Sunday (September 20) marked the final day of TBD Festival 2015, and as such, it felt like an appropriate time to reflect on the past few days hanging out at the music and arts festival in West Sacramento, California. Festivalgoers were predominantly young, which matched what the promoters were anticipating given the predominant electronic dance music scheduled for the festival.
Unfortunately, I didn’t ask any older people why they attended. It could’ve been the heat (which reached triple digits) or the desert-like ground conditions (organizers tried to water the dirt and sand as much as possible to help control dust). On Sunday, it could’ve been to see 80s alternative rockers Dinosaur Jr. (“The Lung“) who originally ormed over thirty years ago. It could’ve also been to see some of the music acts that most kids were listening to these days and try to learn what all the fuss was about, which was reasonable considering much of the showcased music really wasn’t being played on Sacramento area radio stations.
Luckily there’s been enough counter-programming to relax the eardrums from synthetic beats. All weekend, there have been live cooking battles between local chefs to vie for festival bragging rights and potentially new customers in this emerging foodie region. There was an emerging energy drink to try (official sponsor 51 Fifty Energy), as well as whisky (Wild Turkey), beer and coffee. Local art was displayed throughout the grounds, and also a few artists were creating new works during the festival that made for good selfie spots.
In terms of music, Sunday was probably the best day to listen to as much non-electronica as possible from surf rock (Los Angeles-native Allah-Las, “Artifact“) to psychedelic rock (Philadelphia-native Dr. Dog, “Heart it Races“) to indie rock (Avid Dancer, “I Feel It“) to noise rock (New York City-based A Place to Bury Strangers, “You are the One“). The latter needed a few more security personnel to help move people away from the stage as lead singer Oliver Ackermann (guitar) and Dion Lunadon (bass) repeatedly smashed their instruments. It was a sight to behold, but one sight I really did not expect.
80s new wave duo Tears for Fears were on hand to help provide some classic rock (nowadays, relatively speaking) anthem nostalgia to the people, including “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Head Over Heels.” Longtime bandmates Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith sprinkled in a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” before unleashing “Shout” onto the mad crowd.
Of course, there was plenty of electronic music to go around. New Zealand singer-songwriter Ladyhawke, who has seen a recent musical resurgence of her 2008 eponymous debut album, brought some much needed female spunk and enlivened the audience with the brashness of “Magic” and “Paris Is Burning.” Dominican-born Twin Shadow provided a more new wave synth sound (“Slow” and “Five Seconds“), and also gave a portion of his set time to allow his good friend to propose to his girlfriend on stage (spoiler alert: she accepted) and dedicated the current tour to the band’s drummer who was still being hospitalized after a recent tour bus crash. Canadian legend A-Trak produced more traditional EDM tracks (such as remixes of Alesso’s “Cool” and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll”) for the eager youngsters.
And officially closing out the festival was Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo who delivered enough energy to keep summer going on for a little bit longer and then some. Lead singer David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel (keyboard, bass) combined unbelievable stage presence (Macklovitch at one point played guitar while dancing on one leg across the stage) and infectious melodies for quite a memorable show. The crowd celebrated “Sexy Socialite,” “Come Alive” and “Jealous (I Ain’t With It),” as well as joined in the duo’s invitation for people to get on top of one another’s’ shoulders (which had great participation levels) for the not-so-surprising performance of “Over Your Shoulder.” It was definitely a positive note to end a festival on that got decidedly better as the weekend wore on, which is the way it should be.
NOTE: Originally published on Blogcritics.