We arrived right around 4:45. Parking was $15 which was really annoying, considering there was a giant RV sale in the lot that was free to check out. If we were better liars we would've maintained we were just looking for a new rig.
The will call and ticket office was a hike from the concert venue, but fortunately we already had our tickets. Noted for the future (should I go there again) to make sure I always have physical tickets. We parked and were steps away from the gates which was really convenient.
Upon entering, we were searched and there was the typical concert signage of no coolers, pets, cameras, etc., but really, it's time for venues to surrender that camera policy. First of all, cameras are the size of a wallet, not to mention every phone pretty much has one, and it seems to me that this policy comes from back in the day when people would sell concert photos. Nowadays, you can get anything on the internet, so this policy is really just silly. Not to mention if people took the trolley, what were they to do if they did bring cameras? People want to remember their experiences and will find a way, so it'd be wise to just drop this archaic policy.
Anyway, we walked in and the Revolt stage was a tiny little stage right by the entrance. Then the remainder of the parking lot was lined with vendors- beer ranged from $7-$10 depending on the size, there were lemonade stands and food, some sponsor tents and a few informational booths like Southwestern College, Surfrider, and GoNavy.com
After passing, you hit the grass field. Ludo was wrapping up their set. The crowd was sparse to say the least.
Technically I'm a client of 91X, and all local media, for that matter, because of my day job, so I suggested we just check the VIP tent to see what was up. I was told that the laminates had only been made the day before and hadn't been distributed, so my friends, who work at Finest City, took care of us and we entered the VIP area.
In the area there was a ton of food from Roberto's and these really delicious Philly Cheese Steaks from Philly Frank's in San Marcos. Believe me, they deserve the mention and if I ever find myself in North County, I'll be looking for them.
We walked over to procure drinks and were a little surprised because of every event I've ever been to that has a VIP area, beverages are usually hosted. It wasn't surprising to see cocktails priced at $7, but I have to say $4 water and soda seemed weird, especially considering beer was free. It would seem a station would have no problem getting a beverage sponsor like Rockstar or Vitamin Water or something non-alcoholic but no biggie, I was content with little plastic cups of Budweiser.
After a quick beer, Daye and I made our way up to catch MgmT. They had a relatively short set, especially because live many of their songs go past 5 minutes each. Having seen them before, I was pleased with their set and I really look forward to seeing them again at 94/9's Independence Jam.
1. Electric Feel
2. Weekend Wars
3. Of Moons, Birds, and Monsters
4. Time To Pretend
5. The Handshake
After they finished, we went back to the tent. Had I not had the passes, I would've checked out the local stage but the free beer was more incentive than hiking across the venue in the heat which wasn't easing up. I know I'm a wuss, but anything over 80 is out of my comfort zone. This is why I don't plan on ever doing Coachella. At least the show was on grass, because a parking lot show on asphalt would've been miserable. I also didn't realize I could have taken the beer out of the tent. Usually VIP areas restrict that so people aren't taking booze out for friends.
After a while, Jimmy Eat World took the mainstage. I don't consider myself a fan of the band in the sense that I don't own any of their music, but of course I'm familiar with their radio hits, and I've really been digging their latest single. It seemed more people had arrived but the venue was still maybe only a third of its capacity.
Jimmy Eat World sounded great, but I only stayed up close briefly to snap a couple pictures then headed back to the tent, where I could still hear the show and sing along to the hits that I was familiar with.
I had a great time at the tent because I ran into some old friends from the biz that I hadn't seen in a very long time. Of course I'm appreciative that I got to see the show and explore the venue, and especially for VIP passes, but once Pennywise started, we were ready to take off. We heard a few of the songs and since I'd recently seen them at the Casbah, that was all I needed. I still think X-Fest can be a viable event that more people get excited about, but here's my prescription for making it better.
1. Drop ticket prices in half. If that's not possible, as a friend of mine mentioned, do a pre-sale the week before bands are announced with tickets priced at $9.91 to generate buzz and momentum for the event.
2. I realize it's a facility issue, but slapping people with $15 parking really, really sucks.
3. Lose the camera policy. While there were a lot of older bros in the crowd, there were also a lot of tweens and families there. It would be nice if they could memorialize their experience with some pictures.
I won't comment on the lineup because I'm not their target demographic, but my feelings about that should be pretty obvious since we only stayed for two bands. Still, I'm grateful to the station for hooking me up and I'll likely check it out again next year if it all works out again.