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The NPR-pledging "Tumblr whites" of Sasquatch 2011
The first thing I thought when I heard the line-up announcement last night was: man, Sasquatch is never

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Sasquatch 2012: The Year Indie Adult-Contemporary Broke

6423914.87.jpg
The NPR-pledging "Tumblr whites" of Sasquatch 2011
The first thing I thought when I heard the line-up announcement last night was: man, Sasquatch is never going to be Coachella. That's fine--Sasquatch is smaller, prettier, more chill. And it's not just the gorgeous natural scenery, either. In recent years, Sasquatch has gotten a lot of mileage out of the heavyweights of soft, safe indie rock--what some critics were calling "indie adult contemporary" in their year-end conversations a couple months ago: Death Cab for Cutie and the Decemberists last year; a whole host of bands this year. Bon Iver, The Shins, Beirut, The Head & The Heart, Feist, M. Ward, St. Vincent, Shearwater, probably a lot more down the list depending on how wide a net you cast for this stuff. (Even shapeshifting prankster Beck has been most popular in recent years for his gentler Mutations/Sea Change/"Lost Cause"-type material.)

These are popular acts, deservedly so in most cases, with extremely broad appeal. No one's ever really offended by Feist, you know--at worst, they might just not pay much attention. And demographically speaking, the "adults" audiences for this contemporary indie are probably not much older than the folks freaking out about seeing a reunited Pulp or Refused. But those Coachella "gets" were thrilling, the sort of stuff that sent me scrambling wondering if I might go camp out in a California polo field for my first time ever; this year's Sasquatch announcement, and especially its headliners, were more like, "Oh yeah, of course, cool."

A few other trends, and some genuine reasons to get excited this year after the jump.

Folk/roots/alt-country/Americana: Whether or not it's indie adult contemporary, a lot of this year's line-up is decidedly rustic or twangy in one way or another (which, again, is a good fit for the Gorge's natural beauty)--from solo Jack White on down to regional acts like Blitzen Trapper and the Cave Singers.

Critical Darlings: Sasquatch has long balanced popular appeal with critical street cred, and this year is no different. Headliner Bon Iver's wispy self-titled album of last year topped both critics and readers lists everywhere from muzak pushers NPR to beyond reproach taste-makers Pitchfork (I kid, we suck), tUnE-yArDs topped the year's authoritative Pazz & Jop critics poll, and other critical faves like Wild Flag, Shabazz Palaces, and Kurt Vile are well represented down the line-up.

Comedy: From Tenacious D and Portlandia to Childish Gambino and John Reilly and Friends (no C?), this year got your indie in your comedy and your comedy in your indie and what a mess.

Local Hip-Hop: Yo, support local hip hop (*hands you CD-R out of backpack*).

No Dubstep/Crossover "EDM"?: I was sure this year was going to feature Spin cover-boy/master chef Skrillex, or someone equally representative of the past year's rise in youthful cheeseball electronica. Instead, we've got: Girl Talk, whose catholic mash-ups are always easy for indie audiences, and who's practically a veteran at this point in blog years; SBTRKT, whose glossy productions are perhaps dubstep-inspired but not exactly rave massive material; and relatively chill, "adult" electronic acts like Apparat, Com Truise, and Tycho. Good stuff, but not quite on the pulse.

Reasons to Get Excited: Okay, I'm a pissy grouch, but there are as always some truly great acts to get excited about for Sasquatch this year. There are individual exceptions to all the above trends, of course, and those acts are where a lot of the excitement lies for me. Beyond that, I'll always fuck with Beck, although I don't think he'll ever put on a show more fun than his Midnite Vultures-era tomfoolery. I'm excited to finally see Beirut do their sad wino orchestra after stupidly missing them last time they played Sasquatch. And Spiritualized should be fucking fantastic at the Gorge--they're a prime example of the fest's knack for booking bands that are both stoner/festival friendly (think almost jammers like Flaming Lips and Built to Spill) crazy with indie street cred--especially if they manage to play the mainstage, maybe at sunset. Because, of course, the one thing Sasquatch always has going for it: it's one of the most beautiful venues on Earth.

 
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