Rivalling even Rothbury 2008, our first trip to Wakarusa this year was everything we had hoped for, and much more. I've tried to pull together some hazy memories and recordings I could find of some of our favorite sets and happenings at this wonderful festival. Read on!
Oakhurst - Fake Plastic Trees
This bluegrass band impressed us with their energy and their electric-laden sound. But most of all, with their dust-raising rendition of Radiohead's Fake Plastic Trees. Fieldsofme was quick enough to grab a video for us.
Lotus - Thursday Night Energy
After a somewhat spacey and low-key Disco Biscuits show, we were really happy to find a high-powered Lotus rocking the Outpost. Though the tent was roasting, we staked out a cozy spot in back by the then-closed beer stand and took in the show. More cowbell, good sirs.
Murph Sighting at Kraak & Smaak
We had just run into the man at The Pageant's Halo Bar in St. Louis back in March, so we laughed when we turned around at Wakarusa's Satellite stage during Kraak & Smaak and found him standing by us again. The cast on his hand didn't seem to cause him any trouble during STS9's set Friday night.
We believe that our heated discussion regarding the types of lasagna Garfield might eat ruined the night of a young wook girl by our campsite porta potties.
Girl Talk Squirtgun Party
While b_funk and I were back at camp catching some Zzzs, the rest of the group ventured out to catch some breeze and fill the squirtguns. Some escape was needed from the sweltering 95 degree temperatures. Drankula took the party remote with some iPod speakers, and victimized random (and willing) Wakarutians with the squirtgun to the sweet sounds of Feed the Animals.
Our Last Paid Showers
Little did we know, but we took our last paid showers of the weekend Friday, before water shortages cut them off. Girls and guys alike both heard the gentle cooing of a dude tripping out in the shower.
*COUGH COUGH* WRETCH
WHAT THE FUCK???!!
WHERE'S THE SHOWER??
Umphrey Feel Good
The first Umphrey's set of the weekend brought down the hot sun with some Motley Crue and Pink Floyd covers. It was a good set, but we had to take off for Big Gigantic. And it did not even hint of what was to come from this band later that weekend...
Big Gigantic's Coming Out
We walked up to the Outpost as Dominic Lali was warming up solo with his sax. After a brief retreat he emerged with drummer Jeremy Salken, and gave us one of the best sets of the night, once again though cut short for us due to scheduling. This was the first we'd seen them with their own video production, a series of psychedelic landscapes, images and patterns layered on silhouettes of Dom and Jeremy. I'd never noticed before that night what a machine Salken is. Dom may be the mastermind but Salken's beats are hot. The crowd was digging it all, including some new tracks. It may have just been the first time I'd seen them in a setting like this, but it really had the feeling of a "coming out" for the band, with a prime time slot and a wild crowd.
STS9 and Bassnectar, meh?
We had high hopes for Friday night of Waka, with STS9 and Bassnectar back-to-back among all the other great music scheduled that night. In the end technical issues ruined the STS9 set -- the sound was incredibly quiet and the band even had to stop midset to try and work out the issues. The silver lining was an expected but still very hot Dominic Lali sit-in for Grow. Yet again we bounced early to make it for the start of Bassnectar at the Revival Tent. A good show for sure but nothing terribly new or exciting.
Sub Swara Speaker Dancing
This trio brought some needed energy to the late night, and were one of my favorite "finds" of the weekend. They have a fun, experimental sound to go with the chest-rattling beats that we were looking for. Off and on we'd hop up to the speakers to feel the music (and kill our hearing). There's nothing like the feeling of your eyeballs vibrating in their sockets.
Mistless Mist Tent
The heat came on with a vengeance again Saturday, so a group of us grabbed some chairs and beers and ventured out to the one Wakarusa mist tent. Unfortunately this mist tent was missing the thing that makes it more than just a shade tent. As we talked to various folks wandering in and out of the tent, we gathered that the fest was having a water shortage. Showers were shut down, and we even heard (but never confirmed) reports that the water stations were shut down for a period of time. It was still at least 10 degrees cooler under the tent, so we chilled and enjoyed Blues Traveler from afar. Their classics Run Around and Hook sounded good, and Popper belted out the second Radiohead cover of the weekend, their rendition of Creep.
Watch Out Where the Dweezil Goes
Once again the setting sun brought relief, this time with Zappa Plays Zappa. Not much to say other than Dweezil is the shit. He gave us the choice of Yellow Snow or Cosmic Debris, by crowd vote. Which do you think won out?
Enjoying Widespread Panic with Tacos
I'd been joking prior to Waka that the 3 hour Widespread slot was going to be a great chance for me to take a nap. I haven't had great luck with Panic shows in the past, for various reasons, and don't have a lot of love for the band. Whether the setting, the crowd (biggest of the weekend), or maybe the band that night, something was different. I was actually enjoying a Widespread Panic show.
The relief from the heat and the dancing finally caught up with us during the show, and suddenly a great hunger came upon us. It started with fieldsofme's slushie, but quickly grew to pizza, tacos, and kettle corn. We feasted and charged up for the night ahead.
(Looks like this girl was having a good time at WSP too.)
Come Closer to Umphrey's
Umphrey's has always been and on-again-off-again love for me. They've grown more and more on me over time, but their proggy jams aren't always what you're looking for when you're looking to get down at a festival. None of us though had ever seen a Umphrey's late night set. They brought danceable beats and high energy to the Revival Tent that surprised us all. The highlight was Come Closer, their wild and well done Come Together + Closer mashup. Some genius fans brought in a parachute to the tent, which the group waved madly while some bounced glowsticks off the top and others lay underneath enjoying the breeze and shining lasers on the pulsating fabric. It was all enough for Drankula to declare it the surprise best show of the weekend.
Dub Tribe, Ott, and Glow Stick Dodge Ball
After Umphrey's we took the short walk over to the Outpost Tent for the late night sets of Dubtribe Soundsystem and Ott. The fun and silliness lasted for hours, as we went from dancing to the uplifting beats and vocals of Dub Tribe, to juggling, to watching fire dancers, to glowstick dodgeball, to the psychedelic beats of Ott. Ott was my favorite set of the weekend, with his wild soundscapes, changing beats, and interesting melodies. It's hard to describe, but I felt like more than any other electronic artist at the festival, his music was "challenging" -- mentally and physically.
Aimless Sunrise with Bluetech
We weren't sure if we were going to make it, but next thing we knew we were at the Satellite stage, chilling to Mark Farina and waiting for Bluetech's sunrise set. It was a mystery -- somehow the large glowing ball that we had banished behind the horizon 12 hours earlier had made its way around and was flanking us from the east. Nothing we could do about it, so we brought the dance into the next day as Bluetech soothed us with some great material from his Call of the Wild EP, and even an STS9 Aimlessly tease. It was a perfect ending to the night, or start to the morning -- depending on your perspective.
(wasn't it technically already sunday?)
The Mystic River
The downside to dancing all night is that when you're done, the sun is up and making it impossible to get any sleep. We needed relief from the heat, and the sweat and grime that had built up over night. We had heard bits and pieces about a river and a shuttle that could take you there. We had no idea how often the shuttle ran, or even if the river really existed. But we had to take a chance. We walked to the festival entrance, asking everyone along the way if they knew about this mysterious shuttle to the river. No one seemed to have a straight answer. Finally, nearly about a mile of walking in the quickly rising sun, we got the confirmation we needed, and soon found ourselves on a bus to the Satellite Camping area. After short walk from the drop-off we had the river before us. We could barely contain joyous laughter at finding this clean, cool, shady river. If only we'd had this relief all weekend! We swam, drank, and cleaned ourselves in the river with the always useful Dr. Bronner's. You can see some pictures of this beautiful river in my Wakarusa Flickr set.
Closing Out with John Butler Trio and Two Fresh
After a much needed nap and meal, we were ready for our last music of the weekend, John Butler Trio and Two Fresh. It was my first JBT show, and it turned out to be a perfect end to the weekend. Butler's grooves fit the "tired, but still going" mood well as the weekend started to wind down. We closed out the weekend with a final trip to the Satellite Stage for Two Fresh. Scheduled to end at midnight, he announced that he'd be playing for two more hours as we left to get some needed rest for our 14 hour drive the next day. Driving back sucks.
This One was Up There
Overall, I just have to say -- what a cool fucking festival. Just the right size, with a great lineup of jam, electronic, and mainstream music. If not for the distance, I'd guarantee our return next year. But we will see what 2011 brings. For now, we have some great memories of Wakarusa 2010. Thank you Waka.