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Opening Day Hiccups and Blondie at TBD Fest

If I'm being perfectly honest, I really only wanted to go to TBD Fest for Blondie. The majority of the music at the fest is just not my thing.

I get how important and cool this music, art, food and technology fest is for Sacramento. But for me, waving a glow stick around to techno music is the stuff of nightmares.

Still, I entered a Capital Public Radio contest online and lo and behold, I won two three-day passes. Then I kinda sorta felt like a jerk because like I said, I only cared about Blondie, and I know so many people who really wanted to attend this thing.

Held in the dirt at River Park in West Sacramento, TBD Fest was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. on Friday with local band Autumn Sky taking the stage at 3:30. Since I actually like Autumn Sky (though I'm partial to her earlier solo stuff) my husband and I arrived by 3:30.

And then we stood in line, in the hot sun, for the next 30 minutes. For some reason, no one was getting in. Nothing was happening for at least 15 minutes. 

Once the security check began, it was an unorganized trek forward because they hadn't separated guys from gals for searches or made prior announcements of what wasn't allowed. I've been to hundreds of concerts in the last 20 years, and this is just not how you do it.

By the time we made it in, Autumn Sky had finished, and we were in desperate need of water. My husband started choking on dust within 10 minutes of walking around the desolate grounds.

Having checked the fest website in advance, I knew there was supposed to be a station to refill water bottles (since they had to be brought in empty), but we couldn't find it. We asked volunteers. We asked workers at booths. No one knew. We wandered around in the blazing sun to a mostly dead fest. The largest crowds weren't in front of the stages but found seeking shade under the LowBrau tent.

We found shade under the empty food pit tent. On stage, the chefs were doing something with food, but what exactly, I have no idea. There was no explanation, just some dudes visibly sweating over a large table. One other person watched with us.

We wandered around more. I wasn't sure which artists were on which stage because I didn't see signs at the stages, and I don't think set times were lining up with the online schedule, anyway.

We were thirsty, sweaty, and overall, miserable. Since the music was headache-inducing for us, we left. Now there was no line to get in.

Later, TBD Fest responded to my earlier tweet that water was coming. Then a journalist tweeted that the water station didn't make it, but they were giving out free coconut water until they ran out -- a solution only if you could find the free water and didn't have a coconut allergy.

The fest was off to a pretty rough start. But as I viewed images of Friday night on Twitter and Facebook, it seemed the crowds had showed up and things had significantly picked up.

I skipped Saturday and only made my return on Sunday night for Blondie. I was happy to find $10 parking, laughed at the dozens of cars with parking tickets in the 90-minute spots and faced no line entering the gates. The security check had been moved back from the ticket check and now had separate lines for men and women -- not that anyone searched my person this time. 

My husband and I came prepared with bandannas for the dust, found the Roc Doc station for fluids, filled up and claimed our spot for Blondie.

Excluding the girl who passed out near us and some people with bad concert etiquette (it's really not that hard to not be a douche), everything went smoothly.

Blondie was amazing. Debbie Harry's vocals were on point from the opening lines of "One Way or Another" to the encore of "Dreaming." The band played all the classic hits -- "Call Me," "Hanging on the Telephone," "Heart of Glass," "The Tide is High," "Rapture" -- plus some newer stuff, including the singles from 2013's Ghosts of Download, "Sugar on the Side" and "A Rose By Any Name."

At age 69, Harry proved she's still got it -- both the stage presence and the sex appeal that had everyone screaming for her.

Original members Chris Stein and Clem Burke showed off their skills with crowd-pleasing guitar and drum solos, respectively.

To put it simply: The band rocked, and I had a damn good time.


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