Summer Music in NWA

The Set List

By Brian Washburn

Big names at AMP, Wakarusa

Summer is approaching and the University of Arkansas has less than a month until students take their dreaded finals and embark on whatever summer adventure they come across. But this summer is going to be a little bit different for music lovers in Northwest Arkansas. Festivals, releases, awards and big-name concerts will be the name of the game this summer.
The big draw this year for NWA music feigns is undeniably Wakarusa, which has moved from their respected river in Lawrence, Kan., to the party field up in Mulberry Mountain. The festival, which usually consists of jam bands and alternative/country artists, has some pretty names this year, including the Black Crowes, Gov’t Mule, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Les Claypool, G. Love and Special Sauce, Matisyahu, Buckethead, Lucero and Perpetual Groove. Although this is only a small chunk of the acts to perform during the four-day festival (June 4-7), Fayetteville has finally arrived on the festival market. It’s about time concert promoters take advantage of the nature, location and musical taste of NWA .
Wakarusa is not the only festival many NWA residents flock to, however. Long-time kings of the festivals, Bonnaroo, will reign supreme again this year, giving music fans from all over the chance to see multiple bands from multiple genres in the Memphis area. Unfortuantely, Bonnaroo boasts nowhere near as good a line-up as they have the past couple of years. Jam-band hippies might flock for the two-day Phish reunion and old hipster wannabes will love to hear the blue-class rock ‘n’ roll of Bruce Springsteen, but these headliners do not catch the eye of this music columnist. It is intriguing to attend just to see the likes of The Mars Volta, MGMT, Wilco and, especially, The Decemberists. But is it really worth it if you have to sit through Jimmy Fallon?
Even though Bonnaroo does not have the best line-up of the year, it is not as bad as the one the annual punk rock summer camp has reveal. The Vans Warped Tour mystifies scene kids and punk rock alum every year with their diverse band choices and scene headliners, they even scored everybody’s favorite wannabe lesbian, Katy Perry, last year. However, this year is horrendous with the inclusion of worst-band-of-all-time candidates Brokencyde, 3Oh!3, Millionaires and Jeffree Star. Even the looming opportunity to once again get down and rock out with Underoath, Saosin, Chiodos, The Devil Wears Prada and Flogging Molly might not be enough to save Warped Tour this year.
The possibility for this year’s best festival might just be Lollapalooza, but a line-up has not yet been revealed. Let’s just hope it includes some of the indie-world’s best up-and-coming artists, I’m praying for an epic Manchester Orchestra performance.
For music fans who like to stick closer to home, the Arkansas Music Pavilion, aka The AMP, is also offering a few big-name concerts beginning in May. Cake, Darius Rucker, Queensryche (no, not Queen), Ben Folds, Peter Frampton (the bald version) and the Marshall Tucker Band will give Fayetteville a much needed boost for local shows this summer. Let’s just hope college students and music junkies alike stick around to hear, celebrate and give promoters the initiative to bring bigger and better names into the blossoming Fayetteville spectrum.

Categories: LIVE! In NWA