That long, wild drive from Seattle to the Gorge for the Sasquatch! music festival could be likened to one Raoul Duke 's drive from Los>"/>
That long, wild drive from Seattle to the Gorge for the Sasquatch! music festival could be likened to one Raoul Duke's drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas those years ago. The typical Sasquatch!-er might swap out granola bars and fruit leather for mescaline, spineless indie rock for firearms, and pickup trucks carrying jet skis for bats, but you get the idea. What was I talking about? Right, Sasquatch!. I went yesterday. Check it out:
First off, unless you're heir to a family fortune, or want to take out a second on your house, you won't be able to afford to catch a buzz on venue-endorsed beer, so I must recommend--nay, insist--you find alternative means. Luckily for me, the first group of college-aged guys I approached in the parking lot had a large case of beer they were willing to share with me, and aided me in my quest to reach a festival-appropriate level of inebriation. Shout out to those guys-->. I certainly couldn't have done it without them. I entered the festival grounds glowing (how I pictured it anyway), and, if you saw me sporting my '90s-era flip-action baseball shades, you already know: I was basically stunting on people left and right. Yet I digress. The music:
At one in the afternoon, Charles Bradley was the first act I saw a substantial amount of, although I caught the last song of Pickwick (both on the main stage), which was a fun few minutes. The soul singer's James Brown reprise worked well on the crowd, who went nuts every time he dropped to a knee to cap of a song. It was an entertaining few songs (which was what I stayed for), but like many acts I saw this day, a whole set was a little much to stand through. The beauty of a large-scale festival like this is that you can make the decision early in a set to bail and see another act. Sasquatch! had five stages this year, so it was virtually impossible to go un-entertained. It's like channel surfing live.
I experienced the biggest letdown of the day just after 1 p.m., when I trekked up the hill (flanked by my trusty editor Chris Kornelis), toward the Bigfoot stage to see I Break Horses, the band that I had gotten up early and driven to the Gorge to see. The Swedish electronic duo was nowhere to be seen, and Starfucker was playing in their stead. Nothing against those guys, but what the fuck happened to I Break Horses? They were still listed on the hard-copy schedule (but not on the mobile app). It was a sad moment for me, and it left me briefly without direction, but like I said, there was a ton of shit to see, so we wandered off.
After skipping on a few bands, Kornelis and I came across Seattle nail-spitter Fatal Lucciauno performing on the all-local hip hop "Maine" stage. His blistering lyricism (and heavy beats) brought in a lot of passersby, and looked to be a success attendance-wise, despite starting about 15 minutes early. He's an artist who uses his extremely turbulent past as source material for most of his rhymes, which results some pretty intense imagery. While I can't relate to--or stand by--some of the things he says, he represents a segment of street culture that shouldn't be ignored. He worked through a fair helping of newer numbers from his Latest LP, Respect, and all-Jake One-produced, The Message EP. He's indeed penned some classics.
Around 2:45, we skipped early on Blitzen Trapper's somewhat monotonous folk-rock to take in Craft Spells, and I'm glad we did. For some reason, I hadn't seen the Seattle quartet play before, but their new-wave style was really easy to groove to, and it drew me in pretty quickly. It was just the lift my spirits needed, and left me ready to take on the rest of the day.
At this point, people had woken up from/with their hangover from Friday night, and flocked to the Bigfoot stage to see much-hyped band Alabama Shakes. The stage, which is almost as large--and accommodates nearly as big of a crowd--as the main stage amphitheater, is an interesting factor into the Sasquatch! equation as it allows big-name bands to play back-to-back nearly seamlessly (using both stages); people need only to walk from stage to stage to avoid the lag time for set-up. Alabama Shakes were a rowdy good time. Singer/guitarist Brittany Howard howls her lyrics mightily, and plays the guitar with a beastly twang. The other members of the band filled their roles respectably, but I have to admit the bass player's lack of movement bothered me. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and didn't take it as lack of enthusiasm, but deep down inside, I was like "C'mon guy playing bass!" Either way, it was time to check in with Grynch at the Maine stage.
The sizable crowd marked another good turn out for local hip hop at the Gorge Saturday, and the Ballard rapper worked the fans over well. Fresh off a European tour with Grieves & Budo, and Brother Ali, Grynch played confident as hell, which is something he's improved upon so much over the years, and there were a ton of people rapping along with every word.
After giving some heartfelt advice to some unnamed underage local rap artists scrounging for a way to get a buzz ("You don't have to be 21 to do drugs", natch) we took in a little of the live Portlandia set that Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein were putting on. The Banana Shack stage was under a big tent, and was seriously packed. It was definitely funny, although they were really just reading off of a script most of the time. I really wish I could have stayed longer, as I'm sure they brought the comedic heat for the remainder of their set, but I had some more rap to see, and THEESatisfaction was all set to supply it. Also, Kornelis and I parted ways at this juncture to at least pretend like we were trying to capture unique experiences for people to read about.
It's pretty amazing to me, the transformation the duo has undergone since I first saw them play long running monthly hip hop showcase The Corner a few years ago, jumping around the stage, rapping/singing over their tinny beats. At that time, their bubbly personalities really bled through on stage, but now, Stas and Cat have their "cool" act down to a science. On the Yeti stage,they eased through their synchronized dance steps with the kind of stoney mellowness that make them feel almost spontaneous, and entirely organic. They ooze "chill", and the music behind them (which they had cued on a laptop) seemed simply an extension of their vibe. Call it what you will: matured, humbled, cool-collected; but their show has evolved since their genesis, and can gladly say I've enjoyed it both ways.
At this point, I cut out to the parking lawn for a sandwich/tailgate beer, and returned feeling like a fucking champ. Next band:
This is where AraabMuzik put on the best show of the day. The Banana Shack was going apeshit, his machine-gun snare rolls, and gut-wrenching kick pulses (all amazingly tapped out live on a touch pad), supplied just the kind of constant energy that the mainly face-painted and/or costume-wearing crowd was jonesing for. The Rhode Island hip-hop/electronic producer has turned live beat-making into an athletic event. Dominating a pair of MPCs with fingers in a blur, he was able to build monumental crescendos inside of a measure, and bring them crashing down at will. His heart-pounding drops make your average dubstep track sound like smooth jazz. The place was in hysterics. It was rad.
The next band I saw was Helio Sequence on the Bigfoot stage, and as good as they are, I think it's about time they got a bass player. It was the elephant in the room (field): everybody heard the (sometimes prominently featured) bass lines, but the instrument was nowhere to be seen. It would be one thing if they were slightly more electronic or something, but a rock band playing along with a recorded bass track seemed a bit cheesy, like we were supposed to use our imagination or something. That aside, the duo sounded great in Saturday's twlight.
I wandered a bit, then had a great time watching tUnE-yArDs. Merrill Garbus and company do a great job of making you feel loose, and free ("Enjoy your body, and turn around and look at the sun," she said at one point), and outside of AraabMuzik's set, this was the most dancing I saw all day. +1.
I kind of zoned out during The Shins' set, and then this happened (sorry about the orientation, the phone technology couldn't keep up with my cinematic vision):
Our guy Reignwolf decided to jump on top of a truck (to be fair, Easy Street Records owner Matt Vaughan pulled the truck up for him) and belt out a couple of songs. It was was better than The Shins.
To close out the night, I caught Jack White and The Roots, which--between White's pinstripe suit, and The Roots' extended jazz interludes--was a pretty classy way to close out the evening. White, who looks more and more like he jumped out of a Tim Burton movie each time I see him, played with his guitar slung over his right shoulder only, as opposed to over his neck like any mortal axe-slinger might. The tweaked versions of his various songs was a great presentation (especially the canyon-rattling distortion on closer "Seven Nation Army"). Man, can that guy put on a show.
The Roots put on the kind of spot-on rap lounge act that only an over-practiced late night house band can, and worked out covers by The Beastie Boys ("Paul Revere" [R.I.P. MCA]), and Kool & the Gang ("Jungle Boogie"), and jammed like they had us at their fingertips, which they did. I quietly pretended I was Jimmy Fallon for a few moments, then hit the exit while ?uestlove hit the splash.