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Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

on June 02, 2011, 12:36pm
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sasquatch 2011 500x500 260x260 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011“Not considering this opening worthy of more attention, I continued our pursuit to the Northwest, being desirous to embrace the advantages of the prevailing breeze.” – George Vancouver, 17th century English explorer

Breathtaking describes a lot of things. It’s typically a “go-to” adjective for anything remotely awe-inspiring. For Sasquatch! Music Festival, it’s the only word that works. There’s little room for where it doesn’t work, come to think of it. Even the drive in from Seattle, WA is enough to yank tears from the eyes. Driving through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, you can’t miss the ominous Douglas-firs, or pry your hands from the wheel at the unpredictable roads that weave and snake through the mountainous terrain. It’s an adventure in every sense of the word.

But, that’s just the drive. Once you’re there, snuggled between the small towns of Quincy & George, you’re essentially cut off from the traditional confines of society. You’re a free spirit, roaming the natural habitat. It’s a liberating feeling, but also somewhat frightening. You’re at the hands of society’s loose change. Actually, it’s very frightening. But, that risk is what makes it so extraordinary. After everyone’s settled and the traffic conditions slacken, festivalgoers, musicians, and staff co-exist together in a melting pot within a melting pot. It’s madness, it’s a little chaotic, but it’s raw. It harkens back to the age-old American idealism of venturing beyond, exploring the uninhabited abyss.

What an abyss, though. It’s so easy to just say, “Well, the Gorge is out of this world. Duh.” But, that’s really it. Natural wonders retain that title for a reason. The Gorge earns it triple-fold. There are colors baked into its natural walls that haven’t even been named yet. Even more spellbinding, these colors evolve every minute, every hour, and each day. So at first glance, it’s something you’ll remember forever, but that feeling never leaves you.

Couple that with music and it’s truly a win-win.

-Michael Roffman
President/Editor-in-Chief

Friday, May 27th

Rival Schools – Bigfoot Stage – 4:00 p.m.

rival 7 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

“Hey there,” Rival Schools‘ vocalist Walter Schreifels muttered, cracking open the four-day Sasquatch! weekend. As the still evolving crowd poured in from the nearby gates – which had only opened 15-20 minutes prior to the set – the New York rockers breezed through a slightly raucous if not traditional set. Opener “Wring It Out”, their current single supporting this year’s Pedals, wrenched some acclaim from fanatics who scattered around the mid-sized Bigfoot stage, granting the band access to segue straight into other new material, specifically “69 Guns”, which turned things up a notch. It didn’t take long for the quartet to scale back to older material, either. Oldie ”Everything Has Its Point”, a track that dates back to their 2001 debut, United by Fate, popped up rather quickly. Then the rest just fell into place. -Michael Roffman

Mariachi El Bronx – Yeti Stage – 4:30 p.m.

mariachi 3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

There’s a moment in every festival where a band conjures up the wonderful “freak flag” moment. For Sasquatch!, it came an hour into the weekend, when Los Angeles’ own The Bronx donned the sombreros and dove head first into mariachi music. Dubbed Mariachi El Bronx, after the group’s WTF 2009 LP of the same name, the group really stirred the proverbial post-modern fiesta hippy pot, to which everyone just sort of let their souls run wild. Sometime amidst the chaos, one of the band members exclaimed, “There’s some badass shit going on today.” Although it was a tad too early to admit this, that pretty much summed up the remainder of the day. Mariachi men or fortune tellers? Hmm. -Michael Roffman

Biffy Clyro – Bigfoot Stage – 5:00 p.m.

biffy 1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

I was lucky enough to catch Biffy Clyro at the Illosaarirock Festival in Finland last year and was completely won over by the Scottish trio’s driving live act and larger-than-life sound. Though the catchy prog-metal band isn’t well known in North America, and they were one of the first bands to play at the start of the festival, they still managed to draw a sizeable crowd of fans who knew all lyrics by heart and were moshing out during some of the harder numbers. The Biff (as their fans affectionately call them) were quick and bouncy, turning their more pop-based songs into metal numbers and causing lead singer and guitarist (and Jesus lookalike) Simon Neil to break his strings several times over. -Karina Halle

Bob Mould – Mainstage – 5:45 p.m.

mould 1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Similar to Paul Westerberg, Bob Mould travels alone these days. Actually, the major difference between the two is that the latter actually travels. However, their stage show is strikingly similar – at least when Westerberg last toured. It’s bare bones logic: a famed songwriter, alone, with an electric guitar, and a largely celebrated discography in the noggin. That might sound like a match made in heaven, but when you’re playing the Gorge Amphitheatre, it’s a tad…vacuous? Still early in the schedule, with the sun blazing beyond the hills and mountainous plains (if that makes sense), Mould, decked out in red flannel and some jeans, strolled out to a small yet adoring fan base. (Small in the sense that he’s performing at the fucking Gorge.) Still, as he patrolled through Hüsker Dü classics like “Hardly Getting Over It” or solo hits a la “Wishing Well”, he maintained an edge that was hard to dismiss. In the middle of the set, one fan nearby caught his attention, screaming, “Just rock on man! You’re doing great!” A sweaty, rather exhausted Mould replied back, “I’m trying, man.” In the end, you have to respect that. -Michael Roffman

Against Me! – Bigfoot Stage – 6:10 p.m.

againstmesasquatch Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Christopher Nelson

In keeping with Friday’s theme of nonstop hard rock, Against Me! played a consistently high-energy set to close the Bigfoot Stage for the evening. No acoustic breakdowns or intimate stage banter, just rocker after rocker, including highlights “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong”, “T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)”, and “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”. At one of the Florida punk band’s headlining shows it would have been tiring, but this was an ideal one-hour festival set. Outside of maybe Dave Grohl, Wayne Coyne, and Dave King, Tom Gabel was quietly the most likable frontman at Sasquatch!. Against Me! also earns points for choosing plain black tees over the flannel everyone else was wearing throughout the weekend. – Harry Painter

The Bronx – Mainstage – 6:45 p.m.

thebronxsasquatch1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Jackie Kingsbury

“I want to see all of you move out there! There’s a Sasquatch in all of you!” – Matt Caughthran

Not many bands received two sets at Sasquatch this weekend; although, it’s arguable you could even count The Bronx’s shows as two sets. After an upbeat Mariachi show, they wandered to the Sasquatch stage where they stripped off the gear, but turned up the volume. There, the band screamed and thrashed, while the nearby pit proceeded to go ape-shit. They slammed through tracks like “They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)” and “White Tar”, and set a much different vibe than the Mariachi set, as body parts were actually smashed at this show. To go from playing sexy salsa tunes to hardcore numbers with names like “Heart Attack America” was more or less a bloody and triumphant transition. -Ted Maider

Death From Above 1979 – Mainstage – 8:00 p.m.

dfa 4 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

The banner behind what would eventually become the DFA riot was a picture of a tombstone that read: “DFA 1979, 2001-2006”. Far more interesting than the tombstone, however, were the ghoulish images of Jesse Keeler and Sebastian Grainger emerging from the gravesite. The secret’s been out for some time (see: Coachella and SXSW), but Death From Above 1979 are back from the dead and sounding better than ever.

dfa 5 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Not ones to stop and chat, the pioneering duo took the stage and began melting faces right off the bat. The two took the slow afternoon from zero to 60 in a matter of milliseconds, and they didn’t relent for the entire time they were allotted. Mosh pockets opened up in literally every part of the Gorge, from the very front of the pit to the lawn seating, which made sense, considering DFA1979 has the power to bring human beings the insatiable urge to push one another. The set climaxed with a three song KO – “Sexy Results”, “Romantic Rights”, and “Do It!” – and as one might expect, everyone left the pit drenched in other people’s sweat, blood, and booze. Which I’m sure is what DFA consider a complete triumph. -Winston Robbins

Foo Fighters – Mainstage – 9:30 p.m.

foo 8 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011When Sasquatch first announced that the festival would be four days long instead of three, many people wondered how on Earth they’d be able to draw in the crowds on Friday, the day that wasn’t a national holiday. Then they announced the Foo Fighters were headlining that night and everything fell into place. If there is any band that fans would skip out on work for, it’s the Foo Fighters.

Of course, it’s always been kind of “cool” to rag on the Foo for being too commercial or “happy”, but riding high on the success of their latest album, Wasting Light, even cynical festival-goers were at least stopping by the main stage to check out their act. And if they checked their cynicism at the door, it was hard to walk away disappointed.

From the moment Dave Grohl and his plaid-clad crew of chain-smoking Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, and Taylor Hawkins (the only one not in flannel), took to the stage, the audience was treated to two hours of wailing guitars, singalong anthems, and never ending energy. They opened with Wasting Light’s raucous “Bridge Burning” and sailed all the way through to “Everlong” (forgoing the encore, as Grohl said, “We’d rather keep playing until the end”) and the enthusiasm from the band and the crowd never dipped for a second. Though I would have loved for all songs off of Wasting Light to be played, they did pull out a fair chunk of it including “White Limo”, “Arlandria”, and “Dear Rosemary” (featuring Bob Mould who played the same stage earlier). The soaring, feel-good “Walk” united the crowd as much as their older hits such as “My Hero” and “Learn to Fly” did, and they even tossed out lesser-played songs such as “I’ll Stick Around” and “Generator”.

The thing about the Foo Fighters is that they never just play their songs as is, they have to take them a step beyond. At Sasquatch this meant an extra epic jam session for “Monkey Wrench”, a drum solo courtesy of the tireless Hawkins, and numerous bridge breakdowns and build ups. Though it’s an effective live tool, the technique became repetitive after the 10th song, but as soon as Grohl slams back into the chorus, you were singing along with him and bumping elbows with people in the world’s happiest mosh pit. There were rumors that Grohl’s ex-bandmate Krist Novoselic was there watching from the side stage, which would have been an amazing opportunity for him to come out and join the band (especially since he contributed to Wasting Light’s heartfelt “I Should Have Known”), but perhaps he wanted this moment to be all about the Foo Fighters and not a quick Nirvana reunion, which is understandable. The Foo Fighters ended Friday with a sea of smiles and set the bar high for the whole festival. –Karina Halle

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Friday Gallery by Heather Kaplan

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Saturday, May 28th

Seattle Rock Orchestra – Bigfoot Stage – 12:00 p.m.

sro 5 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

On paper, an orchestra performing the songs of Radiohead sounds worthwhile — and what better venue to house such an event than the stage closest to the entrance of a hip music festival as a bunch of likely Radiohead fans walk in? Last year was a similar deal, with the Seattle Rock Orchestra instead performing an Arcade Fire tribute. For whatever reason, this time around, people were not moved to sing along, dance, or even pay much attention. Seattle Rock Orchestra, which has at times been comprised of over 60 members, brought out a couple dozen at most to play hits from The Bends and OK Computer. The problem was it felt more like a standard cover band with a string section than a real orchestra as the abridged SRO recited uninspired arrangements of “Just”, “Airbag”, “Paranoid Android”, and “My Iron Lung”.

There were bright spots, however. “Exit Music”, “Electioneering”, and “Karma Police”, despite never approaching the emotional gusto of the originals, at least did some justice to them and made the strings and horns feel necessary. Using multiple decidedly un-Yorkeian vocalists (including a female) was a good call, and the performances never felt cheesy. – Harry Painter

The Radio Dept. – Mainstage – 1:05 p.m.

radio 3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

For as long as The Radio Dept.’s been at it, and for how very little they tour, they should have been placed later in the day. But beggars can’t be choosers, and no matter the time of day, The Radio Dept. in the flesh is The Radio Dept. in the flesh. Touring behind their latest singles collection Passive  Aggressive, their setlist consisted entirely of the singles they’ve released over the past decade and a half. From Lesser Matters’ “Ewan” to the more recent “Heaven’s On Fire” off their last LP, 2010’s Clinging To A Scheme. The three piece Swedish outfit timidly went about their 45 minutes to a fairly full floor, which makes sense, given the fact that they’re somewhat reclusive and playing to a very, very large Gorge lawn crowd. Never ones to crack under the pressure, they played a beautiful set note for note. -Winston Robbins

k-os – Bigfoot Stage – 3:00 p.m.

k ossasquatchhalle Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Karina Halle

Toronto-based musician k-os (nee Kevin Brereton) brought a lively dose of his grooving rap-rock to the Bigfoot stage. There was a distinct lack of hip-hop acts at Sasquatch, so savvy festival-goers were quick to catch his set, his reggae-induced beats suiting the blue-sky and sunshine perfectly. Songs like “Sunday Morning”, “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman”, and “Man I Used to Be” went over well despite the stage’s frequent sound problems that plagued his microphone and interrupted a few of the songs. -Karina Halle

Local Natives – Mainstage – 3:15 p.m.

natives 9 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

It would have been easy to overlook the Local Natives as the band that played Sasquatch! because Fleet Foxes can’t be there every year. That is, it would have been easy had they not turned so many heads. Besides it being a little hard to take seriously a folk band led by a guy with a porn star mustache, Local Natives earned their stripes with what frontman Taylor Rice said was their biggest gig yet (the list includes their appearance at Sasquatch! 2010 on the smaller Bigfoot Stage). Local Natives played the usual Gorilla Manor material, before reporting they would be heading home to L.A. to record the next album. – Harry Painter

Trailer Park Boys – Banana Shack – 3:45 p.m.

trailerparkboyssasquatchhalle Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Karina Halle

What to say about the Trailer Park Boys? Because Canada’s answer to Reno 911 follows the lives of Nova Scotian ex-convicts Bubbles (Mike Smith), Ricky (Rob Wells), and Julian (John Paul Tremblay) in a trailer trash mockumentary style, it was interesting to see how the show would play out as a live comedy show (at a US festival, too). Though it was hard to hear and see at times, the trio managed to titillate the mainly Canadian crowd (this I deduced from the “Go Canucks Go” chant just prior) and maybe win over a few new fans. The free hot dogs that Julian tossed into the crowd probably helped too. -Karina Halle

Wolf Parade – Mainstage – 4:20 p.m.

wolf 5 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

This set was doubly tragic. Not only did indie veterans Wolf Parade only get 45 minutes to play, but it would (possibly, probably) be the last time they performed for a very long time. They announced months ago that they were going on an indefinite hiatus, Sasquatch! Music Festival being the last stop before calling it quits. The enormity of the situation wasn’t lost on the crowd, either. Wolf Parade drew the largest group of people for any band non head or sub-headlining. Seemingly undaunted by any of these stressors, they put on a historic show. Once again, it was tragically short, but it was bursting at the seams with the best work of their career. Obviously, the tracks from Apologies To Queen Mary (“You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son” and “Fancy Claps” in particular) were the best received, but they gave each track the treatment it deserved. Expo 86 cut “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had To Go This Way)” primed the crowd before they played themselves off with a rendition of “I’ll Believe In Anything” that sent chills down the spines of all those who grasped the reality of the situation. -Winston Robbins

J. Mascis – Yeti Stage – 4:35 p.m.

jmascissasquatch Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Christopher Nelson

The demographics that made up Sasquatch! couldn’t have been expected to know or care who J. Mascis was, and it appeared most didn’t. But it wasn’t much of a challenge for the silver-maned, baseball cap-wearing Dinosaur Jr. frontman to win people over. Featuring songs off his debut solo album, Several Shades of Why, as well as some Dino Jr. favorites, Mascis’ set alternated between accessible acoustic folk rock and the noisy guitar solos for which he is known. The 1993 Dino Jr. track “Get Me”, in particular, had the Yeti crowd in a trance. Mascis wins the old guy award for the weekend, as great as Bob Mould was. – Harry Painter

Jenny & Johnny – Bigfoot Stage – 5:10 p.m.

cossasquatchjandj2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

It was not a secret that the crowd kept very well, they were absolutely at this set just to see Jenny Lewis. And why wouldn’t they be? She was true to form: beautiful, endearing, and immensely talented. Joke was on the Lewis-driven crowd, though, when they realized that singer-songwriter Johnathan Rice (the Johnny portion of the duo) was no laughing matter. The two (with the help of Rilo Kiley and Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band drummer Jason Boesel) put on a sweet show, singing songs about love and loss with unmatched pop sensibility. I’m Having Fun Now tracks “Scissor Runner” and “Pet Snakes” seemed to particularly catch the attention of the crowd. But in the end, the hapless Jenny Lewis fans got what they wanted when she broke out Acid Tongue epic “The Next Messiah”. -Winston Robbins

Wye Oak – Yeti Stage – 5:40 p.m.

wye 6 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Saturday’s breakout act was a hell of a follow-up to J. Mascis. Baltimore’s Wye Oak, which consists of singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer/keyboardist (simultaneously!) Andy Stack, is a duo that has all the depth of a standard four-piece. Wasner could work on emphasizing her vocals, but between Wye Oak and The Radio Dept., Saturday was a good day for dream pop. -Harry Painter

The Antlers – Bigfoot Stage – 6:20 p.m.

cossasquatchantlers2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

Fresh off the release of their impeccable Burst Apart, it was uncertain how this set would go for The Antlers. It was so vastly different from its predecessor, it seemed impossible that the two albums could ever share the same stage. This worry was alleviated when it was revealed track by track that they were playing Burst Apart in the order it appears on the LP tracklist. Coming out with the enormous “I Don’t Want Love”, the Brooklyn trio (with a backing drummer) destroyed the Bigfoot Stage fearlessly. There wasn’t time for them to play the album in its entirety, unfortunately, in the 45 minutes they were allotted, but they got the first six of the 10 tracks in, and peaked during an almost post-rock version of “Rolled Together”. They closed with the only track from their 2009 hit album Hospice they’d play all night, “Two”. But even that old track had been altered to sound a tad more Burst Apart-y, for lack of a better phrase. It will be interesting to see how The Antlers go about splicing these two vastly different pieces of work into a coherent live set, but it was something we were fortunately (or unfortunately?) spared of having to deal with. But after seeing them play a sunset performance at The Gorge, there seem to be very few things The Antlers can’t do right. -Winston Robbins

The Thermals – Yeti Stage – 6:45 p.m.

thermals 4 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011There are some pros and cons to the Yeti Stage. On the positive side, it faces the outside horizon; the area that surrounds the festival; the natural habitats that bring people here week after week. On the downside, it also faces the setting sun. Many artists have had problems with this; after all, who wants to rock out with a blinding sun? However, Portland’s own The Thermals remained true to their name, using the sun’s radiant energy to, and please pardon the use of the pun, thermally ignite. With an agreeable combination of both new and old, the minimalistic trio punched and kicked through nearly 20 songs in the evening’s transitioning hour. During an incendiary opening cut of “Time to Lose”, vocalist Hutch Harris took things to the floor, channeling his inner Chuck Berry, and kept things going with “Returning to the Fold”, “Not Like Any Other Feeling”, and “It’s Trivia”. Blame it on their tour with the always thrilling Matt & Kim, but The Thermals were fiddling with an energy that hasn’t been this exciting for awhile. The crowd fed off it, too. Before they trekked forward, Harris observed: “Oh yeah, it’s getting rowdy out there. Keep it going Sasquatch.” They did, but so did the band. -Michael Roffman

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Washed Out – Banana Shack – 7:00 p.m.

cossasquatchwashedout1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

The newly re-vamped Verizon Banana Shack seemed the perfect home for chillwave pioneers Washed Out. But hindsight’s 20/20, and they would have been better suited at a regular stage. The Banana Shack is more commonly home to house/dance music, and it took an extremely long time to get the band’s gear onstage. They finally managed to start 20 minutes after their scheduled time, and seemed very scattered throughout their set as a result. Leading man Ernest Greene was the glue that held the set together as he ran through a shortened set that incorporated old favorites (“New Theory, “Feel It All Around”), introduced a new song, and closed with a rendition of their latest single “Eyes Be Closed” that was almost good enough to redeem the flaws of the show. Washed Out started out as Ernest Greene, and as it has expanded to a five-piece, some of his earlier songs seemed very crowded with five instruments trying to create a fairly small sound. But as for the song they debuted and “Eyes Be Closed”, the band couldn’t have sounded better, and Washed Out’s forthcoming Within And Without will no doubt be a bigger, bolder record. But this particular show? Washed Out dropped the ball. -Winston Robbins

Bright Eyes -Mainstage – 8:15 p.m.

bright 71 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

The veteran cast of Bright Eyes (along with their backing band, which includes Rilo Kiley/Mystic Valley Band drummer, Jason Boesel) took the stage one at a time -legendary producer/artist Mike Mogis, followed by the master of quiet intangibles Nate Walcott, all leading to the centerpiece of the indie legends: Conor Oberst. Oberst emerged from the side of the stage throwing his arms around, while wearing a hood that covered most of his face, which made him look uncannily like B. Rabbit from 8 Mile. The music that ensued was far from rap battling, however, and Oberst took no time getting into his all too short sub-headlining set with a massive rendition of The People’s Key single “Firewall”, which sent the crowd into an uproar. It was deathly cold and getting colder by the minute, but that didn’t deter the insanely devoted Oberst fans down in the pit.

Every movement he made, every word he said (of course he had something to say about politics and the state of affairs in our day and age), and every song he sung inspired the crowd to get more and more worked up. Their hour set included songs from every era of the Bright Eyes career: tracks from I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, Lifted or the Story is in the Telling, Cassadaga, and even one from Fevers & Mirrors, which he dedicated to his contemporaries that he’d been in the business with since late 90’s: Iron & Wine and Death Cab For Cutie. And while I’m sure they appreciated the gesture, the set was about the fans.

bright 9 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

“Four Winds”, “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”, and a combination of “Road To Joy” and  “One For You, One For Me” caused a particularly large uproar. The latter of the three mentioned was possibly the most moving of the entire weekend. Oberst left the stage to join his adoring fans, one of whom hurdled the barrier and kissed him passionately on the lips before being escorted away by security. As the voice over to “One For You, One For Me” played over the PA, Oberst remained at the front of the crowd hugging and shaking the hands of fans, some of whom were literally weeping to be in his presence. Love him or hate him, Conor Oberst has an immovable charisma that speaks powerfully to some. -Winston Robbins

Robyn – Bigfoot Stage – 9:00 p.m.

robyn 9 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

It wasn’t really fair to pit Robyn between Bright Eyes and Death Cab for Cutie – especially since the latter hasn’t toured in quite awhile. However, the Swedish treat sweetened enough folks by name alone to create a massive scene at the Bigfoot Stage. Technical difficulties pushed the set back 25 minutes, which turned the crowd into a tepid mob scene. Several fans chanted “Robyn!”, plenty walked away, and one guy wholeheartedly attempted to sell the crowd on chanting “18 minutes late!” (which soon evolved into “25 minutes late!”), though no one joined him. They didn’t have to because once the international sensation appeared, all energy was focused on dancing. Strictly dancing. Smiling, waving, and stripping down – even amidst the chilly winds rolling through – Robyn powered through a close pocketed 45 minute set, starting with “Fembot”, continuing on with “Bad Gal”, and naturally including her scorching single (and Gossip Girl burner), “Dancing On My Own”. A double dosage of percussion injected some adrenaline into an already impressive stage set up, tailoring songs like “Indestructible” with an epic sheen. Basically, if you haven’t seen her live, then you’re not just missing out, you’re selling your heart short. -Michael Roffman

Death Cab for Cutie – Mainstage – 9:30 p.m.

dcfcsasquatch1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011Writer’s Note: Ben Gibbard needs a haircut.

As it was the 10th anniversary of Sasquatch, it seemed reasonable to book some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest modern acts to carry on the torch for another year. Seattle’s own Death Cab for Cutie was a perfect choice for such an occasion as they continue to embody the Washington spirit. As time has raced on by, Death Cab has gone from an indie sensation to a slew of pop-stars with constant airplay. Only in Seattle, right?

To prove that they were worthy of a headlining title, Gibbard  & Co. took the stage to deliver one of the most surprising shows of the weekend. The energy was quite high – especially for a Death Cab gig. Opener “I Will Possess Your Heart” lasted for ages, but its thumping bass line and stirring percussion were enough to stir the crowd. This sort of chemistry washed over other gems like “Movie Script Ending”, an electrifying “Cath”, and a version of “Long Division” that brought people to crowd surf. Hit after hit, and song after song, Death Cab for Cutie rattled their catalog for a show that would not only impress the Sasquatch crowd, but also make every fan jealous that they missed this show.

The true highlight of the set though was when Gibbard came out alone to strum away Plans favorite, “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”. Feeling the raw intimacy of the song, the crowd joined along and sang in unison, their voices echoing off the walls of the Gorge. People will follow Gibbard anywhere, I guess. -Ted Maider

Photo by Kyle Johnson

Sleigh Bells -Banana Shack – 10:10 p.m.

cossasquatchsleighbells6photobywinston Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Winston Robbins

The Banana Shack was hands down the best addition to this year’s installment of Sasquatch!. Very much like Coachella’s Sahara Tent, the Banana Shack was solely for the purpose of comedians during the day and electro raves at night. So, of course, this is the stage where Sleigh Bells landed. Their set was unfortunately stuck in the middle of Death Cab’s and Robyn’s respective sets, but it mattered very little in the end. They were 20 minutes late to start, but they made up for that by not only going an extra half hour longer than they were scheduled, but by rocking especially hard. Sleigh Bells are admittedly more flash than music, but their flash is so illustrious that it enhances the music to levels many of their contemporaries could only hope to achieve. After an instrumental cover of “Iron Man” by Derek Miller, Alexis Krauss joined him for what would be an hour of sheer sweaty chaos. Sleigh Bells is best played at maximum volume, and the sound in the Banana Shack more than accommodated this ideal. Being that Treats is a fairly short album they played almost every track, the highlights being “Riot Rhythm”, “Infinity Guitars”, and a very funky version of “Rill Rill”. -Winston Robbins

Bassnectar – Bigfoot Stage – 11:30 p.m.

bassnectarsasquatch Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Kyle Johnson

Disclaimer: I hate dub-step.

Prior to this show, an audience member informed me humans are conditioned to enjoy heavy bass, as the vibrations remind our subconscious of time spent in the womb and the comfort we received within it. This has to be true because thousands of people crammed in for Bassnectar’s late night show…. and, well, he delivered. The DJ, whose popularity has clearly skyrocketed within the past couple years, blew out speakers, mixed Nirvana, and played one of the highest energy sets possible. The only thing more insane than the DJ himself was the crowd. People tossed glow sticks, moshed, crowd-surfed and went ballistic. It was hands down the best dance show of the weekend.

Disclaimer: I still hate dub-step. -Ted Maider

Saturday Gallery by Heather Kaplan

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Sunday, May 29th

The Drums – Mainstage – 1:05 p.m.

drums 6 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

For the past year or two, New York post-punk rockers The Drums have raised eyebrows in critics’ circles for making Joy Division sound sunny and fun. Their self-titled debut hit plenty of End of the Year lists last year and despite some lineup changes, they continue to truck on and maintain a some gravitas in the indie community. None of that’s changed. If their early spot at the Mainstage is any indication, they’re not going anywhere. Songs like “Best Friend”, “Let’s Go Surfing”, and “Down by the Water” are all classics by now. They’re great. But when beach blonde Jonathan Pierce introduced new song “Money”, and reported that the band wrapped up recording their sophomore follow up, things took a turn for the best. Sounding like a spunky outtake from New Order’s Movement, “Money” whisked on by with a sharp noise that made cuts in everyone’s ears. That’s a good thing. Waiting until we hear the studio version? Not a good thing. Either way, the boys continue to look hip (from hair to toe) and sound fresh. At this point, they can continue championing the whole surfer rock thing, even if that whole image has been burned to the ground. They at least earned it. -Michael Roffman

Fitz & The Tantrums – Mainstage – 2:10 p.m.

fitz 5 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

There is nothing new going on here. Fitz & The Tantrums play a predictable blend of funk and neo-soul designed, of course, to get the dance floor moving. But these guys are really good at it. Fitz, full name Michael Fitzpatrick, is a David Bowie lookalike in a flashy suit who puts in his 110 percent to get the crowd involved. How often do you see a frontman request a clap or mass kneel and fail miserably? In Fitz’s case, he had everyone, lawn included, complying with his every command — so you know he’s doing something right. Highlights included “Rich Girls”, the single “MoneyGrabber”, and a cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”. – Harry Painter

S. Carey – Bigfoot Stage –  3:00 p.m.

Sean Carey has come a long way from being the guy that timidly confronted Justin Vernon at a show to tell him he admired his music. Not only did he shortly thereafter join Bon Iver, but he embarked on a solo career of his own while Justin Vernon was off doing other things (you know, hanging out with Kanye West and stuff). Over the past year or so, S. Carey has toured behind his debut solo record, All We Grow, with a notable spot opening up for last year’s biggest folk sensation The Tallest Man On Earth. Carey came out confident and played his quiet, beautiful post-rock to a very large crowd, considering how early in the day he was scheduled to play. He and his five piece brought their A game and finished big with an impromptu cover of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks theme song, followed by a very subtle cover of Bjork’s “Unravel”, and an emotional version of the title track, “All We Grow”. This was surely one of his last solo performances, as he will be joining back up with Bon Iver, who is about to take over the world yet again when their new album drops later this June (don’t pretend for a second you haven’t downloaded the leak…). -Winston Robbins

Tokyo Police Club – Mainstage – 3:15 p.m.

cossasquatchtokyopc1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

Tokyo Police Club has been whoring out their Canadian goodness to all the festivals in the past year, so it seemed natural that they’d show up at Sasquatch! (considering how many Canadians were there to support them). The band was definitely a decent way to fill some time throughout the day’s heat, and they actually played a pretty good set. They got the crowd to help them out with “Tessellate” and jammed on gems like “Elephant Shell” and “Nature of the Experiment”. The real show though was when the band brought their good friend on stage, not to rock, but to propose to his girlfriend. Perfect for an indie-rock festival. -Ted Maider

Sam Roberts Band – Bigfoot Stage – 4:05 p.m.

samrobertsbandsasquatchhalle Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Karina Halle

Juno-award winning (you know, the Canadian Grammys) singer/songwriter Sam Roberts is perfect festival fodder and his appearance on the Big Foot stage was no exception. His brand of smooth-voiced rock and roll is simple enough for sunny days but catchy enough to keep an audience moving on their toes, which is exactly what he did. Even people who weren’t planning on catching the show were stopping by the stage and joining along with the singalongs and hand-waving to such songs as “Brother Down” and “The Last Crusade”. Watching the smiling festival-goers jump and flail around to “Them Kids” made you think that the song’s lyrics were wrong and the kids do “know how to dance to rock and roll” after all. Well, at least they try. -Karina Halle

Beach House – Mainstage – 4:20 p.m.

beach 5 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Three years ago, Beach House‘s Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally were performing at intimate venues like Chicago’s own Schubas. You know, to maybe 300 people tops? So seeing them entertain thousands at the Gorge on Sunday evening was beyond surreal. Here’s a place that acts like Pearl Jam or Dave Matthews Band have used for their landmark live efforts. Now, this Baltimore dream pop duo can say they’ve matched them – sort of. They may not be able to rope in that many on their own, but they’re certainly up for the task, at least if their stage presence is any indication. Tighter, more intense, and highly personable, Legrand and Scally actually look alive these days. In between their lush and gorgeous ballads like “Zebra” or “Walk in the Park”, the two committed to some friendly banter. Legrand even remarked on the group’s questionable set time: “We like that our set started at 4:20, but we don’t really care about that. That makes me sound like a pothead.” As the sun glazed the surrounding fields, everyone was at peace with themselves, including a little indie toddler, who tossed dirt around and brought smiles from passerby’s. “Humans are meant to cooperate. Good job, human beings,” Scally observed. Yes, kudos. -Michael Roffman

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears – Yeti Stage – 4:35 p.m.

blackjoelewis1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011Austin, TX’s Black Joe Lewis likes to have a good time. His Honeybears make that happen each time they’re on stage together. As the sun started to spill over, the bluesy octet owned the Yeti Stage, and its many inhabitants. Lewis’ trademark swagger has finally worked. For the past two years, they’ve been a festival staple, though in smaller capacities. Although the Yeti Stage is technically the smallest of the Sasquatch! venues, the crowd proved he needs to move up next time he’s in “town.” This wasn’t a group of passerby’s; no, this was more like a loyal following. And by the time they started grooving to a muddy rendition of “Louie, Louie” or “Bird is the Word!”, they had hundreds of fans screaming their hearts out. Too bad the nearby BBQ was overpriced. It could’ve added to the great backyard jam. Oh well. -Michael Roffman

Photo by Jackie Kingsbury

Mad Rad – Yeti Stage – 5:40 p.m.

rad 3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

It’s hard to explain Seattle’s Mad Rad. They’re essentially a slew of Caucasians that create nasally-sounding hipster hip-hop. But it’s loud, it’s obnoxious, and it’s enigmatic. For a small group that’s technically still unheard of, they commandeered one of the largest crowds at the Yeti Stage. They didn’t waste any time roping them in, either. The band’s ensemble includes Buffalo Madonna, Terry Radjaw, DJ Darwin, and P Smoov and all of them shared the spotlight equally. Throughout their then potentially hazardous set, Buffalo, Terry, and P Smoov tossed toilet paper into the crowd and rapped while crowd surfing over fans. Some of the best crowd interaction of the weekend happened during songs like ”Love in a Strange World” or “I Want Your Blood”, which have deeper meanings than their titles imply. Then again, they’re just not the same without the ridiculous introductions before them. Bottom line: Look ’em up. -Michael Roffman

Archers of Loaf – Bigfoot Stage – 6:20 p.m.

cossasquatcharchersloaf2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

So, was the reunion worth it? Archers of Loaf, known for their weird songs in the ’90s, played the Bigfoot Stage to one of the smallest crowds of the entire weekend. In fact, I saw more people with artist wristbands at the show than kids with festival wristbands. It didn’t stop the band from rocking out, though, and dishing out numerous classics like the dreary “You and Me” or the thrashing “Audiowhore”. But considering nobody seemed to know who they were, it makes one think, are reunions even important anymore, or just a bunch of Internet hype? -Ted Maider

Das Racist – Yeti Stage – 6:45 p.m.

das 2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

You know what, we’ll try and cut Das Racist some slack, as they traveled all the way from performing a show at Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona, Spain the night before. But even if we gave them the most slack in the history of slack cutting, this was still one of the worst performances at Sasquatch. Things got off to a bad start when they didn’t go on until 40 minutes after they were supposed to. The crowd was visibly restless, and were on the verge of eating and/or maiming each other when Das Racist finally came on. And from there, one would assume that they were never able to fully recover. Das Racist’s bread and butter is drunken, lazy, nonsensical raps. It’s just part of their charm. But for this particular performance they were either remarkably jet lagged, or especially drunk. Even when they finally started performing, they barely moved, and their raps should be more accurately described as very quick mumbling. Not even their extremely popular “hahahaha jk?” could save them. And what had been one of the largest crowds at the Yeti Stage quickly dispersed, either to find some floor space for The Flaming Lips, or to bump up the hill to see Gayngs. -Winston Robbins

Gayngs – Bigfoot Stage – 7:30 p.m.

cossasquatchgayngs3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

Gayngs were tragically scheduled against The Flaming Lips, which obviously took away from a crowd that should have been bigger. But for those who stuck around, it was well worth the small portion of The Flaming Lips that had to be missed. All eyes were intensely glued to the stage, hoping Justin Vernon and Mike Noyce of Bon Iver would show up, but when the suave 10-piece band took the stage neither of the men were to be found. After the initial disappointment wore off, the crowd began to get into Gayngs’ slow, sexy jams. Ryan Olson has enough charisma and then some to make up for the lack of Vernon. The backing band consisted of relatively unknown individuals, (other than Zach Coulter) but were all immensely impressive. With Olson at the helm, the backing musicians rapidly seeing limelight, and Bon Iver members popping in and out, Gayngs very well might one day be America’s answer to Broken Social Scene. “The Gaudy Side of Town”, “The Crystal Rope”, and set closer “The Last Prom On Earth” were all met with huge fanfare and massive sing-a-longs despite a no-showing Justin Vernon. -Winston Robbins

The Flaming Lips – Mainstage – 8:00 p.m.

lips 25 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

The Flaming Lips are no stranger to the festival scene. Not only do they seem to play every notable festival year after year, their music feels expertly tailored for the events filled with drug-infused music lovers and experimental looky-loos. Their appearance at Sasquatch though had one change from the norm; they were playing their beloved album, 1999’s The Soft Bulletin, in its entirety. Of course they had their trademark theatrics to wow over the general public, such as guns that shot pastel confetti, the cast of The Wizard of Oz dancing on the sides of the stages, singer Wayne Coyne in a giant hamster ball, multi-colored balloons, and crazy video projections. But hardcore fans were also delighted to hear the psychedelic harmonies and orchestrations of the acclaimed album. It started off at a good pace with “Race for the Prize” luring people into the set’s vibe.

By the time they reached “The Spiderbite Song“, Coyne began to tell stories about the band members Steven Drozds and Michael Ivins, which slowed the momentum down. Sure, Coyne can sometimes yammer on too much, but at least he’s always engaged and always sincere with his interaction with the audience, and appreciative of the set’s stunning location. Even if you weren’t high off your gourd, you still felt a bit of magic at the playful atmosphere and the sight of the orange sun setting behind the rugged hills of the Columbia River Gorge.

lips 20 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

The set ended on a rather somber note which might have pulled some of the crowd down before Modest Mouse hit the stage, but there’s no doubt Lips fans walked away satisfied. It was a good way for the band to marry their over-the-top theatrics with their spared down melodies, making it feel that even though you were surrounded by many, the Lips were singing just for you. -Karina Halle

Flying Lotus – Banana Shack – 8:40 p.m.

flyinglotussasquatch Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Let’s think of this set in terms of stocks and bonds. Skipping The Flaming Lips for Flying Lotus is obviously a high risk investment. But every now and again on Wall Street, sheer dumb luck makes Franklins fall from the sky, and your payout becomes exponentially larger than what you invested to begin with, making your initial investment worth the risk. The 2,500 people that were either brave or drunk enough to make this gamble came out of Flying Lotus’ set feeling like masters of stocks and bond; it was truly one of the greatest risks they ever took.

Even Steven Ellingson (Flying Lotus) himself was surprised to see so many people in the crowd, remarking “I made the two and a half, three hour drive here thinking the whole time no one would show up. But you did! And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for it.” And it was with that grateful sentiment that FlyLo started his set, which was an hour of pure electronic/hip-hop bliss. Ellingson was literally smiling the entire time, and the wheat had been separated from the chaff, if you will, leaving only the truest of true fans to party with Flying Lotus, creating an even more legitimate environment.

flyinglotussasquatch2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Luke Johnson

As a result of FlyLo’s appreciation and the crowd’s enthusiasm, he rolled out a set that will go down in history as one of his most spectacular. Incorporating Radiohead, Lil’ Wayne, and dozens of other artists in with his own infectious beats sent chills down the spines of those watching. The Banana Shack nearly toppled over (figuratively, of course) when he mixed the sheer grit of Tyler, The Creator’s “Yonkers” on top of one of his most bass-heavy tracks, “Melt!”. Word spread quickly and a major topic of conversation between festival-goers for the rest of the weekend was about how bummed they were that they went with The Flaming Lips (all due respect to Mr. Coyne and Mr. Drozd) over Flying Lotus. -Winston Robbins

Yeasayer – Bigfoot Stage – 9:00 p.m.

yeasayer 2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

After The Flaming Lips fizzled out, thousands flocked to the Bigfoot Stage, where Yeasayer turned the heat up. (Actually, it was getting pretty cold, so it made sense that people would want to dance.) Though the lights were impressive and Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton, and Anand Wilder all maintained a stoic composure, a few tracks felt a tad hollow. On record, “O.N.E.” feels so all encompassing, but on stage it felt lacking. Maybe it was just too loud or too open of a space, but the tracks didn’t leave any bruises upon impact. Instead, they just warmed things up. “Ambling Alp” solved a lot of these issues, but by then, most were flocking away towards Modest Mouse. See you in the clubs, guys. -Michael Roffman

Modest Mouse – Mainstage – 9:45 p.m.

mouse 4 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Prior to this show, I heard countless horror stories about Modest Mouse, and people’s experiences with them. Stories like “I’ve seen them three times and they sucked for all of them” were quite popular, as well as, “Last time, Issac Brock was so drunk he couldn’t even sing ‘Dramamine’”. One must assume that the people who organize Sasquatch! know what they’re doing, because they billed Modest Mouse as Sunday’s headliner, and it seemed to be one of the headliners most people were concerned about. But when Brock and friends took the stage, everyone swelled and wondered what was going to come next. Brock stood in front of the mic quietly as feedback filled the Gorge until finally, he took a deep breath and screamed, “THIS PLANE IS DEFINITELY CRASHING!”, which meant one thing: “Shit Luck”. For those in attendance, as a Modest Mouse fan, you can die happy now.

mouse 10 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

They didn’t stop there either. The band dipped all over their catalog for the next two hours. A soothing “Gravity Rides Everything” followed, a fantastic rendition of “Dramamine” (complete with all the lyrics) was delivered, two new songs were debuted (“Lampshades on Fire”, “Poison”), and even more recent stranger songs like “King Rat” were played, too. People danced, people sang, yet all were genuinely pleased that, for once, Modest Mouse was fucking killing it. They even played their most mainstream hit, “Float On”, which was more than enough to get the crowd on their feet and rocking out with every ounce of strength. But by far the most epic part of the night was the encore that included “World at Large”, especially as every “Ba ba ba” bounced off the Gorge. Only at Sasquatch kids… -Ted Maider

MSTRKRFT – Banana Shack – 10:00 p.m.

mstrkrftsasquatch2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Jackie Kingsbury

Leave it to Jesse Keeler to be responsible for creating not one but two of the most out of control shows at Sasquatch! 2011. His other project, the recently reincarnated Death From Above 1979, rocked the Gorge to its knees two days prior, and he did it again, only this time in a completely different vein of music. Keeler and his producer cohort Al-P took to the Sasquatch! equivalent of Coachella’s Sahara Tent, The Banana Shack, to throw what would be the biggest rave at this year’s installment of the festival. In the past, MSTRKRFT haven’t been known for their studio music being extremely rave-centric. But with the release of this year’s singles “Back In the USSA” and “Beards Again” (both of which were played during the set), it seems as though MSTRKRFT may be headed that way if and when they decide to drop a new full-length.

mstrkrftsasquatch1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Jackie Kingsbury

With the exception of a few of the hip hop samples that appeared on their (pretty lackluster) sophomore album, Fist of God, they didn’t play a single song off their two LPs; they played only new music that was a menagerie of smart sampling, well placed drops, and house-savvy beats. When it came for them to leave, Keeler announced to the crowd that they wanted to keep playing, and that they would soldier on well past their time slot and wouldn’t leave until the crowd didn’t want to hear them anymore or until an authority figure told them they couldn’t go on any longer. Obviously the ravers didn’t want them to stop (how do ravers go for 12 hours at a time and barely even break a sweat? They’re a rare sub-species, who I find to be particularly interesting), especially when they  combined their “Beards Again” with Daft Punk’s “Da Funk”. They ended up playing until 11:40, 40 minutes after when they were scheduled to stop. Eat your heart out, Sahara Tent. -Winston Robbins

Ratatat – Bigfoot Stage – 11:00 p.m.

ratatatsasquatch Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Ratatat has found their niche in the music world. After two solid releases – their self-titled, and Classics – the instrumental duo found themselves immensely popular, giving them the leniency to sort of do whatever the hell they want, musically. And they’ve done just that. They’ve gone down an alley of quick, bright sampling that is fairly different than their first two releases, but impressive all the same, especially in a live setting.

They pulled the late night slot at Sasquatch, which screams perfection in terms of time slot placement. And even though MSTRKRFT and Modest Mouse ate through a good bit of their set, Ratatat drew a huge crowd, especially once the aforementioned bands were done. People returning to camp were naturally drawn in by the enormously catchy sound, and even more so by the bizarre visual arrangements.

ratatatsasquatch2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Not only did the stage lighting involve some of the most elaborate sets at Sasquatch! (other than The Flaming Lips, of course), the montages being played over  the massive screens were so visually captivating, it was nearly impossible to look away. From bad infomercial acting to wildly shifting arrangements of birds, the screens were nearly as fun to watch as the band itself, who were quite impressive. No longer touring solely behind LP4, they were allowed to visit old favorites like “Loud Pipes”, “Kennedy”, and “Wildcat”. But that didn’t stop them from playing some of the strongest new material such as “Falcon Jab”, “Shempi”, and “Neckbrace”. But no track even held a candle to the one encore song they played as they approached one in the morning: an incredibly well re-arranged version of all-time classic “Seventeen Years”. It was the perfect way to end the most dance heavy day of the festival. -Winston Robbins

Sunday Gallery by Heather Kaplan

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Monday, May 30th

Wavves – Mainstage – 11:30 a.m.

cossasquatchwavves1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

Perhaps it was the fact that they were a late addition, but Wavves was scheduled far too early in the morning. It’s not like Nathan Williams’ surf-punk project needs the extra exposure or anything, they get plenty of that from every musically oriented output in the civilized world. But after three days of hard festival partying, 11:30 a.m. was a little too early for everyone but the absolute biggest Wavves fans. Regardless, they put on one of the most energetic shows of the day, peaking with the one two punch combo of “King of the Beach” and “Idiot”. -Winston Robbins

Young the Giant – Mainstage – 12:35 p.m.

giant 3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Young the Giant had its work cut out for it following a morning Wavves set, and results were mixed. The energy lagged a little, perhaps because of the heat and everyone being tired by Monday. But Sameer Gadhia and co. did their best to counteract this, and had the pit jumping during the set-closing single “My Body”. – Harry Painter

Twin Shadow – Yeti Stage – 1:00 p.m.

cossasquatchtwinshadow3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

Brooklyn’s George Lewis, Jr., aka Twin Shadow, crafted an excellent album in Forget. It’s sad, it’s haunting, and it’s beautiful all at once. But none of that came across live, which may sound like a knock, but is a huge compliment. Lewis and his confident five-piece band went about their songs tirelessly for their 50 minute set. As well as debuting two new songs (which hopefully means he’s working on a follow-up with Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, who produced the first record), Twin Shadow did ultra dance versions of their ominous new wave songs (in the order that they appear on the record) “Tyrant Destroyed”, “When We Were Dancing”, and “I Can’t Wait”. If Lewis doesn’t become a prominent figure in the rise of chillwave, whatever the hell that means anymore, I’ll be thoroughly surprised. The man is an incredible performer, has great stage presence, and best of all writes fantastic music. -Winston Robbins

Old 97’s – Mainstage – 1:40 p.m.

97s 5 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Once again, maybe it has to do with playing in the heat on a tired Monday afternoon when everyone was trying to nap, but the Old 97’s completely failed to get a reaction out of anyone outside the front rows. And it’s just as likely the Old 97’s were the ones putting everyone to sleep. One song blended into another, into another. The songs that made an impression were “I’m a Trainwreck”, “Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)”, and “Timebomb”. -Harry Painter

Chromeo – Mainstage – 2:45 p.m.

chromeo 11 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

On paper, a midday Chromeo show sounds as enthralling as watching Miami Vice on a sick day. It’s just not the right mood. However, early Sunday at the Gorge, Montreal’s unlikely duo Dave 1 and P-Thugg delivered all the glitz and glamour of their traditional live show. The fans helped make it magical, too. In addition to dancing and sweating a storm under the scorching hot sun, thousands of fans tossed around inflatable sea animals, exclaiming as each shark or octopus made its way toward them. Surrounded by his back up singers, an idea no doubt borrowed from the late Robert Palmer, Dave 1, remarked, “Pretty lively for a Monday afternoon, I’d say.” Between set opener (and last year’s hit single) “Don’t Turn the Lights On” to the lyrical madness that’s “Momma’s Boy”, the two prowlers of the night became close friends with the sun. Judging from the sea of festivalgoers flooding the area, Chromeo made a connection there, too. -Michael Roffman

Black Mountain – Bigfoot Stage – 3:00 p.m.

God bless Black Mountain for adding a little classic rock pep to what was an exasperatingly slow morning. I guess even festivals sometimes suffer from cases of“The Mondays”. The Vancouver-based hard rockers took the stage to a massive hometown(ish) crowd. It seemed as though every member of the audience knew every word to every song. They opened big with Wilderness Heart duet “The Hair Song”, blending male and female vocals to perfection. The set got even bigger with the trippy In The Future track “Wucan”, followed by the climactic “Tyrants” with its epic drum solo, followed by the metal-worthy guitar solo. Not a whole lot of crowd interaction went on, but when you are that naturally talented, that matters little. They were certainly a fan favorite of the morning. -Winston Robbins

Guided by Voices – Mainstage – 3:50 p.m.

gbv 11 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

gbv 6 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011Sadly and incredibly, Guided by Voices was the victim of the largest exodus of the weekend, one only possible because of Chromeo’s humongous crowd. The hordes of youngins that turned up for Chromeo’s mid-afternoon dance party and filled out the floor somehow found their way out in 20 minutes to watch Paul F. Tompkins or something. GBV, a reunion act that appears to be nearing the end of its current run, was left with maybe 200 people in the pit and a largely apathetic lawn crowd.

The liquor-swigging Robert Pollard commented on the disparity, observing that no one seemed to care about GBV. He mockingly wondered aloud, “Who was that last shitty band?” and his loyal pit-dwellers screamed back “Chromeo” at him before engaging in a “GBV” chant. The negativity ended there, however, and Pollard twice expressed gratitude for being invited to Sasquatch! and “all these lovely events.”

The presence of acts like GBV, J. Mascis, and Archers of Loaf was a sweet reminder of a time when being “indie” didn’t mean being a huge pussy. The crunchy indie rock began with “Over the Neptune / Mesh Gear Fox” and continued with favorites like “Kicker of Elves” and “Game of Pricks”. It was a set enjoyed by a select few, which used to be part of the fun of indie rock. – Harry Painter

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Mainstage – 5:10 p.m.

dap 6 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

People love to dance, but sometimes they like to watch other people dance even more. That’s why Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings were so much fun to watch; not only can Jones sing her soul out, but she packs a mean shuffle as well. And while people will likely remember that Jones and her band sounded like a vintage soul band, and a good one at that, they will remember more vividly a young hipster named Patrick, whom Jones pulled on stage upon seeing him go nuts in the pit. “Come on, security, let him go,” pleaded Jones before yanking him up and singing at him. Patrick, a skinny white kid dressed in thigh-length shorts and a red and green striped hoodie, showed no nerve dancing in front of thousands plus cameras. The contrast was priceless; think DJ Qualls and his large black girlfriend in Road Trip. – Harry Painter

Surfer Blood – Bigfoot Stage – 6:20 p.m.

cossasquatchsurferblood5 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

“Thanks for sticking around and watching us in the rain!” –John Paul Pitts

It seems dreary weather and Surfer Blood’s sludgy sound go together perfectly, but all in all, there needs to be more bands like this in indie music these days. Sure, their sound is a bit murky, but it’s totally distinct, and the band constantly exerts loads of energy. For example, singer and guitarist John Paul Pitts has a tendency to thrash his guitar about like it’s a toy (although he claimed their equipment had been stolen prior), and he likes to run up on the amps and into the crowd. During “Take it Easy” he wandered through the audience, shaking hands (including our very own Winston Robbins). And the band played such a high-octant version of “Fast Jabroni” and dedicated it to all of us “living the gremlin life”. They even revealed new material with tracks entitled “Miranda” and “Golden Boys” to show that this isn’t the last we have heard of Surfer Blood…and thank God for that one. -Ted Maider

Rodrigo y Gabriela – Mainstage – 6:35 p.m.

rod 6 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

Rodrigo y Gabriela are so talented you can’t help but laugh at how small they make everyone else look. Their coordination is flawless, they make it look easy, and now they apparently do it without sitting on a stool. Both players, but Rodrigo especially, genuinely love the stage. Rodrigo wears a knowing smile on his face, one that says “You think that was good? Then watch this.” They even controlled the weather; it begun to suddenly pour rain when Rodrigo y Gabriela came on, then stopped after 15 minutes. The set included tributes to Jimi Hendrix and Metallica, but only a tease of the beginning of “Stairway to Heaven” (denied!). – Harry Painter

Best Coast – Yeti Stage – 6:45 p.m.

besty 2 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

For awhile, Monday looked like the perfect day for the sunny cadence of Best Coast. For one, it was by far the hottest of the four days and, what’s more, the sun graced every corner of the Gorge Amphitheatre grounds. You couldn’t hide from it. However, after a surprisingly demanding set by Foster the People, a five minute session of heavy rain (the heaviest of the weekend) came down and pretty much changed the scenery. Throw in a chilly breeze and some dusty clouds and you suddenly had a very unlikely setting for Bethany Cosentino & Co. “I feel like I’m at Woodstock or some shit,” Cosentino, the sweet tongue songwriter with the grungy underbelly, observed. “But seriously, this shit is fucked up.” In addition to pounding away favorites like “Miss You”, “Boyfriend”, and “When I’m With You”, Cosentino also got fuzzy and dirty on “The End” and “Crazy for You”. By the time she rang through “Our Deal”, she had the very dedicated yet very wet crowd feeding out of the palm of her hand. Nice try, weather. –Michael Roffman

The Decemberists – Mainstage – 8:00 p.m.

dec 17 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

It was a bit of a bittersweet moment watching The Decemberists, finding out it would be Jenny Conlee’s last appearance with the band for a while as she fights breast cancer. But Conlee was in great spirits, and The Decemberists played happy songs; in fact, it was an all-around feel-good set.

The band mainly stuck to The King Is Dead material, with a couple off of 2009’s The Hazards of Love and some older ones. Early on, Colin Meloy’s acoustic guitar began to experience problems, which was a blessing in disguise. Because guitarist Chris Funk, also in disguise as the Russian Sasquatch, is a born entertainer, a fact that manifested while Meloy had his guitar fixed. Funk told a “Sasquatch joke” that consisted of incoherent growls, before becoming “Jazzquatch” and displaying his scat-singing skills. Bassist Nate Query joined in with some slap bass, while Sara Watkins topped it all off with some yodeling. By the time Meloy came back into the fold, The Decemberists had begun leading the audience in a sing-along of The Outfield’s “Your Love”.

dec 3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Heather Kaplan

By this point it wasn’t clear anyone wanted to hear The Decemberists play their own music anymore, but they did just in case. The band redeemed the set after the guitar problems, and closed by taking crowd participation to the next level. They played (and acted out) a full rendition of “The Mariner’s Revenge”, leading the whole amphitheatre in screaming as if everyone had been eaten by a giant whale. Tens of thousands of honest-to-goodness dorks complied, and it was delightful. – Harry Painter

Deerhunter – Bigfoot Stage – 9:00 p.m.

cossasquatchdeerhunter4 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

Admittedly, I was embarrassed for the people of Sasquatch! when 10 minutes before Deerhunter were to start, there were hardly 200 people in attendance. But as Bradford Cox came on to help speed up the sound check and equipment set up (they were a good 10 minutes behind schedule), I got so busy watching him, I didn’t notice that that 200 had multiplied to thousands. And as a light rain began to fall and the deepest purple thunderclouds loomed overhead, people began to don their ponchos and garbage bags.

cossasquatchdeerhunter3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Ted Maider

Rushed by all of these factors, Bradford Cox and his Georgia outfit dove right into things and didn’t stop more than one or two times to tune or say thank you. It all became one beautiful cohesive piece of music, beginning with “Desire Lines”  bleeding into their new, unreleased “60 Cycle Hum”, which then turned rapidly into “Little Kids”, making for a 15 minute cohesive jam. The stormy clouds still threatened, but never quite made their move, but that didn’t stop the cold. The crowd was obviously spellbound, but for tracks that are in theory very danceable (“Nothing Ever Happened”), it was very hard to make the human body do anything other than just try and survive. The wind howled across the lands and up onto the stage, which added an epically ethereal touch to some already very ethereal rock music. And finally the lights all dimmed to leave one spotlight on Bradford Cox, who stood alone while he buzzed into a slow, chilly version of “Helicopter” that perfectly encapsulated the set. -Winston Robbins

Wilco – Mainstage – 9:30 p.m.

wilcosasquatch1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Christopher Nelson

“This is the place where Wilco had our worst show ever,” Jeff Tweedy said of the band’s 2004 Sasquatch! set (blame Arcade Fire). The deck was stacked against them this time around too — Wilco was the only Sasquatch! headliner without roots in Washington; Wilco’s set came in the middle of a much more energetic Deerhunter set on the Bigfoot Stage; and lastly, Wilco’s kind of a sad band, which doesn’t necessarily make for good festival-closing material. Tweedy even acknowledged it was hard to follow The Decemberists’ happy alt-rock tunes with a bunch of sad songs, but “I guess that’s what we do.”

Admittedly, if you like to end a weekend of music by partying, you were better off just watching Deerhunter and Major Lazer and heading back to the tent. Admittedly, the Chicago rockers started off by playing slow folksy songs, and didn’t exactly offset them with arena rock anthems. But what Wilco did do was play a set of 20-plus great songs with style and precision, which is all you can ask.

wilco3sasquatch Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Wilco’s set included Yankee Hotel Foxtrot selections like “Ashes of American Flags”, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”, “War On War”, and “Jesus Etc.”, the last of which Tweedy implored the crowd to sing along to; it complied. Other favorites scattered throughout were the rarely played “Company In My Back”, “Misunderstood”, “Via Chicago”, “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”, and “Impossible Germany”.

One thing that can’t be stressed enough is how much Nels Cline made the show. Whether it was his screeching guitar solos, his slide guitar twangs, or his keyboard noodling, Cline’s roles took precedence in almost every song; he’s so crucial to the performance, it’s almost hard to imagine how this band made do before 2004.

wilco2sasquatch Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

Photo by Christopher Nelson

Wilco ended the night with “Hoodoo Voodoo”, with Tweedy all smiles. A fan threw a glowstick at him, and Tweedy responded, “You missed.” More glowsticks came, and Tweedy invited them. More glowsticks, and even half-full water bottle came flying toward the stage, almost nothing hitting the target. Right when you thought Tweedy might be mad, he simply said, “You guys suck” and “good night.” Maybe this wasn’t Wilco’s worst show ever, but like Sasquatch!, Wilco had an anniversary to celebrate, and that’s just what the band did. – Harry Painter

Monday Gallery by Heather Kaplan

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The Culture of Sasquatch!

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CoS at Sasquatch!: Mini Documentary

Cameras: Michael Roffman, Ted Maider
Edited By: Colin Peterson

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