Heard the singers playin’, how we cheered for more. The crowd had rushed together ...
— Creedence Clearwater Revival
That old corollary about how different people see and remember the same thing differently came into play over the weekend as I was discussing the incredible Wanee Festival with one of the other 40,000 or so attendees.
“No one’s going to believe it when I tell them how much pot there was being passed around,” the guy told me. “It’s, like, everywhere.”
True that ... so much so I did ask the bosses around here Monday not to send me for a random drug test until I’d had a chance to get the second-hand contact smoke out of my system. ... Put it this way: There was enough weed present at the three-day festival to keep Colombia’s economy going for a couple of months and more glassy-eyed stares than I saw in a semester’s worth of Ben Lawson’s literary criticism lectures.
But that’s not what made Wanee one of the greatest musical happenings I’ve had the opportunity to experience in my more than 40 years of attending live musical events. For me, Wanee was more about incredible musicians playing music that created a transcendental vibe that left me feeling as if I’d had one of those rarely-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be a part of something special.
Here, then, the 12 things I’ll remember most — or at least those that I’ll talk about — from Wanee 2012:
— Hoola hoops. Who knew the hot toy of the ‘50s would make such a dramatic comeback? Forget stoner guys standing around trying to keep hacky sacks in the air. The new-wave hippie chicks have perfected little hoola-hoop dances that are way more fun to watch.
— Naked guy. Some unsolicited but needed advice for the young surfer-dude-looking guy who decided to display his, ahem, business wares for festivalgoers to enjoy: You need a little more business to attract anything more than chuckles.
— Coolest guy who didn’t have to be but was anyway at the whole festival: Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge. In addition to just hanging out and talking with fans on the festival grounds, the super nice Burbridge also huddled in a tiny kiosk (next to the guy who did the intricate pen-and-ink drawings) with rain pouring down around him signing autographs, taking photos and helping a group sell raffle tickets to help needy kids at a nearby school.
— Grateful Dead holdovers Bob Weir and Phil Lesh and their amazingly talented bandmates (Jeff Chimenti, John Kadlecik, Joe Russo, Sunshine Becker, Jeff Pehrson) in Furthur doing Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and the Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain.”
— Best bit of advice shouted from a random guy in the crowd as Gov’t Mule took the stage for their 3:15 p.m. set Saturday: “Pace yourself, Warren!” Tireless guitar god Warren Haynes had played a 2 1/2-hour set with the Allman Brothers the night before after doing an extended Q&A session with Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna great Jorma Kaukonen earlier in the afternoon, and he still had a second marathon set to do with the Brothers at 9:30 that night.
— Bonerama’s instrumental cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” with guitar, tuba, trumpet and sax. Amazing, amazing stuff.
— The best security staff at pretty much any musical event I’ve ever attended. Attentive to any possible conflict that might arise yet friendly to everyone present.
— The most creative vendor booths ever. Even if you were an anti-establishment/anti-capitalist revolutionary, you’d find something worth buying at Wanee.
— Dumbest 15-seconds-of-fame try ever: The guy who walked up the flower-covered incline in front of the Peach Stage and attempted to make a statement into a microphone while roadies readied the stage for the Allman Brothers. Not only was the mic not turned on, the guy was escorted offstage by security into the waiting handcuffs of local police.
— Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk taking the stage in ‘70s-era P-Funk get-ups and laying down such classic Parliament hits as “We Want the Funk,” “Do That Stuff” and “One Nation Under a Groove.” Burn the roof off the sucka, indeed.
— Haynes and Derek Trucks playing the twin guitar lead on the Allman Brothers’ “Jessica” perfectly ... and being only slightly bummed that Duane Allman and Dickey Betts weren’t still doing it.
— “Discovering” just how great Weir, Lesh, Furthur, Ratdog and all other offshoots of the Dead really are. It takes seeing them live to realize that (a) Lesh is one of, if not THE, best rock bassists ever, and (b) Jerry Gracia was unquestionably the heart and soul of the Dead, but Weir will always be the band’s voice.
I, for one, am counting down to Wanee 2013.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.