by Robert Bell
Greetings from Mulberry Mountain, where Wakarusa has been under way since Thursday. The weather has improved considerably from yesterday. It's now pleasantly cool as opposed to jacket-required chilly and the rain has gone away.
Not that the gloomy weather kept anyone from having a good time yesterday. In fact, judging from what I observed, a lot of these festival warriors were utterly unfazed by a little wind, rain and chill. They danced and laughed and twirled their glo-sticks and I spied a few of them totally mugging down on the ground in the mud. Chemicals might have played some part in these folks' good cheer, though of course it's impossible to know for certain.
After the jump, I've got the first of several music reviews I'll be posting from Waka veteran Kristal Kuykendall, managing editor of the Carroll County News. Later on, I should have some video to post from photojournalist Martin Couch.
Keys N Krates really got the Wakarusa party vibe kicked off Thursday with an almost unbelievably hype set on a laid-back, cool, cloudy afternoon. The trio uses drums, keyboards and turntables to create a blend of hip-hop, electronica and jam that shows off the artistry of the live remix in a way that impresses even the critics of the genre (i.e. me), I must admit. The group has opened for the likes of Lotus, Skrillex, Girl Talk and others, so I figured walking in to this set that they'd know how to turn on a crowd; I wasn't wrong.
The Revival Tent was awash with music fans waiting to be turned on, as a matter of fact, since this was the first really upbeat dance act of the entire festival. It took about half of a song to do it, as it turned out. With the dynamic Adam Tune on the drums, champion turntablist Jr-Flo on the turntables, and the soulful Matisse on the keys, the group turned up the jams quickly, with clever sample collaging, epic synths, big bass and funky drum grooves that really got the crowd into it. The remix of Jay-Z's "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" was a highlight for sure, and got me out of my chair and up dancing to boot.
They kept up the pace for the entire set, and the transitions were silky smooth, never interrupting the flow for the audience even when the rhythm changed up dramatically at times. Though never disjointed, a few of the changes were a bit disconcerting in spots, simply because of the dramatic changes in tempo. Still, they managed to always make it work and keep the crowd involved and enthusiastic within a few measures into each new track and new beat. It was impressive. Keys N Krates was an impressive addition to Wakarusa and a great way to kick things off in the always-rowdy Revival Tent.
— Kristal Kuykendall