Before I had ever visited the magical Mulberry Mountain, friends that had been before described it to me as “a place where unicorns would live if they existed.” Of course, I was skeptical. Upon arrival I quickly knew exactly what they meant--- Riverside Camping (which also acted as the entrance to the festival) was located in the valley of rolling hills surrounded by fields of greenery, woodland, and a beautiful winding turquoise river. I could picture a unicorn poking its head up from grazing on the lush grasses. After the security checkpoint you make your way up a winding road to the main venue. In a clearing atop the mountain sits the main venue, which includes Main Venue Camping, RV Camping, VIP Camping, the festival vendors and of course the stages--- where all the magic happens. Although there are the options to camp in West Woods or at the River Side, which are more affordable and offer more shade than setting up at the main venue, Main Venue Camping is the way to go. In the center of the action you are within minutes walking distance from the main stage, vending, food, and the awesome late night sets at the satellite stage. It was easy to go back and forth between camp and the stages to regroup if need be. Perhaps the most special part of Mulberry Mountain is the waterfall that is only a short hike from the main venue. Open to festival goers throughout the weekend, the waterfall offers a great way to cool off and have some fun swimming and cliff jumping into the icy waters below.
The Line Up
Traditionally a dominantly jam band festival, Wakarusa switched it up with booking music across a multitude of genres for 2015. Of course the jam bands were still there, including two sets of Umphrey’s McGee and STS9, as well as single sets by Conspirator, Twiddle, Lotus, and Boombox, just to name a few. Chance The Rapper brought a killer set of his “Acid Rap” to the main stage Saturday Night, bringing in one of the largest crowds of the weekend. Rebelution provided reggae vibes for the weekend, causing the crowd to sway to their upbeat and positive lyrics. The Floozies played the main stage Friday night, performing for one of the biggest crowds they have played to in their career. The duo’s funky and playful tunes got everyone on the mountain movin’ and groovin’ for their hour and fifteen minute set. Alternative rock was represented by bands Young The Giant and Dirty Heads, each playing main stage sets getting the entire audience to sing along to their every lyric. Major Lazer was perhaps the name that was the biggest shock to see on the lineup in 2015. The mainstream electronic act is notorious for ensuing twerk sessions with the entire audience, and Wakarusa was no different. Major Lazer offered a nice break from jam bands and got the entire crowd dirty dancing and shakin’ to their beats you can’t help but move to including “Bubble Butt” and “Lean On.” Wakarusa definitely had something to offer to everyone in attendance.
The Satellite Stage / Late Night Sets
Wakarusa was an all day all night kind of party--- and that’s just how we like it! When the hubbub of the main venue started to settle down the party moved to the Satellite Stage! The stage, separate from the main venue, acted as a haven for festival goers for much of the weekend. The natural amphitheater offered perfect viewing settings, with ground space for a dance floor and sitting space on the hill surrounding the stage. Hammocks were even able to be hung up from the many trees in the area, offering the most comfortable view at the festival. Throughout the area there were many other things attendees could interact with, including slack lines and an aerial netting strung through the trees available for climbing! As if the space itself wasn’t stimulating enough, a string of some of the biggest up and comers lay claim to the stage throughout the weekend. Thursday night featured Gladkill and Goldroom with future bass sounds. However, things started to really heat up when Conspirator, Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuit’s side project, took the stage. Followed by heavy hitters Russ Liquid and Minnesota there was no shortage of bass music late into the night. Friday and Saturday followed with equally strong line ups featuring Thomas Jack, JackLNDN, Hermitude, Destructo, and Kap Slap. Perhaps the rowdiest set of the weekend was Lindsay Lowend’s Saturday night throwdown, starting with only a few people in the audience before long the entire stage was packed with people getting down to the producer’s video game inspired sounds. Each night the stage closed with a sunrise set, where a few dedicated fans stayed up dancing, but most preferred to watch from the comfort of a hammock as the tunes swayed them to sleep on the beautiful Mulberry Mountain.
One of the best things about Wakarusa was the kind souls that were in attendance. There were people from every age group, young old, first time festival goers and festival veterans. However at Wakarusa it didn't matter where you came from, all that mattered was that you were there, at the festival, in that very moment. I actually went to the festival alone and came out at the end of the weekend with a group of friends I know will be in my life for a long time.
Written By Madi Lawton