Wanderlust Festival Diary: Part Two

by Gordon Elgart on July 26, 2009

Everyone was really high at this festival.

Everyone was really high at this festival.

In order to get to the mainstage at the Wanderlust Festival, you need to board the funitel and ride the gondola to one the Gold Coast at Squaw Valley.  This is definitely the riskiest activity I’ve ever done to get to a show.  So what did I find when I got to the top?We arrived at the top in time to see Kaki King’s entire set.  Much like her career, the set started out with fast-picking acoustic guitar and moved into a more experimental electric sound, akin to noise.  (Noise the genre, that is.)  This made Dakin very happy; I spent most of her set exploring the field above the stage.

The Wanderlust Festival mainstage is up on a dusty, grassy mountain-top, and the views are amazing up there.  The wind does blow through which can kick up dust which can be mildly annoying if you’re in the middle of the dust, but otherwise the site is perfect.

Rogue Wave, from my current hometown of Oakland, played next.  Their new six-person lineup sounds great, and even their older songs have a new life to them.  There’s a more aggressive sound, but they still sound pretty when they need to as well.

Next up was Gillian Welch who as always played with Dave Rawlings.  The two of them are just great, playing wonderful acoustic country songs with a fair amount of shredding as well.  Jenny Lewis even joined them for one song, which excited the crowd immensely.

At this point, I decided I needed some lunch, and went looking for food.  Here’s the main negative about the festival: they don’t want you to bring food and then they charge usurious rates for the food.  Not that I eat hamburgers, but a hamburger was $13!  A slice of pizza was $8!  They have the ski-resort cafeteria open, but at in-season prices.  This was a major downer, so I ended up going back down the funitel to our room where we had fully stocked kitchen waiting.

I arrived back on the top a little less than halfway through Jenny Lewis’s set, and what I heard was far better than I expected it to be.  I’m not a fan of Rabbit Fur Coat, and I had never bothered listening to Acid Tongue.  Turns out Acid Tongue is a rock record, and had I know this, I would have listened.  Not only was her own newer material good, she also covered “Handle With Care” and “Love Hurts,” both singing with Jonathan Rice.  Also, the crowd was definitely most excited to see her more than anyone else playing at the Gold Coast stage.  She could easily have been the headliner.

The last daytime performer was Common, who was a last minute replacement for Michael Franti & Spearhead, who canceled due to an appendectomy.  Common is a really good stage performer, and has good material, but there’s something about him that makes him less than the complete package for me.  I can’t explain it because other people were having a blistering good time.  So I went back downstairs to make dinner.

After dinner (salmon, green beans and couscous), we made our way over to the village’s Globetrotter stage to see The Mutaytor.  This band is exceptionally entertaining, combining epic beats, horns and a driving bassline to create great music that’s essentially ignored when they perform.  This is because the music serves as a soundtrack to hot men and women dancing, spinning fire, hooping (there must be a word for this), and combinations of all of the above.  They even had a special guest with them last night: a hulu-hooping bear.

This just about sums up the weekend.

This just about sums up the weekend.

Finally, there was Girl Talk.  After way too long of a delay to set up a couple of laptops and some monitors, he entered the stage, pushed some buttons on a laptop, jumped up on a table, and everyone started dancing.  Within minutes, his stage was filled with dancers, who unfortunately were not people like me who were up front and planning to jump on stage when he started but were thwarted by security, but rather some VIPs.  Oh well.  It was still great.  Girl Talk does not just play his albums; everything on stage is different enough to keep you guessing, which is great.  The pit was at times filled with funky dancing, and at other times felt more like a mosh pit.  There was some stage diving, crowd surfing, a lot of beach balls, some giant balloons, and a lot of jumping.  Girl Talk brings the party, no doubt.

After this, we visited the giant yoga twister game being held near our hotel room.  It was amazing to watch people pull off amazing feats of yoga in an effort to win VIP tickets to next year’s festival, which we were assured was happening by the folks at Yoga Tree.  Good news!  We get to come back next year!

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

david July 27, 2009 at 11:10 am

i just wanted to say that the stage was not full of VIP’s. I am sorry that you didn’t get up there. It is frustrating for us as well at festivals such as this where we are forced to have a barricade. The only recourse we have is to have the festival folks randomly pick people from the audience. As Girl Talk’s tour manager at these shows I ask them to pick some people from the front and back. Hopefully you will have better luck next time or are able to make it to a show where we don’t have to deal with a barricade. Regarding the set change… the band before us was 11 people! it takes a while to get all of that gear of stage. I am glad you had a good time at this festival, I thought it was a great vibe as well.

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Gordon Elgart July 27, 2009 at 2:18 pm

I don’t think the festival staff did a good job of picking non-VIPs then, because the stage was full of laminate wearers, paid performers, media members, and that one distracting guy with the Flip camera taking close-ups of Greg. (No one told him he was on stage to dance, I guess.) As I wrote, though, that was just an “oh well” and the set was just a total party for all around.

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