Photography by Eric Tra
Shocker: Festival lineups have become largely homogeneous. The same acts tend to surface at all the major festivals, as evidenced by OutKast’s 40 festival dates this summer, preceded by The Postal Service in 2013 and Jack White in 2012.
This year, Sasquatch! attempted to take a bold step against the format by adding a second weekend set around the Fourth of July, only to cancel the festivities a month after announcing the expansion. Naturally, this put a lot of pressure on weekend one to deliver, which was also truncated to three days instead of four as in more recent years.
But, a second weekend isn’t really what Sasquatch! needs to evolve. The picturesque landscape of The Gorge already works in its favor, offering a variety of rustic performances set against the Columbia River, painted canyons, and endless skies. It’s the sort of experience that validates the stench and sunburns that come with the territory. Though, the jury’s still out on the lack of soap at the Porta Potty stations.
Each night, headliners OutKast, The National, and Queens of the Stone Age covered the whole gamut of human emotions, while festival staples HAIM, Foster The People, and Neko Case kept spirits up in the Eastern Washington heat. And perhaps it was just OutKast’s presence, but hip-hop really shined this year. Everything from shock-rap (Tyler, The Creator, Die Antwoord) to the more conventional (De La Soul, Chance The Rapper) were present — quite a leap for a festival that tipped off 12 years ago with a headlining set from The String Cheese Incident.
Ignoring the collapse of weekend two, Sasquatch! got back to basics in the best ways and made progressive leaps in the right direction as well. There’s less of a reliance of marketing to the past by booking older acts — OutKast withstanding — and more of an eye toward what is current and what’s going to be huge. In hindsight, extra days and weekends feel like an unnecessary gimmick.