WAKARUSA MUSIC FESTIVAL 2008
Originally Published JUNE 11, 2008
YouTube Video URL : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHTvvLTPQWQ
PERFORMANCES – Artist like Bettye Lavette, Lotus, Donna the Buffalo, BUMP, That One Guy, Tilly and the Wall and headliners Mickey Hart Band, Zappa Plays Zappa and TheRFW.com’s Hometown Gem The Macpodz, were all canceled due to weather. And the morning of the last day, a festival employee loosely made stops at campsites alerting a handful of festival attendees that Emmylou Harris had canceled her performance due to ‘illness’. Not good for the performance tally on our Baseball Card report
On the upside, for the acts that fought to win over the weathered audiences, many thumbs up come our way. From Ivan Neville’s Dumpstafunk to our good boys the Avett Brothers, the musicians that came to show did do a great showing with as much passion as they could throw down in the sweltering heat. Notable collaborations between Buckethead and That One Guy, Cornmeal with Vince Herman and Drew Emmit, with Cornmeal violinist joining Tea Leaf Green and even a solid double showing from Keller Williams (solo and with The Transmitters), the acts that came to town came with purpose and reason. And at the end of the day if you came for the music, overall the performances probably didn’t disappoint too much. 3/5
TOWN SQUARE – This Town Square we felt was nothing special at all. Relatively the same layout and probably likewise with returning vendors, the overall central meeting place for this festival did not live up to the potential the space permits; moreover, we noticed some cut backs. In 2006, when Roving Festival Writer last attended, there were TWO (2) main stages; however, this year we only got to see headlining artist on one main stage. The once similarly sized Sun Up stage in which we saw musicians like Buckethead, Les Claypool, Andrew Bird and Animal Liberation Orchestra on in 2006 had now been downsized to a tented pavilion. WHAT?!? Now what stands in the remaining space is an extended VIP area, but if you ventured or camped in the special area the only perk was maybe an easier entrance to the Town Square. Still, we ask, what is the point if you are still a HIKE from the other half of Wakarusa – an area that also features several more vendors, a rather large disc golfing course, another stage solely for hometown acts (appropriately deemed the Prairie stage) and a lake! Nothing was too VIP in that portion of the festival that would warrant the downsizing of a stage that doesn’t even fit more than 75% of the folk that can squeeze into the Revival tent.
For a festival like Wakarusa, it needs all the help it can get. Maybe that is why Wayne Coyne, lead singer of The Flaming Lips, continually protested that everyone in attendance needed “to keep the festival alive.” For some reason, throughout his entire performance, and the … what we will nicely call ‘press conference’, he restated the idea that this was a special, unique gathering unlike other festivals. And we here at Roving Festival Writer agree that it has the potential to be an amazing time; however, when you have the Police Fest that was Wakarusa 2006 that really cut your numbers down for 07 attendance, and a weak lineup in 2008, you need all the good word of mouth you can get.
The festival resides in a state park that is absolutely beautiful. Of the many returning Festies, especially ones located at the BACK of the festival grounds, they did not mind skipping out on over half of the performances just to relax and see the headliners this year. BUT OH NO! Rain came and canned the day! On both the opening and closing days, the limits of the whimsy and flimsy Wakarusa became evident and many of the original, best and headlining acts were canceled! The people persevered but when three of seven headlining acts do not go down, and the late arrival of the CAKE frontman places their set not on the main stage but in that limited sized capacity Revival tent, you really have shorted the people over half the number of promised performances…whether they were your (the organizers) fault or not. It’s still is about the overall experience which makes it worth $169…we mean, worthwhile. 3/5
FESTIVAL SHOPPE – As previously stated, the shops were so few in numbers there were hardly any memorable products or goodies that stood out in our mind. A big shout out to our Dead Head who sets up his FREE table next to his tent just to be generous and FADELINEINCE.com. Decent food and memorable tacos from TACO HEAVEN. 3/5
GREEN MY SCENE – Nothing special here. Standard green scene. We did not see anything that really promoted helping your environment or other ways of keeping the festival scene clean. Big Ups for the handing out of garbage bags because the people will use them, and kudos to dynamite volunteers who cleaned the main stage field religiously after larger acts. We could use some extra attention towards the cleaning of those potties though. 3/5
SECURITY – Security was much better than 2006 and probably the best it is ever going to get. I think the common Festie needs to face the fact that this is a more family oriented gathering that is taking place on a state park. How much more lenient do you think the cops are going to get? They could remain a little less visible. The message is clear, but you can trust that people can remain good without you sitting posted in your four wheeler at every angle of the stage. 2/5
POINT A – Z - Other than the rain the movement of the festival was seamless. The large space allows everyone to comfortably camp in there own area (but watch out for the shaded recesses. Ticks and chiggers are a bitch at this one), and the consistent No Waka Trolley wass making runs to and from the Main Entrance to almost the back of the camping grounds, which can help immensely for older folk, families and tired bodies. Wakarusa also provided a Waka Taxi which was $3 a ride (we think). It is a convenient means of getting expedited service to any corner of the festival ground. Parking allowed everyone easy entrance and departure with their vehicles. The only downside is the lack of space usage. So much more (if promoted and really planned to it’s maximum design) could take place in the Town Square; moreover, if there was a way, maybe more performances could have taken place even in the aftermath of a storm in lieu of cancellations. 2/5
BIG PICTURE – So with the downgrade of a stage, cancellation of several headlining acts, a relatively simple town square and great performances by the artist that did show, we were left feeling… satisfied. Not overly hyped, but with a feeling of content. As if the festival was … what it was. Which is not a bad thing. Not necessarily the greatest thing – but it makes the grade. Just an average time. 3/5