review and photos by Michelle Parks, special to the The City Wire
This year’s Wakarusa music festival drew thousands of people to this rural Mulberry Mountain in the Ozarks just a few weeks back. Held June 5-8, the festival welcomed many returning bands, plus several acts performing here for the first time.
One established band that didn’t disappoint was The Flaming Lips. Their performance featured a light show and music that were both hypnotic, as well as inflatable creatures and big blasts of confetti that showered and delighted the crowd. One couple got on stage at the start of the show to exchange wedding vows.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros presented a more somber – and very different – show than the group’s 2012 Wakarusa performance. Longtime vocalist Jade Castrinos had been let go from the band before the tour started, and Wakarusa was the last stop on that tour. Though still a heartfelt performance by band leader and vocalist Alex Ebert and the rest of the band, the tone of show just wasn’t the same without her.
Several bands were delights to discover during this year’s festival, among them, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Black Joe Lewis, Dr. Dog, The Black Cadillacs, and Nahko and Medicine for the People.
Andy Frasco served as an enthusiastic emcee for many of the Main Stage acts. He then put on his own raucous show with his band, Andy Frasco and the U.N., at the Backwoods Stage. He brought on stage many of the musicians who had traveled from the region. That show was an all-out jam session that could have lasted for many more hours.
After the deluge of rain last year – and the resulting fields of mud – organizers were prepared this year. They’d already placed gravel along some of the areas with the heaviest foot traffic, including the midway that connects a major camping area to the food vendors and music stages. It also didn’t rain as much as it did last year, which helped. But, when it did, workers covered those paths with more gravel. They also added straw to outdoor spaces and paths, as well as underneath performance tents.
As usual, the staff also gathered up all of the found items and posted them on a page on the festival website. Those items can be found at this link.