Vince Staples returns to Sasquatch! Festival this year. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

Vince Staples returns to Sasquatch! Festival this year. Photo by Seth Sommerfeld

Sasquatch! Festival 2018 Preview

Plan your trip to The Gorge with our picks for the weekend’s can’t-miss acts.

FRIDAY

Julien Baker

2:15 at Sasquatch

As the reigning queen of sad songwriters, Julien Baker knows how to turn sorrow into musical vibrations that rattle listeners’ bones. With nothing more than her voice (which can flip a switch from delicate to booming in an instant) and a guitar, her lyrics about self-doubt and love lost can crush even the sunniest of hearts. After a flawless debut with 2015’s Sprained Ankle, her 2017 LP Turn Out the Lights somehow upped the bummer ante. Catching Baker’s set may not be an upbeat way to start a festival weekend, but it’s the correct choice.

Vince Staples

6:30 at Sasquatch

What this year’s Sasquatch! lineup lacks in hip-hop depth, it makes up for in quality, and Vince Staples leads the pack in the category. The North Long Beach MC played an absolutely frenetic set at the Bigfoot stage in 2016, and that was before he put out the stellar Big Fish Theory. Expect his razor sharp intellect and cocky flow to be on full display as he moves up to a prime spot on the main stage.

Thunderpussy

7:15 at El Chupacabra

After years of being a festival darling thanks to their electric live performances (led by singer Molly Sides’ slithering sensuality), Seattle rock band is finally releasing a debut LP. Coincidentally enough, the self-titled Thunderpussy comes out the same day as their Sasquatch! set. Who can top an album release show at The Gorge?

David Byrne

8:15 at Sasquatch

Find yourself a person who loves you as much as David Byrne still loves music. Even at 66, the man’s passion for making gorgeous songs (like those on his new album, American Utopia)—and gripping visuals to accompany them—never ceases. He’s the type of guy who can both command a stage and be happy blending into a dancing crowd (as was the case at the Seattle Rep premiere of his musical Here Lies Love in 2017). His live shows still dazzle as much as they did back in the Stop Making Sense days with Talking Heads, and missing Byrne and his untethered band perform at Sasquatch! would be a dire mistake for any music lover.

Chong the Nomad

Friday at 11:15 | Saturday at 5:15 | Sunday at 9:45 | El Chupacabra

Sasquatch!’s revamped approach to EDM features nightly sets by some of Seattle’s finest. As stated in our Outdoor Music Guide, the artful local producer and DJ “creates summer-friendly EDM that carves out a space safely distant from the packs of shirtless electro-bros.” (But please don’t get that tattooed, Alda.)

Also check out: Jeff Rosenstock (1:45 at Yeti), Hurray for the Riff Raff (4 at Bigfoot), Thundercat (9:30 at Bigfoot)

SATURDAY

Lizzo

3:30 at Sasquatch

Anywhere Lizzo performs quickly morphs into a hip-hop dance party that radiates positivity and acceptance. The Minneapolis MC’s vibe can best be summed up by the refrain of her song “Good as Hell”: “Baby how you feelin’? (Feeling good as hell!)” Expect the shoulders and hips to be shaking during this main stage day party.

Japadroids

5 at Sasquatch

There is only one rock band that’s worthy of subjecting my 30-year-old body to a mosh pit. That band is Japandroids. The Canadian duo’s live shows are non-stop frenzies of anthemic jubilation that burn with a youthful fire that never seems to fade.

Pedro the Lion

9 at Yeti

While David Bazan doesn’t write protest songs in a traditional sense, almost every tune he pens targets the festering tumors that have grown in the American heart. After reforming Pedro the Lion late last year, he’s able to deliver his messages with an even stiffer sonic punch. As covered in our Outdoor Music Guide, “Populated with men behaving badly and with impunity, and shot through with humility and scorn, Pedro the Lion’s stage show stands as a powerful rebuke of toxic masculinity.” Don’t miss it.

Explosions in the Sky

Midnight at Bigfoot

What better way to end a night than listening to the most cinematic instrumental rock group play their soaring tunes under the stars?

Also check out: Pickwick (1 at Sasquatch), Girlpool (4 at Bigfoot), TV on the Radio (9:30 at Bigfoot), Modest Mouse (10:30 at Sasquatch)

SUNDAY

Phoebe Bridgers

1:45 at Yeti

If it weren’t for that darn Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers would rule the sadness roost this Sasquatch!. The singer-songwriter’s exquisite album Stranger in the Alps was one of 2017’s best, showcasing an ability to pen devastating songs while still keeping things catchy and injecting some playful lyrical life into the mix. Catch a case of her trademark emotional motion sickness.

Charly Bliss

4:30 at Yeti

By late Sunday afternoon, festival patrons might need a shot of adrenaline to keep them going. Enter Charly Bliss. The New York pop rock quartet delivers a bubbly musical sugar rush anytime it plays tunes from its fantastic 2017 album, Guppy. They sound like idealized version of a fake band from a televised high school melodrama (make the call, Riverdale). The group’s set should be the perfect sonic pick-me-up to help you power through the final night.

Perfume Genius

7:15 at Bigfoot

Seeing Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas) morph his stage presence from a quiet, timid solo performer to a ferocious sashaying art pop rock star has been one of the most satisfying developments in the Seattle music scene over the past decade. His command of the stage has become so absolute that any Perfume Genius festival set is now must-see entertainment.

Also check out: Soccer Mommy (1 at Sasquatch), Alex Lahey (3 at Yeti), Tune-Yards (5 at Sasquatch), Japanese Breakfast (6 at Yeti), Neko Case (6:30 at Sasquatch)

ssommerfeld@seattleweekly.com

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