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2013 First City Festival Recap!

Well, it’s official – I have a new favorite music festival. The inaugural First City Festival in Monterey last weekend was just that good. Let’s get to highlights of what I recommend making a mini vacay out of next year.


All photos in this post by Jenn Farmer


Festival lineups often draw the ire of critics for no reason. Let’s face it – it’s tough work to book acts. You want star power, but you also want to get the up and comers and provide a few surprises. Even so, you’re at the mercy of other people’s schedules and only have so much cash to go around.

Well, Golden Voice had it all figured out and I’m not sure I heard anyone complaining about this lineup. There were a lot of great acts and audiophiles were plenty impressed with how good everything sounded. Aside from a few hiccups at Modest Mouse, most everything else was on point.

Day One personal faves of mine were Delta Spirit’s energy, the moves of Father John Misty and THAT voice on Quadron’s Coco O. Jeffertitti’s Nile (who looked like they may have crawled out of a basement in the 70s) were a nice surprise for those who hadn’t seen them before.


On Day Two Generationals had me feeling like I hadn’t a worry in the world. Purity Ring’s light show was worth the trip alone and Toro Y Moi had me boogying down because let’s face it, I’m never going to get sick of Chaz Bundick. And are you kidding me? An airplane flew right over the stage as he sang High Living (and I may or may not have inhaled)! Modest Mouse provided a stellar close to the festival because no one’s heard much of them aside from a few new songs in the last couple years.




If you haven’t been, the Monterey Fairgrounds is quite an excellent choice for a venue. Besides its history with the Monterey Pop Festival, it’s just a choice place to be. The weather couldn’t have been better and there was ample space to chill out or kick it on a grass lawn. There were also a decent number of food options, vaudeville entertainers, separate area for carnival rides/games and while drinks were expensive (at least $7 for the cheap stuff), complaining about that seemed trivial.


Other Memories

A lot of times, my favorite memories at festivals are thanks to a little extra press or VIP treatment. You know, the perks that not everyone has, like going backstage. While that stuff happened (I got to meet The Dodos and ride a carousel with them) what I won’t forget anytime soon is losing my keys and having a stranger put them aside and hunt me down because they thought the keys might have been mine. This lovely human being refused my offer to buy her a drink and just told me to pay it forward (which I did by giving a complete stranger a ride home to SF). That’s the sort of thing that happens in small festivals like First City. It’s a small town mentality. You see the same people throughout the weekend and take care of each other like family.

I feel like you don’t need me to say this, but if you’re within a few hours drive of this festival and the lineup’s even half as good as it was this year, go. Grab some friends or a lover, book a hotel and make it a weekend on California’s Central Coast.

Want more? Check out our full First City Festival photo gallery and previous coverage.

First City Festival 2013 Mixtape!

Ready for the inaugural First City Festival in Monterey next weekend? We’ll be there and thought we’d drop our own First City Festival 2013 Mixtape to get prepped. Throw this on, build your schedule and get psyched for next weekend. And if you don’t have tickets yet, it’s time to Treat Yo Self.

p.s. If you don’t see the tape you’re probably on your mobile device. But don’t worry, just listen here instead. Prefer Rdio? We’ve got that covered too.

First City Festival 2013 [preview]

So we missed Outside Lands this year. Wanna know why we didn’t stress? It’s time for new experiences like Monterey’s First City Festival.

Taking place at The Monterey County Fair and Event Center (August 24 + 25), this first year festival has a lineup that’s tough to ignore. While headliners Passion Pit and Modest Mouse are nothing to balk at, it’s the supporting cast that has me feeling like organizers know what’s up. There’s a lot to be excited about, but I personally can’t wait for my fix of Washed Out, Delta Spirit, Toro Y Moi, Purity Ring, The Dodos and Generationals. And besides typical festival fare, there’s always time to get your fix of summer carnival rides.



In case you haven’t been to Monterey (it’s gorgeous), the festival moniker comes from the city’s claim as the official “first capital” of California. Monterey was home to California’s first theatre, public library, publicly funded school, printing press, and newspaper. The venue isn’t short on live music cred either. It was the site of the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 that is credited with being a template for Woodstock and just so happened to host Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar and The Mamas and the Papas. Yeah, it must have been incredible.

Unless you’re a local, getting there requires hopping in an automobile, but you should also consider the train or bus shuttle options available. You can tell I’m psyched, but how I could I not be with such a storied history and promising lineup. Hope to see you there, permagrin on your face.

The essentials:
Getting There
Where to Stay
Twitter + Instagram + Facebook hype
Our Festival Mixtape

Do-Tell: The Dodos [interview]

At First City Festival in Monterey, I caught up (and rode a carousel) with Meric Long and Logan Kroeber of The Dodos, who just released their latest record Carrier. My questions were a bit all over the place and we didn’t talk much music, but I hope that makes it a little more fun. Listen below as we talk house parties, Doritos, burritos, the SF tech scene and a couple of things they’re excited about. It was a pleasure hanging out with these dudes.


Photo by Jenn Farmer.

Green music (not reggae)

Finally, the perfect marriage between great f*ckin music and the environment. Project 3090, taking place in New Orleans, will be one of the first music festivals in the world to be       powered almost exclusively by green energy. The two stages and all of the lights will run on solar and wind turbine generated electricity, and all of the containers will be bio-degradable. Featuring bands like Ghostland Observatory and MyNameIsJohnMichael, Project 3090 promises to be the most low impact music event since the talent show you held in your backyard in 6th grade. So if you like music and love a green earth than this is definitely the music festival to hit up.

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