November in San Diego can be a toss up: sometimes cold and rainy; other times, it feels like the middle of summer. The weekend of November 22nd would be where these two extremes met to create the perfect stage for Wonderfront’s inaugural bayfront festival. Seven stages spanning 1.5 miles of the treasured San Diego bayfront was home to thousands of music revelers for three days of rock, R&B, hip hop, EDM, banda, reggaeton and live standup comedy.
I’ve been to festivals — none like this.
Day One: it’s 4pm when I arrived at the festival. The sun was slowly descending to the west where I knew that in just a half hour or so, folks not familiar with San Diego were going to witness our magical sunsets. Couple that with Duckwrth, Bad Suns or the comedy of Greg Santos and you could feel the aura of good vibes pulsating throughout. I found my bearings and made my way over to Pepper, who was about to start their set as the sun set. Whoa! Adam Taylor of Iration is on bass in place of Bret Bollinger? Awesome! I don’t know where they get their energy from, but every set I’ve seen Pepper live, the performance is more energetic than the last. That’s what I love most about these guys — they just know how to have fun.
I had a quick break before Michael Franti, so I decided to grab a beer from one of the many craft brew stations and cruise the grounds. I saw Banda Tierra Brava before Lil Baby lighting up the Stella Artois Stage. I looked down at the lineup to see that all seven stages have music going simultaneously. How am I supposed to choose Ben Harper over Miguel or Don Omar??? I made my way back to Uncle Ed’s D*mn Good Vodka Stage (note: surprisingly good vodka) to catch the beginning of Michael Franti. Man, does this guy know how to party. The stage design, the lights, the music, the crowd interaction; I love Franti and you know he loves his fans.
Admittedly, I didn’t know much about X Ambassadors, so I went in blind and, you guessed it, everyone was right — it was the best performance of the night.
I sprinted over to the C3bank Stage, which was conveniently located next door to Uncle Ed’s, to witness what everyone said would be the show of the night — X Ambassadors. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about X Ambassadors, so I went in blind and, you guessed it, everyone was right — it was the best performance of the night. To wrap up Day One, the Latino in me bounced over the see what was poppin’ at the Univision & Estrella Jalisco Stage. Don Omar! Yes, now this was where the party was at. If you’re not familiar, Don Omar is a legend in reggaeton. Go to one of his shows and try to sit still. Try not to move your hips. I dare you. He’s that good.
And, this was only Day One? Ay, dios mio! 🙂
Photography by Chris Gomez