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KAABOO taking efforts to soothe sound effects

Festival returns to Del Mar Fairgrounds Sept. 16-18 with ‘improved’ sound program

During last year’s inaugural KAABOO festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, some Carmel Valley residents unexpectedly found themselves able to hear the concerts from their couches. People as far away as Overlook Park and Carmel Creek Drive four to five miles inland could hear pumping bass; at Del Mar Highlands Town Center you could almost sing along.

“It was a shock to us that people could hear it in Carmel Valley,” said Julie Coleman of The Madison Companies, which produces KAABOO.

Coleman said KAABOO received and responded to 91 calls over the three-day festival and 14 of those noise complaints came from Carmel Valley. As the well-attended concert is slated to return this year on Sept. 16-18, the event is taking efforts to reduce complaints and ensure that they are welcomed by the surrounding neighborhoods. Coleman told the Carmel Valley Community Planning Board June 23 that this year KAABOO has committed an additional $30,000 toward audio design, monitoring and containment systems which take into account how weather impacts the way sound travels — last year sound seemed to travel farther due to humidity and wind.

“We’re going to turn down the sound,” Coleman said.

This year they will use a roaming noise monitor in the neighborhoods to collect data and report back to the sound team at the fairgrounds. They are also working with a sound engineer to “tweak” the placement of stages and reposition the speaker systems to improve “sound containment” to the crowd at the event.

Coleman said KAABOO, not the artists, will have sole control over the sound. Each artist’s contract includes language that KAABOO will control the maximum sound level volume and the artist’s sound person must cooperate.

As the majority of complaints came on Sunday night, with residents worn out after a long weekend, KAABOO will end the music an hour earlier this year. Coleman said KAABOO has also purposely lined up the “more mellow” musician Jack Johnson to close out Sunday night’s show — hopefully providing “unobtrusive tones” and “inaudible melodies,” as one of Johnson’s song lyrics suggest.

Like last year, all other outdoor music will end promptly at 10 p.m.

Coleman said KAABOO did a lot better with its late night indoor music venue which features a lot of electronic dance music (“ a lot of heavy base”) — they did not receive any complaints about the noise from that event.

They hope that they can do a better job this year with their outdoor sound.

“We really feel like we bring the community a really good cultural experience,” Coleman said.

Acts this year include Jimmy Buffet, Aerosmith, Jack Johnson, Fall Out Boy, Lenny Kravitz, OneRepublic, Hall & Oates, Ludacris, Flo Rida, Capitol Cities and many more. Comedians performing include Cheech and Chong, Dana Carvey, Darrell Hammond, Jeff Ross, Janeane Garofalo and members of the cast of “Silicon Valley.”

Coleman noted KAABOO also brings a large economic benefit to the area: employing about 2,000 people and selling out local hotels — KAABOO purchased over 3,900 rooms last year directly and spent about $714,000 in the community on staff housing and meals.

KAABOO also made local charitable contributions of over $72,000 and Coleman said that number is expected to reach $150,000 this year due to the addition of a charity ticket sales program (Del Mar Schools Education Foundation is a participant) and a charity poker tournament.

“We look forward to the local community taking part in KAABOO and want neighbors to look forward to it being an annual event,” Coleman said.

For pre-event questions or concerns, email KAABOO at communityinfo@kaaboodelmar.com.

Any complaints during the September festival can be made to (858) 794-1104.