Saturday at Wakarusa delivers Black Cadillacs, some Magnetic Zeroes and something about an incident with String Cheese. A good way to end the night is with some sweet and “filthy bass” drops from Bassnectar.
The 11th annual Wakarusa Music Festival will offer some 130 confirmed acts appearing on six stages over four days at Mulberry Mountain, north of Ozark. Admittedly, that’s a lot of bands and a lot of music, and deciding exactly who to hear can present a serious challenge.
This series of stories, called “Seven to See,” offers daily recommendations for music. Sometimes these include the major, can’t-miss acts. But they also offer suggestions for intriguing acts with the potential to put on a great live show. (Programming note: In assembling these daily lists, attention was paid to performance times, though a quick turnaround might be required to travel between stages.)
72C on SATURDAY (June 7)
• Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers (Main Stage – noon to 1 p.m.)
Do yourself a big favor by starting off your Saturday listening at the Main Stage. There, you’ll find Nicki Bluhm, the beautiful front woman to her band, the Gramblers. She has a vintage soulful voice that hints at Janis Joplin’s. She met her husband, Tim Bluhm, the band’s musical director, at a house party, where someone handed her a guitar and she sang for the first time in front of a group. The San Francisco group released its self-titled debut album last year.
• The Black Cadillacs (Revival Tent – 1 to 2 p.m.)
Head immediately to the Revival Tent to check out a band whose members hail from cities in Tennessee. The Black Cadillacs, an indie rock band now based in Knoxville, mixes its blues, country and rock roots for what promises to be a powerful performance. Their music is loud and edgy, while staying heartfelt and soulful.
• Xavier Rudd (Main Stage – 3 to 4:15 p.m.)
For something totally different, wander over to the Main Stage. There you’ll find Australian-born Xavier Rudd, who offers uplifting music delivered with lyrics based in thought-provoking themes and concepts, such as spirituality, environmentalism and humanity. Rudd played at the second Wakarusa festival, in 2005 in Kansas. The hypnotic sounds of his band’s music will make for a perfect afternoon session.
• Andy Frasco (Backwoods Stage – 4:15 to 5:30 p.m.)
Next, move as fast as you can to the Backwoods Stage for a show by Andy Frasco. You don’t want to miss a minute of what will surely be a high-energy throw down. Now 25, the Los Angeles native has been playing and touring since he was 18. He sings and plays keyboards with a group of musicians he calls “The U.N.,” and they have been described as “party blues with a touch of barefoot boogie.” They’re well-seasoned performers, averaging 200-plus dates a year over the past five years. This should be a hot show.
• Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (Main Stage – 6:30 to 8 p.m.)
Grab yourself some dinner, then get back to the Main Stage for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. The group is lead by singer Alex Ebert, but there’s no one here named Sharpe. (Sharpe is a messianic figure that Ebert was once writing a book about.) The band formed when Ebert met Jade Castrinos outside a Los Angeles café. This 10-member group released its debut album, “Up from Below,” in 2009, followed by Here in 2012 and a self-titled album last summer. They are free spirits, and their music is joyful and hopeful – perfect for this festival. With layers of voices punctuated by tambourine smacking and hand clapping, their 2012 performance at Wakarusa truly felt like a hippie revival.
• The String Cheese Incident (Main Stage – 8:30 p.m. to midnight)
Stay put at the Main Stage for a long show by The String Cheese Incident. The experience of this band, which formed in the Colorado ski towns of Crested Butte and Telluride 21 years ago, really shows in their live shows. The members had diverse musical backgrounds and influences, something that helped establish their unique sound. They recently released their first studio album in nine years, “Songs in My Head,” which features 10 tracks they’ve been playing live at their shows for several years. (This will be their second show during the festival; the first happens from midnight to 2 a.m. on Friday night.)
• Bassnectar (Main Stage – 12:30 to 1:45 a.m.)
Next, you’ll want to linger at the Main Stage because you won’t want to miss Bassnectar, one of the longest-standing, most respected artists in American electronic dance music. Bassnectar is the brainchild of Lorin Ashton, a San Francisco-based DJ, producer and artist. Releasing his first album in 2001, he began the project as an open-sourced musical experiment. He pulls from an array of source material – including dubstep, metal, punk rock, hip-hop and all forms of electronic dance music. His live shows feature state-of-the-art light shows and an endless supply of “filthy bass” drops.