San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego’s Wonderfront Festival returns for its third year with an exciting weekend of music

Headliners Weezer and Mt. Joy amazed audiences, as the 2024 lineup of artists invigorated attendees
Isabella Biunno
Weezer’s lead singer Rivers Cuomo plays his guitar on the main stage at Wonderfront 2024 on May 11.

It was time to take in all the sun as Wonderfront hosted its third music festival from May 10-12. Across the three days, performers were playing sets across a variety of stages going from Ruocco Park to Embarcadero Marina Park, and Seaport Village. 

The three-day festival boasted a number of artists headlining including Kaytranada and JID on day one, Weezer and Dominic Fike on day two, and Mt. Joy and Beck rounding out the weekend on day 3. 

Day One – Friday, May 10

Of the performances I attended on the first day of the shows, Surf Mesa, T-pain, Bakar and Dayglow all stood out as highlighted sets. 

Surf Mesa put the crowd into an upbeat environment performing at the Marina Stage with his DJ set filled with many well-known electronic and dance songs. Powell Aguirre, better known by his stage name “Surf Mesa,” pumped up the audience with smoke emitting from the stage with every beat drop as beach balls bounced up and down from the crowd. 

Performing a DJ set, Surf Mesa gets the crowd hyped for Wonderfront on May 10. (Isabella Biunno)

Aguirre finished his set with “ily (i love you, baby),” his most well-known track being a sample of Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” with a modern dance electronic take. The track has garnered over 900 million streams off Spotify following the strong traction of the song being used on TikTok. 

T-Pain’s presence playing on the Ocean Stage set the tone for the rest of the day, with fluid dance moves and a buoyant performance. 

People of all ages filled the VIP and general audience area across the back to the vendors as T-Pain wowed the crowd with his constant energy that set the stage on fire. His collaborator, DJ Montay, backed the performance and hyped the crowd up before T-Pain came on stage. The two-time Grammy award winner played fan-favorite songs such as “Buy U a Drank”, “Bartender”, and “Tennesse Whiskey” all while busting a move or two on stage. 

Looking towards the crowd, T-Pain performs during the Wonderfront 2024 festival on May 10. (Isabella Biunno)

As the sky became gloomy despite the warm atmosphere, T-Pain spoke to the crowd after performing a couple of songs draped in sweat and breathing heavily. “How is it hot and cold at the same time.” 

Bakar brought on a relaxing performance for attendees as the sun began to set. Bakar’s raw vocals made for an incredible show that felt personable with Bakar talking with the audience. “It’s my first time ever in San Diego,” he said after performing his song “I’m Done”. He then went on to play his biggest song, “Hell N Back.” Before he went into performing the popular track, he noted how he grew to embrace wanting to perform the song that made him famous instead of shunning any thought of not liking how the song shaped his career. 

Projecting into the microphone, Bakar performs his biggest hit, “Hell N Back” on Park Stage on May 10. (Isabella Biunno)

The audience sang in unison with Bakar, until he stopped the song early to point a fan out in the crowd who was wearing a soccer jersey. Bakar liked it so much that he had the fan take it off and put the jersey on while performing the song once again. Afterward, he asked the audience if they wanted to hear it again, and they replied with instant cheers. Bakar sang the song once more before going into the crowd and singing along with everyone. 

“Let’s rock and roll just a little bit,” Sloan Struble said, better known as Dayglow. Their set brought a bigger-than-expected crowd as he played on the Park Stage near the main entranceway at 8:15 p.m. to be a part of the night’s last acts. The band brought a ton of energy throughout the set as they performed a variety of their most well-known songs including “Hot Rod,” “Can I Call You Tonight,” along with their new song, “Every Little Thing I Say I Do.” 

Performing pop hit “Can I Call You Tonight?”, Dayglow lead singer Sloan Struble sings his heart out at the Wonderfront 2024 festival on May 10. (Isabella Biunno)

Day Two – Saturday, May 11

The second day of the three-day festival brought on a mix of alternative rock from then and now, along with several artists who brought summer pop to the San Diego downtown area, which overlooks the ocean. 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra was one of the standout performances of the day to kick off the afternoon of sets. Led by Ruban Nielson, the band produces a sound along the lines of psychedelic rock, surf rock and a dash of disco. Despite a broken guitar amp that halted the show during a song, they still performed great. As a fan of the band myself, it was incredible to see some of my favorite songs performed live such as “HunnyBee,” “Swim and Sleep like a Shark” and “Necessary Evil.” 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra performs on the Marina stage during day two of Wonderfront on May 11. (Isabella Biunno)

Not long after, German pop-folk band Milky Chance came on stage to a massive crowd as their infectious grooves had the whole audience moving. The band is a duo made up of Clemens Rehbein and Phillip Dausch. The group played a collection of their best-known songs while Clemens whipped his long hair and danced with an acoustic guitar under his arm. The whole show felt well-paced, and it was bound to make anyone feel like dancing after seeing them. 

Milky Chance’s lead singer Clemens Rehbein jams out while playing his guitar on May 11 during the Wonderfront music festival. (Isabella Biunno)

More and more attendees bunched in crowds as they awaited pop star Carly Rae Jepsen. She came out dazzled in a sparkling dress and glasses, backed by background singers who also served as dancers. She managed to make an overcast sky feel like a hot summer’s day with how igniting her performance was. Across the stage, Jepsen made signature pose after pose, at one point even going into the first few rows singing along with the audience. She sang her signature hits, “Call Me Maybe,” and “I Really Like You,” while also playing songs from her 2022 album, “The Loveliest Time.” 

Pointing at the audience, pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen performs “Call Me Maybe” at the Wonderfront festival on May 11. (Isabella Biunno)

Weezer was the headliner for day two, and a huge scope of the audience showed up as expected. Minutes felt like hours waiting for the iconic 90’s rock band to come out and perform, and when they did, they didn’t disappoint. They put on an amazing show backed by animated visuals specially made for each song. Lead singer Rivers Cuomo wasted no time as through the majority of the show, they spent most of their time playing the songs everyone came to hear. From “Beverly Hills,” to “Island in the Sun,” there was no shortage of classic songs played. 

Day Three – Sunday, May 12

The third and final day of the festival had no shortage of star power as performers included Mt. Joy, The Roots, Steel Pulse and Natasha Bedingfield. 

Steel Pulse was a group I was unfamiliar with before covering their set, but I quickly grew to admire their performance and what their music stood for. The band is an easygoing reggae band with a storied history. The music had a backdrop with terrific timing to the sunny weather that appeared soon before. Frontman David Hinds had a big smile throughout the set, as he was backed by a horn section that made for an easy listening experience. 

Steel Pulse bassist Ronald McQueen gives a thumbs up to the crowd during the Wonderfront 2024 festival on May 12. (Roman Aguilar) (Roman Aguilar )

Some might know the Roots as the backing band for Jimmy Fallon’s late-night show, but they’re also a hip-hop group with a discography that’s spanned over 30 years. Lead singer Black Thought and drummer Questlove came out and immediately went into playing a medley mix of classic R&B songs with a hip-hop style.  The band was also supported by a horn section that gave way to a loud signature sound. 

Black Thought performs for The Roots during the Wonderfront 2024 festival on May 12. (Roman Aguilar )

Mt. Joy has an abundance of well-known songs which were well-displayed by the audience as crowds reached the back of the grass hill leading up to the main stages for the band. Lead singer Matt Quinn had incredible chemistry shown on stage, exemplified with guitarist Sam Cooper as they traded guitar solos. The indie folk band also had an array of colorful visuals behind the group that added to the weight of the music. 

Lead singer of indie folk band Mt. Joy, Matt Quinn performs on stage on day three of the Wonderfront festival on May 12. (Roman Aguilar)
(Roman Aguilar)

Fans left with a pocket full of sunshine after they saw Natasha Bedingfield take away the night and conclude the Wonderfront weekend. With no visuals, only a few players backing her up on stage and no dancers, Bedingfield did it all on her own and showed her vocal ability could do it all. Watching her perform made attendees forget just how many memorable songs of hers they’ve heard on the radio at some point in time. From “Unwritten,” to “Love Like This,” and “Pocketful of Sunshine,” her earworm songs made for a joyful experience to conclude the night. 

Natasha Bendingfield sings and wows the crowd during the Wonderfront 2024 festival on May 12.(Roman Aguilar) (Roman Aguilar )
About the Contributors
Roman Aguilar
Roman Aguilar, '24-25 Sports Editor, '23 -24 Sports Editor
Roman Aguilar (he/him/his) is a second-year journalism major with an emphasis in public relations from Stockton, California. Since he was little, he loved watching sports and being able to tell a good story out of an exciting game matchup. He joined the Daily Aztec in 2022 as a contributor and staff writer for the sports section, covering a multitude of sports including football, men's basketball, and water polo, before moving on to sports editor. Aguilar is also a blog writer for KCR College Radio, attending concerts and having the opportunity to cover shows and interview artists. When he isn't writing articles related to music or sports, you can see Roman going to local concert shows on a near-weekly basis and watching his favorite horror movies.
Isabella Biunno
Isabella Biunno, '24-25 Managing Editor, '23-24 Photo Editor
Isabella Biunno (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Daily Aztec. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada where she was a part of yearbook and publications for nearly six years. She is a first-year Psychology major with an emphasis in neuroscience, and she plans to go to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. She loves photography, editing, and creating, and she can’t wait to continue shooting content for the DA. One thing she is passionate about outside of photojournalism is being involved in the disability/Autism community. She is a part of SDSU’s Adapted Athletics club, and she worked as an Instructor at a company back home called Inclusion Fusion where she was able to work with people with disabilities. Although her career-related passions fall in the healthcare field, she enjoys taking pictures and covering photo events just as much. She looks forward to expanding her experience as a photographer as well as capturing some astounding shots this year.