29 May Sasquatch Festival 2010: Misery & Excellence In One Day
This year, however, was different. It seems the fine folks at Live Nation managed to craft a Sasquatch lineup that I was actually interested in — big time! Practically every band I’ve listened to the past year ad nauseum was playing at Sasquatch; these included, but were not limited, to: Nurses, WHY?, tUnE-yArDs, Miike Snow, Portugal. The Man, Local Natives, Past Lives, and Ween! What a hoot!
Unfortunately, I managed to miss Local Natives and Caribou, simply because they played relatively early shows. The biggest tragedy of all, though, was missing the lovely Dean and Gene Ween, of Ween, who played the closing slot on the closing night. A true bummer, but this is life. Luckily, I did manage to catch some awesome shows along the way. Here’s a recap of every set I saw at Sasquatch.
Starting this write-up off with the strongest, I will say that Dirty Projectors probably gave the most amazing Sasquatch performance of all. Unfortunately, they were in a timeslot that competed with Pavement’s — a bizarre move on the part of the lineup fairies — but I managed to catch half of Dirty Projectors’ set before running off. Full disclosure states that Dirty Projectors aren’t my favorite band, and I can only listen to them casually and occasionally. Live, though, their talent as musicians is absolutely undeniable. They know their instruments, and they are very obviously classically-trained and disciplined. There is nothing bad to say about their live set. It blew me away completely and surpassed any kind of expectations I could have had.
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Despite being at the crapshoot of a medium-sized Honda Bigfoot stage, which was sonically-gimped and visually-stunned, Edward Sharpe pulled it off. Their gypsy vibe was alive and well, and they lived up to the hype. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see anything at all. I was too busy focusing on a boy who was tripping big time on acid; he was literally frothing at the mouth, screaming in the faces of my concertgoing neighbors, and soon thereafter, shedding all of his clothes.
When LCD Soundsystem played, the fairly easygoing Sasquatch crowd turned into a gang of wild jackals. Drugs flowed freely and dancing became second nature as everyone and their moms rocked out in the most engrossing and intense of ways. High-fives and flailing limbs flew in every direction, and everyone immensely was fired up. It was an absolutely insane time of purely being in the moment.
As much as I loved Miike Snow’s debut self-titled disc (it was #2 on my top five albums of the year last year), their live performance initially left much to be desired. Apparently, lead singer Andrew Wyatt can’t really hit the notes he hits on the disc. The vocals were complete crap, and the performance was lackluster to say the least. I’d heard this about Miike Snow and was sad to see that it was indeed true.
Nurses are a band that I’ve seen a million zillion times, but I have never seen a crowd with as many fanboys and fangirls as this particular day. Right in the center front of it all was a gang of individuals who knew every word to every Nurses song, including some of the unreleased tracks. They danced their asses off, and upped the ante for everyone. And asides from some beach balls which the security guard kept tossing into the crowd (with some making their way onto their stage to be kicked off by the band members mid-set), everything was spot-on.
All throughout OK Go’s set, all I could do was think, “People still listen to these guys?” OK Go are an example of just how bizarre the mainstream music scene is. I am ever confused by who is still actively listening to OK Go, but somebody obviously is, since they’re headlining main stages and what not. They’d probably be a fun set to see in an intimate venue, for they certainly do have some excellent, danceable pop songs, but they’re far beyond that now. As far as main stage attention-holding potential, they have little.
Pavement have a weird crowd; they’ve grown a fanbase through the years while doing absolutely nothing. Their reunion show at Sasquatch was the first time I — and a lot of others — have seen them. Between their self-deprecating jokes and knack for absolutely not giving a fuck about anything, Pavement gave an enjoyable, albeit long-winded set. They seemed very obviously intoxicated, and Stephen Malkmus even brought his nervous son up on stage for him to play the keys. Pavement have to be respected; they just don’t care. And that attitude is in sharp contrast to a lot of young bands these days (see: Vampire Weekend, below).
Portugal. The Man
As they were playing on the horrible Honda Bigfoot stage, Portugal. The Man’s set was pretty much a throwaway. I’ve seen the Oregonian/Alaskan boys before, and they wowed me with their ability to arrange their live set completely differently to embrace an almost jam band, improvisational vibe. They did the same at Sasquatch, but to the point where some of their songs were completely unrecognizable. As a band that requires intimacy, they couldn’t pull off their usual routine at Sasquatch. It was simply lost, and the sound was horrible.
The Tallest Man On Earth
Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, was one of few individuals who gave an awesome performance on the Bigfoot Stage, probably due to his one-man simplicity. Still, though, there were criticisms on his set from showgoers who wanted nothing more but to brainlessly rock out. “Singer-songwriters are boring at festivals,” they said, but I thought otherwise; Matsson adjusted his approach and was a little less playful than usual, but it worked for the environment.
Though lo-fi and gritty on their records, tUnE-yArDs give performances that are full of energy. Queen branchild-of-it-all, Merrill Garbus, is a powerful, passionate lady. Running through tracks off of BiRd-BrAiNs and newer, unfinished material, their set resulted in nothing but positive vibes. It was yet another amazing show on the smallest, least appreciated stage.
Vampire Weekend’s lead singer, Ezra Koenig, might be just about the least sincere musician I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty unmoved by their music, but I’m absolutely moved by Koenig. He pisses me off. He ruined their set for me single-handedly.
WHY? absolutely killed their performance on the Esurance Yeti stage. Frontman Yoni Wolf is known for being rather curt and dry in interviews, but live, that reputation absolutely seems to melt away. He is ace with his goofball dancing and theatrical movements, and the crowd seemed to know every lyric to every WHY? song. Running through their older hip-hop material and their newer indie rock material with equal fervor, WHY? easily gave one of the best performances of Sasquatch. Easily.