Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Greetings from...Sasquatch! 2008 (a little late, but still)

Oh, Sasquatch. Going in, this festival had a whole lot to live up to for me. I had previously only been to two festivals, but both had extremely impressive lineups. Add that to the fact that I was literally flying as far across the lower 48 states as is possible to get there and that I was passing up Bonnaroo in favor of this Pacific Northwestern alternative, and, well...let's just say it was going to take a lot.

Three days, dozens of bands, and one shower later, I can say with ease that this festival was not only worth going, but that I am already planning out my '09 trip. Much like my SXSW post, I'll try my best to sum it all up with a few highlights and mp3s from some of my favorite acts. Special bonus: grainy pictures from a disposable camera. Makes it more old-timey, I'd say.

Saturday Highlights:


If you've never listened to Beirut before, my suggestion is to listen to the Mp3 below and just imagine hearing it live in front of an expansive canyon. I can't think of anyone else that would have truly kicked off the festival any better. Beirut's international sound was the perfect soundtrack to our first glimpse of the Gorge Amphitheatre. I'm rather glad that I had never seen the act before, as it allows me to now have this perfect association in my head: the pairing of venue and sound.

Mp3: Beirut - Scenic World (Second Version)


I'm not sure how I could possibly do M.I.A.'s performance justice through words, but I will say that it was as good, if not better, than any other large-stage performance of the entire weekend. My friend Roy and I were saying that it felt as though we were at Glastonbury Festival, as the show had the entire crowd moving in unison, a surreal, video-game-esque stop motion video playing in time with her music, and featured several songs with a few hundred fans dancing up on stage. The entire set just blew me away. If you have the chance to check her out, do so.

[photo credit: jerkalertproductions]
Modest Mouse

Sasquatch! has presented some of my favorite performers throughout the festivals history, including Bjork, Arcade Fire, and Beck. This year, Modest Mouse was one such act, and although I had seen them twice already, they were one of my most anticipated sets of the weekend. The set started off a bit slow, and something seemed off. Probably about 1/4 of the way through their time on stage, though, things suddenly turned upwards, right around the time they absolutely ripped through "Trucker's Atlas." From that point forward, the band was 100% phenomenal. It was easily the tightest I have ever seen the band, and it was also the most dynamic performance I've ever seen them give (the addition of Johnny Marr was great to see for the first time, as well). "King Rat" was great to see, and the night's version of "Doin' the Cockroach" was one of the best single songs I've seen from any band of any song in recent memory.

Video - Modest Mouse - Doin' the Cockroach (Unofficial)

Sunday Highlights:

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks

The photo above: uneven, bad lighting, and perfectly depicts the fact that I was standing at the side of the stage for the Jicks' set. It helps to know powerful performers with extra backstage wristbands, it is true. Malkmus was one of the few acts that I consider to be absolutely an all-time favorite that I had never seen live before. Not only was I able to cross this one off the list, but I was able to watch from a distance of about 10 feet away. The set was a bit jam-heavy, but fulfilling nonetheless. Highlight: Malkmus' pavement joke: "This is the best weather I've ever seen at Sasquatch! I wasn't here yesterday, though. I hear yesterday it was raining sideways...Crooked. Crooked rain."

Flaming Lips Movie Premiere: Christmas on Mars

It was loud, very loud. It also reminded me of a really long nightmare. However, it was really about more than just the movie - it was an experience. Wayne Coyne came out to introduce the film, saying, in his usual quirky-endearing-fast-speak, something to the effect of, "Well, this isn't the first screening, the first screening was two hours ago. But this is the second ever screening of this film. And there will only be one second screening, ever." Good enough for me. We also got free popcorn in a limited edition "Eat Your Own Spaceship" container, and the drummer held the tent curtain open for the crowd as we exited.

Trailer - Flaming Lips' Christmas on Mars (frighteningly enough, very representative of the film)

Monday Highlights:

Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down

This was probably the 50th or so time that I've seen Thao play live, but I think it was also only the 3rd time that I've seen the band playing under their current moniker. As charming and clearly gifted a performer as Thao has always been as a solo performer, her music has never sounded better than it does now, within the confines of a full band. Whereas I used to describe the band as having a clear sound of a group of talented musicians, they now sound like a band that has been playing together for years. Their time spent recently on the road has clearly paid off, as their performance was easily the best, most cohesive second stage performance that I saw all weekend. The rest of the crowd seemed to agree, and the energy that went back and forth between the stage and audience was noteworthy.

Mp3: Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down - Yes, So On and So On

[photo credit: rfc]
Flight of the Conchords

Let me start off by saying that I've seen a total of 5 minutes of the HBO show that these guys star in, and I did not find it all that funny. In the lead-up to the festival, though, I heard a few of their songs, and actually did start to enjoy them more ("that's why they call them business socks?" I mean, come on, how can you deny that?). I ended up deciding on staying for their set to give them a shot and see how they were live. Despite the fact that they were playing to a crowd of probably around 8,000, the duo really held their own and were actually very funny. They were slotted at a great part of the day, as they played an early evening set that followed the guitar work of Rodrigo y Gabriela and was not right up against the Flaming Lips' UFO show. This led to a laid back and receptive crowd, which helped the guys to do a great job of interacting and involving the audience. All in all, it was a smart change of pace for the festival organizers to slip into the lineup.

See you next year, Sasquatch. You too, guitar-rocking-out bear sculpture.

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