A bristling bouquet of Wanderlustees arms raised in high lunge. That's what you see on the front of today's NYTimes Arts section, some high profile coverage of yoga's rock'n'roll bonanza last weekend in Lake Tahoe. What's more, John Friend and Duncan Wong front the pack of sun drenched yogis gathered for class at the top of Squaw Valley Mountain to put their arms vigorously in the air. (Love the headband, no-shirt, sunglasses, crushed straw hat look of yogis practicing outdoors. See the physical paper today and the multimedia show on the Times' site.)
For all those likening the festival to Woodstock Festival from 1969, the yoga at least has a pretty updated feel to it---even if joints were also smoked in the non-yoga hours. (And according to my sources, the Kula village had an almost bougy vibe at times, Burning Man flashbacks (for some) notwithstanding.) Wanderlust 2009, Woodstock 1969 Reconciling the inner rocker with the outer yogi wasn't a problem for most people says the Times ---and most people I've talked to who were out there. In fact, I'd wager that strict righteousness that keeps yogis from rocking out (literally and metaphorically) only describes a few yogis these days, not the majority. That's just some kind of bad hype that's been hanging around. Shiva Rea rocks out on the main stage. All color photos by Jon Hyde for NYTimes. The Times article points out some of the downsides of the festival---the head-scratching combo of indie music (and its fans) and yoga (with its devotees).
“Frankly, when I heard about it,” said Mr. Bird, the singer and multi-instrumentalist who was a headliner on Sunday, “my first reaction was, is that going to work, because some of the bands don’t exactly spell inner peace, musically — nor do I, lyrically.”
The rapper, Common, who replaced the sick Michael Franti last minute, was too lewd for some yogis, and some musicians such as Kaki King could not get their heads around the yoga angle.
“I’m not going to do the hippie dance,” said Kaki King, the Brooklyn-based guitarist and singer who performed early on Saturday on the mountaintop stage. “I’m going to put shoes on and I’m not going to drink any mold” (a reference to kombucha, a fermented tea). And, she continued, “I’m not going to do any yoga.”
Mold! We love mold. But even if it wasn't all peace and love, the true spirit of yoga and love of a good time shone through for most. Gregg Gillis, the mash-up artist who performs as Girl Talk, and whose shows resemble a raunchy spring break party, is about as far removed from peacefulness as possible. But many festival-goers said they got the same rejuvenating charge from raucous dancing as from mindful breathing.
“These are audiences with open minds,” Mr. Gillis said. “Even if they’re not into it, they’re not there to critique it. And if they like it, they’re not embarrassed to get into it.”
The future is looking bright for Wanderlust, which almost broke even in its first year---in the middle of an enormous economic depression. Not bad, not bad. And 2010? Well, they are "already considering expanding Wanderlust next year, to three events on three mountaintops."
Yes, those hills will surely be alive with the sounds of yogis and music.