Wakarusa or Woodstock? Sending Home Ties Far and Bringing Others Close — Wakarusa 2012 Mary Willson (festival press pass entry)
The 1969 Woodstock Movement was just that… a movement, defined through unity and although not on a dairy farm or in the midst of a rainstorm, the scene of electric music has created a similar sense of coming together from the local DJ’s to the mainstream sellouts to the extreme festivals.
Listening to music has been and always will be a vital part of any society—it is part of the human experience. Encrypted into personalities lies an ear preference, a type of music that a person attaches to more than other genres. This is no new phenomenon, and with increasing technology, access to music on all scales of popularity is largely accessible for individuals. Yet, what technology has promoted within the last few years is bigger than any ITunes album, Spotifiy track, or blog download: and that is community. Community, that can be found right here in the Ozark forest of Arkansas: The Wakarusa music Festival.
Yes, the verb of music is coming around again in an alternative way—a way that is in a new shape, form, and most importantly sound. In 1969 the community of 500,000 teenagers, college students, and adults came together as one for the legendary music festival. Never mind the torrential rains, disorganization, and stenches of port-a-potties; only the music, unity, and flicker of lighters mattered. This same concept is being played out in a whole different way, with a whole different sound—the form of dancing and bumping to a beat, electronic dance music.
“It’s a community from all walks of life, from high school to adults that are all equal once they enter the doors. They go to make new friends, to escape the stress of life, and to watch the lights shine and feel the rattle the floor,” Colorado State University junior, who has been to half a dozen festivals, and countless concerts, Alex Vinton said. “And at the end of the night, they all leave as a family.”
The generation of ear ringing music has gained steam within the last few years as technology has given thriving individuals the possibility to make their own music with computer programs, and portable mixing tables—along with the addition of music blogs, online sites, and additional applications that add to the ever growing universe of free music. Woodstock was a complete event that rose above its time era, pushing the music scene into a new world, just as massive populations of followers dedicated to the new beat is pushing the current music scene to advance and grow at a rapid and viral pace.
“The entire crowd has a great collective energy that rises and falls with the music,” said junior from University of Santa Clara, Bismah Aziz. “Everyone experience it simultaneously yet each person still has a unique response.” Aziz is in preparation for her second trip to Coachella in Los Angeles—one of the largest music festivals in the US.
From the family of the “dub step” genre, electronic dance music is a self-proclaimed genre of goose bump giving, soul numbing, body overtaking bass mixed with the hues of dozens of lights and lasers that come at your like fire to drown out flesh, draw you in, and don’t let you go. Its music that is felt and seen, music that cannot rightfully be experiences through headphones or alone… for it is built on experience and experiencing together.
Because of this fact, the electronic concert scene can be viewed as the most vibrant out there today. At Wakarusa, main headliner “Pretty Lights”—a recently virally popular DJ, is taking his performance somewhere it has very solemly seen… a national festival. As seen in my home town of Fort Collins, Smith has been widely popular throughout Colorado for years. Yet, as a hometown hero, he hasn’t been missed at local venues by a huge following. Much of that following is excited to see his performance away from the Rocky Mountains, and spreading his beats to a larger audience, and unifying us all.
“[The festival] promote community because there are so many different genres of music all put into one and it brings many different people together but they are all there for the music,” said University of Colorado Freshman, Rhett Cross. “It just promotes a very positive, friendly, and happy environment. It’s all about dancing and enjoying the music with your friends.” Cross recently graduated Rocky Mountain High school, the alma mater of Derek Vincent Smith.
Although the scene can be viewed as a drug infested culture that promotes harmful behavior, the reality of festivals like this instill its listeners to be a part of music and unity. When dancing together on the thumping floor, its not about the gigabytes on an iPod: its about a community coming together for the soul purpose of experiencing the purest form of communication. This is what Wakarusa brings to us all, and this is why fans keep coming back to the Ozark circle.
In a world where we are over controlled by technology and all music is at our fingertips, we are reminded, one bass kicking time after another, that music is about community, and although The Beatles aren’t on stage to remind us to come together—we find ways to.
The power from the music and the unity is a heightening experience, as thousands experienced at Pretty Lights back to back New Years Eve shows in their home-state of Colorado earlier this year. Pretty Lights is a main headliner at Wakarusa, as they will blow up the stage in the Ozarks as they do in every forest.