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Arts & Culture

Wonderfront Music and Arts Festival takes over San Diego this weekend

Fans of all ages, places and backgrounds are excited for the sights and sounds on tap at Embarcadero Park this Friday through Sunday.

“It's really nice now that we're having more festivals here in the city. I feel like there’s not really much going on here most of the time,” said festival attendee Deeni Baez. “But now we have a really good lineup so I'm excited to see what (more) there is.”

Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival is back with tons of big names and emerging artists. That includes a few local bands, like Saint Luna.

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“As we’ve gotten older, I feel like our sound has kind of also grown up with us a little bit,” said band member Bradyn Jace. “I feel like we're trying to get a little heavier and grittier — a little bit more like alternative-psychedelic-desert rock.”

Two of Saint Luna's members grew up in Point Loma and Lakeside.

The others met at San Diego State University and on TikTok. Now they get to play their music on a big stage in front of their hometown.

“It's definitely a trip. I remember I came to this festival two years ago to see Kings of Leon, and now I’m, like, playing this festival,” said drummer Paarsa Heidari.

Sain Luna poses for a photo at the Wonderfront Music and Arts Festival, May 10, 2024.
Charlotte Radulovich
/
KPBS
Sain Luna poses for a photo at the Wonderfront Music and Arts Festival, May 10, 2024.

Besides the local band, some of the three-day festival headliners include Beck, Kaytranada, and Weezer.

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Those acts, and the others in the lineup, seemed to be a hit with those who came out.

“This is my first music festival kind of thing. The lineup was good, it was cheap, I live here, getting here was easy. It all just kind of worked out,” said festival attendee Eleanor Fonseca.

This is the third time the festival has ever taken place. Although it began in 2019, there were multiple delays due to the pandemic.

Now, there’s a new time of year for the event.

“This is the first time we've been in May, so now we get to be kind of a kick-off to summer festivals instead of the last of the year, so that's been really good,” said Wonderfront founder Paul Thorton.

He said the festival originally took place in November.

“We’ll have over two hours more, almost three hours more of sunlight every day, just from that shift. That makes a big difference in things,” Thornton said.

In addition to the performances, the founder said there’s a new feel for the festival this year — the setup is more compact and the music is catered to certain genres each day.

“That was a little trickier to do trying to have all those genres on all three days. So now we're a little more pointed per day. So like Friday is EDM, hip/hop, pop; Saturday is all our rock genres; Sunday is like americana, jam, rootsy rock, some alt country,” Thornton said.

He added that they’re expecting up to 50,000 people to come and enjoy the music over the weekend.

The festival has eight stages and one of them is a boat that takes up to 550 people out on the San Diego Bay.

For Saint Luna, the feeling is surreal.

“We've definitely paid our dues too so it feels like we can all kind of pat each other on the back being here. It's going to be a good day, everyone is excited to play, we're going to have some fun,” said band member Wick Hauser.

Their set had a good size crowd, and the band members were high energy throughout the performance.

“Just to be asked, especially when you're based in San Diego and you kind of know what this event means to this region, like what it is, it's super cool to be a part of it. Just very grateful to be here,” band member Tanner Lampugnale said.

Whether people come out to all three days, or just a single one, the energy is through the roof — especially since this may now be the largest music event in San Diego.