Sasquatch Time Management

It’s time to make some tough decisions.

The eighth year of the Sasquatch Music Festival is upon us, and it arrives with a lot of hype, a few megastars on the bill, and bands flying in from around the world to participate. It's the biggest music party the state of Washington is going to see all year, and when two of your favorite bands (for vastly different reasons) are playing at the same time, you've got to make a hard decision. But don't fret--we're here to do the choosing for you, through our examinations of the following head-to-head battles that will ensue at the Gorge this weekend.Saturday, May 2312:15 p.m. Vincent Mira Is anybody else doing a set of Johnny Cash covers at Sasquatch this year? We don't think so. The Federal Way–based country singer knows how to win over a crowd as a solo artist—and now that he's playing Sasquatch, lasting fame is hopefully within his grasp. or... 12:25 p.m. Owl City This Minnesotan sold 100,000 copies of his debut disc independently. He's also got a song called "Hello Seattle," so technically, Sasquatch fans should go and say "hello" back to him since he's never been to the Northwest.Verdict: Go with Owl City, if only because you can already catch Mira locally a few times each month.***3:25 p.m. M. Ward He's no entertainer—dude's got as much stage presence as a can of Velveeta—but to the scads of folks who've memorized most of the shy poet's unsurpassed prose, his will be one of the best sets of the festival.or...3:40 p.m. King Khan and the Shrines No matter how hard you've been partying, save some energy for King Khan, whose spastic, outrageous shows leave nothing to be desired—and thanks to King Khan's nudist proclivities, nothing to the imagination, either.Verdict: M.Ward's songs are more beautiful, but King Khan puts on a far better show. Plus, you know M. Ward will be crowded anyway.***4:20 p.m. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band One of the most overrated bands to come out of Seattle in the past year and a half, Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band writes pleasant indie-rock songs that, once all the viral-video marketing hype that sparked their career petered out, turned out to be just OK.or...4:30 p.m. Devotchka By fusing Eastern European flair into their Americana rock, they've developed a sound that's as enjoyable as ice cream in July.Verdict: You're better off securing yourself a good spot at the mainstage for Devotchka.***7:05 p.m. The Decemberists A popular but polarizing narrative-pop band that's earned itself as many detractors as fans, the group's latest album has finally managed to get away from that kitschy Old World obsession a little—but just a little.or...7:15 p.m. Mos Def He's a hip-hop legend who usually puts on a good show. Although he's arguably more into acting these days, his rapping ability is surpassed by few. He also sings, and that's even more reason to watch him live.Verdict: Go with Mos Def. Not only are the Decemberists here all the time, they'll be back in August.Sunday, May 241:05 p.m. Point Juncture, WA: Despite its confusing name, this Portland-based pop group is delightful on the ears, and signed to Seattle's own Mt. Fuji Records because of it. The band's third album, Heart to Elk, is pure synth-pop bliss, and their soft shoegaze ballads can make you laugh one moment and cry the next.or...1:10 p.m. Street Sweeper Social Club This L.A.-based band is headed by Tom Morello (Nightwatchman/Audioslave/Rage Against the Machine) and Boots Riley of the Coup. They just played the Crocodile two months ago, and although their set wasn't great, they've undoubtedly worked out the kinks since then. It's hip-hop rock with a social edge. What else would you expect from these two?Verdict: Street Sweeper. Boots Riley and Tom Morello won't disappoint twice in a row.***3:05 p.m. Calexico Unlike the Avett Brothers' poor pop imitation of roots music, the men of Calexico do alt-country right: with their own regional, Southwestern twist and interesting lyrics, a cornerstone of all great country music. Accept no substitutes!or...3:15 p.m. Fences Chris Mansfield's pared-down songwriting project is full of sparse, melancholy folk songs bleeding pathos without self-pity. The melodies are often so light and pretty that you might miss the brutality of the lyrics altogether. This Seattle act is recommended for all who enjoy folk and/or sad bastard music.Verdict: Calexico rarely plays Seattle, and that alone makes their set more appealing.***8:45 p.m. Of Montreal More performance-art troupe than band, Of Montreal's theatrical live shows and arty concept records make them one of the most interesting bands to see live at Sasquatch this year.or...9 p.m. Natalie Portman's Shaved Head A Seattle electronic pop group that, while it's not all the hype's cracked it up to be, is still tons of fun to dance to. That is, if you're not totally pooped (or drunk) yet.Verdict: Of Montreal all the way. That is, if you're not already at the Nine Inch Nails set happening on the main stage.Monday, May 254:55 p.m. Fleet Foxes They're the undisputed darlings of Seattle indie rock, and since they've spent the past year working on a new album, there's a good chance they'll be testing new songs at Sasquatch. Expect this show to be just as packed as Jane's Addiction or NIN, since everyone is dying to hear the upcoming album.or...4:55 p.m. Monotonix After getting booted offstage 15 minutes into their set at last year's Bumbershoot, it's safe to say that if Monotonix decides to engage in one of their typical balls-out (literally) performances, the set will be a short one. Get there early for a spot close to the band members, who will likely set up on the floor amid the most enthusiastic crowd you're likely to encounter at Sasquatch this year.Verdict: Fleet Foxes. Don't be an idiot.***7:15 p.m. Girl Talk Only mash-up master Girl Talk (Greg Gillis) would think to put Nine Inch Nails, Rick Astley, and Kelis on one record.The result on wax is bizarre but brilliant. He's even better live.or...7:30 p.m. Erykah Badu She's got a new album dropping this year and recently had a baby, so there should be plenty of good stage banter during this set. Ladies love her and guys do too, so this will be hard to pass up.Verdict: Badu. Girl Talk's mash-up sets are fun, but how often does Ms. Badu bless us with her presence?***8:45 p.m. Explosions in the Sky Austin's instrumental post-rock quartet creates gorgeous, albeit melodramatic, songs fit for a Spielberg epic.or...9:00 p.m. Ben Harper and Relentless 7 With Ben Harper, you're getting a mixture of Lenny Kravitz and Bob Marley no matter what. It's good, but predictable as well.Verdict: Explosions in the Sky. If you're still hanging around the Gorge at this point, go for the cinematic finale.jcunningham@seattleweekly.com

 
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