In its third year, music festival HOFDAY aims for large crowds
How a crew of professional revelers made it their job to bring the party to Sacramento
Local party-starter Damian Lynch understands the power of the music festival—and that it’s not just about the music.
He says that, for instance, “75 percent of the people going to Coachella don’t know 90 percent of the people who are playing.” What, then, explains the festival’s ascendant popularity? “The majority of people are going for a selfie,” he said.
While music fests sell out all over the country, Sacramento has yet to sustain its own flagship gathering. There’s Aftershock Festival, arguably the most notable, but it’s niche, drawing in a nondiverse metal and hardcore mob. The much-discussed TBD Fest fizzled out after a couple of incarnations. And though City of Trees fest charms, it’s one of those quaint, radio-promo affairs.
Lynch and his team are carefully watching that throne, however. Known as Hall of Fame, he and colleagues Robbie Metcalf and Tony Christian attribute their crew’s cautiousness to the city’s slow maturation when it comes to attracting big crowds—and investors—to a major fest.
“It’s a balancing act, especially here in Sacramento, where we kind of have the persona of a big city, but we’re still growing,” Lynch said.
This weekend, Lynch hopes Sacramento will bloom during Hall of Fame Day: an all-ages, EDM and hip-hop party that organizers say could attract some 20,000 people to Old Sacramento’s waterfront for a Saturday of bass, beats and drops.
Hall of Fame may be a new name to many, but the trio behind the brand has been throwing down at local parties for a decade. It all started in Los Angeles in 2007: Lynch and the HOF guys were traveling down south at least “once or twice a month” just to party, he remembered. Their crew connected with Christian Murphy, son of the Beverly Hills Cop star, with whom they’d hop between mansions and clubs. Murphy coined the name Hall of Fame.
“We were like, ’We’ll do it in Sacramento,’” Lynch recalled.
Murphy remained in LA, but back in Sac, the original Hall of Fame team hosted parties everywhere from suburban houses to clandestine warehouses, events that drew both “club girls and folks in sneakers,” Lynch said, and racially diverse fans. “We mastered the house party,” Lynch said.
The catch, though, was that most of these Hall of Fame happenings were illegal. Cops occasionally shut down shows. Their operation’s surreptitiousness grew old, he said, and the guys—all still under 30—realized it was time to rise above the board.
After a year off, they returned in a big way in 2015: the inaugural Hall of Fame Day, a festival that drew several thousand attendees to West Sacramento’s waterfront. HOF’s 2016 follow-up attracted a larger crowd and brighter talent, including headlining deejay/producer Metro Boomin’.
This weekend’s third-annual HOF Day, now on the Sacramento side of the river, features producers Hippie Sabotage and dance deejays Joyzu, in addition to more than 30 undercard artists. It’s a much bigger event — and Lynch admits the squad is rolling the dice. “It’s absolutely a risk,” he said of the fest, which boasts a budget in the high five-figure range.
But if they succeed this weekend, Lynch said he’ll shoot for flagship-festival status in 2018.
“We’re going to go big,” he said. “We’re going to try to swing for the fences with this thing.”