‘Twas an interesting time. Some backstory:

The Wakarusa festival has been going on for 5 years now (or something like that). They experienced great success at the previous site of the festival in Lawrence, Kansas. The only problem with the site was that it was held at a state park there, which gave local AND federal law enforcement free reign to be a real pain in the ass. Lots of people got busted pretty much every year. It was kind of a bad scene in amidst all the fun and great bands and good beer and 20k or so people that came. We started doing it the second year, which must’ve been the year that the promoters, both independent and corporate, decided to make a push toward making it a big festival. We’d never even heard of it before we booked it and all of a sudden String Cheese is on there and Wilco. Cool. Wilco was awesome - it was the Ghost is Born tour. Anyway…

Due to such monumental hassles from the law, they finally decided to find a new site. They uprooted the festival and moved it to Arkansas - not their Kansas - to a giant farm out in the Ozarks. The guy that owns the place is named Dewey. He’s an all around cool guy and he has a perfect place for holding a giant festival, complete with giant stage and all.

The first thing that I noticed was the lack of beer. Well, not exactly, but the keg beer was Miller High Life, which I can be all about sometimes, but usually not for an entire weekend. That was really the only bummer of the entire festival. The second thing I noticed was how much nicer the weather was than it ever was in Kansas. It was usually brutally hot at the old site, but up in the Ozarks it was cool and clear all weekend. Our set on Thursday night went very well despite some technical mishaps in front of Carbone. I personally kinda like it when his gear malfunctions because he inevitably plays his ass off like he’s trying to prove something, so no problem there. The only thing was that for 15 agonizing minutes when we should’ve been starting our set, there were a couple thousand people watching Tim have a hard time with his gear. For those of you that were at DelFest, yes we need some stage help. We know.

One thing that I really noticed at this festival was the near-perfect timing of the stages. Everything was timed to have traffic move from here to here to here like a ballet. The walk from big stage to big stage was a lot shorter than the mile or so at the old festival site. Camping was right there.

One other thing that I noticed was the huge preponderance of really young, wookie kids. I think that just means that I’m getting older because at one point I remember thinking that most of these kids were probably in middle school when Phish broke up the last time. Young. There were some young kids there, but it didn’t have the family vibe like DelFest or High Sierra do. Then I started pondering the sociological aspects of the festival scene in America and it’s coincidence with Phish taking a break. The rise of the big corporate-sponsored festival happened more or less when Phish split, which left legions of summertime revelers with no Phish show to follow. Enter the big music festival and presto. I’m not sure about the economics of throwing a large festival like that, it’s probably just dicey on a larger scale than a smaller family festival, but I think that corporate sponsorship probably helped to cushion the stress of making sure you brought enough people to the fest to pay the bands. Couple a deep recession leading to corporate festival sponsorship drying up and people having less available income with f-ing Phish going back on the road and I’d say it’s probably going to be a rough summer for festival promoters. Langerado already tanked. Bonnaroo this weekend has Bruce Springsteen for a headliner (I can’t fathom how the promoters of that one think that spending that much money on an artist like him is going to be worth it), so it should be interesting to see how that goes.

Conversely, it seems like a perfect time to be a club band. It’s not that much money to spend to go to a show, especially compared with a vacation or a festival. Ahh, the music biz.

Musical highlights :

Sly and Robbie. The real deal. Matisyahu went on after them, which must’ve been rough for him.

Split Lip Rayfield, of course. “I drove that car for nearly two years, i even drove it on LSD…”

New Mastersounds. Yes, they are as good as everyone says. Can’t lose with british accents, either.