Top 7 Waka Moments: “Before They Were Stars”
Wakarusa is widely recognized for it’s diverse lineup and cutting edge approach to booking talent. Here are 7 moments from the Wakarusa archives that have helped to solidify Wakarusa as a breeding ground for up-and-coming talent.
#7. Bassnectar – 2006
Long before he was a household name, Bassnectar was gracing Wakarusa with his massive presence. Up until this point, Wakarusa had been known as a jamband festival and Bassnectar was a name that was hardly recognized outside of the Burning Man community. This was one of the key turning points for the festival, and for Bassnectar’s explosion into modern festival culture.
#6. The Avett Brothers – 2006
2006 was a huge year for breakout artists at Wakarusa. The Avett Brothers were still a year away from seeing their 2007 release, “Emotionalism”, break into the Billboard Top 200. Today, The Avett Brothers have since become a staple in America’s mainstream music culture. Since 2006, The Avetts have headlined Wakarusa (2012) and appeared on stage at the 2011 Grammy Awards, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Late Night with David Letterman and more.
#5. EOTO – 2008
Before they were a Wakarusa staple, they were known as “EOTO – featuring Michael Travis & Jason Hann of SCI.” Their one-of-a-kind live performance took the Waka World by storm for the first time in 2008. Wakarusa’s final year at Clinton Lake State Park in Lawrence, KS would set the tone for the future of the festival.
#4. Big Gigantic – 2010
Big G was just breaking onto the scene. Dominic Lalli was still widely recognized as “that guy from The Motet.” Their performance in The Outpost Tent in 2010 has gone down in Wakarusa lore as one of the most groundbreaking sets since the move to Mulberry Mountain.
#3. SBTKRT – 2011
Do you remember this legendary set at The Satellite Stage in 2011? Wakarusa was one of the very first festivals to book the international UK Indie-pop/Post-dubstep superstar…and chances are, you didn’t get the memo. Since storming onto the scene as a relative unknown in 2011, SBTRKT has gone on to become a global phenom amongst critics and fans alike.
#2. Pretty Lights – 2009
It was the first night of Wakarusa since the move from Kansas to Arkansas. Gov’t Mule had taken the main stage as the Thursday night headliner. But the campgrounds were buzzing about this relatively unknown producer/drummer duo out of Boulder, CO known simply as, “Pretty Lights.” The Outpost Tent was packed on that fateful Thursday night with a healthy mix of PL fans and curious passers-by. It was one of biggest dance parties in the history of Wakarusa. Everyone left that sweaty tent with an undeniable feeling that live music was about to go through an evolution that would be unlike anything that this generation of music fans had seen.
#1. The Lumineers – 2012
The Lumineers were an unknown act when they were announced as part of Wakarusa’s 2012 lineup. And not much had changed by the time that they arrived at The Backwoods Stage for their set in 2012. Their performance went down in front of a passionate, yet quaint audience who KNEW they were seeing something special. The Lumineers would go on to be nominated for multiple Grammy Awards after peaking at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 in January 2013.