The fourth annual weekend long celebration of local music, art, comedy and culture known as First Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 at North Natomas’ Tanzanite Park (2220 Tanzanite Ave., Sacramento). There will be five stages hosting more than 40 bands, plus stand-up comedy, dance, poetry, food and drinks, tons of vendors and so much more. Single-day tickets are currently just $25, and weekend warrior passes are $42 (but hurry because prices go up May 3!). Read on to learn about eight things we think you need to know about this awesome, all-local, all-ages festival!

This event is extremely family-friendly and inviting to everyone! First Festival has a very easy-going, unpretentious vibe about it. There will be a lot of cool stuff to do with your kiddos scattered around the festival grounds, like The Wish Wagon, Penny the Photo Lounge, Corn Hole with Radii 150, cool art installations, and much more (like a huge inflatable unicorn, peacock and flamingo that people can actually get inside and lounge in!) so bring the whole fam out to experience some local culture. Please note that kids age 5 and older will need a ticket.

They’ve got you covered for food and drinks all day long! Snack on grub from local eateries like Jim Denny’s, Kado’s Asian Grill, Downtown Dogs, Post Oak Barbecue, KettleTopia and others. Enjoy desserts from Snowie King, Conscious Creamery and more. Sip local brews from New Helvetia, Sudwerk, New Glory and others, or enjoy craft cocktails.

Do not sleep on the opening bands! Some of the artists going on early (gates open at 11 a.m. and music starts at noon each day) are most definitely worthy of your time, so get to First Festival when it starts. Some of Saturday’s stand-out early performers are Heat of Damage, Worthy Goat, Shotgun Sawyer and Flight Mongoose, all hitting the stage before 2 p.m. Same goes for Sunday, with early performances from acts like The Brangs, The Hey-Nows!, Unified School District and Jesus & The Dinosaurs. See the full rundown and set times at Music wraps up at 10 p.m. each night so you can be home in bed at a reasonable hour.

It will be A Lot Like Birds’ final performance ever. Yes, you read that right, the popular Sacramento-based post-hardcore outfit, who have been actively touring and putting out rad music since 2009, are hanging things up. Their appearance at First Festival (they play last on Sunday night, scheduled to go on at 8:30 p.m.) will feature a guest appearance by vocalist Kurt Travis (it’ll be his first show back with ALLB since departing from the band a number of years ago).

There’s going to be a stage area dubbed “The Circus” that will house stand-up comedy from the likes of Parker Newman, Jason Bargert, Robert Berry, Shahera Hyatt, Sydney Stigerts and others, along with poetry, burlesque dancing, a hip-hop cypher and more. Please note that some of the performances in The Circus might be most appropriate for 18-plus.

Some of the most exciting local acts are playing First Festival! Whether you’re an enthusiast of local music or not, you’ll walk away from this festival proud of our scene after catching sets from Sunmonks, The Moans, Mondo Deco, Vinnie Guidera and the Dead Birds, Charlie Muscle, The Philharmonik, PRVLGS and many others.

You can shop your heart out, too! Bring some cash (or use one of the ATMs inside the festival grounds) because you’ll want to peruse goods from vendors like Flobell Boutique, New Element Art, Drugstore Cowboy, Hammer and Hilo, Identity Boutique, J&J Cosmic Creations, and many others. Plus, don’t forget to support the bands and buy some merch from them, too!

The headliners are no joke! Hip-hop greats Blackalicious, rock ‘n’ roll duo Dog Party, the aforementioned A Lot Like Birds, singer-songwriter Jonah Matranga (more on him in issue #264), and the the retro-futuristic Butterscotch are among those with top billing at this year’s First Festival. Discover more at

**This write-up first appeared in print on page 8 of issue #264 (April 23 – May 7, 2018)**

    Jonathan Carabba

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