Local live-music fans have some choices to make this weekend: Attend First Festival at downtown Sacramento’s Southside Park, the Davis Music Festival in downtown Davis, or some combination of the two?
Both festivals feature more than 40 bands, local food and craft beer. But organizers say they aren’t worried about cannibalizing each other’s attendance numbers.
“I don’t see it as a competitive thing,” said Danny Tomasello, who founded the Davis Music Festival in 2011. “There should be enough people in the area who want to go out and enjoy a weekend of music.”
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Held outdoors, First Festival runs noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19, with three stages set up in the park. Its lineup is mostly rock bands, but includes Americana, blues and reggae acts as well. Danielle Vincent, co-founder and organizer of First Festival, said she aims to create an atmosphere similar to that of larger festivals such as Napa’s BottleRock, but with local acts.
In contrast, the Davis Music Festival, which kicks off Friday, June18, and runs through Sunday, mainly consists of shows at restaurants and bars. Tomasello said his event tends to attract serious music fans. “People that come to the Davis Music Festival are there to hear the music,” he said. “They pay attention.”
Vincent said the Sacramento festival calendar “has felt a bit saturated” this year. But she believes that her event’s hyper-local focus on artists and businesses sets it apart. “I wanted to create an environment where people could support the local scene in action, rather than just in talk,” she said.
I don’t spend what I don’t have. You don’t always have to rack up the invoices to do really big things.
Danielle Vincent, co-founder and organizer of First Festival
About 2,000 people attended the inaugural First Festival in 2015, which featured 18 bands in a single day at West Sacramento’s Riverwalk Park. Vincent said she expects at least 3,000 to attend the 2016 First Festival.
First Festival has expanded into a two-day event, with 43 bands set to perform this year. Four Sacramento rock bands headline the festival: Death of Reason, Drop Dead Red, Epsilona and Tell the Wolves. In addition, 15 local food and beverage businesses will bring their products to Southside Park, joining arts, beauty and merchandise vendors.
Vincent, who has a day job working in the office of Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris, said First Festival paid for itself in 2015. She expects it to do so again this year. “I don’t spend what I don’t have,” she said. “You don’t always have to rack up the invoices to do really big things.”
She said she has a “very long long-term goal” of bringing this all-local festival model to other major cities.
Like First Festival, the Davis Music Festival features local music. But it also attracts up-and-coming bands from around the West Coast that are touring nationally.
The 2016 Davis Music Festival will bring 48 artists to eight indoor venues. There will also be one outdoor stage in downtown Davis. Folk, rock and reggae are the most prominent genres in this year’s lineup. About 1,500 people are expected to attend the festival this weekend, organizers said.
The Davis Music Festival starts with a kick-off party at Sudwerk Brewing Co. at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Most shows are scheduled to start between 4 and 11 p.m. Saturday. The festival concludes Sunday with five shows at Delta of Venus and Woodstock’s Pizza in the morning and afternoon.
Tomasello said the Davis Music Festival was profitable in 2015 after operating at a loss in the two preceding years. He donates all of the festival’s profits to arts programs at Davis schools.
He recounted harrowing moments in the festival’s first year, when only 12 people bought advance tickets to see a lineup of 20 bands. Ultimately, about 500 people paid to attend the festival that weekend.
“Getting (festivalgoers) to commit ahead of time, to plunk down the fee and go, is the biggest challenge,” he said. “It’s hard to know from a budget standpoint what you’re working with.”