What’s Up Sasquatch?
For many of us, I think there is a moment when you are waiting in the three hour long line of cars to get into the Gorge that you wonder if you should turn back now. I think most of this questioning begins due to those stumbling out of their car just to break a half-gallon and paint YOLO on their chests. But the moment I feasted my eyes on the Columbia Gorge, even after a long day of travel missing the first few acts I knew that this was something to be a part of.
It would be impossible to highlight everything seen and heard at Sasquatch so I have a couple of awards to give out in lieu of a painstakingly detailed synopsis of many selfish choices.
The Only Headliner at Sasquatch
In my opinion Jack White and Pretty Lights didn’t hold a candle to Bon Iver (I have nothing to offer on the matter of Beck, as a responsible human being real life begins the Tuesday morning after Memorial Day). Jack White was straight out of a Tim Burton movie, but less fun and more austere. In the moment I enjoyed the performance, which mostly consisted of White Stripes nostalgia and the Raconteurs one hit wonder with sprinklings of his solo material. Yes, he rocks hard but his performance was severely overshadowed by Bon Iver who pretty much had his crowd in tears.
Following an epic sun(set) by Beirut, proving that Zachary Condon will still be the Flugelhorn playing gentleman of all our dreams Bon Iver’s elaborate stage set-up was in the works. Hanging fishing nets layered above the stage and glass lanterns filled the stage for a very natural and ambient aesthetic causing an eager crowd to fill out. It felt as though the entire festival had stopped for this show. Starting in the pit and realizing that this was a show to be watched from the hillside of the Gorge I made my way up to a hillside surrounded by roughly 20,000 people in the amphitheatre.
Justin Vernon was overtly gracious to be where he was, alluding to his previous performance at the Bigfoot Stage two years prior (which at the time I had thought was the best show I’d ever seen, history does repeat itself). His genuine nature contributed to the fact that I felt like I was witnessing a piece of history, as Vernon himself said “You don’t get this one back” before he had the crowd singing, “What might have been lost” along to “Wolves Act I and II.” It felt like how I would imagine seeing Springsteen perform Nebraska. Without a doubt “Skinny Love” and “For Emma” left the crowd speechless in the encore but both albums, “For Emma, Forever Ago” and self-titled sophomore album were represented equally, both in my opinion masterpieces of our time.
After this weekend, I whole-heartedly declare that I have some comprehension of womping and glow sticks. After the epic Bon Iver set of Sunday night, hoards of people flocked to the Bigfoot Stage to see DJ Jon Gooch, or Feed Me, hailing from England to womp the faces off the crowd. His recent release on Deadmau5’s label and tour, and previous success under the stage name Spor attracted a lot of returning fans, curious fans, and rave kids alike. This tour, “Feed Me (with teeth)” featured a large Cheshire cat looking smile on stage that created a both dark, and exhilarating light show to aid an already fascinating live show experience. The crowd was thousands deep and I somehow found a way to make it to the front through blow up toys, crowd surfers, hands groping at the floor to collect glow sticks and a heavy amount of drugged individuals. As the music crescendo-d from ambient electronic house into an explosive dub-step peak the collected glow sticks were shot into the air and the crowd went nuts. Gooch clearly knows how to play to a festival audience, but likewise create worthwhile music that doesn’t get lost in the chaos.
Best Festival Moment
When you say Explosions in the Sky, the moment in which literal fireworks are lit off into the pre-mature night sky and nature is displayed both musically and physically around you should be what comes to mind, in other words Friday May 25, 2012 at Sasquatch. The fireworks may have been for Pretty Lights, but the only show worth seeing at that moment was Explosions. This Texas post-rock master quartet (always displaying a Texas flag strung on an amp) has played Sasquatch before but I’m unsure the relationship between the artists and the crowd had ever been this strong. Munaf Rayani’s guitar was hung low and the action that takes place as he plays felt abundantly primitive, once again as if they were one with nature and the emotions that it’s beauty inflicts on us. The only complaint is that at Sasquatch the drunkards are out yelling dumb things like “Yeah! Friday Night Lights, Man!” But nothing could have ruined that show for me.
Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs had to be the coolest person at Sasquatch. They drew the largest crowd at the Big Foot Stage that I saw most of the weekend, first seemingly based on intrigue of what sounds were coming off the stage and secondly because what was happening was amazing. The afro-dance indie rock group’s release of “Whokill” in the past year translated perfectly to a face painted (and pretty hipster) crowd, notably fun hits like “Gangsta” and “Bizness” featuring the essential looping and chaotic elements of tUnE-yArDs but also the softer, beautiful “Powa.” This was easily one of the best acts I saw at the festival.