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FESTIVALS // Wakarusa :: Day 1 :: Thursday May 30th, 2012


Heading out to Arkansas, every festival-goer had already been well acquainted with the weather report for Mulberry Mountain.  Rain was imminent, and we could only hope to set up camp before it arrived.  After a highly disorganized arrival that had cars driving up and down the mountain trying to locate the unmarked security areas to check in, the storm had come.  Some already had time to sufficiently set up tents, but crowds of people remained buried away in their over packed cars at 3 am, wondering if they will have to wait the storm out until morning.  As everyone was starting to get comfortable in their cars, it all came to an abrupt halt.  Ozark, Arkansas knew we had descended upon it, and nature decided it was time to take a leak.

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When the morning arrived (far sooner than anybody would have liked), our shanty town seemed to have sprung up right out of the summer rain.  Everybody was exploring the grounds, making friends with neighbors, and creating their musical plan of attack.  My day (and I know the same was true of many) began at the always-raging Satellite Stage with Boulder’s own Sun Squabi who played the best set I’ve ever seen out of them.  With The Motet, Big Gigantic, and a good portion of Pretty Lights‘ label to come, you could tell that the Colorado music scene was why a lot of people came out.

As the day continued with the sweet bluegrass of Railroad Earth and the 80s style dance jazz of one of my favorite acts, Rubblebucket, the party got weirder and the community grew closer and closer.   And then Govinda struck down upon the minions like the hammer of Thor.  For those of you that don’t know Govinda, it’s time to do some research.  His weird bass heavy tunes accompanied by some remarkable violin playing and the sexiest of fire dancers had the every person lost in a trance like state, whether grooving or staring at the fire before them.  Upon running into Govinda (Shane Madden) and his dancers after the show, it was easy to tell how excited they were to play for such an appreciative crowd in such a magical place.

The crowd grew excited and the masses began to head for the main stage as Pretty Lights’ set approached.  The crowd distracted themselves with blow-up toys and light-up signs, bubbling with anticipation for the dance party to come.  Suddenly, the stage reduces to darkness and the crowd begins to roar.

Now, before I get into the set, I would like to express my undying love for Pretty Lights.  I have seen him many times before and expect to see him many times again, but this was simply not the best that Derek is capable of.  The lights certainly were pretty, and the crowd was certainly getting their dance on, but I know for a fact that he can do better.  Even technical problems aside, transitions were jumpy and there were several times where the majority of the crowd simply was not dancing.  This set hasn’t put me off of seeing Pretty Lights in the future, but he had better pull through next time for the sake of his devoted Colorado fans.

While some began to head off to other stages, others new what was coming to the main stage.  Quixotic is one act that nobody in the know wanted to miss.  With trapeze artists and fire dancers set to some of the most mystical electronic music, this show was nothing short of magical.  Eventually, the crowd herded out from the main stage spreading about the festival when many found their way to the Outpost Tent for Papadosio, and let me say, they have gotten much, much better since the last time we saw them around Colorado.

Finally, the party moved over to the Satellite Stage for the rest of the night (or rather morning).  Surrounded by trees and carpeted with wood chips, there was no better place to dance the sun up to VibeSquaD as people slowly trickled away to retreat to their tents. Eventually the party died down and the sun was once again blaring upon the confused campground as strangers began to trade sleeping shifts, eager for the afternoon of music to come.

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