Featuring a musical lineup as diverse as the attendees themselves, this year's Sasquatch Festival was one for the ages due to stellar performances from some of music's best kept secrets. Below you will find scattered thoughts, musings, and photos from the weekend that was. Special thanks to John Lill for select photos. Find more @ John's Website .
More this year than any other the small Narwhal Stage was packed with guaranteed talent. Acts like Kithkin, Hobosexual, and Pillar Point all provided ample reasons to enter the gates early and rock hard. Those who went in early this year to stake down real estate were soundly rewarded.
Slimming the festival down to three days forced some tough decisions on music fans. Portugal The Man or Tycho? Kid Cudi or Rodriguez? Violent Femmes or Band of Skulls? These were things fans had to ponder all weekend and left people questioning their sanity. Do you want to see your third favorite band or your fifth? First world problems.
Outkast, The National, and Queens of the Stone Age were all in fine form. Outkast kicked off a nostalgic set with "B.O.B." and managed to sprinkle in more than just mainstream hits with "ATLiens" and "Hootie Hoo". I left Portugal The Man early for a rail spot for Queens of the Stone Age and it was well worth it. Opening with "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire," the riffs were loud and the bass was hot. Drummer Jon Theodore was an absolute beast, I thought he would beat his drumkit and the Gorge hillside right into the ground. Tracks like "Burn the Witch," and "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" induced raucous pits down front the likes of which didn't quite exist anywhere else during the weekend. One minor complaint, the Queens set ended 20 minutes early for no apparent reason and left a subtle bitter aftertaste in those wondering why.
The best headliner in my subjective opinion however was The National. Setting up shop with a whopping 21 songs, Matt Berninger took the crowd through a rollercoaster of despondent, desolate, and rhetorical feels with tracks like "Sorrow," "Pink Rabbits," "Conversation 16," and "This is the Last Time." The National aren't for everyone, but for those who identify with the likes of High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me were rewarded with an introspective unlike any other. The set ended with an unplugged and raw performance of "Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks" half past midnight that reminded everyone that words mean more at night.
There's simply too many bands to list here as acts like Cage The Elephant, Foals, Kid Cudi, Washed Out, Phantogram, Band of Skulls, Shakey Graves, Portugal The Man, Paraquet Courts, Haim, Tune-Yards, Banks, Chance The Rapper, and others increased their stock tenfold by amazing performances.
The Sasquatch stage was the place to be Friday at 4:30 as Bowling Green's best band Cage The Elephant took stage. Shedding layers with each song, lead vocalist Matthew Shutlz was giving the crowd exactly what the crowd was giving the band, and it was a lot. With a setlist packed with adrenaline inducing gems like "Spiderhead," "Come a Little Closer," and "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked" the energy climaxed when Shutlz plunged into the face ocean for the second time and managed to walk on the crowd, breathing new life into an audience that was already loaded with adrenaline. Thanks to reddit user Hailee T. for the accompanying pic of Shultz midflight.
Shakey Graves had the biggest audience I'd ever seen at the Yeti Stage and for good reason. Hailing from Austin, Shakey is a one man band force of nature. Think "western rock" meets early Black Keys. Quite possibly my favorite performance, Shakey has a resonating voice and a unique setup of a kickdrum and tamborine on the back of an actual suitcase that he plays while noodling and coming up with first-class riffs. Impressive is an understatement.
I'd been wrestling with the decision on whether to see either Phosphorescent of Foals since the schedule had been released. Due to a technical snafu, Phosphorescent and every subsequent band on the Bigfoot Stage would start nearly 20 minutes late. This paved the way for me to see Foals unhibitied. From across the pond, Foals is one of Europe's top acts, having won the 2013 Q Award for Best Live Act after being nominated for several years in a row. That stage presence showed at the Gorge as lead singer Yannis Phillippakis was a ball of energy bouncing all over the stage, even managing to shred guitar simultaneously while crowdsurfing. Playing nearly everything off of 2013's excellent Holy Fire , the band won over thousands of new fans I'm sure. Thanks to reddit user bisp247 for the awesome photo of Yannis!
By far the loudest act of the weekend, Scottish lads Mogwai served up some of the finest post-rock at the Gorge since the 2012 Sasquatch set from Explosions in the Sky. Offering deep cuts from their latest release Rave Tapes (AH Review) the instrumental journeymen slayed many eardrums (myself included), and won over many fans who had waited for the band to hit the United States.
71 year-old Sixto Rodriguez hit the stage at sundown Sunday night and for anyone familiar with the gentleman it was hard not to fight back the tears. The subject of the excellent documentary entitled Searching for Sugarman, Rodriguez produced two stellar albums in the '60s to little fanfare. Unbenkownst to him however, his popularity sky rocketed in South Africa where has was just as iconic as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. From Detroit construction worker to Bob-Dylan comparisons, Searching for Sugarman is a film everyone human being should experience.
25 years of oldschool nostalgia was instantly replaced with annoyance when De La Soul demonstrated their propensity for rapping had long gone, spending more time with call and response chants than performing. The rap trio was easily the most uneventful act to take the stage all weekend.
Stay hydrated. The amount of younglings I saw not realizing the importance of hydration was discouraging. If all your weekend stories consist of "epic" tales of beer pong then you're doing it wrong.
Indie Pop darlings Lucius tore crowds away from a rather pedestrian Cold War Kids set (minus the crowd throwing tortilla shells), in a reminder that Main Stage isn't always main attraction. Excpect big things out of the Brooklyn based group in the next coming years and check out their album Wildewoman .
French big beat boss Gesaffelstein put on a clinic of industrious electronic mixes to close out the El Chupacabra stage for the weekend. I was amazed to see dancers of all ages packing the tent for a last chance dance-a-thon that lasted well into Sunday night after hours.