Wakarusa 2010 :: Saturday
Our friends took a trip to the nearest Wal-Mart from Wakarusa on Friday. Gotta love Arkansas! Coming back, they appeared very refreshed. That’s when they told the rest of us sweaty beasts about the nice and refreshing hour they spent wading in the Mulberry River. As the heat continued to beat us down severely, we knew where our Saturday was going to begin.
I woke up that morning to the Ketamine laughs next door, reassuring myself that I wasn’t in the Mulberry already, but in a river of my own sweat. About an hour or so later we packed up the crew, some food and a grill, and headed down the mountain to our shady retreat for the afternoon. After a trip to the waterfall last year, and nearly going into heat stroke on the way back, the seven mile drive seemed like bliss compared to that hike. We were greeted at the river by several other festival goers, although the place had yet to become completely packed out. This was largely due to a lot of people being parked in for the weekend.
We spent the majority of the afternoon at the swimming hole, showering and taking in a scrumptious lunch with some new friends. The shower I took in the river beat the balls off of our solar shower, and I was rejuvenated and ready to take in another night of great music. With Widespread Panic headlining the night, I knew it was going to be a late night. Lots of Gatorade and water would be ingested through the day, hoping to make my night last just a little bit longer. Read on for Saturday’s musical feast after the jump.
:: Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears ::
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears were a great way to start the day. Lewis has a soul-infused voice that rasps away while the horns are pulsing. The band played an energetic set that took me back to my southern roots in Alabama. While the songs lyrics are nothing new in this genre, they still feel truthful, and the music is fresh and spirited. My favorite was “Get Yo Shit,” a song with a man extolling his love to his woman who locked him out of the house.
An Austin band, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears have one full album out, Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is, which they mostly recorded live.
:: Passafire ::
Passafire was on my must-see list for the weekend. They’re a Reggae/Rock band from Savannah, GA. Their music is a perfect blend of the two genres, they’re fresh and very energetic. I like both reggae and rock, but can’t listen to too much of it for long, so their sound kept me happy all around. Watching them perform is a treat, because you can tell they love what they do. They sing and play their instruments like they really mean it. I love seeing and feeling that.
And let me tell you, the afternoon crowd at the Revival Tent was a hard one to win over. We had this realization early on when we saw this on Thursday, but Passafire had people jumping throughout their set. Although you shouldn’t get too comfortable dancing to their music, because they’ll switch from reggae to rock within the same song and you’ll be left looking crazy.
Overall I enjoyed their performance. Especially when they played “Here in Front of Me,” the song that introduced me to this group last year.
:: The Black Keys ::
One of the most anticipated shows of the weekend for me had to be the The Black Keys on the Main Stage. Hailing from Akron, OH, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney provide a powerful sound, while utilizing just drums and guitar. I had the opportunity to catch them at last years Voodoo Experience. They played that set in pouring rain. Regardless of mother nature’s plans, these guys drew one of the bigger crowds that day at Voodoo.
Now on to their set at Wakarusa. Having a hour and a half set in the middle of the afternoon left them playing during the scorching heat of the afternoon. Although the crowd was slightly sparse, a good amount of Keys fans were on hand to rock ourselves into the night. The set consisted of a wide range of their discography, but was heavy-laden with tracks off of the recent release, Brothers including the single “Tighten Up”. About halfway through the set, the Keys added the keyboarding skills of Leon Michels and Nick Movshon for a little bit more of a full sound.
The set continued, plowing through classics such as “Your Touch”, “10 A.M. Automatic” and “Strange Times”. The dirty blues rock sound was bliss to the now sun baked Wakarusian’s, who had yet to miss a beat at the show. The instantly recognizable opening riff of “I Got Mine” would signal the last song for the night, leaving the crowd anticipating some rock and roll. Which, in my personal opinion, was a well needed lineup shift.
:: Slightly Stoopid ::
Slightly Stoopid filled up the Revival Tent. I don’t think another soul could fit in there. In fact, Hash Browns got a little overwhelmed and left me. I thought I had lost her, but no, she left me. I struggled going around the people when trying to get better angles for my shots, all the while soaking in the love from the fans (as well as some fumes and sweat, ya’ll). I got really into their performance and got plenty of shots to give you a full review, so check it out here.
:: JJ Grey & Mofro ::
Actually, I did not desert Cafe Con Leche, I was simply right outside the tent with my fellow dancers who needed space, waiting for JJ Grey and Mofro to come on. Almost immediately Grey riled the crowd into jumping the VIP fence. Many artists had commented on this 15ft wide barrier, and this time security didn’t stop the jumpers.
This 7-piece band is solid soul-infused blues, with some funk woven in. “Mississippi” had a badass sax solo by Art Edmaiston, and in “Florida” Grey tore it up with his harmonica. By the 4th song, Grey tore his shirt off and had a sing-along with the fans. True to the blues, there were several songs of lamentation and hope. “I Believe in Everything” was one of those. Rather simple lyrics, but it’s a gradual soul-stirrer that makes you put the past aside and hope for the future. And I am unashamed to say tears came to my eye in “I Believe in Everything.” It is about the last conversation Grey’s grandmother had with her husband, on the way to the hospital. It’s grief and celebration rolled into a slow-paced, electric heavy crooner.
Mofro visited each of their albums, and have an album due out in August, Georgia Warhorse. Grey has stated that “The Georgia Warhorse is real tough but a chilled out little thing. Nothing seems to rile them. They’re in no hurry but they have a kind of resilience. They keep coming back.”
:: Widespread Panic ::
If there is a band that I think I could listen to all day long for a year and never get sick of them, it might have to be Widespread Panic. Now that might be a bold statement, but as my musical tastes change quite frequently depending on my mood, Panic is still always a staple in my collection. When I learned about them joining us at Wakarusa this year, I can only imagine my response contained a lot of goosebumps and girlish screaming. It’s hard for me to contain myself at times. With a perfect 3 hour set landing right in the middle of the hubbub on Saturday night, I couldn’t ask for a better treat.
I made my way up to the photo pit, as it would be impossible for me not to take in a little bit of their show while standing merely feet away. I honestly snapped about 300+ photos that evening, and I must say, it was the most crowded I think I had ever been while working. The long set was full of tracks off of their recent release, Dirty Side Down. I failed to do my homework and listen to the new content before the show, but what better way to take it in then to hear it live?
The set contained several highlights in my eyes, including “I’m Not Alone”, courtesy of a gal near the front requesting the song for her birthday. Also intertwined in the madness was a wonderful version of “Protein Drink/Sewing Machine” which was recorded during the collaboration project brute., which contained members of Widespread Panic with Vic Chesnutt. The set ran flawlessly, never getting too dark or too fast paced. The encore began with “Up All Night”, which seemed like a tribute to all of us festival goers who would leave the set in search of an all night party.
With over 20 years of credentials under their belt, Widespread Panic continues to bring the heat every time I am blessed to see them. No show is ever the same, and it almost seems that they sound better each time I see them. While several band that have reached the status that Panic has would be content with just coming out and playing there classics, these guys stray away from that, always showing fans something new. I look forward to seeing them more and more, particularly in the festival setting, as they fit the bill perfectly.