Archive for Monday, June 9, 2008

Wakarusa festival winds down

Rain again disrupts performances

Lane Westbrook, of Austin, Texas, and Sandy Pedersen, of Boulder, Colo., rest on some open grass and wait for another show to begin Sunday at the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival.

Lane Westbrook, of Austin, Texas, and Sandy Pedersen, of Boulder, Colo., rest on some open grass and wait for another show to begin Sunday at the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival.

June 9, 2008


Wakarusa winds down

The fifth annual Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival winds down tonight. But this afternoon large crowds enjoyed the sunshine and great music of several bands. Enlarge video

Wakarusa, Day 4

Check out scenes from the last day of the 2008 Wakarusa Festival. Enlarge video

Liz Anderson, Jared Wilson, Bill Anderson took this photo of a flaming Volkswagen bus at the entrance to Wakarusa Fest Sunday, June 8, 2008.

Liz Anderson, Jared Wilson, Bill Anderson took this photo of a flaming Volkswagen bus at the entrance to Wakarusa Fest Sunday, June 8, 2008.

2008 Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival

The fifth annual Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival starts on June 5th and runs through June 8th. Organizers are planning on more than 13,500 guests, which would make Clinton State Park the second-largest city in Douglas County until the festival wraps up. See videos, photo galleries, the Wak Talk blog, Best Bets, and more about the Wakarusa Fest.

Wakarusa Festival 2008

Festivalgoers who weathered a severe storm earlier in the week faced heavy winds, hail and torrential showers as the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival came to a close Sunday.

"We basically lost two nights out of four," said Clay Cheney, of Manhattan. "What can you do? They can't control the weather."

A severe storm forced the festival to end early on its opening day Thursday. On Sunday, rains again disrupted performances.

While many didn't mind the rain, some festivalgoers wished they could have seen the musicians whose shows were canceled and not rescheduled.

"They didn't reschedule the shows," said Beth Larrabee, of Manhattan. "They did not extend the festival. They did not make any kind of compensation for the fact that they were canceling shows. That's a little bothersome to me personally."

But there were high points during the shows that did go on, some said.

Heather Fredley called Saturday night's performance by EOTO the concert highlight.

"It was crazy," the Olathe resident said. "The mud and everyone. It was just take your shoes off and go crazy. Everyone was dancing. It was amazing."

Tasha Riggins, media coordinator for the festival, said staff tried to ensure the safety of the revelers.

"Overall, we did the best we could given the situation," she said.

One festivalgoer escaped a vehicle fire Sunday afternoon. A Kansas City area man driving a 1981 Volkswagen that he had just purchased was driving near the festival's entrance, said Capt. Corky Kearney, of the Kanwaka Fire Department. The vehicle was leaking gasoline, backfired and caught fire. Kearney said it was a complete loss, but the man made it out of the vehicle without injuries.


gr 9 years, 8 months ago

"The mud and everyone. It was just take your shoes off and go crazy."I wonder what kind of condition the park is in and who pays to restore it?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

"I wonder what kind of condition the park is in and who pays to restore it?"In the past, the festival organizers have done a fairly thorough restoration job. I assume they'll do so again.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 8 months ago

Sure hope the hippies got a shower this weekend.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

Can't wait for next year's Wakarusa-- all the gratuitous jabs aimed at stereotypical "hippies" on this forum are funnier and funnier with each unimaginative repetition.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

No, she cancelled before the storm hit. They said it was because of ill health. Could be she was watching the weather forecasts, too.And maybe I'm out of touch, but exactly who would the big names be?I'm sure Dave Matthews would put on a great show, but I can honestly say there were at least a half dozen acts at the Wakarusa that I'd rather see.

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years, 8 months ago

with all the weather did it ever really get going in full force?

4chewnut 9 years, 8 months ago

Did Emmy Lou Harris play? That was a big name, but right at the time the storm arrived.

iplaysupernintendo 9 years, 8 months ago

It is an honor to have such a great festival in our town! Congrats to the Waka organizers! I had a great time :)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

I looked at both the Bonnaroo and Rothbury websites, and while they have very good lineups, and maybe a few "bigger" names (I still wouldn't equate "bigger" with "better") they are mostly just different combinations of the same groups that have played here over the last five years.So while they may be "better" by some definition(s), I'm not going to drive hundreds of miles and and put up with considerably larger crowds as long as I can see a reasonable approximation 20 minutes from where I live.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree TOB-- if it were any larger, I'd likely stay away.Another point is that this is also a "camping" event, which makes it very different from the events referred to in KC or St. Louis.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

Your assessment is pretty similar to mine, MKH.Keeping it mid-size with mostly "mid-size" and up-and-coming bands is somewhat similar to what the Winfield bluegrass festival has done. The real strength of the Winfield festival is the camping scene, which features perhaps the highest per capita concentration of musicians on the planet for those four days. The music performed by the campers in the campgrounds is just important is what happens on the professional stages. And many professional musicians can be found playing till the wee hours in the campgrounds. People who tour festivals much more than I say it's rather unique in that regard.So in some ways, I think Wakarusa would be better-served to look at Winfield for ideas than to Bonnaroo, even if they continue to book many of the same bands.

kmat 9 years, 8 months ago

I find it amusing that only 15,000 allowed at the fest. Rockfest in KC had 50,000. Dave Matthews Band/Black Crowes in St. Louis Saturday had 30,000+ (and I can guarantee it was better than Waka). Waka had 80+ bands and crappy attendance. I don't think these people know how to throw a festival (check out ACL fest, Sasquatch Fest, Langarado, etc... these people know how to put together a festival). There were a lot of people that went to St. Louis and said Waka wasn't worth it and seeing a great DMB/Black Crowes show was better money spent than attending Waka.Pretty sad that they could make this into something good, but it seems to be the same thing, year after year. And the fact that major acts had to be cancelled just killed it. I know they can't control the weather, but when people pay money to see the big acts, you at least expect something in return when they can't play.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

You're comparing apples and oranges, kmat. Wakarusa is hardly a perfect production, but despite the bad weather and the cancelled acts (which can happen at any outdoor event,) there were still many excellent performances by some great bands.

Mkh 9 years, 8 months ago

Have they not released the official gate numbers yet? I can tell you there was far less than the capacity crowd of 13,500. Other than the first year this was the smallest Waka has ever been. I'd guess there was maybe 8,000 people there. The weather certainly did play a part in that, but so did $4 a gallon gas/terrible economy combined with poor financial choices made by the promoters. They never got a headliner that was going to make people travel...and that is what they need (if they want it bigger). Not many people are going to pay $4 a gallon and drive 8+ hours to see the likes of the Flaming Lips, Cake, and Ben Folds....they might has well take a million dollars and flush it right down the toliet.Personally I like the festival at it's smaller size and have noticed far less problems since they did reduce the size of it from 3 years ago. But from a financial standpoint it is a nightmare...they keep having to raise the ticket price, with less production and less big bands, and still are not making any money. That is rough.However, despite all the wrong things Waka does...I have yet to see anyone in this area do it better, there are others around the country who do it far better (High Seirra) and hopefully Waka will figure it out. The festival is a vital asset to Lawrence and hopefully will be able to financially continue in the future.

kmat 9 years, 8 months ago

First, I'm sorry to all that got rained out and didn't get to see too many headlining acts this weekend. The weather really sucked this year.Everyone that refers to DMB as a frat band hasn't seen them live. They started in the early '90's playing colleges and then headlined for the Dead and made it big. They've been around now for almost 20 years. They are a great improv jam band. I was a young one in my section and I'm not that young. I was surrounded by mostly others in their 40's and 50's and that's how most shows are. There were some good bands at Waka, but you only get to hear such a small amount of songs and then they're off. If the weather gets bad, you just paid a good price and don't get to see many of the headliners. And yes, you can't compare Waka to a huge stadium show, but it doesn't compare to other fests either. Rothbury and others get much better acts and have much better ammenities than Waka. MKH summed it up perfect. Being a huge Dead fan and having Mickey Hart there couldn't even sway me to go because there were so many better shows this weekend around the area. At least it helps the Lawrence economy a little. Maybe in the future they can get some bigger acts, but after the low turnout this year i think it will be hard.Short from Saturday with Tim Reynolds (one of the best guitarists in the world). I've converted many that thought they were just a frat band. And they even ended the show with an awesome cover of Sly's "Thank You". I will highly reccomend seeing shows at the new Busch stadium. I didn't think a ball park would be such a great concert venue, but they put on one heck of a show there and such a beautiful view of the arch and city skyline behind the stage. So much better than the traditional stadium shows.

Mkh 9 years, 8 months ago

Well, it's not that cut and dry Bozo...the music business is a complicated beast. A "bigger" band might not necessarily draw the travelling crowd. For instance, STS9 is a much smaller and less expensive band than say Flaming Lips or Cake...yet I bet anything that far more people came from out of state wanting to see STS9 than both of those bands. And while I think the music of all three of those mentioned bands leaves much to be desired, STS9 would be the most economical choice.Bonnaroo is not comparable to Waka in anyway, it's like comparing golf to football. If Waka wants to get 20,000 people there again they have to get Phil Lesh or WSP. Part of the main problem is there are not that many bands left that folks actually travel to see. Phish and SCI are both gone, leaving Phil and WSP to fill the void. Now of course Phish did their own festivals and wouldn't ever be considered for a Waka type event...but Trey solo...yes (see Rothbury).If Waka wants to do it at 12-15,000 then they need to get a full stack of mid-level bands that have folks who travel to see them...such as STS9, Yonder, Moe, Umphry,etc----then cut the overall number of bands and fill the rest of the slots w/ high quality small to mid-level and regional acts (key word here in inexpensive). Then throw one major headliner on Saturday and Sunday night to draw the single day suckers.However, Waka took a chance and decided to go for the single day tickets, which is a local crowd. That obviously backfired, although it may not have been poor intentions considering the price of gasoline.Let me give you an example. I recall about three or four years ago when Waka was deciding between the Black Crows and SCI to be their headliner. Well the Black Crows is easily the more well known mainstream band, thus "bigger"...however, the decision was made (after some consultation) to go with SCI and they sold out the festival. Why? Because SCI has a much more loyal fan base than the Black Crows and more willing to travel. If Waka wants the kids to flock back to the festival this must be the line of thinking. Like I said before, I personally like it smaller...but in order to make that financially workable, the number of bands and budget must be downsized accordingly.

Mkh 9 years, 8 months ago

I agree Bozo...there is so much happening in the campground at Winfield that I haven't seen a show inside the main area in about 4 years. Besides, if I did i'd have to put my instrument down....what would be the fun in that?Unfortunately, I don't think Wakarusa can ever capture the special musical acoustic culture that is presented at Winfield.

Meatwad 9 years, 8 months ago

It's grass. It'll get restored without question. No problem. Anyone have a tiller? want to help?

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