Waka Winter Classic, Sullivan Hall, NYC – 3/1
For the first time, Wakarusa brought their Winter Classic, the touring competition to pick bands to play at the Wakarusa Festival, to New York City, hosting the event at jamband stronghold Sullivan Hall. On the lineup for this evening were rockers Big Wake, Indian-influenced dance-pop group My Pet Dragon, modern-era jamband Fundimensionals, rapper Kosha Dillz, and reggae band Oogee Wawa.
Big Wake, a quartet in the traditional Phish arrangement, were first, performing a set of jammy, Type I rock. They were followed by the electro-rock of My Pet Dragon, who eschewed improvisation in favor of well-orchestrated dynamics and a noticeably tight and polished performance. The next band, Fundimensionals, brought the most people, both on stage and in the audience, to enjoy their heavily Bisco-flavored extended jams (despite running their set at least 10 minutes longer than any other group, they performed the fewest number of tunes). Matisyahu-cohort Kosha Dillz dropped Hebrew-influenced science over a DJ and drummer, but his aggressive style and distinctly hiphop flavor lost some of the crowd. Oogee Wawa finished off the night with their Sublime-esque take on modern American reggae. All the bands performed tight, well-crafted sets, with the main distinctions being the particular styles each band leaned towards, as well as the less-obvious derivation of influences from the two older acts, My Pet Dragon and Kosha Dillz.
Despite the comparatively original material from the more veteran acts, the event’s jamband pedigree gave the edge to the more obvious improvisers, with Fundimensionals taking the win for the night.