During Gramatik’s glitchy, bass-heavy, throttling set, I was overcome with the most marvelous feeling.
I was at a legit-ass music festival.
Really, up until then, I was wavering back and forth. The heat was brutal all afternoon. Dust clouded my glasses whenever I walked. Construction continued after the gates opened. Sets on the small stages didn’t line up with the brochure schedule. No one—and I mean no one—was watching the chef competition stage. In general, the place felt too empty for too long.
Pro-tip: bring a bandana tomorrow. Photo: Brian Breneman
Which was a shame, because there was so much rad stuff around. Once it got dark, nearly everything was electronic dance music. Earlier in the day, we were treated to hip hop, indie pop, rock and soul. One of my favorite sets belonged to indie synth-pop band Little Daylight—Little Dragon-lite, in a good way.
The shopping area, “Rise and Create,” held all kinds of aesthetically pleasing distractions—each vendor got to design its own space. There were mini lounges placed around for relaxing, and thankfully, free endless coconut water. The refillable water station is apparently arriving Saturday.
It’s almost like Las Vegas. Photo: Brian Breneman
Oh, and these beautiful VIP cabanas distracted me to no end. Mostly because they were almost all empty—and therefore taunting—much of the day. The ones along the main stage cost a whopping $1,500 to rent. Elsewhere, $750.
Chefs Oliver Ridgeway and Michael Tuohy share a tender moment. Photo: Brian Breneman
The Pit, the chef competition area where teams face off every three hours, was totally empty during the Oliver Ridgeway (Grange) and Michael Tuohy (Block Butcher Bar, LowBrau) battle. Maybe it’s because they weren’t talking about their cooking process or engaging the—albeit, nonexistent—audience. But as soon as plating began and someone announced “FREE FOOD,” the stampede arrived. For the record, Tuohy’s pork loin was some of the best “festival food” I’ve ever had.
Then the sun started to set. Suddenly everything felt more reasonable.
Sacramento’s skyline finally put to good use. Photo: Steven Chea
MNDR and two performance artists totally thrilled—or disturbed—their audience. They came out with masks that read, “Parental Advisory Explicit Content.” The dancers, known as FlucT from New York, thrashed their bodies across the stage, over one another, over amps and almost over the stage barrier. Their movements were suggestive, grotesque and mesmerizing. MNDR, too, was often bent over backwards, singing over indielectronica.
MNDR and FlucT get down. Photo: Steven Chea
Then EDM totally took over.
Again, Slovenian producer Gramatik’s blend of dubstep and gitch-hop, with samples from Motown and swing peppered in, was just my jam. On the more chill, experimental, bottom-heavy side of synth, Com Truise delivered.
Cruisin’ with Com Truise. Photo: Steven Chea
RAC’s set of synth-heavy remixes had a bonus treat: live vocals from MNDR on the hit, “Let Go.” How convenient.
Apparently Sacramento adores Dillon Francis. The line for his meet-and-greet was absurd, and I’m going to guess that his crowd was bigger—or at least more raucous—than Moby’s closing, no-competition set. Francis is famed for pioneering moombahcore, a house-reggae-dubstep-breakbeat fusion of sorts. Lots of builds. Lots of drops. I was bored early, but I was very much in the minority.
Look at all those happy faces. Photo: Steven Chea
That leaves Moby, the bald, glasses-wearing fellow who rose to techno fame in the ‘90s. Why is he deejaying so much now? Maybe because he’s 49. Though he also looked like he was having a blast, jumping onto his turntable and whatnot.
He’s also said in other interviews that he’s gotten really picky about which festivals he plays. He wants festivals where the music isn’t the sole focus, where there’s an ethos of community and interaction built around it. And he chose TBD Fest.
Moby doing his thing on top of things. Photo: Brian Breneman