Over the past eight years Wakarusa Music Festival has brought together open ears to enjoy a taste of music in the sunshine. In the north western part of the “natural state” of Arkansas, the Ozark mountains made home to thousands ready to enjoy the acoustics of the mountaintop. With recognizable acts on the lineup there were no doubts the festival would open doors to a variety of musical experiences. The diversity of the genres of music created a draw for any type of music. During the whole weekend there was something to see or to dance to. What started Thursday in the morning with yoga flows and hula hoop practice drifted into musical memories that will last a lifetime. From the costume contest to the parade that marched down the midway, the disc golf course on site to the artistic creation of the main stage area would become after midnight; there was something to see at this festival at all times and of course there was plenty to hear.
Thursday June 2nd
Thursday morning was all about the car loads of attendees swarming in and setting up for the music to begin. Midday came and the starting bands took to the stages. With such a variety of music present at this gathering, southern string bands and mellow rock set the mood for the kick off. Whether it was Dirtfoot or Tyrannosaurus Chicken or any of the other bands performing, the first performers of the festival started things off on the right chords. North Mississippi Allstars rocked the Main stage mid afternoon with their bluesy southern rock style. Music running in these musicians veins brought for a sensational performance, very unique with instrumentals, even adding a little old school washboard instrumentals to the mix. These guys are a fairly frequent performance at Wakarusa that always seem to get the crowd moving, and attendees continued to move!
At the Revival Tent, Minus The Bear brought from Seattle, songs and instrumental talents. With a flash of electric and interesting lyrical choice this band brought a nice tone their set. They included the attendees by always asking for a backup beat with clapping. A very catching stage presence as there was a theatrical additions as well with pig masks and dancers. With a progressive flare Minus the Bear added an uplifting set to ring in the early evening headliners.
On the main stage, Grace Potter belted out beautiful chords along with the subtle sweet strumming movements on guitar. A hop away at the Revival Tent, Buckethead hypnotized attendees with his fast paced guitar movements and industrial rock style all with his signature bucket on his head style. These acts were both a sign of the diversity that flowed with this festival.
With powerful lyrics and impressive energy Micheal Franti and Spearhead rocked in the crowd, literally, not just with them. Opening with the song, “Everyone Desrves Music,” Franti al ways jumping around and telling the audience to put their hands together. The mix of pop, hip hop and powerfully moving lyrics of real world issues brought an attentive crowd to the stage. Performing a variety of songs from previous albums like “Rude Boys Back in Town”, “Hello Bonjour”, “All I want is You” and off his newly released album, “Sound of Sunshine.” A real musician with character and compassion intermixing into the music and the whole performance. Taking time out of his set to shout out to all those who have been hit with devastation. At one point during his set audience members were brought up to the stage to dance with the musicians, Franti and Spearheads set was so collective and humble gathering the community of people together. Micheal Franti spent more time dancing in the crowd than he did on stage. His music and performance are both very moving musically and spiritually. Drifting from the stage after this bands set made the rest of the evening a positive experience.
Umphrey's McGee stepped out to their dedicated following to rock the main stage as Beats Antique brought their world music to the RevivalTent. Beats Antique beat out worldly music with entertaining dance movements on stage. This band lifted the music progressively with attention towards the bass drum, laptop mixes and instrumental mixed brought the vibrations of sound together.
Lotus with their instrumental electric style vibrated a mystifying set to kick off some late night spirits. In the main area of the late night rage, the Intersteller Sanctum brought world music styles and fluid beats to the early morning with artistic talents of Spongletron, Ott and Hallucenogen,. Eoto closed out the night with their positively mind blowing improv late night progressions.
Friday June 3rd
As Morning of the second day on the mountain top came as the heat came with it. The music was a cool breeze to the blazing sun. Local Arkansas music of Mountain Sprout kicked off the Revival tent. The bluegrass music was perfect for the shaded setting where attendees took shelter from the beating sunshine. The Heavy followed the with rock progressive music, blaring with the heat the band was impressive to see at a festival.
Representing the Midwest bluegrass rock was Cornmeal. Their upbeat and energetic string movements was a fantastic way to dance into summertime. Bluegrass string jams erupted from the fast paced musicians who created the fury. This band never fails to move an audience, its hard not to get up and groove when you have the whole band smiling and swaying as well. They were a prefect way to enjoy a break from the sun and move to sweet melodies.
Later in the day on the Main stage, a variety of talented instrumentalist combined to compose smooth sweet southern soul music. JJ Grey and Mofro performed their variety of tunes with impressive instruments on display. A collective choice of material off their albums brought a funky afternoon set.
STS9 came out during sunset to please the crowd and put everything and everyone into more of an up-tempo mood. With STS9 just stepping back into the touring seat after a small break to give time to David Murphy and chemotherapy treatments for his recently diagnosed nasal cancer. David looked like he was in a place that made him happier than ever, his place on the stage seemed to have transported him to a place of happiness as he said, “Its so good to be back with ya'll”, his bass started putting out the start to a new song from Sound Tribe Sector 9, “When the Dust Settles”, a funky song incorporating all instruments on the stage showing sides of both and older style of their sound and also newer sounds that have recently defined STS9. Right a away they came back and kept the tempo up with a crowd favorite Aimlessly, a song that truly in ways portrays tribal sounds with lots of climax's and funky breakdowns greatly attributed to the Wah Pedal of guitarist Hunter Brown who is a major infulence on the electronic nature of the band, exemplified his skillfull ways with the guitar that night at Wakarusa. With already a show pleasing the already happy peoples surrounding the Main Stage they followed into the more electronica based “F.Word” and with “Unquestionable”. After hitting some more electronica based songs, they came back with a very funky classic, “Wiki Chikana” and even more, surprising most people they covered, “Shakedown Street” from the Grateful Dead. STS9 kept a great balance of playing Sound Tribe Sector 9 classics while also playing some of the new tunes from upcoming albums.
The headlining sets were at a peak when My Morning Jacket came on the stage. With a southern alternative rock flare the band showed of their instrumental skills performing a variety of tun