Words by Nathan Rodriguez & Brian Heisler

All Images by Pamela Martinez

2006 Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival :: 06.8 - 06.11.06
Clinton Lake State Park :: Lawrence, KS

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Wakarusa 2006
Depending on your Dickensian perspective, the 3rd annual Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival was either an extended weekend filled with stellar music or it was one of the more poignant examples of over-zealous law enforcement in recent memory. For many, it was an amalgam of the two: enough moments of musical greatness to justify the lengthy drive, but an equal number of eyewitness accounts and hearsay to make concertgoers think about what will be different for Waka '07.

The first hint of change from past Wakarusas was an abrupt surprise for many, as the Kansas State Highway Patrol established checkpoints near the Lawrence exit along I-70, stopping and searching a sizable number of vehicles entering the city. All told, eight law enforcement agencies made their presence felt on the festival grounds throughout the weekend: The Douglas County Sheriff's Department, the Kansas State Highway Patrol, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, DEA, ATF, Homeland Security Officials, and the friendly Clinton Lake State Park Rangers. This is according to Waka Action, a website devoted solely to reporting individual rights violations at Wakarusa. According to The Lawrence Journal- World, a total of 144 people were arrested by authorities during the festival weekend.

Despite the police presence felt throughout the weekend, the festival's music was inspired, with shows ranging from good to unforgettable. Without further ado, onto the music...

Thursday, June 8

Tim Reynolds :: Wakarusa 2006
Strolling into the Tim Reynolds set, concertgoers were greeted by a clattering of effects reminiscent of an old church organ. These layers were gradually stripped away as Reynolds ventured out for a brief solo before sliding nicely into "Shake." The set was exactly what many have come to expect from the sultan of the six-string: extraordinary technical prowess with a variety of ideas and themes running throughout the hour-long performance. At times an Eastern sound, much like a sitar, would provide a boost, while at other times Reynolds would revert back to digital looping and effects to provide a broader sound. He even ventured into traditional Spanish territory, furiously picking and strumming along while blending in perfectly with the DiMeola, McLaughlin & DeLucia acoustic masterpiece, "Friday Night in San Francisco". And at just the moment when the music threatened to become stale, Reynolds would throw a lifeline to the audience with a choice cover like James Brown's "Sex Machine," which drew a warm response. Overall, it was a very satisfying set that provided further proof that Tim Reynolds remains at the top of his game as one of the premier guitarists today.

Bobby Easton :: Delta Nove :: Wakarusa 2006
In one of the great breakthrough performances of the weekend, Groovatron welcomed campers to the Campground Stage, packing every square inch and forcing fans to swell around the outside of the tent. As if signifying a change of attitude, guitarist Nick Ferrer noted, "It's night time!" It was dark outside but bright and lively in the tent. Tony McCullough's saxophone cut through the otherwise serene night. Climbing all over the neck of the bass like a spider, Tony Qualls let loose the band's powerful sound, and his uncontrollable head bobble was indicative of the vibe in the air. From "Erotic" to "Mr. Charlie" to "Gilara," the Chicago funk-rock sextet was hitting on all cylinders in what may have been a leaping point to greater recognition.

"We were going to save the collaborations until tomorrow night, but couldn't wait." With that introduction, the Pnuma Trio invited Ryan Burnett from Signal Path to join the festivities. The quartet moved smoothly and quickly as a unit, setting a rollicking pace as the standard for their ventures into instrumental electronica. Powerful drumming, executed with elegant precision, provided a strong backbone for the band and allowed the members to experiment with various effects and distortion while creating a unique blend of hypnotic and engaging trance fusion. The set clocked in at 75 minutes, and the band captured the ears of every Phish fan in attendance with a minute-long tease of "Maze." The Pnuma Trio has started to develop a bit of a reputation and added to the legend by turning in one of the better sets of the festival.

Marc Brownstein :: Disco Biscuits :: Wakarusa 2006
All day the buzz on the festival grounds was about the headliner of the night, the Disco Biscuits. It was maybe the only time at the festival that everyone seemed to be in agreement on where to be. Hordes of balloons and beach balls bounced freely through the throbbing crowd as the tent turned into an all-out trance fusion free-for-all. The Biscuits returned to the delight of their fans for a "Confrontation" encore with the audience singing just as loudly, opening the flood gates to the hours of music that would invade Clinton Sate Park the next three days.

Friday, June 9

A great melodic band with songs that are easy to sing to, Virginia Coalition is making its first trip to many festivals this summer, but the band is certainly not unknown to festival goers. “That song was for the Kansas City Police,” singer and guitarist Andy Poliakoff explained after a cover of Bill Withers' "Lean On Me." Paul Ottinger moved from the keys to auxiliary percussion, slamming his woodblock and set of cowbells, while constantly twirling his sticks and rocking from one foot to another. Poliakoff added the congas to the mix, while Ottinger was on his knees hitting everything in arms reach, cranking out a longer jam. The band gave the crowd everything it had and it was all so easy to enjoy.

Brock Butler :: Wakarusa 2006
The fire department made its way through the crowd of the Sun Down Stage with a fire engine, spraying the crowd with much needed relief from the Kansas sun. It was refreshing, but could not keep the audience from getting right back to their sweaty business. Perpetual Groove's "Three Weeks" gave some fans the chance to slow down, but most everyone else sped up. While the sun was bright, Brock Butler's guitar rivaled it. PGroove was the perfect band to fill the prime of the day. Extending jams with Brock's streaming guitar, Albert Suttle's syncopated drum solos, Matt McDonald's floating keys, and Adam Perry's meshing bass made for a happy, full, afternoon crowd. A perfect set up for the ultimate happy vibe: Michael Franti & Spearhead.

Michael Franti :: Wakarusa 2006
Next up was the inimitable Michael Franti and Spearhead. The scorching heat was transformed into a pleasant summer day with some deft wordplay from Franti, who felt the sunny weather was a blessing from above. The band swiftly segued from a Bob Marley cover to The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun," which brought a few smiles to the sweaty, sun-reddened faces in the crowd. Nothing that Spearhead does requires much in the way of technical ability; rather, it is the artful way that they intertwine simple patterns and ideas to create a viable musical backdrop that remains interesting throughout the show. By adding Michael Franti into the mix, you now have an upbeat, charismatic ringleader who can galvanize an audience with relative ease. "Tell Me Lies" proved to be a crowd-pleaser, and the call and response of "Hola Hola, Bonjour Bonjour" soon followed. Before too long, many had forgotten about the heat. While Franti actively got the crowd involved – waving their hands or jumping up and down on cue – toward the end it threatened to become a game of Simon Says. A final offering from Franti was the title track off his album Everyone Deserves Music, and at the end he ad-libbed, "Everyone needs music: Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld – everyone!" For those who had never seen the band, one concertgoer put it aptly, "I need to get on the ball and add some Spearhead to the iPod after this."

Grace Potter :: Wakarusa 2006
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals proved to be one of the more pleasant surprises of the weekend for many. The 22-year-old Vermont frontwoman added some nice texture behind the band's sound on the Hammond B-3, but her vocals were truly on-point. The band bridges the gaps between blues, rock, and honky-tonk with a sound that is refreshingly original. Towards the end of the set, Potter explained that the next song was an ode to their tour bus, which recently broke down. It is this ability to make the personal universal which lends credence to the thought that this band may be around for awhile. The tent was packed, and the audience certainly seemed to appreciate the effort displayed. Guitarist Scott Tournet absolutely shredded a handful of solos, giving the band instant credibility for peaking on jam segments. It seems as though the band may be on the brink of a major breakthrough to popular acclaim, and they certainly have the ingredients to do so.

Cross Canadian Ragweed
Wakarusa 2006
Cross Canadian Ragweed provided a fix for those wanting a straight-ahead blue-collar rock & roll band. No frills, no tricks, and no self-indulgent jamming would be on the agenda, and this came as a welcome change of pace for many. For those unfamiliar with the band, a cover of Neil Young & Crazy Horse's "My My, Hey Hey" seemed the most apt and obvious selection. The band did the song justice, with a nice, boot-stomping attitude that carried the song. The world-weary vocals complemented the music rather nicely as the sun set on Wakarusa for the evening. They may not bowl you over with innovative musicianship, but to do so seems at odds with their bare-bones approach of delivering music.

New Monsoon has created a bit of a stir over the past couple years, and it is easy to see why. This septet plays a sliding funk with affable grooves and gels together remarkably well. In some moments, they display a few The String Cheese Incident tendencies, but they retain far more of a "meat & potatoes" rock edge. Most importantly, this is a band that clearly enjoys the process of creating music. Perhaps even more admirable is that they don't attempt to goad the audience into fake applause. Simply put, they were more interested in finding great moments of musicality than investing themselves in contrived stage antics. To wit, they blazed through the first three songs without a moment's pause and allowed the audience about five seconds to catch their breath before launching into the next tune. A highlight of the set was a rousing rendition of The Who's "Eminence Front." This is a band to keep close tabs on, as they certainly have the chops and passion to cultivate a large following.

Robert Randolph :: Wakarusa 2006
As New Monsoon kept the Voodoo Stage full with sound, Robert Randolph took his pedal steel guitar to the Sun Down Stage with female backup singers and a lot of new material. The massive crowd was very responsive to Randolph's electric magic, which has become a festival tradition. "I Need More Love" had everyone singing and jumping, segueing smoothly into Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough." The women vocalists definitely added a new twist to the Family Band, creating a much larger and gospel-inflected sound.

Saturday, June 10

Daniel Sproul :: Wakarusa 2006
As Rose Hill Drive made their way onstage, a battle between the sun and clouds was developing. The band didn't seem to particularly care, as they launched into the gritty, fist-pumping rock that attracted a much larger crowd than last year. Beyond the usual small talk, bassist Jake Sproul complained about the heat so frequently, one was inclined to wonder if he was going to collapse from heat stroke. Maybe it's because the guys are rockin' jeans and long-sleeve shirts in the middle of a heat wave. At any rate, it didn't take too long for a crowd to flock to the stage to see what the racket was all about. The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne watched the ruckus from the side of the stage. Much has been said about the prowess of the Sproul brothers, and many are prone to hyperbole in attempting to describe their sound. While certainly deserving of such praise, the most remarkable aspect was how much drummer Nate Barnes has improved. After seeing RHD several times, it was truly remarkable to witness just how much he has stepped up his game. He is slowly developing into one of the more underrated rock drummers today.

Buckethead :: Wakarusa 2006
Buckethead. Half-man, half-amazing. In a characteristically surreal fashion, he lept from one musical idea to the next, creating a pop culture medley that left little doubt about his virtuosity. Of course, there was bizarre, inexplicable banter screamed from the stage; in this case, they decided to shout "Jean Luc Ponty!" repeatedly, an apparent homage to the jazz legend. The thing about Buckethead is, if you don’t like what he's playing, just wait about two minutes. A couple trifectas, each less than ten minutes long, typified the set: Hendrix's "Machine Gun" > Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" > Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme song; and the "Top Gun Anthem" > "Stormtroopers Theme" from Star Wars > "It's Your Birthday," by 50 Cent. A final pairing of the "Star Spangled Banner" with "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad" rounded out the set. After a certain point, some in the audience audibly wished for "one full song." Assuming they waited around, their patience would be rewarded.

Karl Denson :: Wakarusa 2006
Greyboy AllStars have earned a reputation as one of the top live acts in the nation. Expectations were naturally high for the group heading into Wakarusa, and while they did not disappoint, they may have fallen a tad short of completely blowing away newcomers. Concert staples like "West Coast Boogaloo" offered Karl Denson and Robert Walter ample opportunities to stretch out a bit. Candidly, as far as Greyboy shows go, this one was a snoozer. The musicianship was good, but not necessarily spectacular. One was more likely to hear "that was cool" following the show as opposed to the string of superlatives and excited, fluent swearing that GBA tends to induce. Indeed, they were one of the better acts at the festival, but this was not the fist-pumping, booty-shakin' funkdown that many had come to expect from the Allstars.

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band :: Wakarusa 2006
Anywhere the The Dirty Dozen Brass Band shows up is always a unique experience with a special taste of New Orleans. Despite the tragedies of the past year along the Gulf Coast, the Bayou music is some of the most happy and uplifting music. During the NOLA staple "When the Saints Go Marching In," dancers paraded around the stage in Mardi Gras style, some on stilts and others with enormous caricature heads. Despite the hard times the band has endured, they kept the mood light and celebratory. Another classic, "I'll Fly Away," featured the crowd handling vocal duties as the band played on. DDBB's time on stage was one of the best connections with the crowd of the entire festival, as the appreciation for the Gulf community's perseverance over the past year was very clear. Front man Effrem Towns finished off the set playing both a trumpet and flugelhorn at the same time, much to his own exhaustion.

Keller Williams :: Wakarusa 2006
The rare occasion of Keller Williams performing with a group is a special treat. Since the release of his Grass album, a collaboration with Larry and Jenny Keel, Williams has performed with the couple several times. The set was filled with nearly every track from the album and more - one long, segueing jam saw "Breathe" ease effortlessly into Green Day's "Longview" into Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" back into "Breathe" before culminating into "Freaker By the Speaker," followed by Keller whistling the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show. The performance finished with a medley of "Mary Jane's Last Breakdown" into Huey Lewis' "I Want a New Drug" into Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance." The trio returned for an encore of the new fan favorite "Goofballs," leading Larry Keel to exclaim, "Damn, that's hot as shit!"

Les Claypool :: Wakarusa 2006
Astonishingly, nearly every band at Wakarusa started and finished their sets on time. Les Claypool & Co. (aka "Les Claypool's Fancy Bucket of Bernie Baldi") bucked the trend and started about 15 minutes later than scheduled. Concerns about the start time quickly evaporated as he slapped the bass to life and led the band into an energetic rendition of "Up on the Roof." The balance of the band was extraordinary. Certainly Claypool held up his end as expected, and the infusion of Gabby La La, Skerik, Mike Dillon, and Paulo Baldi allowed the band a certain malleability in jams that enabled the song to advance in any direction they desired. It was impossible to predict where the next burst of energy would come from. A drawn-out drum roll marked one of the few breaks, as Claypool strode to the side of the stage and retrieved his stand-up bass to add into the mix.

Bernie Worrell :: Wakarusa 2006
An even bigger surprise was in store, however, as Buckethead and Bernie Worrell of Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains project joined the group for a rousing rendition of "Big Eyeball in the Sky." For the encore, Claypool busted out the bassjo and sang a nice version of "Iowan Gal," which he introduced by commenting, "We debuted this song last night for the first time, and I fucked it up – let's hope this goes a little better." It did, and the title track of the bassist's new album, Of Whales and Woe, followed. The band ended with "Lust Stings" and "D's Diner," bidding the crowd farewell as the throngs headed in great anticipation to see Oklahoma City's sons of psychedelia, The Flaming Lips.

Neither audio recordings nor words will ever do The Flaming Lips justice. You just have to see the band live to really appreciate them. The festivities began with Wayne Coyne crowd-surfing in what can only be described as a large hamster ball. His return to the stage was triumphant, punctuated with about a dozen four-foot orange balloons, explosions of confetti, and streamers which clung to the top of the stage lights for the rest of the night. He was greeted by two groups of dancers that flanked the stage for the entire performance: on the left - aliens, on the right - Santa Clauses. The band kicked things off with "Race for the Prize," and it was immediately evident that Coyne had nearly lost his voice. It seemed as though the red carpet had been rolled out for the Lips' arrival, only to see them trip over it.

Wayne Coyne :: Wakarusa 2006
Not to worry, however, as the crowd was won over with the band's second selection, "Bohemian Rhapsody." Coyne invited the audience to sing along as the lyrics were projected on a screen behind the band. To hear thousands of people simultaneously singing along to Queen’s anthemic rocker – and have everyone gleefully jump on board for the moment – was something that everyone in attendance will remember about the weekend. "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" saw many in attendance share vocals with the band, while simultaneously scratching another song off of many people's "I hope they play..." lists. The seminal "She Don't Use Jelly" was prefaced with vintage video footage of a young Jon Stewart introducing the band and the song to an MTV audience. The set-closing "Do You Realize" was three and a half minutes long but could not have provided a more fitting end to the experience. In leaving the concert grounds, fans were treated to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," which suited the band's message perfectly - be happy, be enthusiastic, be yourself. The performance felt like a movie and concert rolled into one. Add in strobe lights, balloons, confetti, streamers, and dancing aliens and Santa Clauses and you have an unforgettable adventure of a show. This was not the best music of the weekend, but in terms of an overall experience, no other band came close to delivering what The Flaming Lips bequeathed a few thousand lucky fans at Wakarusa.

Sunday, June 11

Tim Carbone :: Railroad Earth
Wakarusa 2006

As things were beginning to wind down on Sunday, the weather could not have been more hospitable. Temperatures hovered in the 70s as a slight breeze cooled things off under cloud-covered skies. Many noticed the bluegrass- infused triumvirate of Railroad Earth, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and tossed some lawn chairs down to stake out their territory in anticipation of some world-class picking.

Railroad Earth is not a bluegrass band, but rather a band that happens to play bluegrass. The sound is well- rounded – with drums – but crafty musicianship and excellent vocals are what carry the band's sound to the next level. The music was full without being crowded. "Seven Story Mountain" offered a few notable moments, but it was the crazed picking on "Peace on Earth" from their Bird in a House album that brought many to their feet. This is a band that has a certain "front porch" appeal, which translates exceptionally well for those listening intently from their lawn chairs strewn about the Kansas prairie.

Jeff Austin :: YMSB
Wakarusa 2006
Yonder Mountain String Band, the high-octane bluegrass quartet from Nederland, Colorado, was up next. Opening with "Sideshow Blues," the band quickly coalesced and executed the next slew of songs with pinpoint accuracy. A short time later, Bela Fleck decided to join in on the festivities. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this collaboration is that it wasn't the best of the set! Indeed, as the band introduced Jeff Coffin on sax, it was evident that Coffin could add a layer of texture to the band's sound. Coffin chose his moments wisely and added the perfect flavor to songs like "Holdin'." For the encore, they went with the upbeat "Death Trip Baby," which packed a little more of a punch than a number of other songs in the band's repertoire. From start to finish, there were a number of peaks and valleys in the set, but the addition of Bela and Jeff made it a memorable occasion.

Futureman:: Bela Fleck & the Flecktones
Wakarusa 2006
It was nearly two hours of shear mastery that closed out the main stage at Wakarusa 2006, including the greatest banjo player in the world, the greatest bass player in the world, a new-age saxophone pioneer and genius, and a scientist turned percussionist. Roy "Futureman" Wooten looped his drumitar, and the band segued into the theme song from Sanford & Son. Every member of the band got his own time to shine at one point or another. Jeff Coffin piped two saxes at once, and Victor Wooten laid down a beautiful "Amazing Grace" bass solo. Futureman soloed on a cajón, later backed by Bela Fleck. The great banjo maestro was everywhere in between and beyond. Morphing into a masterfully controlled version of "Wipe Out," Futureman took yet another solo between the drums and his drumitar. An encore was eminent, and like a bluegrass John Lennon, Bela returned with a Rickenbacker banjo to feed the energy with none other than The Beatles' "Come Together." Coffin's sax took the place of the chorus and was later replaced by a penny whistle. It was the perfect combination of excitement and ease to close the main stages of Wakarusa 2006.

STS9 :: Wakarusa 2006
Closing out the festival on the Sun Up stage was Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9), which seemed to draw a slightly larger crowd than the Flecktones. The trance, pumping bass, and electric light show of STS9 have become staples of festival late nights. Whether it was the space-age jam or the bluegrass phenomenon, the main stages at Wakarusa 2006 closed in style, slamming the door on both a controversial and enjoyable festival.

Jambase Waka Awards:

Best Breakthrough Performance: Groovatron, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
Runner Up: Chris Berry & Panjea

Biggest Surprise: Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Runner up: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

Best Collaboration: Yonder Mountain String Band featuring Béla Fleck and Jeff Coffin
Runners Up: Les Claypool featuring Buckethead and Bernie Worrell, Pnuma Trio featuring Ryan Burnett of Signal Path

Best Sound: Béla Fleck & The Flecktones, Rose Hill Drive
Runners up: New Monsoon, Assembly of Dust, Railroad Earth

Biggest Disappointment: Kansas State Police

Best Overall Show: The Flaming Lips
Runners Up: Michael Franti & Spearhead, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones

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Falcor starstar Wed 6/28/2006 03:06PM
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did you make it to any of the latenights??? PGroove..ALO...Moonshine Still...Bassnectar. I feel like I read this review 5 years ago on the first Bonnaroo review. Or how about the vibe around the festi itself. I have read alot of your stuff, but I feel like you shortchanged this one

All Loving Liberal White Guy Wed 6/28/2006 03:26PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

i heard the disco biscuits were still cool.

G$Love starstarstar Wed 6/28/2006 03:29PM
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Good reivew, but man that is a completely different festival than I saw (the only sets that I caught that Nathan reviewed were the Flaming Lips & Les Claypool). The Lips tore the place down though, one of the best rock shows that I've seen this year. Where are the roots-rock & roll bands in this reveiw? No mention of amazing sets from Shooter Jennings, Robert Randolph, Lucero, Andrew Bird, Mofro, Rose Hill Drive, William Elliot Whitmore, Backyard Tire Fire, and Rev. Horton Heat! These alt-country/roots bands are what set Wakarusa apart from all the other fests out there with identical lineups, imho.

Scarphace Wed 6/28/2006 05:48PM
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Despite the extremely heavy police presence, I had a blast at this gathering. I will always smile when I think of the septic-tank drum jam on Sunday with almost a dozen or so cops on hand to watch in awe. That moment truly captured the spirit and energy that so many wanted to let loose on Clinton Lake, but that many had to contain due to the boys in blue. Keep on drumming (even though I won't be back next year or any year to come).

jmintz Wed 6/28/2006 05:49PM
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Great review & great photos by Pamela :)

pheelalrights starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/28/2006 06:13PM
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I don't know how long current festival attendees have been travelin' this great land, but kops in kansas is nothing new. In days gone by, I remember traveling to lawerence for the original traveling festival and reading billboards, yes billboards, on 70 that stated the state police's opinion of and tolerance for those who partake in celebrating 420, let alone in trance inducing holidays. The bible belt is and always was intolerant. Can you say deliverance?

QuantumTuba starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/28/2006 08:34PM
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Wakarusa was an amazing fest! I did not have any trouble with the cops, but then again, I wasn't using drugs, or even drinking. The police presence was clearly unnecessary, but the music was stellar. However, there are three sets unmentioned in this article that more than deserve comment. Jake Shimabukuro put on an amazing set (he plays ukulele like Bela Fleck plays banjo), Gov't Mule rocked, and Tea Leaf Green displayed some incredible jamming.

All Loving Liberal White Guy starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/28/2006 09:35PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

right on pheelarights ! i've been to festivals in kansas before and even in other southern states and all these conservates are harshing in on everyones vibe. while not speaking for all the people of those states, it should be noted that red states have a lot of convservative and ignorant buch supporters. and bush's main sup[porters are fanatical christian extremists in those states. at times i feel sorry for them becasue they're like a bunch of blind sheep flocking to some messed up ideology. i think it's time that orginazations like headcount should openely come out and oppose bush and all the corrput republician dogma. this stuff applies to people who like to spend their hard earned money in the summertime at a good festival with good vibes in the most beautiful time of the year. until then, i'll be giving other states like those in the pacific northwest and new england area by tourist business. it's not gonna stop my pasttime of hittin up the summer festivals.

spaceface7 starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/28/2006 10:33PM
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Came from NY to hit this up and the random fences and disrespecting cops deffinitly took me by surprize. New music that knocked me on my ass were Delta Nove, Pangea, and Tea Leaf Green. This fest is gonna have to have a rediculious line-up to get me to go next year...

And for the record Les Claypool was rockin out on a BASSJO, not a banjo.
Awesome review and pics.

udsh starstar Thu 6/29/2006 07:04AM
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what about the lotus sets? how can a band start playing around 4am and you not cover it? best part of the fest imo

boogietooshoes starstarstar Thu 6/29/2006 07:07AM
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or what about 56 Hope Road, Madahoochi, Shanti Groove, White Ghost Shivers, Todd Snider??!!??? Yes, all the acts mentioned in this article kicked ass at the festie, but how about checking out those bands that you hear and read of, but still haven't caught...isn't that part of the purpose for these festivals of 70+ bands?!! Go out and see NEW live music!

crescentvale starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/29/2006 11:01AM
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It was one of the best line-ups of the summer festival season. I would dance for the helicopters as they would fly over my tent. Its a big joke, our goverment is fake. We don't have money to build schools, or important tasks, but we do have money to watch young people at a music festivals. I hope the DEA reads this, F*** you, and your job. I hope that the people at the top understand, hard working americans, need a vaction. When we go on vaction, we don't need the extra security to protect us. Protect and serve. It is our music sence and ourselves that we have to take care of, or it will be taken away.

dedhed6111 Thu 6/29/2006 11:16AM
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I'd just like to add as a note to the organizers that I won't be attending any future wakarusas because of overzealous police attention and I think many others won't either. I'm sure that a few of us won't hurt your checkbook, but i'm not willing to sacrifice personal liberty at illegal checkpoints in order to visit your festival

Scott F. starstarstar Thu 6/29/2006 01:48PM
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Scott F.

No mention of Gov't Mule or Oteil and the Peacemakers? The later was one of the best sets I saw all weekend. What really irritates me though is how much complaining people are doing about police. I mean, I don't know anyone that got messed with that had a small private stash of weed, but when you bring every kind of drug out there with the intention to sell, you should be "hassled". It is about the music afterall.

toestothenose starstarstar Thu 6/29/2006 03:00PM
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Where I agree whole heartedly with your feelings about Grace and the Lips shows. I am disappointed w/ your RHD take.

Duke starstar Thu 6/29/2006 03:24PM
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Fantatic festival this year. Wouldn't change a thing except to add two more Yonder sets.

STEG187 starstarstarstar Thu 6/29/2006 05:17PM
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Hey Dub Lover...

THe original Bonnaroo review was dope!!!


Yep!! (Hov)

jammmy starstarstarstar Thu 6/29/2006 09:43PM
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first of all pnuma trio raged both nights,sorry to any who missed out.
i had a great time,they only problem is the distance from compground
to mainstage area.everything else was pretty solid.

sigmuna starstarstarstar Fri 6/30/2006 02:23AM
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Bassnectar was sickk, I also thought soundtribe played a great show. Cops suck and they had night vision I saw them using it and i also heard that they had directional mics. Im convinced that the paople that put on wakarusa dont want to have another one again, or they should switch locations to a location thats not a state park so the cops cant get in.

krcwell starstarstarstar Fri 6/30/2006 07:17AM
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Great review. I'm glad to see that Groovatron show didn't get swept under the rug. I've caught those fools a couple of times, but this show was just ridiculous. In regards to the cops, that was a little ridiculous, but unfortunately a festival of this magnitude does bring a lot of drugs into the community. And, like the others have said, it's Kansas. Tolerance is not their specialty.

Ston starstarstarstar Fri 6/30/2006 08:09AM
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Yes, the law enforcement was extremely over the top. You couldn't even waka around without having to get out of the way of one of those ATV's! I agree, some people there deserved to get arrested for bringing the vibe down, but with a festival like this, we're the most laid back, unaggressive peoples. Oh well, hopefully things straigten out for next year or I'm not making the trip back. I drove from Minneapolis by myself for this festival and the only thing that lived up to my expectations was the music. Disco Biscuits were amazing both nights! Moonshine late night was tight...love those guys. On a side note, I ran into a couple people I met at Waka at the Yonder show last night at the Minnesota Zoo. Check out that setlist!

Chaloupka starstarstar Fri 6/30/2006 10:12AM
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Good review, but not comprehensive. Some other bands that played great, but were not mentioned are:

56 Hope Road
Moonshine Still
The Balance
Oteil & the Peacemakers
Back Yard Tire Fire

I could go on and on . . .

All Loving Liberal White Guy starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/30/2006 01:36PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

right on dedhead! i won't be atending any more festivals in the ignoranty state of kansas and all of their ignortant busch loving cops. i hope the festival promoters go flat broke next year. this is awful. and what's up with the heads today. did we learn from our forefathers, it's time for headcount to openly oppose bush while not taking any political affiliation. these past six years have been nothing but tax breaks for the rich, the spread of ignorant christian dogma, and over 2500 troops who have all died in vein (yes, i know thats harsh but it's the raw truth) a war based on a lie. kansas is among the one of the most ignorant states in america. and all you festival lgoers need to wake up and take a stnad becasue wakarusa is just the tip of the iceberg.

Squid420 starstarstar Fri 6/30/2006 03:38PM
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wtf no mention of buckethead! he had 2 sets!

bernie worrell also had an amazing set

ClaypoolFunksMe starstarstar Fri 6/30/2006 03:40PM
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Waka was a great time. The police's action was what one should deplore but expect from a country that falling into the depths of a fascist, police state. The state sponsored attacks on our nation on 9/11 and the subsequent cover up of the truth of what actually happened on that fateful day have led to the errosion of our civil liberties where now the police somehow have the right to watch you bang your girlfriend in your tent with nightvision goggles on, not to mention commit numerous illegal searches and seizures at a toll booth, which is a direct violation of our fourth amendment rights. And yet no single wakarusa attendee cared enough to follow through with the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri's attempt to take these criminals to court. All they need is one plantiff, ONE!!!! One person to stand up and say... hey, that was wrong. I personally was not messed with by the police and thus i cannot file a complaint, but if you were harassed and you believe your constitutional rights were violated, please contact the ACLU at http://www.aclukswmo.org/ . It will help all of us out for the future if you do.

Anyhow, about the music... my favs were 1. RR + The Family Band (best show by far that i've ever seen by them...unbelievably powerful sound), 2. Flectones, 3. Claypool, 4. Buckethead, 5. Delta Nove (Zappa cover always wins in my heart), 6. Franti, 7. Bassnectar, 8. Bernie Worrell, 9. Booty Band, 10. Brothers Green. Other notables include: alfred howard and K23, Rose Hill Dr., Flaming lips (only got to see the end because my group got freaked by the huge system of lightnight near by), Zilla, Treologic, Brass n Grass, and Tim Reynolds ( who covered "cold sweat" by James Brown, not "sex machine" as was mentioned)

shakedown40 starstar Sat 7/1/2006 12:37AM
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Amazing music, amazing people, unfortunately the cops totally harshed our mellow. We traveled from fort lauderdale, Florida to Kansas for this in a 31 foot RV only to stopped continuously before entering the campground to be searched and harrassed. We also got nabbed at our campsite for chillin and enjoyin a smoke, thanks again Kansas PD!
To address some rumors:
yes they were using night vision to bust festivalgoers
yes they were using directional mics
yes they rolled up on campsites
yes they were actually walking around in the crowd at shows
Guys, we all need to band together to make sure bs like this and Smilefest doesn't start happening regularly. I love all of you too much to see anyone get pinched. Oh yeah, and to large scale production companies-book events on private land,PRIVATE LAND!
"why do i feel like...somebody's watchin me?"

phatdoc Sat 7/1/2006 08:16AM
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Average review. What about AOD, 2nd Monsoon, TLG, Lotus, Mule! These were all great sets! I agree that the cop presence was outrageous, but come on people, these festivals are about the music, not the amount/ease of drugs one can buy, sell, or consume!

skinny2 starstarstar Sat 7/1/2006 01:41PM
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i did not attend this year and was going to but glad i didnt my roomate got arrested for drinking a beer i think that the future of wakarusa is now jepardized bc from the sounds of it i dont know anyone who went this past year that are ever going to go back and that sucks, it really sucks that the police had to ruin such a great event good luck next year to anyone who goes

glkaiser starstarstarstarstar Sun 7/2/2006 10:31AM
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That Thursday night groovatron set was awesome...here is a quick video clip from that show:


I'll be back next year....but bring back Umphrey's!!! They were missed this year...

Luthur starstarstar Sun 7/2/2006 09:16PM
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I think it's cool that Jambase's picture on the front page for this article was the "Don't Step on the Grass, Sam." It took me a couple of times to catch the signifigance of that seeing how they didn't review Mule in the article. Cops were thick. Music was good. But you know what? The secret is out. Festi's aren't going to be what they were. Even if these things are on private property. Too many people. Too many festivals. Just the way life is. Now, the question is for the future, who's really in it for the music?

Darkstar16 starstar Mon 7/3/2006 08:44AM
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Boooooo no love for Lotus! Fools

VWFiend starstarstarstar Mon 7/3/2006 12:40PM
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To the author...while I think this was a great review and I rated it 4 stars, I have to disagree with your nominating Chris Berry and Panjea as a "breakthrough" artist. Panjea have been playing music for years and are superstars in Africa, while I am a huge fan of them and glad they got nominated for something, I just feel that they were miscategorized.

cocheese Wed 7/5/2006 11:21AM
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From what I've been hearing over the past weeks it sounds like you better "walk the line" when at Waka!

420phishin starstarstarstar Thu 7/6/2006 08:09PM
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Never going back to that one. I feel like I payed these people to harass me. The music was even better than I expected(that really says alot), but I also go to these festivals to ecscape from my job and stress. I would have been safer smoking a bowl on my front porch at home, than under a shade tent at WAKA 06. Great music!

jamwx Thu 7/6/2006 08:36PM
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What I remember most is about 25 awesome live shows from some of my favorite musicians. The fact that so many people are whining about how their favorites were left out, is a tribute to the overall quality of the bands. Next year, hide your personal stash creatively, and enjoy the music, because as a few people have pointed out, that IS the real reason for Wakarusa. Can't wait for next year!

MattO starstarstarstar Fri 7/7/2006 10:49PM
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waka's music was great, as always it met all expectations. but the presence of the curious george drug patrol put a damper on some aspects of the festival. i expected bonnaroo to be more strict than waka, but this year it was just the opposite. manchester is in the middle of the bible belt, and still no cops to tell you "you are under-arrest." (which i heard the last night at waka after sts9, for public intox) overall good review of waka, but a nomination for claypool for best show would have been nice. that was an amazing show, better than the one at bonnaroo. overall i give waka a 7of10 falling a little short of the perfect bonnaroo expierence, 10of10. as for the review ill give it a 4of5.

claypoolfunksme (read review below its a good one) i agree with all you had to say about 9-11, the state sponsored attacks, the cover up of the truth, and it leading to the errosion of our rights. BUT every music festival i have been to the past 5 years has been an escape from all the bull shit, thus i do not beleive that the cops at waka were a post 9-11 thing. they were just bible carrying, tounge speeking, shitty cops from kansas, expect it at waka from now on.

pronice starstarstarstarstar Sun 7/9/2006 09:41AM
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I did not make it to Waka but it reminds me of my 'horror' story from Bonnaroo 2 years ago...the patrolling and searching of peaceful citizens heading into a festival is outrageous. coming out of the Roo in '04 we were pulled over for 'going too slow', travelling 35 in a 45 mph zone...my brother was driving and he braked cause he saw the sherrif sitting on the side of the road. We had Maine plates on the van and it was a classic case of profiling. Long story short, they were about to let us go and the sherrif said he needed to search our van b/c he 'smelled some weed'. well, they searched and found some weed allright. we all got charged with posession of a tiny amount of weed (less than a gram for some of us) for a grand total of $1,200 each!!!! The fucking sherrif's said, "oh, you'll get a fine for about $250." Those pig fuckers' faces are burned into my memory forever.
So, it seems like the ideas of a peaceful, stress free music festival are fading. It's just not fair for working class peeps to stress out over something like this on a vacation.
I feel for all those people who got busted and arrested.

vwphan starstarstar Sun 7/9/2006 11:52AM
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I agree, the cops were a complete buzz-kill...even for a conservative like me. I'm sure they could have gone to Wyandotte County and busted more people selling crack to kids than worrying about some hippies smokin' grass. The music was simply fantastic! I can't believe there was no mention of TEA LEAF GREEN's Saturday afternoon set?! They had the campground tent overflowed 50 yards on each side with people dancin' their asses off! These guys will be headlining major venues sooner than later. Speakeasy late-night and Shanti Groove w/ Jeff Austin were other highlights that werent mentioned.

Hollow Tue 7/11/2006 03:09AM
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My friend and I were pulled over going into Bonnaroo '06 for traveling 6 miles over the speed limit with out-of-state plates. The cops were out looking for festival goers. He said they were conducting a 'drug intervention program' and needed to search our car. We did not give him permission. He wanted to bring a K-9 to sniff the vehicle and we again calmly did not give consent. He was telling us that he KNEW what went on at those rock concerts. In the end he didn't even give us a ticket for speeding which was weird because he was acting like he wanted to arrest us.

The moral of the story is that people should realize they will be profiled going into these events. This is backwards but true. Don't draw attention to yourself and know your rights. Don't raise your voice to the cops (hardest part) but calmly refuse consent to a search. Once you give consent the search becomes legal.

tourmaniac Wed 7/12/2006 06:08PM
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Looks like the organizers of Wakarusa are trying to organize a response. They've now have an "incident report" form on their website in which people can write a formal complaint if they were harrassed by law enforcement.

The link is: http://www.wakarusa.com/2006/incident_report.asp

I highly advise anyone who either witnessed or was a target of harassment from law enforcement to take a moment and share their experience.

Greenjah starstarstarstar Thu 7/13/2006 06:29AM
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Late-night Bisco and Pgroove, Robert Randolph, STS9 sets easily the best of the weekend. Wouldn't have changed a thing...Waka '07 a done deal!!!

Hey everyone, I reviewed all 4 days of Waka on the 101Report so by all means, come have a look... and feel free to comment..

Scotty Greene

timhalder21 starstarstarstar Thu 7/13/2006 10:42AM
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Everyone thinks the cop presence was outrageous and I agree. However, some cops, specifically the ones using night vision, were there for our safety. Anyone that went the year before and saw the guy laying with a sheet overtop of him know what I'm saying. The friends of the person who passed on the year before complained because the response was slow, maybe this should be taken into consideration. You have to realize these cops aren't all there to bust people, some actually care about our wellbeing. While I am not, by any means, justifying the levels of enforcment because that was an extreme waste of taxpayers money, but I was personally injured the first day there longboarding down a hill outside the venue. I talked to many people in the medical tents that said if people got taken in for an overdose, they were simply treated, and as long as they didn't have any illegal substances on them, they were let go. The people in the medical tents said there was increased enforcement because of the death the year before. I truly want to believe that's the only good reason to use night vision, I mean catching people smoking seems pretty insignificant for night vision. Overall great music and great people made this event one to remember. That fist night of Disco Buscuits changed my perspective on the band, abselutely amazing!

worldbefree Tue 7/18/2006 07:33AM
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timhalder, you are joking right? How would night vision goggles help you spot someone who needed medical attention?! The only use I saw 1st hand of night vision occcured when I saw some ATVs head up the hill around dusk then about a half hour later some folks I just met had their campsite stormed by the same lawmen. Apparently the audacious activity of playing drums represented a threat to homeland security.

pronice starstarstarstarstar Tue 7/18/2006 08:41AM
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thanks for your story GrnCrcl!!! while my story has lots more details and is too painful to recreate in its entirety, it seems to be very helpful for festival goers to share their positive AND negative experiences, especially with local law enforcement conducting 'drug intervention programs' and profiling just b/c they think they can get away with it. we got fucked, bottom line, and I will never forget what we went through. it was a horrifying experience. I have learned from it though and will say to all: beware of the LO-PO!!!! yes, they can be very helpful at times, I agree with timhalder21, but they can also be downright deceiving if they want to be. me and 4 other people are thousands of dollars poorer b/c of the Tenn. sherriff's dept. I guarantee they had a good 'ole time with our tasty nuggets.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Wed 7/19/2006 09:37AM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

a lot of people are complaining about the security presens and while it does suck, whining about it on a messageboard won't do much. i advise all of you who had their vibes harshed on at wakarus to go to www.wakarusa.com/2006/incident_report.asp and tell the promoters about how much all these babay huey like security guards were ruining your time. the more people that do this, the more chances the promoters will actauly do something to try to make wakarusa's 2007 experience a bit better. if you don't have a specific incident to report i urge all of you to go to wakarusa.com and click on the top of the page where it says CONTACT US and flood these people with e-mails telling them that aside from the music, that wakarusa was a crappy excperience. the more people do this, the better 2007 waka might be. PEOPLE POWER !

futhepharmer starstar Wed 8/2/2006 09:04AM
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the solution is easy. Simply Kill Wakarusa Music Festival. at least take it away from Kansas. Once the good people of Lawrence, Kansas realize we will not be generating the millions in dollars that eventually get spent in their stores and businesses, making it more proffitable than Christmas for most of them, maybe they will take their anger out by voting out the police officials, higher-ups, and anyone else that had anything to do with this law enforcement fiasco. then maybe the cops will realize that jamband fans and hippies that bring a lot of money through your pitiful little town is way more easy to live with than losing your job. Nuf said....

QuantumTuba Mon 8/21/2006 12:55PM
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OK. The police presence may have been bad, but if you are going to do something about it, try to make sure it affects the government, not the festival. (In other words an ACLU lawsuit against Kansas law enforcement, NOT festival promoters) I found so many new favorite bands(New Monsoon, Bisco, RRE, Jake Shimabukuro. I'll definitely be coming next year, Waka was a blast!

hahund starstarstar Thu 8/24/2006 06:08AM
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As a student at KU and a resident of Lawrence Kansas I find some of the negative comments about the town a little bit harsh. You cannot place judgment on a town or an entire state for that matter because of the actions of a few asshole cops. Also, the promoters and organizers of the festival cannot be blamed wholly for the police presence because Wakarusa takes place in Clinton Lake State Park, meaning the police and anyone else for that matter have a right to come and go as they please. The only way to save Wakarusa is to find some farmer or rancher or someone to consent to let the festival to take place on their property. So instead of wasting time and energy on bashing a place and the people who live there (not everyone in Kansas is conservative, Bible-beating and backward thinking) why don't the people who are so upset about the whole fiasco focus on a way to improve the situation? I had a good time at Wakarusa and unfortunately four people at my campsite were arrested. But you know, shit like that happens, the cops target the youth, get used to it.

futhepharmer star Wed 9/20/2006 08:34AM
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face it Waka's dead. everyone (and thats a lot of folks over the summer at all the festies) I talked to said they were NOT going next year. And, as a matter of fact, it just came out in the news that they used super-expensive hidden cameras and thermal imaging devices. AND, the promoter has admitted that he gave them permission. So yes Waka People, you f-ed up and you will Not sale enough tickets to pay your talent next year, causing you to have to cancel, sorry but true

BlowsAgainsttheEmpire starstarstar Fri 9/22/2006 10:03AM
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Ah, Kansas, one of the states in the USA that takes DNA samples from citizens accused of a crime or arrested for a crime but not CONVICTED of a crime. I'm sure they'd like nothing more than to swab you. Read the below.

BTW, I was not at this event. The cameras ARE a privacy violation regardless of what is or is not currently on the law books. And people DON'T have to take it. They will fight back. I do not believe the festival promoters and their PR spin, liars. Police liars. Look whats happening out on the streets. Indeed. Then do something about it.



LazyCatPeakin starstarstar Fri 1/12/2007 07:49AM
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I hit up the Vibes and Bonnaroo this summer (06') and I had quite an enjoyable experience at both. Pretty much no trouble at all. The cops at Roo were pretty chillin, the only thing they gave us a hard time about was selling beer. Other than that, I'll never forget the first morning of Roo (somewhere around 6am) I was walking back to my van because I had met up with some chicks I knew and I crashed in there tent. There were two cops on horseback trotting down the road and these two older heads were stumbling around walking next to the horses. The one older head was so fucked up rambling something to the cop, and the cop just laughed at him. Then the guy went up and started petting the horse on its hind leg and the horse bugged and kicked the dude in the stomach. The guy was so twisted that he fell to the ground in pain but then started busting out laughing. It was one of the funniest moments I've seen at a festival.

Vibes was the shit, not a cop in sight but those crazy Hell's Angels were kicking people out for selling shit, then the bikers would take their shit and turn around and sell it. It's pretty fucked up but what are you gonna do?