12 Things I Learned About Nacho-Cheese Omelets, Zola Jesus, "Loose Women," and Bon Iver's True Genius, Sunday at Sasquatch! 2012

I have to admit, I scraped off most of the cheese. But, otherwise, I killed every bite.
12. When you order a "cheese" omelet stuffed with a quarter-pound of bacon at the Ellensburg Flying J, the "cheese" is nacho cheese (pictured). And it will tear you up. Who thought this was a good idea!?!?!

11. A favorite pastime for old-timers at the aforementioned Flying J is not too dissimilar than that of the Sasquatch! set. Consider the following conversation:

Old-Timer 1: "Hey, Bob, whatcha up to?"

Old-Timer 2: "Oh, you know, check out the town, (under his breath) and, you know, maybe find some loose woman."

10. Former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton is a big fan of Ellensburg's Palace Café. We ran into the dignitary and shared a moment. Me: "Good morning, Senator. Recommend anything?" "I just had breakfast!" he replied with his signature, enduring grin. We followed his lead.

9. The Head and the Heart's Josiah Johnson has become a dead ringer for Kings of Leon's Caleb Followill.

8. THATH's Charity Rose Thielen killed it on "Rivers and Roads." The woman sent chills through the crowd when she laid into the closing chorus. I'd be all kinds of interested to hear a solo album of hers.

7. Deer Tick is comprised of a pack of derelicts who push beautiful melodies through a nasty voice. It was perfect.

6. Zola Jesus has male groupies. I've never seen a pack of full-grown men hover by the stage longingly after a set the way they did hoping for a little attention from the little lady with the otherworldly pipes. She obliged. For a moment.

Renee McMahon
5. Beruit's amalgam of trumpets, accordion, and the world's happiest drummer sounded great, but was probably better consumed face-down on a blanket in the lawn than standing on the concrete floor in front of the stage.

4. Little Dragon was pretty boring.

3. James Murphy's DJ set was pretty disappointing.

2. M. Ward owns a pair of rock-and-roll pants, and wore them on Sunday afternoon. Ward's subdued melodies and intricate guitar work make for fantastic records, but not always the most lively live show. He and his band didn't approach the set with the intention of replicating their songs, but by using their songs to put on a dynamic rock show, and they nailed it.

Renee McMahon
Bon Iver
1. Bon Iver's Justin Vernon is as smart about his live show as he is about making records. Studio wizards--which Vernon certainly is--are considered the geniuses of rock and roll. But artists who bring innovation and experimentation to the stage--and create a new product out of their recording material that doesn't rely on pageantry--are greatly underappreciated.

Sure, Vernon has the means to hire a team of ringers who can play drums, sax, and violin--whatever the music demands. But this isn't a matter of budget. There are plenty of well-paid artists who are a snooze live (see Pretty Lights' underwhelming closing set Friday night). It's about approaching the stage as a different product than your record, and not as an afterthought.

Renee McMahon
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