The First City Festival took place this past weekend at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center, a blandly-named but nevertheless iconic venue that hosts the annual Monterey Jazz Festival and helped turn the Bay Area into the seat of the late-60s counterculture thanks to the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. The aim of this weekend’s festival was considerably more modest, but as a showcase for some of the best artists working in the nebulously-defined genre we’ve come to call “indie,” it was a formidable roster.
Saturday, the festival’s first day, was ideal for a long day of outdoor music, as the mild temperatures and stunning views prompted at least one of the performers to consider relocating to the seaside city.
"I decided I'm retiring in Monterey," Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast told the crowd, per the San Jose Mercury News. "And, by retiring, I mean next week."
In name and sound, Best Coast couldn’t have been a more perfect performer for the second-annual festival. The scenic location and well-shaded grounds created an atmosphere that’s much more relaxed and convivial than the somewhat chaotic energy of larger festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. Following performances from CocoRosie, Tokyo Police Club, Best Coast, and Phantogram, Beck headlined the main stage, giving a performance that the Mercury News described as “sensational.”
As you may have heard, Northern California was struck by an earthquake in the early hours of Sunday, but thankfully, the quake rattled more nerves than buildings. On Sunday, First City Festival continued as planned, with artists like The National, Naked and Famous, Cults, Dawes and many others taking the stage.
In addition to the music, the festival was supplemented by the food, games and carnival rides that will be used for the Monterey County Fair, scheduled to kick off this Wednesday. This too added to the carefree attitude of the festival, where music fans could take a break from contemporary sounds coming from the three stages to enjoy a more traditional form of entertainment.
With great weather, fans and performances, it was another successful iteration of the First City Festival, which is quickly gaining a fantastic rep among indie music fans. Check out pictures of the event from AXS.com photographer Molly Johann above.