To answer one of the more popular questions asked after returning from the Sasquatch! Music Festival held at the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington (good one, Washington State) it should be stated first and foremost that yes, Tenacious D did have a giant blown up penis casually stationed behind the pair onstage. But more about that later.
Friday’s musical lineup began late in the day, to allow for those traveling into the festival site that day. Many people arrived at the festival on Thursday night to avoid the traffic. Not just a little bit of traffic mind you, but so much traffic that it stretched into the distance for many hours.
If one were going to notice bright pink, yellow or green tank tops and glow sticks at all during Sasquatch! it would be today. Friday was the day of EDM (electronic dance music). STRFKR was one of the first to perform in the big white tent that’s become known as Sasquatch!’s beloved Banana Shack. Joshua Hodges was wearing a metallic cape that reflected the projected images appearing on the screen behind him. The effect from the audience’s perspective ranged from incredible to campy, as the cape sometimes looked like a thrift shop find.
An artist that may have topped STRFKR’s synthy groove was Santigold. Adorned in blue gypsy apparel, topped with gold head pieces, no feet went un-moved and no head went un-bopped. Santi White and her band were dressed like some kind of beings from another world that had been sent to Earth to charm all humans into grooving. And this they did superbly.
One of the drawbacks to Friday was in scheduling, as often happens at music festivals. In this case Explosions In The Sky and Oakland, California’s Beats Antique were playing at roughly the same time on separate stages. Maybe it was because of the heightened allure surrounding Beats Antique, or maybe it was the belly dancers, but many in this festival crowd stayed with the world beat band to see what it was all about. Miles Copeland (IRS Records, The Police) has had much to do with getting this act international exposure and it was obvious that this crowd definitely believed they deserved it.
Pretty Lights, the last act on the main stage, won the unofficial award for “most stimulating set” (think bright colors, elbows flying in the most friendly way possible, bouncing noises and expressions of any way the human body could possibly move). But it began to work against the band as many concert-goers ran out of energy and began making their way back to their sleeping bags and blankets.
Fast forward to Charles Bradley on Saturday at the main stage, then quickly rewind to a time somewhere in the 1960’s. Every human in attendance was sent to the past by the man thrusting and grinding on stage in his gold lamet pants. We’ve interviewed Charles in the past (read that article here) He always puts on a high energy show and this was no different.
Among the list of disappointments this day was the duo of Portlandia who managed to confuse the hell out of everyone, The Civil Wars who were forgettable, Metric, Blitzen Trapper and as much as anyone would hate to write it, The Shins. There were obvious audio problems and many in the audience conversed throughout their set and wandered off to different stages.
No need to worry though because the rest of Saturday was filled with great performances from Reptar, Alabama Shakes, Kurt Vile and St. Vincent (people are still talking about this set), and the last three sets that closed the festival, Jack White, Wolfgang Gartner, and The Roots.
While Wolfgang Gartner sent Sasquatchers to a distant planet in the Banana Shack, nearby at the main stage Jack White was making many a metaphor and many a magical music. Jack is trying to set a new world record for “most metaphors used onstage during a show. It’s sometimes easy to forget that Jack White is human while watching and listening to him play. His body moved like a toy from the early 1940s, wound up with few joints, and his music moved the same way. His set included songs from The White Stripes, The Dead Weather and The Ranconteurs, along with his solo work.
Sunday began with a large amount of artists whose names people should be watching for in the next few months; groups such as The Staves, a female trio, Trampled by Turtles, The War on Drugs and Seattle, Washington’s Beat Connection. This band played a great set, during which a few of their friends popped in with brass instruments and added a whole new dimension.
It would be safe to say every human in a five mile radius of George, WA cried buckets when Bon Iver took the stage. With music so somber and quiet, the crowd was awe struck. 30,000 humans stood still with small swaying movements while Justin Vernon crooned about heartbreak. Then, between songs, he would swear and joke with the audience, tactics that were meant to help wipe the tears away.
Though camping at the Gorge is beautiful, breath taking and a total trip taking in the view, the food and the lines were terrible. By 11 am on Monday people were dragging their blistered feet to a line where they were herded like cows to the real line, only to get herded once more inside the venue. But Grouplove managed to raise everyone’s spirits. One of the first performances of the day on the main stage, they got everyone moving with their dance-y, radio and hipster friendly pop melodies. There were great acts all day Monday, which included Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Fiest, John Reilly and Friends and Deer Tick, along with electronic acts DJ Nero and SBRTRKT who kept the crowd alive and moving. Fiest, at a whopping 5’1 was fairly awkward and had almost no clue how to talk to a crowd that had just experienced three days of Sasquatch!, although her incredible performance made up for any lack of social deficiency.
One of the most stand out performances of the day would have to go to The Joy Formidable, thought it may not have been the right kind of stand out. Surprisingly, and unfortunately, their performance came off forced and was so “in your face” that many tired Sasquatchers just couldn’t stick around for the entirety of their set.
Another stand out performance clearly goes to Tenacious D whose set included, as afore mentioned, a giant penis, a lot of *#!&%?$ language and handfuls of rock and roll. What better way to prepare for the super emotional and sensitive Beck who took the stage next. Many in attendance felt his set was mediocre at best. To end the festival was DJ Nero, who wow’ed the crowd, despite their unenviable position of following the headliner.
Sasquatch! was a work out, but like anything else, you get used to it after a while. By Monday everyone knew where the water spickets were, and had gotten excellent at dragging their tired feet to them when thirsty. This night was no different and as DJ Nero was lost in noise an apparently thirsty young man slipped in the mud and caught the attention of a nearby fellow Sasquatcher who yelled “Slip and sliiiiiide!” Low and behold, human bodies were belly flopping their drunk and happy bellies into the mud, marking the end of this 2012 Sasquatch! music festival at the beautiful Gorge Amphitheater in George, Washington. A brilliant ending to four days full of great music and a happy return to life as usual. See you next year!