Sacramento’s all-new TBD Fest is a go

Music, food, art shopping and more—organizers behind TBD Fest aim to reflect and refine Sacramento’s growth

Justice perform Sunday night at TBD.

Justice perform Sunday night at TBD.

photo by Paul Heartfield

TBD Fest takes place Saturday, October 3, through Sunday, October 5. For a schedule of events and ticket information, visit

For months and months, the city has been buzzing about TBD Fest. The three-day music festival—Friday, October 3, through Sunday, October 5—boasts a killer indie, synth-heavy lineup with headliners Justice, Moby, Empire of the Sun and Blondie.

But beyond the music, few know what to expect.

It’s an evolution of Launch, an arts event with humble beginnings in 2007 that grew into a serious music festival in 2012, featuring DJ Shadow, Chromeo and Future Islands. This year, masterminds Michael Hargis and Clay Nutting, who also own LowBrau and Block Butcher Bar, gave the festival a new format, a new location and a new identity.

“It’s a foundational piece, an iconic event, a civic amenity,” Hargis says. “It’s a reason to keep the young creatives in Sacramento, a reason to bring other cities to see whats happening here.”

In other words, TBD is a reflection of Sacramento’s growth, particularly in the creative worlds of architecture, art, music, design and food. It even includes a series of show posters designed by local artists such as Laura Matranga, John Conley, and Benjamin Della Rosa.

Hargis says he hopes it’ll one day become synonymous with Sacramento. He also hopes it can be a nationally tastemaking event, similar to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in its earliest days. With more than 80 scheduled acts, TBD Fest’s lineup also features plenty of lesser-known bands—but Hargis predicts big things for them.

“There’s not a sleeper on this lineup,” Hargis says. “We chose bands that are not only culturally relevant and speak to what we want the festival to be, but they’re just fun.”

Apart from music, the TBD team is basically building a city for the weekend, with stunning structures designed by Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects, a shopping area full of local boutiques and an Artisanal Pavilion with a farm-to-fork focus. Expect shipping containers, patios, olive trees and a rustic-modern feel.

But what makes TBD so unique is the barn-raising effort behind it, Nutting says.

“We have to activate dollars in the entire community—and the creative community itself—to erect this thing,” he says. “In doing so, there’s ownership from a lot of different spheres.”

It’ll all take place at the Barn, an upcoming indoor-outdoor cultural destination near River Walk Park in West Sacramento. Ride your bike, take public transportation or, if you must, drive and park at Raley Field. Tickets cost $69 per day or $159-$250 for the full weekend.

Still unsure of your game plan? We developed a handy guide so you can examine TBD’s offerings based on your love of other festivals. It makes sense. Promise.

Lightning in a Bottle

Why you’ll dig TBD: It's not a transformational, counterculture event by any means, but there's some hippie stuff and lots of awesome electronic music.

Check out: Huge art installations, and live art and workshops from performance painter David Garibaldi. Yogis will take over the main stage from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday—mindful hip-hop star MC Yogi will teach a Saturday class—and have a separate playground for more casual acroyoga, slacklining and hooping.

Catch Moby’s deejay set Friday night at TBD

Don’t miss these sets: Moby, Gramatik, RAC, Mighty Mouse and Viceroy will all mandate some serious dancing shoes. Throw in Goldroom for dreamy vocals and French Horn Rebellion for funky, electro-swingbeat.

Consume: Find veggie-friendly fare throughout the festival. Kombucha Kulture also promises to be rolling around somewhere.

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival

Why you’ll dig TBD: You love food and everything else is background noise. OK, maybe some exceptional hipster music can pull you away from the chef demo stage for a break.

Check out: The Pit and the Artisanal Pavilion, obviously. Read our “Loose pants recommended” sidebar for more on that.

Don’t miss these sets: Danny Brown, Deltron 3030 and Blackalicious for your hip-hop fix. Explosions in the Sky, Kurt Vile & the Violators, DIIV and La Sera for your indie and experimental rock needs. And Blondie, for obvious reasons.

Consume: Indulge in some shaved snow from Vampire Penguin, ice cream puffs—hot donuts stuffed with Gunther's ice cream—from The Parlor or Liege-style waffles from VolksWaffle California. Or all three. Wash them down with one of Woodfour Brewing Company's excellent farmhouse ales at the Artisanal Pavilion.

South by Southwest

Why you’ll dig TBD: You just want to wander around, be surprised and discover your next favorite band before it becomes too popular to like anymore.

Check out: The most high-tech installation will likely be the maze designed by local startup Rocket Department—it's got lazers and a glowing orb.

Don’t miss these sets: Axxa/Abraxas for some fuzzy psychedelic rock. Basecamp for effortlessly cool, R&B-tinged electronic. Little Daylight for alternative synth-pop, Beach Day for surfy garage rock, and Mainland to swear you were listening to some early Strokes.

Consume: There will be two places to satisfy your taco cravings: Tako Korean BBQ and Azteca Street Tacos. Tako promises a vegan-friendly option, plus a trendy new offering: pork-belly baos.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Why you’ll dig TBD: It's the biggest music and arts festival around, with the best people-watching opportunities—definitely the only one with any emphasis on fashion and design.

Check out: Shopping at Rise & Create, a creative open space with local boutiques like Cuffs, Good Stock Co., Heart Clothing Boutique and more. Stashcity will showcase a few designers there, too. But the main fashion show belongs to Tour de Force, featuring edgy streetwear for active lifestyles.

Don’t miss these sets: Justice—it may be the French duo's only U.S. appearance all year. Also hit Empire of the Sun, Dillon Francis and MS MR. And Nick Waterhouse for that random jazz act.

Consume: Find oysters and lobster rolls at Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery, fancy pants.

Treasure Island Music Festival

Why you’ll dig TBD: Treasure Island's day two lineup is almost always stacked with hipster-friendly indie rock, experimental electronic and chillwave. TBD definitely has that covered.

Check out: The 65-foot Ferris wheel, which is a whole 5 feet taller than Treasure Island's beacon. The views may not be quite as spectacular, but TBD will have swings on the riverbank, too.

Don’t miss these sets: Beach Fossils plays the indie-est of the indie rock. Teen Daze's chillwave is super chill. Either Yacht, MNDR or Cherub probably play your ideal form of weird electro-pop.

Consume: Head to Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen for some gut-busting festival fare—pulled pork mac ‘n cheese sandwich, anyone?—or find familiar comfort via Krush Burger.