Music News & Reviews

TBD means ‘to be determined’ for 2016 West Sacramento music festival

People dance to Autograf on the Main Stage at TBD Fest in West Sacramento, Sept. 19, 2015.
People dance to Autograf on the Main Stage at TBD Fest in West Sacramento, Sept. 19, 2015.

The announcement arrived in mid-May of 2015 that music fans could look forward to West Sacramento’s TBD Fest in the following months. Tears for Fears and Pretty Lights were trumpeted as headliners for the Sept. 18-20 festival of cutting-edge music, local food and art in a large, vacant lot near the Tower Bridge.

But now, as the summer concert season soon kicks into gear, the future of TBD Fest remains “to be determined.” According to Cindy Tuttle, director of parks and recreation for West Sacramento, TBD organizers have not yet applied for permits to secure a 2016 event or engaged in talks with the department.

TBD Fest was co-founded by Clay Nutting and Michael Hargis, who also launched midtown’s LowBrau Bierhall in late 2012. The name “TBD Fest” in part references “The Bridge District” of West Sacramento, where organizers said a combined crowd of 30,000 gathered in 2015 for the festival.

“For these types of large events, the earlier (you apply for permits) the better,” said Tuttle. “A lot of complex planning needs to be done with city staff, police, public works, sound engineering has to be addressed. The work that has to be done behind the scenes is time-consuming.”

While hailed as an artistic success, and symbolized as a festival that caters to a more progressively minded Sacramento, TBD Fest has been beset by financial issues since its 2014 debut.

TBD Fest lost an undisclosed amount of money in both 2014 and 2015, leaving a number of vendors unpaid following the events. In December, Nutting was named in a lawsuit over a $200,000 loan that was to be paid back through monies received from TBD Fest sponsorships and ticket revenue. The lawsuit remains pending in Sacramento Superior Court. A count of fraud that originally was filed in the lawsuit has since been dropped.

Though TBD organizers haven’t begun the permitting process or booked any acts, they haven’t ruled out the possibility of a festival. A new TBD festival manager is being sought and the roles of its founders may change.

“Organizers do, however, feel optimistic that they will be moving forward in some capacity, with an intention to resolve outstanding issues, and to create an event the city can be proud of and excited about,” said Patrick Harbison, a spokesman for TBD Fest, in a statement.

TBD Fest organizers have meanwhile scaled back on other endeavors. Plans for a New Year’s Eve block party near LowBrau to help ring in 2016 were scrapped. In January, Nutting told The Bee that a 2016 version of TBD Fest would likely change in scope, a sentiment that Hargis also echoes.

“To be honest, we’d talked about moving the date or scaling back to ramp up for 2017,” Hargis said. “I feel confident that something could happen, but it’s still preliminary right now.”

Chris Macias: 916-321-1253, @chris_macias