A Short Guide to Wakarusa 2012
Wakarusa has grown since it settled in the Ozark National Forest in 2009. Last year’s festival drew 20,000 people (twice as many as 2009) with the help of headliners like My Morning Jacket, Ben Harper, and the perpetual “up and comers” Mumford and Sons (who were nominated for Grammy’s 2011 Best New Artist two years after their debut LP). While next week’s Wakarusa doesn’t have the headlining strength of 2011, plenty of folks will make their way to Mulberry Mountain. Many will camp out and most will not shower for days in their quest to see as many of the 111 scheduled acts as possible. You can browse the schedule here.
MAPS & POINTS OF INTEREST
Wakarusa headquarters is at Mulberry Mountain, 16 miles north of I-40, on Highway 23. The small town of Ozark, AR is the closest source of goods and services for festival goers. Besides the standard fast food options (McDonalds, KFC/Taco Bell, Sonic), Ozark has a pretty good BBQ joint called Rivertowne BBQ. Nearby Altus, AR is known for their wineries and Wiederkehr Winery has a well known German restaurant in an old wine cellar. Walmart is 20+ minute drive from the Wakarusa camp grounds, but the closer Turner Bend Store provides the necessities. You can rent a canoe to cruise down the Mulberry River at Turner Bend or at Bryd’s Adventure Center. A drive over to the scenic overlook at White Rock would make a great break from the dense body odor of the festival. Click on the points below.
The festival layout remains much the same from last year. Looks like they’ve added a water slide. More info can be found at Wakarusa’s website. Click the map to enlarge.
Wakarusa has fully embraced their reputation as a jam band/electronic rave festival. The 2012 lineup is filled with jam band acts like Umphrey’s McGee, Perpetual Groove, and Slightly Stoopid and electronica like Pretty Lights, Girl Talk, Big Gigantic, and EOTO. If these genres aren’t your cup of tea, Wakarusa has scheduled some notable, less trance-inducing music, including The Avett Brothers, Blitzen Trapper, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Heartless Bastards, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, and Futurebirds (it seems The Moondoggies are no longer on the schedule). Unfortunately, in an inexplicable scheduling disaster, Edward Sharpe, Heartless Bastards, and Blitzen Trapper all take their respective stages at roughly the same time on Friday, June 1 (although Heartless Bastards play their first of two sets on May 31 at 5:30).
Here’s a sampling of who we are most excited to see:
The Avett Brothers – Friday, 10:15 – 12:15, Main Stage
The biggest draw of the festival, the Avett Brothers are terrific live and command a huge following on their tours. Their hard bluegrass sound hit the mainstream with their 2010 release, I and Love and You.
Heartless Bastards – Thursday, 5:30 – 6:45, Kum & Go Outpost – Friday, 7:45 – 8:45, George’s Backwoods
These rockers from Austin via Cincinnati played at George’s in Fayetteville a few months back. Unfortunately, the show was on George’s front stage near the bar, which led the band’s lead, Erika Wennerstrom, to stop mid-song and complain about the noisy chatting of the patrons. Wennerstrom eventually ignored the rudeness and finished the set strong. Hopefully their two sets at Wakarusa will be well attended and more attentive. They deserve it.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Friday, 8:15 – 9:45, Main Stage
Their stage will be full of musicians, they will play their hit “Home” (which mentions ‘Arkansas’ in the opening lines), and people will dance like hippies.
Blitzen Trapper – Friday, 8:00 – 9:30, Revival Tent
This Sub Pop rambling country-rock sextet from Portland gained attention with their 2007 Wild Mountain Nation and the 2009 Furr, which received high critical praise and plenty of air time on TV shows. They released their sixth album, American Goldwing, last year.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Saturday, 2:40 – 3:50, George’s Backwoods
Isbell has released three albums since he left the Drive-by-Truckers, two with The 400 Unit. Isbell and his fellow Alabamans play a gritty Southern rock that will be lacking at Wakarusa.
Futurebirds – Saturday, 7:45 – 8:45, George’s Backwoods
Veterans of Bonnaroo, the Athens, GA rock band bring their country-tinged harmonies to Wakarusa for the first time.