Preview: 2015 Wakarusa Music Festival

Preview: 2015 Wakarusa Music Festival

With just a couple weeks to go, all the details surrounding Wakarusa have been announced. Set to kick off the month of June, this annual rite of passage for so many modern festival goers is lining up to be one of the most notable parties of the year. Once again featuring an impressive and lengthy list of talent, The Pier could not be more amped to get back atop the majestic Mulberry Mountain for this beautiful event.

Wondered by many, but known by few, the word Wakarusa was derived from Native American culture. A phrase that means ass-deep, this word was originally spoken to described the depth of a river. The 2015 festival season will mark the 12th year that many have come to know Wakarusa as a way to define the depth of an experience. An event that fuses many walks of life, the Wakarusa Music Festival best describes themselves as a grassroots festival nestled in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas where the beauty of nature synchronizes with the euphoric sounds of live music.

Wakarusa is one of the few gatherings that naturally ties multiple sects of music lovers together. Each year, music meets Mother Nature at a pristine place where friendships are forged and life long memories are created. After finally driving up the winding route and placing bare feet on the grounds of the preservation, a community with an energy that one must feel to really understand, suddenly surrounds attendees. Whether it is a Veteran Wakafarian that has been there may times before or someone just discovering the experience for the first time, each pilgrimage to the Mountain will change a fan forever. Wakarusa is much more than a music and camping festival. Wakarusa is an experience that was created by music lovers, for music lovers.

General Information:

Happening from June 4th – 7th, this marks their 7th consecutive year at the majestic Mountain venue in picturesque Northwest Arkansas. Based on a site just north of the city of Ozark, Arkansas, the event has blossomed to a four-day event hosting almost 25,000 fans of music art and so many other great activities.

Feature electrifying Main Stage performances the 2015 edition of this festival will also keep the music playing with shows spread across the grounds on 5 other stages. Graced by over one hundred world-class artists Wakarusa continues to stir the musical interests of folks from all 50 states and beyond. The weekend is filled not only with music by some of today’s top touring artists, but also with some of the best acts from several popular genres of music, including Electronic, Jam, and a HUGE selection of some of the most beloved Reggae-Rock acts playing today.

Now, while The Pier has been in attendance the last two years this isn’t a reggae festival by any means. While in the past decade it seemed that reggae fans needed to attend a strictly reggae festival to see some of their favorite reggae bands in a festival environment, over the recent past Wakarusa has been helping bridge that gap.

The hope with events like Wakarusa is Awareness. Fans of alternative rock & hip hop groups becoming fans of reggae-rock bands and vice-versa. In addition, festivals like these encourage future collaborations or tours between genres as it provides an opportunity for a lot of these bands to meet & greet each other in person. That can only continue to shape & evolve the music we all collectively love. Maybe a festival like this could bring bands together, say for example, Slightly Stoopid & Ben Harper, Rebelution & The Roots, Stick Figure & The Floozies, Dirty Heads & Thievery Corporation etc. One can only hope, as the is to see this music community evolve and be welcoming to new sounds & influences.

As the ’2015 Summer Music Festival Season’ ramps up into full gear, The Pier will be out in Arkansas catching a 2015 line-up that features an excellent sampling of Reggae-Rock-roots-acoustic acts. The weekend will include the return of Slightly Stoopid and Rebelution along with sets from a stacked Reggae-Rock line-up along with some Jam-Band staples.

Going to the mountain for Wakarusa? Be sure to look out for The Pier! Our staff will be out covering the following sets, check our full Reggae schedule:

Wednesday (6-3-15):

After an all day undertaking of loading in and setting up camp, the music officially gets going at 7:30pm on Wednesday. Down in the Backwoods stage on the south edge of the main venue camping, KOA opens up the festival. One of several bands this year representing Tennessee, the groups danceable groove of funk, soul and indie rock should be a great way to kick things off. Keeping it light on the preview day, the music will only last till ll:30, with Australia’s Jakubi closing out that stage for the night with their unique texturing of sound with both jangly and reggae-inspired guitar, hip-hop beats and sailing synth rhythms.

If arriving early, Wednesday is the Perfect day to get over to the Riverside Stage. With the funk and soul of Henry + The Invisibles playing 9-10pm and then the day ending with the first Tauk set of the weekend, this is a good time to check out that stage. A slight haul it may be difficult to get to amongst everything going on at the main venue once the festival really gets underway.

THURSDAY (6-4-15):

Thursday is the first full day at Wakarusa with music and activities scheduled from noon till 6:15 the next morning. With so much to see and do, we will do our best to hop around, but you can bet we will be conserving our energy for an evening at the main stage.

Featuring a barrage of jamming rock sets, on Thursday we are aiming to catch three groups from very diverse ends of the spectrum. A band we first heard about when they toured with the Dirty Heads a few years back, playing at 4:30pm Moon Taxi is one of those bands we must see if they are playing an event we are attending. A few hours later one of our favorites, Slightly Stoopid have an hour and a half slot at 8:15pm. Hitting a handful of festivals through out the first half of summer, Slightly Stoopid will be creating awareness for their new record Meanwhile… Back at the Lab set to drop at the end of the month. Hopefully the band busts out a few new ones!

And once the darkness really sets in, one of the most progressive and talented collection of musicians performing together today, Umphrey’s McGee will be sure to illuminate the night’s sky. The main stage keeps going all night with a highly anticipated set from The Flooziesas well as Gigantic Underground Conspiracy, the mash-up project featuring members from Jam-Electronica favorites Big Gigantic and the Disco Biscuits. On Thursday find a good viewing spot early, plant a flag, and hold on tight for the full ride.

FRIDAY (6-5-15):

On Friday morning one of the best off-schedule events takes place at Wakarusa An affair aptly called the Chompdown, this big campsite party is one giant communal breakfast. Taking place over the course of a few hours in the morning, the Chompdown blends food, community and music. Happening down on the northwest edge of main venue camping in the RV reserve, the food starts cooking around 8am. As everyone begins trickling in with a pound of bacon or other offerings, live music provided from Dirtfoot keeps the party funky.

After filling up on a free meal, Friday’s plans continue to scatter us around the grounds as we try to see more of the acts that have been bogging down our iPods lately. Over on the main stage, we will be sure not to miss New Orleans’ soulful talent now known around the US as The Revavalists. Getting ready to release their new record, Men Amongst Mountains in July, we hope to hear a few new tracks out of this bunch.

Following their set, Collie Buddz starts up for a 75 minute set at 4:45pm. The only reggae set of the day, just coming off a national tour, Collie Buddz is sure to light up the stage.

Throughout the day on Friday there are too many acts to describe on paper, however the hip-hop scene over the Outpost tent should be quite the get together. Don’t miss Dilated Peoples or the depth of the infamous Chali 2Na. That night, once again sit back, relax and enjoy a schedule that’s comprised of STS9, Umphrey’s McGee and Big Gigantic alternating back to back from the main stage to the Revival Tent.

SATURDAY (6-6-15):

Saturday is just extra thick with some true rootsy music. At 2pm Donavon Frankenreiter gets the main stage going with some acoustic tunes while Roots of a Rebellion stirs up some sound out at the Riverside stage. At 4pm the Dirty Heads bring their mix of beach music and hip-hop out to the mountain, followed by the first set of two from Nahko and Medicine For The People over on the Revival stage. Later that night the music continues to zig-zag between the two stages. One of the most legendary bands around, The Roots play a prime-time spot at 8pm followed by the fusion of Ozomatli, the return of Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, and playing through the 2am hour will be a big set from Major Lazer. One of the hottest acts spinning today, the members of Major Lazer will deliver a true dancehall party atmosphere.

SUNDAY (6-7-15):

Sunday is the last day of this epic event, but it is certainly not the least. The weekend finishes out with a very strong schedule. Sunday is a big day for reggae as the event has dedicated the Revival tent to an entire day of reggae music. To quickly lay out our route, we would recommend seeing The Nth Power, then head to Nahko and Medicine For The People. Nattali Rize & Notis keep the Revival stage going, followed by Stick figure, The Expendables, Matisyahu, Rebelution and finally the medley of world noise that is known as Thievery Corporation closes things down on the main stage.

Art, Non-Profits, Farmers Market & Ticket Information:

In addition to all the music, for the second year, Wakarusa will showcase a new era of art, creativity and interaction on Mulberry Mountain with the Mulberry Mountain is My Muse art grant program. This year the program will welcome 20 art installations, over 15 visual artists and collaborators and over 100 roving performers. This year’s festival will include a plethora of activities including, disc golf, yoga, hoop and flow workshops, and a Friday evening costume contest and parade, lead by MarchFourth. Additional activities include a Sunday morning drum circle with Brandon Draper, rides on the Waka ferris wheel, hiking, canoeing, rafting, tubing, fishing and more!

Along with hundreds of food and craft vendors, patrons will also have a chance to visit Wakarusa’s, non-profit area: BLVD for a Better World. This area will feature 10 regional and national non-profit organizations whose goal is to help promote political, environmental, health and social activism. This year’s non-profits include: Rock the Earth, Conscious Alliance, Love Hope Strength, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Mulberry River Society, Native Expeditions, HeadCount, LeaveNo Trace, and Arts Society of Ozark .

New this year will be the Wakarusa Farmer’s Market, organized by The Arts Society of Ozark and several local agricultural non-profit organizations. Fresh produce will be available on-site and brought in from local gardeners and farmers all located in Franklin County, AR. Patrons will have a chance to enjoy fresh vegetables, honey, jams, jellies, cheeses, free range eggs and more.

GA, VIP and RV Unreserved Camping are on-sale now. For those who want to camp in style, Wakarusa Glamping packages and the WakStar Tour packages are still available. Tickets can also be purchased online or at one of our ticket outlets in
nine states.

For more information on ticketing, artist lineup schedule and all things Wakarusa please visit, and check out the other details below.

Follow our Pier Twitter and Pier Instagram for live updates from Wakarusa. After the weekend ends, come back to The Pier for a recap of the Reggae sets a long with all the photos!

Wakrusa Music Festival Links:
Wakarusa Website
Wakarusa Facebook

Article By: Aaron Solomon

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