First up, a couple late cancellations to update you on. Riding their success of the "Party in the USA" remix, Yes Giantess had to cancel because their early day Yeti slot no longer matched their popularity. They were replaced by Tame Impala, who I heard several attendees rave about. Langhorne Slim canceled due to flight delays. His early slot was left open, because everyone with a guitar, amp, and bongos in general camping was still asleep at noon. Mt. St. Helen's Vietnam Band were a late add to replace City and Colour, who cancelled due to an illness. Props to Mt. St. Helen's Vietnam band for arriving on such late notice.
Portugal. the Man - Lots of energy. Great David Bowie cover.
Edward Sharpe - That was a huge crowd at the Bigfoot. There were more people talking about, singing, or playing Edward Sharpe at the campground than any other act on the lineup. Despite the large crowd, it was obvious many hadn't heard the songs, and the pump your fist parts were either off or missed by many. Jade's voice is so powerful live. In what became a theme for the weekend, the sound was up and down on the solar stage.
Broken Social Scene - Despite the Primavera jet lag, this was probably my favorite set of the weekend. They had the trumpet player from Edward Sharpe a horn player from the National join them for a couple songs. They've had guest play with them each time I've seen them live, and Kevin Drew stated, "It's all about band unity," after thanking the guests. Meet me in the Basement was immediately my favorite song on the newest album, and they played it as the finale. It helps that they ended the last 45 seconds of the song three times, just to get people jumping up and down again. That was a party.
Why? - Dance move of the weekend. If you saw it, you'll know what I'm talking about. They had serious sound issues, so they started 10 minutes late, while occasionally making fun of the sound guy. Part of their sound issue may have been Miike Snow on the Bigfoot Stage nearing the end of their set. Miike Snow was loud, and the wind was blowing toward Why?
The Very Best - Loved the dancing girls getting down on each side of the stage in almost perfect unison. It was much more of a hip-hip show than an electronic show, but either way, the crowd was going nuts. They cut the sound during the chorus of "Julie" so the crowd could sing the line. That worked well. No Ezra Koenig guest appearance. To the best of my knowledge, they dubbed his part (he may have been hiding somewhere on stage, I'm not sure).
My Morning Jacket - One of the highlights of the festival. Their 15 (or so) minute version of "Dodante" was mesmerizing. There were people standing around me who didn't know the band well, and they were also in awe. Near the end of their set (which was just over two hours), they played "Highly Suspicious," which you either love or hate. The last time I saw them, this song had the crowd jumping. This night however, most of the crowd was standing still. That's when I turned around and noticed the front rows on the hill were empty, and floor crowd was sparse. It was dark, so I couldn't tell if there were still people further back on the hill, but upon leaving, my guess was no. Maybe they would've played a longer set if people were still there. It was extremely cold that night though (outside of the pit that is).
Cymbals Eat Guitars - This guy abuses the strings on his guitar more than any indie rock musician I've witnessed. I felt like I was watching a thrash metal show. He even yanked the strings out of his guitar at the end of the show. It's too bad the crowd was small, and uninterested.
Kid Cudi - Huge crowd, all dancing, very enjoyable. I couldn't tell how many people were on the hill, but the floor was more crowded than MGMT. He said he was going to play a three song set in the crowd, until he realized it would be a bit rough getting in and out, so he just sang part of a song on the floor near the crowd. I loved the Anthrax tee shirt, until I noticed the back of his shirt said, "Anthrax, NOT." He posed to show this off at the end of a couple songs. I'm not sure if this was making fun of Anthrax, or if that's the way Anthrax originally designed the tee. Any Anthrax fans out there?
Pavement - It was sloppy, but endearing, like when your girlfriend drinks one too many glasses of wine, and can't stop laughing, even after falling down. It doesn't matter if Malkmus can come off as being rude live, he is entertaining, and his banter is always welcome. He pretended he was still in Spain (at Primavera), which I'm sure some didn't like, but he also gave his local shout outs to the Tri-City folks as well. Malkmus made this a one man show early on, eager to show everyone else was a backing band he picked up off the street. He even tried to help his band mate tune his (edit:bass) guitar, for what seemed like way too long. So what if they hate each other, it was a fun show. I couldn't leave, just because I thought I might miss an actual fight on stage, or Malkmus doing something insanely memorable. He was already swinging his guitar around after each song, looking like he was going to smash it on the ground. Happy birthday Malkmus.
Public Enemy - They played "It Takes a Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back," again, but stated it was there first time performing it in the NW, so that's fair. Chuck D and Flava Flav both sounded great lyrically, which was surprising. The backing sound was a bit of an issue (the Bigfoot Solar Stage again). Chuck D sure knows how to piss people off. It's cool with me if you want to drop racial slurs, while talking about Arizona, Sarah Palin, and Nazi Germany, I'm not going to take things too literal, I'll wait for the next song. I'm not sure others had the same thoughts, as many near the back left shaking their heads each time he ranted. It's Chuck D, he's always been politically charged, you don't have to agree to kick it. They're not called Public Enemy because they want you to like them.
Massive Attack - I'm not sure if the hill was crowded (again), but the floor was empty. I was 20 feet outside the main pit, and was able to sit down and still see the show. There was literally no one in front of me or behind me. That same area was not accessible during MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Kid Cudi, and LCD Soundsystem.
Dr. Dog - I'm not sure if the crowd was calmly watching the show, or if they didn't enjoy it. There were only a few of us pumping our fists and dancing around. I kept looking around at the weather during this set, and saw some nasty clouds to the east which reminded me a bit of the 2006 hail storm clouds. When the wind briefly blew my direction, I was convinced there was going to be another weather catastrophe (which never happened).
Japandroids - Rock stars. Their gear was apparently left in Spain, so they had to borrow equipment. It's safe to say that didn't hold them back.
Mountain Goats - I was amazed at the energy and stage presence in the short time I was at this show. Now I see why people say they are can't miss live. So much more strength than the mellowness of their albums would dictate.
MGMT- I've never seen this many people jumping up and down during "Kids." I literally spent the first minute of the song starring at the hill in awe. What a lame crowd otherwise though.
Ween - Another highlight. I'm not a giant Ween fan, but had a blast in the pit. The crowd was full of Ween-heads, and it felt like there was going to be a huge group hug after the show. They played all of their classics, but the beats were sped up on most of their slower songs, so a lot of their songs sounded different than on album. Is it just that they don't look like rock stars? Gene (edit: Dean) Ween rips on the guitar .
Late Night Stage:
The late night stage was a real hit this year, mostly because the crowds at the headliners were so small. With huge headlining draws the last couple years, 75% (or more) of the festival was leaving at roughly the same time, with the crowd getting bottle necked next to the Bigfoot stage, leading to a 25 minute walk back to the campground comprised entirely of baby steps and staggering people running into each other. The saving grace was how small the headliner crowds were. Edward Sharpe and the xx had crowds as big as Booka Shade and Deadmau5. Each late night act played near 1am, so that is a good sign that any noise ordnance wasn't strictly enforced.
As far as perfect festival weather goes, this was nearly that. I'm sure the people who live in much warmer climates would prefer last year's upper 80s weather, but that is darn hot for us who reside in the NW. It was mostly cloudy each day, slightly above room temperature, with a slight breeze throughout the day, and occasional sprinkles. It only really rained once, and that was in the middle of the night. Even when the sprinkles hit, it rarely lasted more than a couple minutes. I found it slightly amusing people would rush to put on their rain gear and pull out their umbrellas when the sky was mostly filled with sun.
Until Next Year.....:
In closing, I heard a woman talking about how mad she was with another attendee on the way back to camp one night. I also had someone make an outwardly sarcastic angry comment to me which I mistook for a joke, causing me to reply with a smile and laughter. That was it. Out of all the conversations I overheard, people I spoke with, and debauchery I witnessed, those were the only two negative memories out of hundreds. Even the guy with the freshly broken leg getting towed back to the campground in a wagon was playfully making fun of others for walking so slow. It is really tough to explain how different the camaraderie at Sasquatch is from other concerts, and other festivals. If you replace all of the luxuries we are used to on a daily basis with a field full of music fans looking to party and have a good time at one of the most beautiful places in the United States, it's really tough to beat.
With all of the travelers who attended this year, the word is getting out. I could have saved myself a lot of time by saying, "This festival sucks, do not ever attend," and all of the Sasquatch veterans would secretly smile.