Hey, TBD Fest fans, meet Sacramento

People dance to Autograf on the Main Stage at TBD Fest in West Sacramento on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.
People dance to Autograf on the Main Stage at TBD Fest in West Sacramento on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015. apayne@sacbee.com

The music thumped. The lights flashed. And the infamous dust – dreaded by some, embraced by others wise enough to wear bandanas – swelled into a cloud that wafted over a lot near Raley Field for three days.

TBD Fest, which just wrapped its sophomore year in West Sacramento, isn’t for everyone. Middle-aged folks with an aversion to noise and porta-potties should steer clear. But the festival, with a lineup heavy on dubstep, indie rock and rap, definitely appeals to the crowd that matters most to Sacramento’s future.

Young people. Creative people. People who will continue to re-energize Sacramento’s midtown and downtown, and fill many of those 10,000 housing units that Mayor Kevin Johnson wants to build. People from other, supposedly cooler parts of Northern California who know nothing of the Sacramento region and need a proper introduction.

TBD Fest offered that hello, at least for a weekend.

Organizers expected more than 30,000 attendees over three days, but estimates indicate many more than that poured into the Bridge District, the mixed-use neighborhood near Tower Bridge.

Craft beer, food and art were in ample supply. But most came to see the headliners, including the homegrown hip-hop group Death Grips and electronic dance music darling Pretty Lights. So young was the crowd that more than a few fans thought 1980s-era Tears for Fears was a cover band.

Most were undeterred by last year’s dust attack. Before the festival, organizers treated the lot with a bonding agent to help clump the dirt. But 10-hour days of dancing, sitting and walking from stage to stage will undo a lot of that.

By Saturday night, the lot had the weirdly inspiring desolation of a “Mad Max” movie. Thousands were jumping up and down, drinks in hand, under a rising cloud of dust illuminated with neon lights flashing in time to a heart-stopping beat. And 20-something fans, many from the Bay Area, kept blurting out things like Sacramento “actually isn’t all that bad” – a compliment, trust us.

TBD Fest is exactly the kind of event that brings community, creativity and unabashed coolness to the Sacramento region – a feat for a collection of cities that’s too shy about tooting its own horn as a youthful, creative hub.

The dust issue needs improvement. But by these other, larger measures, the ones that set the tone for Sacramento’s future, TBD Fest was a rousing success.

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