The Birth of the KDVS Boyz, and Day 1 of TBD Fest 2015, A Review:
Words and pictures by Sam Ribakoff
“It was all a dream…” When I first saw the list of all the artists at this year’s TBD Festival in Sacramento, it looked like one of those jokey Coachella lineup posters that always gets thrown around online, filled with groups that you’d never think would share the same time place continuum, much less appeal to the same audience. The TBD lineup included; Ty Dolla $ign, Tears for Fears, Death Grips, The Glitch Mob, and Chance the Rapper at the same festival? And in Sacramento nonetheless? I was fully prepared to have my money and identity stolen when I payed for my ticket months before the festival, only after clicking “approve transaction” that I worked at a freeform college radio station, the only one in fact whose broadcast extends over Sacramento, and I could probably get press passes to the festival. Crap. Two hundred dollars poorer, my co-host Isaiah Rashid and I worked on writing proposals to cover the festival, and with the support of our business manager Bernard Benson, we got those passes for myself, Isaiah, and Simar Singh, and on the day of the festival, September 18 2015, we combined forces like the Transformers of old, to become the KDVS Boyz. This is the story of our first day at TBD Fest 2015.
We were told by our hosts that we should arrive at the festival at 8 AM, a full seven hours before the festival was set to begin, to register ourselves as press, being young bloods that we are (were..?) we somehow made it to Sacramento at 8 AM. The festival grounds were built around a vacant lot next to the Sacramento River Cats stadium in West Sac around a housing development being advertised as “The Bridge District”, hence the name TBD. To get to the festival grounds we had to walk by the apartment complexes all gussied up for potential renters, but hardly anyone living there. The small cul-de-sacs that serviced the apartment buildings had an eerie empty feeling. Across the street from the apartments was the festival itself, which at 8 AM was still frantically being built. Dudes with chiseled faces worked tirelessly to build the three stages of the Festival, and local vendors ran in and out to set up small tents in the middle of the festival ground to sell their wares. As the KDVS Boyz (trademarked) wandered around the grounds we ran into a couple of these chiseled dudes eating lunch and we joined them, along with Chaz Bundick (AKA Toro Y Moi). By the time 3:30 PM rolled around we heard a couple of loud electronic bass drum kicks, and we knew it was time for Dibia$e’s set. For the unanointed Dibia$e was one of the innovators of the beat scene style of music. Combining instrumental hip hop and electronic dance music Dibia$e, Flying Lotus, Samiyam and others created a formidable scene in the late 2000s at the Low End Theory club nights in Los Angeles. While Flying Lotus catapulted into fame and stardom Dibia$e and a lot of the other innovators of the sound got left behind. Recently Dibia$e moved to Sacramento, and while he continues to make music with the same vibe as his earlier days, his set at TBD, which saw him hunched over his trusty SP 303, included exciting glimpses of some new footwork influenced tracks that not only show that Dibia$e himself is growing, but that the sound of footwork itself is too.
Next we headed across the festival grounds to see Towkio, the Chicago Save Money Crew affiliate, who also pulled out a couple of footwork-ey beats from his Wav Theory mixtape to rap over. Running and jumping across a mostly lonely stage in an OG Dennis Rodman Bulls jersey, the rapper kept the mostly juvenile (not the rapper) audience entranced with positive vibes all around.
I guess this stage was the “hip hop” stage since soon after Towkio left the stage, the rap game Quincy Jones, Ty Dolla $ign, graced the stage. One of the weirdest, but greatly appreciated, programming choices from the TBD team, Ty has been floating around the LA rap scene for a few years as a writer,producer, rapper and singer, hitting it big with his writing and production work on YG’s “Toot it and Boot It” (yes writing. Ty WROTE Toot It and Boot It), and making friends with literally everyone in the LA rap scene, Ty is now pushing himself out as a solo performer, touring heavily, (including in Davis at The Graduate!) for his upcoming debut album. As opposed to Towkio, Ty came on stage with a huge blowup “Ty$” logo, a personal photographer, and a bodyguard who at one point acted as a weed man for Ty, offering a finely rolled joint for the man after he asked the crowd to point him towards the best weed in Sacramento. Ty was a composite showman, coming out with a leather jacket equipped with a large Black Flag patch, Ty slowly threw off articles of clothing throughout his 45 minute set, telling jokes and sharing stories with the audience, in between pulling out a bass guitar and going thru a melody of his greatest hits, from his own songs, to songs he wrote for other artists, to guess verses he’s had on other artist’s songs. More than a few of the white attendants felt the spirit so thoroughly that they had no problem shouting out the “N” word as loud as they could muster with Ty. As the kids say, it was quite turnt, so much so that towards the end of the show Ty launched himself from the stage, across the press mout, into the audience, possibly drop kicking a 13 year old girl in the front row and performing the rest of the song while crowd surfing. After the show was over the 13 year old girl was beaming.
After Ty, the KDVS Boyz had some time to relax and walk around the festival. We saw some public artwork, passed by a chef giving a live demonstration of his skills with a cleaver, accidentally disrupted a piece of performance art that involved two people writhing around in a seemingly MDMA fuelled haze on one of the only pieces of free sitting space at the festival, and even met a former KDVS sports announcer who gave us some free fancy cold brew ice coffee. But soon it was time to get back to the designated hip hop stage for hometown internet heroes, Death Grips’ set. Not only was the crowd packed gills to gills, but so was the press mout separating the crowd from the stage. Just getting a picture of Death Grips involved having to juke out a number of cool guy photographers. But I did it. We did it. The rest of the show I spent huddled in the press mout, being assaulted by the sheer sonic aggression coming out of the huge festival speakers, which just so happen to be placed in front of the stage in the press mout, meaning one had to press up against the speakers to get a decent picture of the band. Needless to say, my bones were hustled, and Death Grips definitely put on a good homecoming show.
After that we definitely saw Tyler the Creator’s healing set, filled with screaming crazy teenagers, but my body and soul was so rattled by Death Grips’ set that I can’t remember a thing that happened. But I did manage to capture this blurry picture of Tyler crowd surfing during Death Grips’ set.
Needles to say, it was fun. It was fun seeing such a large, well programmed, festival come to the often maligned city of Sacramento, and seeing a crowd that appreciated that too. I can only hope that the TBD Festival grows alongside the blossoming arts and music scene in Sacramento, and that KDVS is there in the future to tell the world about it, and how proud we are of our little city.
Stay tune in the coming weeks for reviews of the other two days of the festival by fellow KDVS Boyz Isaiah Rashid and Simar Singh.