the tracks “Good Times, Bad Times” and “Lemon Song.” His 13-song setlist was filled with impressive guitar solos and a little headbanging. Closing with an artist from the iconic Led Zeppelin was the nail in the coffin that rock stole the show this year at KAABOO, and a sign that this genre will hopefully continue thriving at this festival!

Dates for 2019’s KAABOO have already been announced for the weekend of September 13th-15th. Get your early bird tickets and festival passes here! 

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's The Ghoulies Aren't As Spine-Chilling As You Might Think

By: Claire Woodcock

I met up with four-fifths of the boozy, bluesy Denver punk outfit The Ghoulies on Colfax Avenue earlier this month. Besides conjuring ghosts at The Stanley Hotel, dressing up as five Dave Grohls aka “The Grohlies” for Halloween, and keeping van thieves in Texas at bay with a $14 machete from Walmart because “it was cheaper than a baseball bat,” The Ghoulies really aren’t as spine-chilling as you might think.

In fact, these guys are hilarious. Their comedic timing is on point, probably because they’ve all known each other since middle school. The group started playing together in 2009 as a Blink-182/Green Day/Misfits cover band under the name “Grandpa Tom and the Family Business.” The guys changed their name two years later on Halloween, and their sound transformed as well. The whole band insists that bringing in a blues guitarist and organist hot on the Denver 38th Street scene (who also happens to be member Dan Yergert’s twin brother) has played a huge part in The Ghoulies evolved blues/punk sound.

“If you slowed down all of our songs and took away all of the distortion, a lot of them are 12-part blues, just straight up,” said blues guitarist Jake Yergert. “I feel like there's less cow-punk rockabilly kind of stuff [in Denver]. We're more rocky and not so hardcore compared to a lot of the bands we play with.”

As a result, The Ghoulies contend with not always seeing themselves as being punk enough for the punk scene or garagey enough for the garage scene. Instead, they’re really concentrated on capturing this sort of raggedy-end of the blues, all while maintaining rad day jobs. Members Dan and Jake Yergert are both English teachers, singer/guitarist Adam Moore is a structural engineer, drummer Connor Randall moonlights as a paranormal investigator, and bassist Spencer Lovell works for a YouTube company. The Ghoulies seriously keep things interesting.

On stage, these guys look like Mormons, dressed in button-up white shirts with black ties, but they rip like there’s an alien invasion happening down the street. They’re gearing up to record their third record, which they’re predicting to have to record somewhere around nine times if the tracking process goes anything like their last two albums did. The Ghoulies have gone from a DIY basement studio to recording in the Yergert’s family church. One of their friends recorded their self-titled album in 2013, which drummer/ghost hunter Connor Randall called “really janky.”

“The [self-titled LP’s] solos are pretty basic,” said Randall. “It's very much like pentatonic blues stuff; then we kind of break out of that a little bit more. [Roswell A-Go-Go] has this weird pseudo gospel praise be to an Elvis Christ sort of thing, and so it was a lot more cohesive and a lot more of what we were actually going for.”

The Ghoulies went all out on album two, recording Roswell A-Go-Go in 2015 at Black in Bluhm Studios in Denver, and mixing at District Recording Studio in San Jose, California. On Roswell A-Go-Go, the ghouls say they defined their kitsch with paranormal ambience and sci-fi references to old radioplay broadcasts from the likes of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. The band even went so far as to shoot the cover of Roswell at the Stanley Hotel up in Estes Park, where ghost hunter Randall had been a Resident Investigator for nearly 5 years.

“Funny story about that,” began Dan, “We were all up there around Halloween last year and we have a song on that album called ‘Lucy’ and it's named after the ghost that haunts the basement of the concert hall, who we think has a crush on Connor. So we're sitting in Lucy's room, it's like 2AM, and Connor's got the equipment out. I'm getting really nervous, so I'm making jokes constantly and Connor goes, ‘If there's a presence here or something, can you make yourself known?’ The door slammed shut and since I was sitting right by the door, I grabbed the equipment I was holding and I ran out of there.”

If you’re a ghost hunter too, you can find The Ghoulies at Seventh Circle Music Collective a few dates this month, including this Sunday October 16th at 630PM for the venue’s 999th show. The Ghoulies will join local punk rockers The Quitters, Crushed!?, Redneck Nosferatu, Silver Screen Monsters and Had Enough. And just in time for Halloween, The Ghoulies will play Seventh Circle’s Haunted House night with The Atom Age and Boulder’s The Ephinjis.

Keep an eye out for The Ghoulies' next album, due out in 2017. And stay tuned for more Colorado punk chronicles.

-Claire

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The Foo Fighters Are As Bored With Their Live Show As We All Are With Their Latest Album

By: Hannah Oreskovich

You read that right.

90s Foo, around their debut.  Image per   A.V. Club  .

90s Foo, around their debut. Image per A.V. Club.

Remember when the Foo Fighters used to be cool? Like when they actually rocked the f*ck out in the 90s? Or when they surprised protesting Westboro Baptist members with a song in support of the “love is love” movement a few years ago? Yeah me too. Growing up, the Foo were one of my favorite alternative rock bands. I tried to see them in 2008 at Red Rocks, but the show was rescheduled around the time I jetted off to college out of state. So you could say they’ve been on my wish list for a minute. But after Sunday’s show at Fiddler’s Green, I will never, ever see the Foo Fighters live again.

At one point in the history of time, Dave Grohl did have a rock’n’roll spirit, a "let's just shred" attitude. He was a member of Nirvana for f*cks sake, a band who literally became famous for their indifference and hatred of everything mainstream. But that spirit has long since died my friends.

2015 Foo, preparing for a show in the suburbs.  Image via   SMH  .

2015 Foo, preparing for a show in the suburbs. Image via SMH.

“We’ve been playing shows for 20 f*cking years!” Grohl screamed to applause. Apparently what this translates to is: “At this point, we’re so bored with our own material that we’re going to play a ton of cover songs and (bonus!) I’m going to give dozens of speeches throughout the show about ‘rocking out all night’ (aka until 11PM)”.

The Foo Fighters performance was basically seven hits that you would have expected them to play and four or five covers, including Van Halen's “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious.” And yes those are great artists, and yes those are great songs. But I didn’t pay $75 to watch the Foo Fighters play forty minutes of stretched covers and a spray of lame cover riffs in Grohl’s twenty minute introduction of each band member (because true guitar prowess means you can play the first bit of Foreigner's “Double Vision”, right?). Sure I came for some of the Foo’s hits, but a deepcut or two would have been nice.


The Foo Fighters are as bored with their own material as we all are with their latest album. (Did anyone honestly dig Sonic Highways?)


Grohl made us watch a dumb video on how he created this throne.  Image per   FastCoCreate  .

Grohl made us watch a dumb video on how he created this throne. Image per FastCoCreate.

The Foo also spent a lot of time just screwing around. Grohl sat atop his throne (due to his recent leg injury), and this seat only became more fitting as the night went on. Grohl was perched like a rock’n’roll king and the entire show was a jestering of bullsh*t to keep him entertained. This was evident when Grohl brought a crying, drunk man-fan on stage and sang him "My Hero". Sure it was funny, but it was yet another twenty minute filler of lame antics that actually summarized the entire experience: If you were over 40 and drunk, I bet you had a great time at the Foo Fighters show.

After playing so many covers, at one point Grohl vomited at us, “You know what- I feel like we’re taking advantage of you playing these songs. We’re gluttons; gluttons of rock.” At least you know it Dave Grohl. But I want my money back.

-Hannah

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All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.