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Beautiful Noise, Exquisite Tastes, and Creative Minds: The Complete TBD Fest 2015 Experience 

By: Jerel Labson

This past weekend TBD Fest has left a mark of music, art, design, food, and ideas in the city of Sacramento. The festival drew in thousands of diverse people, locals and visitors alike, to experience the unique Sacramento festival that is TBD. To start off, this weekend was incredible. Everything from the acts to the food was something to look back on. The lineup fit the flow of the weekend; starting Friday off with bang, reaching a pinnacle of epicness on Saturday, and concluding with a sure sense of satisfaction on Sunday (sorry for the tongue twister).

Festival Grounds

A vital part of any festival is to get a feel of where you will be for the next few days. The first thing to do is find a schedule and a map. They weren’t readily available, but the customer service tent had no problem handing out printed schedules (nothing too fancy, just a print out). Since there was no map, the only option was to explore the grounds. The grounds weren’t too vast and the layout was simple: a main stage on opposing sides with smaller stages near them. In between there was the “Rise + Create” space. A vendor village, complete with local vendors selling food, drinks, art, and clothing. All the food and drink being carefully crafted, the clothes being hand-made or hand-pressed, and beautiful pieces of art being created. This section of the festival truly shows the creative and tasteful minds of Sacramento. Near and around the “Rise + Create” space there were some awesome displays.
Changing pillars of light, painted pyramids, murals, and the great display by PORTAL SAC. The perimeters of the grounds had the bars and food trucks. The festival even had it’s own giant ferris wheel (which all the proceeds from went to helping those recently affected by the California wildfires). There was a lot to see and do at TBD Fest besides watch the musical acts.

Demolicious Derby

If none of the musical acts were catching your attention or it was just too hot for you to be standing outside, then the “Demolicious Derby” was the place to go! It took place under a shaded tent with a nice patch of grass (I’m assuming so none of the dirt or dust flies into your food). It’s a cook off between two Sacramento chefs of the fine dining scene. They both have to use a certain ingredient. They also have to cook and serve out of a food truck. The food was completely free and completely delicious. While waiting for the food, festival goers could watch the cooking from a live video feed screened on a large screen outside. The visuals and smells would make the audience even hungrier. Some moves such as adding the spice would make the audience “ooo” and “ahh.” A comedic MC would be hosting the event so it’s not just two dudes cooking food.Attendees would have to partake in both dishes and place their used forks in their respective choices. Both competitors were always good and humble chefs. A little example of a cook off: both chefs had to use lamb. One made street tacos, but instead of a tortilla, he a used flattened and fried pork bun. The other made a Greek style lamb poutine. Drooling yet? We were.

The Music

As mentioned earlier, each day had a lineup that made a great flow for the weekend. Little disclaimer: I’m not really a big fan of EDM, so I didn’t catch much of the DJ sets.

Friday was explosive. The first artist was the band, Cathedrals. With their chill, new wave sound, and heavy bass, Cathedrals gave the crowd something great to vibe to. Then I was able to catch Towkio, Chicago based rapper associated with Save Money and Vic Mensa. Even though the crowd didn’t know the words, Towkio and his DJ were able to pump up the crowd. Head back to the main stage and you would be able to catch the dreamy set of Toro Y Moi. This was one of the artists I was looking forward to watching the most, and they did not disappoint. Playing a good blend of the newest album, What for?, and their older stuff, the set was great. Ty Dolla $ign got the entire crowd dancing or jumping to his songs. The best part of his set was when he pulled out a bass and started groovin out (I didn’t know he could even play instruments). He was even able to stage dive into the crowd during the end of his set. The only EDM set I caught on Friday was some of was RL Grime’s. Playing a heavy trap set for the festival, he had everyone moving. The craziest crowd goes to the set of Sacramento native, Death Grips. The experimental industrial noise rap group made the biggest mosh pit of the weekend, bringing the first big dust cloud into the air. Being in the mosh, I breathed in a little too much dirt. The night ended with Tyler the Creator bringing energy to the stage. Although he couldn’t bring the visuals he wanted, the set was still crazy. The crowd moshed, jumped, and sang along to the words. It wouldn’t be a Tyler the Creator set without his comedic side comments. The day really set the mood for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday was big. With the longest day of TBD Fest, there was a lot to do. Although the day was spent mostly walking around the grounds, eating, and hanging out, all the musical acts were great. Dark pop duo, ASTR, started the day off for me. They gave an electrifying performance with some heavy bass hits, melodic scales and licks, and some crazy dance moves. I even had the pleasure of interviewing them backstage (interview coming soon, really cool people). Joywave, an electronic indie band, drew one of the larger crowds for the small stages. Before playing, they took time to perfect their sound and it was worth it. The crowd was very responsive with each song and it was awesome to be a part of. Ratatat was one of my favorites for the weekend. The electric guitar duo had holograms and lasers, putting on one of the best visuals for the weekend. Porter Robinson had some nice visuals as well. Although I couldn’t really vibe to the music, he still put on a good show equipped with anime graphics and massive confetti shots. The crowd loved it. I was able to catch the tail end of Magic Man’s set on the opposing small stage. Although there weren’t that many people watching the set, they still gave it their all and ended with their hit, Paris. Chance the Rapper was the main act I was looking forward to for the whole weekend. The set was amazing. He came with his full band, Donnie Trumpet and The Social Experiment, which made for a much fuller sound. The visuals weren’t top notch, but it didn’t matter because the music and energy put out from the performance was, to me, the best for this weekend. Sing alongs, jumping around, crowd participation, amazing trumpet solos, it had it all. Even though he admit to go out of order of their intended set due to excitement (Chance would become a father two days later) they still made it the best. Saturday had something big for fans of all different music genres.

Sunday was a great way for the weekend to wind down. Up and coming rap/r&b artist (who recently made a song with Kanye West) Post Malone put on a good five song set to start off our day. Although he has blown up due to the success of his hit song, White Iverson, Post Malone still kept it humble, and kept it entertaining. He even performed White Iverson again for his closer, having the crowd sing the entire last verse to closer. After, we were walking and on the nearby small stage, this band O began to play. They were able to keep us and the others for their whole set. They’re an indie band from San Francisco, do check them out. I was sad to have missed Dr. Dog and A Place to Bury Strangers due to attending a Demolicious Derby, but I heard the sets were amazing. Right when we got to A Place to Bury Strangers, the lead singer had just smashed his guitar to end his set. Sad to have missed that, but it was on to the 90’s alt rock band, Dinosaur Jr.! Although they are getting old, they can still play flawlessly. With great tunes and heart reaching solos, Dinosaur Jr. had a high-caliber set. After, Black Lips took the smaller stage. This goofy garage rock outfit from Georgia had a really fun set. After some jokes and moshing ensued, it was time for the OG (an older act, usually more famous in the 80’s) headliner (every festival has to have one amiright?), Tears for Fears! Watching their set was like jumping back into the past, a time where most of the people attending TBD were either not alive or too young to go to a concert. Of course, the crowd sang along to classic hits such as Everybody Wants to Rule the World and their closer, Shout. They even surprised the audience with a slower yet full version of Creep by Radiohead. Madeon electrified the crowd as the last EDM performance of the weekend. I had to jump around a few times for that performance. I wasn’t able to stay, but I heard and read that crowd favorite Chromeo properly wrapped up TBD Fest with their funky tunes.

Closing Remarks

Overall, TBD Fest is a must-go for anyone in Sacramento, the surrounding Northern California area, or anyone in the world that wants to have a good time. Although not as big as famous festivals such as Cochella, TBD Fest is able to provide some of the top acts in music today in a comfortable yet enthralling environment. Everyone from the acts to the volunteers to the workers to the security to everyone else helped make this weekend what it was. It wasn’t just about the music, but about the local artistic minds and tastemakers coming together to bring entertainment to Sacramento. It’s exactly what this city needs, a positive driving force in today’s creative culture.

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