17 Things I Learned About Iron & Wine, Oversized Cinnamon Rolls, and Conor Oberst's Questionable Politics, Saturday at Sasquatch!"/>
We're out at the Gorge for Sasquatch! all weekend. See the 19 things we learned on Friday, and check back for our musings through Monday night.
Renee McMahon Aloe Blacc's fans.
1. The surprise of the day came after we'd barely made it through the gates. The Alabama country duo Secret Sisters drew us in with their constant, tasteful, un-tiresome harmonies. It's easy for two people to sing while one person plays guitar. To make it engaging and sassy is another thing entirely. Extra points awarded here for the best Hank Williams cover of the weekend ("Your Cheatin' Heart).
2. The biggest disappointment came from Aloe Blacc. The soul singer's low-energy set needed to be hustled up.
3. The second best surprise was the 11-piece band Sam Beam brought for Iron & Wine's set on the mainstage. Speaking of players who can enchant with a handful of guitar strings and a live mic, Beam could have re-created his acoustic Sasquatch! 2006 set and hushed the crowd into submission. Instead, he brought a horn section, employed a trio of backing vocalists, a pair of drummers and demonstrated the difference between a band that experiments and one that is adventuresome.
Renee McMahon Sam Beam's beard.
4. Of the up-and-coming bands on the bill, Seattle's The Globes fall into the adventuresome category. Their riff-centric, angular indie rock runs in counterpoint to the "melody uber alles" charge driving their peers. The Globes haven't nailed their target yet, or found their collective voice. But in yesterday's set, they fused the disparate ideas that are too often disjointed on their Barsuk Records debut LP, Future Self. There's promise in the band's disillusionment with the status quo.
Renee McMahon Sam Beam's band.
5. Thanks to K-OS, rap/rock is alive and
6. The shaded grove at the top of the mainstage lawn is a sliver of heaven after 7 hours on your feet.
7. Jenny & Johnny's was the Pettyest set of the day. Their barroom pop on the second stage (Bigfoot) was buoyed by the backdrop of blue sky and billowy clouds.
Renee McMahon Jenny & Johnny's Jenny Lewis.
8. Bright Eyes' Connor Oberst is dismissive of the Navy SEALs' killing of Osama Bin Laden. He told his audience that they killed "an old man in his bedroom."
Renee McMahon Conor Oberst
9. Conor Oberst dresses like "Lose Yourself"-era Eminem when it's cold out, but is far more whiney and entitled.
10. Conor Oberst blames U.S. hatred abroad on the nation's foreign policy. Surely the Bin Ladens of the world have no problem with Oberst's lyrics to "Four Winds": "The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qur'an's mute/If you burned them all together you'd get close to the truth ..."
11. Speaking of "Four Winds," Conor Oberst delivered the song's lyrics about Native American genocide--"And I was off to old Dakota where a genocide sleeps"--to an audience decked out in costume headdresses and war paint.
13. Wolf Parade burned through their set proficiently, but it was not monumental. If this was one of the band's last shows, they said good-bye without occasion.
14. Don't carry your notes in your back pocket. They have a way of disappearing.
15. Don't for get to reapply sunscreen. It has a way of ... disappearing.
16. Death Cab for Cutie's "New Year" is one of the great No. 2 songs in a set. It's up there with Paul McCartney's "Jet" for appropriateness of placement in the show.
Renee McMahon Death Cab for Cutie's Nick Harmer (left) and Jason McGerr
17. You can live off trail mix for 11 hours. But only if you have that cinnamon roll (and a goat-cheese, mushroom, and spinach omelet) as a base.