Slowly making my way down the hill as Sasquatch Music Festival opens up before me is always a little disorienting. This is my fourth year covering it as a photographer, which sort of puts me into “seasoned veteran” status, but I still needed to settle in and find that groove that keeps me going throughout the three-day fest. Thankfully I stopped by the Narwhal stage first, even before dropping my bag off in the media room. Iska Dhaaf brought a little calm and center to my coffee-devoid early afternoon.
After reading up on this rising band, I had no expectations; the duo already seemed like an unlikely pair. One side coming from the dulcet tones and easy beats of a project under his own name, Benjamin Verdoes, whose set I’d decided to pop in on last weekend at the Fisherman’s Village Festival in Everett. The other side being Mad Rad’s super-charged, stage-humping singer Nathan Quiroga who I’d seen perform many times, most memorably at Bumbershoot a couple years ago as he threw a bottle’s worth of water on me in the pit and flew into the crowd to surf in the sun. Getting together with Verdoes has brought the intensity of Quiroga’s performance and musical creation down to “chill” level. I’m sitting here now listening to their first release Even the Sun Will Burn and without noticing I’m starting to move to the music with its infectious keyboard lines and unexpectedy beautiful harmonies all wrapped up in a subdued rock coating. It’s an impressive collaboration that comes from pulling together two distinctly different styles. Or maybe Quiroga just wanted to take it easy and back away from the “hated” status City Arts offered him in their 2010 story on Mad Rad. I think hate is a strong word, but it was hard not to be polarized after seeing a Mad Rad performance. Like him or hate him, this new project is taking off and I’m going with it. They started my festival weekend off exactly where I wanted, eased in and walking away with a new band to get obsessed about.