It's one of the most X-citing entertainment events in the city. The annual summer music festival X-Fest returns Saturday with more than 100 artists on 14 stages in downtown Modesto.
"That's the most we've ever had," said promoter Chris Ricci. Headliners include former teen pop star Aaron Carter, rapper DMX and rockers Puddle of Mudd. General admission tickets are $20 in advance and $30 at the gate.
Billed as "the valley's biggest street party since 1999," the 21-and-older, alcohol-fueled event is expected to draw more than 15,000 people.
The bands span a wide variety of genres. Acts booked include hip-hop group Drop City Yacht Club, Los Banos country rap-rockers the Moonshine Bandits, reggae band Iration, classic rockers Y&T and R&B singer J-Boog. Also participating are local acts including the Josh Rosenblum Band.
Besides live music, the festivities include a professional wrestling tournament, a roller derby competition, a foam dance party and elaborate DJ stage productions by Opulent Temple and the Dancetronauts, both veterans of the Burning Man Festival in Nevada. There will be vendors selling T-shirts and other merchandise and several food booths.
Carter, 25, the younger brother of Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter, released his first single, "Crush On You," when he was only 10. A few years later, he made tween girls sigh with his hits "I Want Candy," "Aaron's Party (Come Get It), "That's How I Beat Shaq" and "Bounce."
He went on to appear on the TV reality shows "Dancing With the Stars" and "House of Carters" (which included his four siblings).
Carter's X-Fest stop is part of his "After Party" national tour his first tour since 2004. He will appear with his band and perform a mix of his hits and new music.
"I'm really excited to do this show," he said. "It's going to be a lot of fun."
He is in the midst of working on a new album. "It's going to be pop, hip-hop type of music with good hooks and catchy melodies," he said.
Carter isn't pursuing TV work for now. "The focus is the music and touring," he said.
Opulent Temple, based in San Francisco, is making its X-Fest debut this year with a production described on its website as "a peak experience of sacred dance to world-class electronic music."
Syd Gris, one of the co-founders, said Opulent Temple was formed 10 years ago as a collective with the intention of producing an art and sound installation at Burning Man. It has evolved into a production that tours to other events.
DJs play music in a steel-and-glass pod that collective members built. The production includes two large visual screens held up by towers and fire effects that are controlled by the DJs. "We have a lot of very talented DJs who have a long history in the San Francisco Bay Area music scene," Gris said.
The "sacred" part of the show comes from the collective members' belief in the power of community. "We place an importance on creating that communal vibe through our events," Gris said. "By virtue of feeling you're part of something bigger than yourself it has sacred overtones."
Ricci feels confident he is offering a good selection of acts at X-Fest that will appeal to the event's core 25-to-34-year-old demographic.
"I feel it's a really strong lineup," he said.
When The Bee's Facebook followers were asked what they thought of the lineup, there was little middle ground. Many named acts they were eager to see Y&T, Puddle of Mudd, DMX. There was some love for local acts, too. "Better Left Unsaid are playing!!!!!" exclaimed Emily Terry of Hughson. Broken Trojan and Screeching Slay Bats also got shout-outs.
On the flip side, Chad Sedillo wrote, "Lineups seem to get worse every year," while Jorge Luvian said, "Bunch of has beens."
And in a prediction that's either fabulous or frightening, depending on your musical tastes, Jerel Constantino of Modesto made this prediction: "X-Fest 2023 Presents: Justin Bieber."
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan Renner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2313.
IF YOU GO
WHEN: Starts at 5 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Between Ninth and 12th streets and K and H streets, downtown Modesto
TICKETS: $20 in advance, $30 at the gate general admission. Available online only: $40 fast pass (jump to the front of the line at every entrance), $85 premium (includes fast pass, backstage access, two drinks and more)