P!NK & Ice Cube put on a show at KAABOO Del Mar

A star-studded lineup entertained large crowds at the third year of KAABOO Del Mar

Since its opening in 2014, KAABOO Del Mar has promised a unique festival experience, and this weekend it certainly did not disappoint. The coastal, three-day event kicked off last Friday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and the experience was immersive from the get-go.


The tempo for KAABOO was set early with DJ Diesel’s (Shaquille O’Neal) set on the Grandview Stage, which proved to be whimsical yet irresistibly engaging. The former basketball star served up hits ranging from Foreigner’s “Don’t Stop Believing” to Fat Joe’s “All The Way Up.”

Following DJ Diesel’s set, the X Ambassadors took the lead across the grounds on the Sunset Cliffs Stage. The X Ambassadors were the first artists of the weekend to perform on the largest of the festival’s four main stages.  

Performing their breakout hits “Unsteady” and “Renegades,” they rocked their way to the perfect set for a crowd that was just settling in for a weekend of music and fun. As the X Ambassadors’ set wound down, fans made their way back to the Grandview Stage to see singer Kesha. 

Kesha’s performance marked her comeback, as her set this past weekend was one of her first live performances since her extended hiatus from music. True to her usual flamboyant form, the singer performed her early hits like “We R Who We R” with the help of a lively rock band, a change from her early days of electronic-heavy arrangements. This juxtaposition, while interesting, seemed erratic at times as the live band occasionally clashed with her fast-paced vocals. She later performed her new single “Praying” for the first time ever live.

As day gave way to night in Del Mar, all eyes turned to Weezer, the first of a series of big names slated to play on the Sunset Cliffs Stage for the weekend. Their set resonated well with a mature crowd that mainly comprised die-hard Weezer fans. The veteran band entertained with songs from their first album like “Say It Ain’t So” and “My Name Is Jonas,” covers of songs like Outkast’s “Hey Ya,” as well as new songs from their upcoming album “Pacific Daydream.” The band concluded their set with a multiple-song encore before it was time for the headliner for the night, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to take over.

Leading up to Friday’s headline performance, it was difficult to travel through KAABOO without seeing fans dressed in RHCP shirts. The presence of RCHP fans was evident from the moment the band took the stage as they roared for their favorite band. 

The RCHP began their set with an extended version of “Can’t Stop,” leading in with a lengthy intro before lead singer Anthony Kiedis took the stage. They went on to wow the crowd with impressive guitar and drum solos during hits like “Californication,” “Give It Away,” and “Dani California,” demonstrating the musical talent for which the group is known. With their high-energy set, The Red Hot Chili Peppers were the perfect end to day one of KAABOO Del Mar.


Day two of the festival had a different feel compared to day one. From the very beginning, the crowd was more youthful, dominated more by teenagers and college kids than by the middle-aged, adult crowd from the day before. This was likely a reflection of the lineup for the day — a more high-energy lineup of artists was scheduled, appealing to the younger demographic. The rapper Logic emphasized this as he took the stage late Saturday afternoon, performing lively hits like “Flexicution” to a crowd that was at its heart composed of teenagers, a first for the weekend. 

Logic engaged the crowd heavily for his performance, pausing at times to give a shoutout to die-hard fans in the crowd, some of whom were as young as 14 years old. With his own music videos as his backdrop, Logic played all the right songs, finishing with his emotional hit “1-800-273-8255,” a song aimed at raising awareness for suicide prevention that is currently charting at number five on the Billboard Hot 100. 

While Logic may have served as the representative for today’s rap movement, Ice Cube’s ensuing performance on the Sunset Cliffs Stage was a swift and epic reminder of where it all started. The former NWA member dominated the stage with a no-holds-barred performance that harkened back to his “Straight Outta Compton” days, performing iconic hits like “F**k tha Police” and “Straight Outta Compton,” before moving on to solo hits like “Check Yo Self.” He capped off his set with a performance of his biggest hit, “It Was a Good Day,” as the crowd sang along before he turned the stage over to P!NK. 

P!NK’s performance was a departure from the gangster-rap atmosphere that Ice Cube provided, but that did not stop her from putting on what was the most memorable set of the weekend. Entering the stage by running through the VIP area that  was in the middle of the crowd, the singer built up excitement leading off with her aptly named hit “Let’s Get The Party Started.” The conclusion of the song was punctuated with fireworks. She continued the excitement with hits like “What About Us,” “U+Ur Hand,” and “Just Give Me a Reason,” many of which included extended guitar solos, as well as acoustic arrangements with her guitarist. Almost all of her songs featured heavily choreographed dances, and her performance as a whole was visually as well as sonically engaging. She concluded her set with an energetic performance of “Raise Your Glass,” a seemingly fitting end to a convincing set. However, P!NK wasn’t done yet. As the lights onstage remained on even after her departure, fans began to realize that she had more in store for them. After a slight delay, the singer emerged, this time in a different costume — a harness. As her defiant hit “So What” began to play, dancers strapped P!NK into a set of cables, and she soared above the crowd for a performance of her signature song, finishing her set on a highlight before another set of fireworks marked the end of day two at KAABOO.


As the festival wound down, the atmosphere was less electric than SaturdaySunday morning started off slowly and picked up in the afternoon with T-Pain. Performing on the Grandview Stage, T-Pain attracted the crowds in the midday sun, singing hooks from some of his biggest hits in the early 2000s. With classics like “Bartender” and “Buy U a Drank,” T-Pain pumped up the audience, later transitioning to singing his part and his part only in hits like “Welcome to My Hood” and “All I Do is Win.” This proved to be problematic when he cut off the rest of the songs that did not involve his part on the hook, but the audience remained entertained nonetheless. 

T-Pain turned the stage over to fan favorite Andy Grammer, who entertained with crowd-pleasing hits like “Keep Your Head Up,” and “Blame It On The Stars,” before moving on to his catchy hit “Honey I’m Good.” Grammer also performed covers, combining Zedd and Alessia Cara’s “Stay” with Jon Bellion’s breakout hit “All Time Low” for an interesting mash-up, as well as a cover of The Chainsmokers’ hit “Don’t Let Me Down.” He finished his set with a heartfelt rendition of his song “Good to Be Alive,” reflecting before the song on his humble beginnings as a street performer and the recent birth of his daughter. Grammer, who played trumpet, guitar, and piano throughout his set, engaged the crowd for the rest of the third and final day of the festival. 

Jason Derulo continued the action on the Grandview Stage with an up-tempo, highly choreographed set. Derulo danced his way through his endless repertoire of catchy hits, making use of four dancers at almost all times during his set. His set was choreographed down to the second, and neither he nor his dancers missed a beat during their impressive moves. Derulo performed big-time hits like like “Whatcha Say,” “Swalla,” and “Trumpets,” before moving on to new songs like the emotional “If I’m Lucky.” At one point, Derulo brought a fan onstage for his performance of “It Girl,” dubbing her his “It Girl” for the night. Derulo finished his set with a performance of “Want You To Want Me,” closing out with an extended ending that showcased his versatile voice. 

Following the end of Derulo’s set, all eyes were on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers for the final set of the festival at the main Sunset Cliffs Stage. Petty drew what seemed to be the biggest crowd of the weekend, a crowd that stretched back to the point that people were sitting down watching the performance on large screens due to how far away they were from the stage.

The 66-year-old rocker didn’t seem to have lost a step as he performed classics like “Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin.” Petty, who excitedly announced to the crowd that he and his band were celebrating 40 years on tour this year, provided the perfect end to a memorable weekend in Del Mar. His set united both young and old festival goers, and the laid-back nature of his music was fitting for the end of KAABOO.

Anderson Haigler / Arts&Culture Editor / The USD Vista