Austin 101 Magazine

First Ever KAABOO Texas Music Festival Review

by Jerri Starbuck

The KAABOO brand has a great reputation in San Diego and has recently expanded into Cayman Islands and now Dallas, with a lofty goal of being all over the world.  We were first impressed by the ‘killer’ lineup with The Killers, Kid Rock, and Sting as the main headliners and a great mix of various genres and fun bands to round out the rest of the schedule.


Local and highly successful bands from Austin and around Texas were included: Lukas Nelson’s POTR, Los Lonely Boys, Blue October, Israel Nash, and more. You can see our complete photo galleries on our site.

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One of the most popular sets of the festival was The Avett Brothers from North Carolina who have been blowing up in recent years. A very pregnant Alanis Morrisette was another very popular performance. Based on crowd size, we’d say Sting, Kid Rock, The Killers, and Black Eyed Peas were the festival favorites.

a7167d5f17dfd6ae78ec71cb2f65f354by Brooks Burris

There was music for everyone. Those wanting a little pop and EDM or country got a little taste with Little Big Town, Andy Grammar, Pitbull, and Cash Cash (although it was confusing if you had to pay extra to see the BASK DJ sets). Fans who wanted more throwback, old-school music legends from as far back as the 60’s got to see epic musicians-Yes/Jon Anderson, Eric Burden/The Animals-although those crowds were pretty sparse but made it easy for diehard fans to get up close.

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There was tons of 70’s, 80’s, 90’s music (heavily 90’s):  Sting, Joan Jett, The B52s, Counting Crows, Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd,  The English Beat, Violent Femmes, Rick Springfield, Lionel Richie, Blue October, Ludacris, Bush, Collective Soul, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Old 97s, Los Lobos, Garbage, X. 

The 2000’s represented with Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, Jazz’s Trombone Shorty, The Killers (the biggest name in rock at the fest, tied with Sting).The newer band on the roster included St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Avett Brothers, Lukas Nelson & POTR, The Dip.

by Brooks Burris, Nick Paruch

The festival seemed to go off without any major glitches despite gloomy and potentially dangerous weather in Dallas. On day 3, the weather cleared and ended up being that perfect music festival sunny time that brought the biggest crowds, although competing with Mother’s Day might have been a hinderance.  The stage, lighting and sound and overall production was off the charts and one of the top highlights of the fest. The two main stages (one indoor and one outdoor) were massive. We were a bit confused as to the different ticket sections (including a $20K VIP section ticket) and we aren’t convinced that an indoor stadium and surrounding outdoor event space on asphalt is the ideal music festival experience. The biggest U.S. fests include Coachella, ACL (Austin), SXSW (Austin), Pitchfork, and Lollapalooza (plus Ultra and Electric Daisy for EDM) and most are in large greenspaces or parks.

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Lineup- We like the attempt at attracting a wide subset of the population with a variety of genres that would appeal to all ages. Future year’s might need to focus on attracting younger fans with newer artists and potentially EDM headliners as many fests have done because they attract massive crowds. Many of the great bands on this year’s lineup are use to performing for huge crowds so you could tell it was a little disappointing for them especially if they feed off the audience energy.

Although this year’s KAABOO Texas had it’s growing pains and challenges with marketing, weather, attendance, and PR, it could potentially become one of the larger festivals, especially with their proven ability to get top A-list rock bands like The Killers and Sting.  Jerry Jones signed a ten year lease with the festival so he apparently feels it’s a great investment and is totally supportive (and was in attendance).


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