Chicago is considered one of the biggest music hubs in the country so it’s no surprise that no matter which festival you might attend this year you will find hints of Chi-City flavor sprinkled throughout each lineup. The 10th Annual Wakarusa Music festival was no different as this Arkansas festival some Second City additions alongside some of the most popular national names in jam, rock and electronic.

Umphrey’s McGee

Umphrey’s McGee was listed as one of the headliners on this year’s festival and was awarded two sets lasting close to four hours between two days. Despite storming for most of their first set on Friday, the band was able rock the main stage without disruption. Umphrey’s erupted into early classics like the technical “JaJunk” followed by a soulful version of “Intentions Clear.” Later in the set they crushed newer classics including “Cemetery Walk” and “Miami Virtue” from their two most recent studio albums. As the band finished their Friday set, the rain started to fall which eventually led to a massive thunderstorm that forced cancellation of music for the remainder of the night.

By Saturday the sun had made its way through the cloudy sky which lifted the spirits of many of the festival goers and by nightfall the party was in full swing without a raindrop in sight. Umphrey’s took full advantage as they playfully covered the reggae inspired Zeppelin tune “Fool in the Rain” that had everyone who could hear smiling and singing along. The clever arrangements and virtuoso instrumentation was on full display as they ripped through versions of “Porch” and “Room to Breathe.” Solid jams backed by a colorful and spectacular light show, Umphrey’s McGee ended up being a bright spot during a muddy weekend.

Old Shoe

As festy goers finished shaking off the hangover that a clear skied Saturday night imposed on many, the sounds of easy living began to emerge from the Backwoods stage of Wakarusa Sunday afternoon. These mellow tunes belonged to Chicago jam locals, Old Shoe.

As they grooved through their hour long set at Wakarusa, their uplifting sound began to draw a merry crowd that began to sway with the soaring melody as they lifted their arms toward the sun.

Old Shoe is a five-piece Folk Rock band based out of Chicago. Much of the band’s music paints a diverse landscape of American life in the Midwest often singing about drinking, heartache and following your dreams to bigger things.

This talented young band recently released their second album, “Let Yourself In,” and is consistently touring the Midwest including currently scheduled shows in Illinois and Wisconsin.

DJ Solo

DJ Solo is awesome. At least that’s the name he gave his website. That’s right, if you type in djsoloisawesome.com it will take you to his website where you will find diverse bass sounds of ranging from dub to trap and everything in between.

SOLO is a member of the Champaign/Urbana IL electronic music crew Chalice Dubs and pushes out quality mixes behind a message of change, positivity and love. This made SOLO a perfect fit for the Wakarusa Festival.

As the sun shone on a sunny Sunday afternoon, DJ SOLO took his place behind his mixing equipment on the Grassroots Satellite Stage which was tucked away on a slight hill just off the main walkway. SOLO saluted the crowd suited in a jean jacket covered in patches and slightly sideways hat before jumping into his high energy cross-breed of turntablism and laptop controller techniques.

Despite being only one of the first artists to perform that day, SOLO had the crowd moving early. As he reached the midpoint of his set SOLO dropped one of his freshest remixes that brought the rest of the crowd to their feet. A steady flow of bass bumps backed a mashup of Grateful Dead’s “Casey Jones”, “China Cat Sunflower”, “I Know You Rider”, and Sublime’s version of “Scarlet Begonias.” Needless to say, some jaws were dropped as SOLO seemed to play into the crowd’s eardrums.

After paying tribute to the late Ray Manzerek and The Doors with a bouncy remix of “Love Me Two Times,” SOLO took the mic and thanked the crowd again before hopping his way off stage.

Be sure to catch DJ SOLO around the city opening for big name electronic and jam acts when festival season comes to an end.

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