Magic on Mulberry Mountain: Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival 2010
By Cole Epley
Unable to resist the temptation of a double dose of the Deep South funk brought by BoomBox, Saturday night’s festivities resumed at warp-speed with Zion Rock Godchaux and Russ Randolph performing their second set of the weekend. Delivering yet another unstoppable, dance-infused performance of sonic euphoria, BoomBox showed up to do what they do best—make an already sweat-drenched throng of rabid fans dance like it was their last chance to do so. And that they did. If there was ever a shred of doubt in the minds of those torn between the three-hour Widespread Panic set at Main Stage and the triumphant return of BoomBox to the Outpost, all apprehension was quickly dissipated as the Muscle Shoals duo got right into their set.
When the reigns were turned over to UK electro genius James Zabiela, the Outpost became a solar flare of intelligent, lucid and altogether first-rate music for the soul. Toting an electronic menagerie of equipment which showcased tracks as listenable as they were danceable, Zabiela and his Saturday night set certainly ranked among the top DJ sets of the entire weekend. Infectiously sweet and seamless production left little to be desired throughout the entirety of the master producer’s arsenal; with plenty of first-timers in attendance, JZ lifted the coterie of electro-heads into elation and left them to dangle in sheer bliss for the majority of the tastefully relentless set. Major recognition must be given not only to Zabiela for delivering an almost ineffable experience, but also to festival organizers for booking such a stellar act. In the meantime, get over to JZ’s events page to find out where you can find him stateside before the summer expires.
Following a brief refresher to get a leg up on the rest of Saturday’s offerings, coverage resumed at the off-the-beaten-path respite known as the Satellite Stage—the comfortable home of Wakarusa’s sunrise sets. Kicking off a 2:30 a.m. set was Radiohiro and MC Zulu—the former, a Chicago-based world music meets breaks/electro producer/DJ and Burningman staple of over a decade, and the latter, a Panamanian-born producer/DJ who brings a fresh Caribbean and worldly element of his own to his tracks. Transforming the Satellite Stage into a sonic atmosphere of sounds from all corners of the globe, Radiohiro and MC Zulu presented festival goers with a truly unique sound that grasped elements of jazz and East Indian genres such as Hindustani and bollywood and transformed them into bass-heavy and sensible breaks, with a touch of Caribbean soul thrown in on the side. Keep an eye out on The Untz for a pair of fresh faces, as these guys are sure to disrupt any preconceptions you may have had about world music.
Immediately after the Radiohiro and MC Zulu set came one of the weekend’s most anticipated sets: Mark Farina. A veteran producer who has more than 20 years’ experience under his belt, Farina brought his signature house sound and rocked it across Mulberry Mountain until the arrival of the Sunday sun. Despite the hordes of partied-out festy-heads napping on the green space around the Satellite Stage, Farina channeled the inner party animal of the majority of those crowded around the beaming DJ/producer and danced, wobbled and womped them silly. Rolling out what were among the most versatile, grooveworthy house beats of the weekend, Mark Farina certainly made a lasting impression in the minds and soles of many a festival goer. The only thing missing from this world-class producer’s repertoire: complimentary sunglasses.
2010 is sure to have been a memorable year for not only those in attendance at Waka, but also for those organizational wizards behind the scenes. The Untz would like to give huge thanks to John Gallup and the folks at Cicada Rhythm who facilitated our being there, as well as to offer our congratulations on an incredibly organized and breathtaking party at Interstellar Meltdown. We can only hope that Interstellar Meltdown will be returning to bring the fire to the mountain—long live Wakarusa!