The 12th annual Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival was held June 4th-7th in Ozark, Arkansas. Before attending this festival for this first time this year, I heard nothing but positive things about Wakarusa from friends who have attended. Wakarusa is one of those special festivals where once you attend once, you never want to miss a year. The first thing that appealed to me with this festival is the affordability and the massive lineup. For $209 you get a Full Event pass, which allows you into the festival from Thursday-Sunday. For camping, we chose the car camping pass. This pass allowed you to park your car right where you are camping and set up your tent right next to your car. I recommend this option. If you need a little AC break, you can just turn on your car and crank the AC, turn on some tunes and cool off. Another thing that appealed to me with the festival is the amount of music playing at all times for 4 days! Music started at 12 pm and ended at 6 am Thursday- Saturday and 10 pm – 2 am on Sunday. The variety of music was also amazing. From jam bands to reggae to electronic, there truly was something for everyone to enjoy at any time of the day. If you felt like listening to music for 14 hours straight, you were able to. If you preferred to hang out at your campsite and head out for music a few hours at time you had that option as well.
There were 6 stages spread out across the festival. The Main Stage was incredible and had an awesome sound system. For campers staying in the main camping area, we were able to hear the music from main stage at our campsite. This was nice because we were able to go back to our campsite to get drinks or relax, yet not miss out on hearing the music. A few of my favorite acts that performed on Main Stage were Moon Taxi, Slightly Stoopid, the Floozies and Chance the Rapper. Moon Taxi was very chill and perfect for the time of day where we could sit in the shade or in a hammock and enjoy some nice live music. Slightly Stoopid gave off those reggae, feel good vibes. The Floozies always put on an incredible show and definitely shouldn’t be missed if you get a chance to attend a festival with these guys on the lineup. Chance the Rapper is so real. His lyrics come straight from the heart and you can feel exactly what he has gone through in his life when he performs. It is very refreshing to experience someone go on stage in front of a massive crowd and speak straight from the heart about real life without holding back or sugar coating his emotions. Big Gigantic also performed on Main Stage and put on an incredible performance. They played their new track with Snails and also played “Feel the Volume” by Jauz. I have seen Big G perform several times and this is the most diverse set I have ever seen them play. I loved it! On Saturday I was able to check out Dirty Heads, The Roots and Major Lazor hit the main stage. Dirty Heads set the mood off right with some more Reggae vibes. The Roots were AMAZING! I got even more blown away when they played Trap Queen, a recent hit by Fetty Wap. These guys have amazing stage presence and they are definitely a band that needs to be experienced live.
The Satellite Stage, also known as the 7-up EDM and late night stage was located closer to main camping. Walking in felt as if we were entering an enchanted forest. After walking through a walkway covered by a wood woven overhead, there were adventures ahead before making our way to the front of the stage. On our journey to the front, there were tightropes connected to trees with ropes above to hold on to for balance. Here, you were able to practice your balancing skills in the midst of the nature surrounding you. Further down, in the middle of the trees, there was a massive swing. Here, you were able to swing while listening to the artists performing. What a great way to feel free!
After wondering through the trees and walkway, there was a wide-open space in front of main stage. Above this space, there was an awesome, colorful overhead, creating shade for people in the crowd and adding artistic elements to the epic stage. Some of the artists who performed at this stage include Goldroom, Minnesota and Govinda. This was the first time for Goldroom to perform at Waka and he killed his set. He plays beautiful music that is fun to dance and groove to. Minnesota’s late night set went off and if the crowd didn’t have energy before, they did once Minnesota started playing. His style is very unique and unlike any other set I have ever heard. I love the feeling of new and different sounds to the ears. Govinda has performed at every Wakarusa and always plays the sunrise set from 5-6:15 am. His performance is very interactive and artistic with his own personal dancer who travels with him to perform in sync with his music. He prefers to have his own dancer who knows his music so she is fully in sync with the performance. This adds an entire new element to the stage presence, which makes his set very special to experience live. Thomas Jack, Hermitude, Destructo, Black Tiger Sex Machine performed on Saturday on the Satellite Stage. Hermitude, the Australian DUO has some hip-hop influences in their music and gives off those chill, synthy vibes. Ship Fam came out strong during Destructo’s set. As I headed to his set, I instantly got excited when I saw the Shipfam flag waving in the air. Destructo’s set took me back to those Deep House, feel good, lets get weird vibes that I love so much. Trippy Turtle and Goldfish performed on Sunday. Trippy Turtle’s music is sexy with some jersey club influences and bed squeaks incorporated into his style. Goldfish was the perfect way to end the festival playing the closing set on Sunday. Their music is jazzy with several different live instruments incorporated into their set including the saxophone and keyboard.
Each stage had it’s own unique and awesome vibe all with a variety of talented artists. It was a ton a fun to be able to go from stage to stage and check out different talent with completely different vibes and sounds. The food at the festival was also wonderful. There was a grilled cheese stand, my personal favorite, with 8 different kinds of grilled cheeses. They had smoothies, popsicles, iced coffee, burritos, southern fried chicken sandwiches, quesadillas and more. There was something for everyone! The festival was filled with friendly people. Even the entire staff was extremely friendly and helpful. Everyone was very helpful, radiating positive vibes everywhere. There were so many hi fives and Happy Wakas going on throughout the entire festival! Wakarusa is definitely one for the books and a festival we cannot wait to be back at next year. Happy Waka!
By Festpop Staff Writer: Suzanne Ledford