Critics pick top weekend shows at Wakarusa festival

It’s easy to feel a little lost in the ocean of people, bands and hysteria that populates Wakarusa. In case you’re worried about swimming with the musical minnows, here are a few of the big fish to stick by:

Rose Hill Drive: Rose Hill Drive is a loud, shredding, raw meat-eating, no-nonsense rock band. With powerfully urgent guitar riffs, tight basslines and perpetual percussive exactitude, the three-piece Boulder, Colo., band will artfully satisfy yearnings for noise.

¢ 3:45 p.m. today, Sun Down stage

Split Lip Rayfield: Hillbilly hardcore, post-punk progressive bluegrass, Appalachian Black Sabbath – whatever you call what Split Lip plays, the fact is this Kansas foursome tackles traditional bluegrass instruments (excepting a one-string upright bass fashioned from a gas tank) with enough fury to whip the whole crowd into a sweaty frenzy.

¢ 6:45 p.m., today, Sun Down stage; 12 a.m., Monday morning, Revival tent

Neko Case: Femme fatale Neko Case may very well be our generation’s Loretta Lynn – a crossover country singer with a voice like a lovelorn bluebird in the Appalachian dew. A cornerstone artist of the Bloodshot Records “insurgent country” roster, Case commands the audience with her bold, sultry vocals and confident stage presence.

¢ 8:30 p.m., today, Sun Down stage

Wilco: Let’s face it: Wilco is the “big name” at Wakarusa this year. The announcement that Jeff Tweedy and his rotating band of prodigious ringers would be headlining this year’s festival was a definitive affirmation of its good taste. For those in the know, Wilco is the twigs and berries of the modern rock machine; the bees knees of the elite realm of bands who juggle innovation with entertain-tion. Each album is a masterwork; each live show is a watershed experience.

¢ 10:15 p.m., today, Sun Down stage

Galactic: Galactic is one of the most educated booty shakers on the scene today. The New Orleans-based “future funk” collective pays due respect to its elders (Dr. John, The Meters) while taking occasional sojourns into the worlds of electronica, pop and hip-hop. The band’s latest headtrip is performing as an instrumental outfit, where the free-flowing funk jams have an all-access ticket to ride.

¢ 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Revival tent; 10 p.m., Sunday, Sun Down stage

Xavier Rudd: In his 2002 album, Xavier Rudd unleashed thumping acoustic rhythms occasionally speckled with popping bongos or chaotic, haunting moans of a didgeridoo. When just singing and playing acoustic guitar, however, Rudd bears a definite similarity to Dave Matthews Band. Fusing blues influences with attention-deficit pleasing percussive complexities, he is as talented and creative as unpredictable.

¢ 2:45 p.m. Sunday, Sun Down stage

Also highly recommended:

John Butler Trio – 5:15 p.m. today, Sun Down stage

Gov’t Mule – 9 p.m. Saturday, Sun Up stage