It’s no surprise that there is huge overlap with live music fans/festival goers and the millennial food-connected crowd (what TCG calls the “foodie 2.0”). Music festivals and concerts have been incorporating high-quality food options for some time now, but last night’s Sports Illustrated Summer of Swim Fan Festival took the blending of food and music to an unprecedented level: the main headliner also curated the entire food experience.  As much as we would love to see Keith Richards flipping burgers or rolling up burritos before a Stones Show, these things just don’t happen.

But, last night, not only did Queens rapper Action Bronson perform a high-energy, two-hour set at the new Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk, he spent ten minutes tossing brand new kitchen appliances out to the crowd. He was also responsible for single-handedly curating the collection of food vendors for the show’s “F*ck That’s Delicious” food truck village, at which Bronson himself even served up a personally-prepared dish called "Under The Boardwalk Spicy Clam Sandwich” inspired by the famous Nathan’s menu. Other options in the village included lobster rolls from Red Hook Lobster, Gary’s Cheese Steaks, creative grilled cheese options from Gorilla Cheese NYC, and empanadas from Nuchas.

Bronson worked as a cook for many years in several New York restaurants before making it big in music. His lyrics often reference favorite dishes and feature shout-outs to his favorite restaurants and culinary idols like Daniel Boulud. He is called the first “foodie rapper” and to say that the guy has cross-over appeal is an understatement. He is one of the biggest rappers in New York and has toured the world with the likes of Eminem. He also hosts two shows on the VICE channel: F*ck That’s Delicious (which follows his culinary adventures on tour), and Action Bronson & Friends Watch Ancient Aliens (the show’s premise needs no further explanation).

The event began at noon with a brand activation by Sports Illustrated featuring some of the industry’s top swimsuit models playing games on the beach and interacting with fans. This swimsuit event-turned-concert/food festival in Coney Island yesterday may have been one of the most unique brand activations I’ve ever experienced.

Fans were engaged from noon to midnight with constant activity and experiences to satisfy all the senses. It had a meaningful impact on its target audience (millennials – me), and was a great example of how festival creators can elevate the fan experience.

We know that consumers are more likely to spend money on an event they know will feature chefs and high-end fare. And while the culinary and musical talent might not always be the same person, if festivals start thinking differently about these kinds of added-value elements, they will sell more tickets, reach larger audiences and ensure their brand partners get a lot more bang for their buck.