Waking up at a festival isn’t too tough. Waking up, opening your tent and realizing you’re in the “overflow” (a cute word that covers up the debauchery of the gypsy camp, ghetto-like, if you will, atmosphere of the place) is the tough part. A few sun-burnt party-kids passed out over here, an absurdly large pile of empty beer cans and garbage over there, and, not so far off, music from a stereo plays songs made amazing on stage the previous day; the wonderful few that will attempt the ever so lofty goal of the “Four-day-no-sleep-rock-the-free-world-or-die-trying”, still going strong.
Heading into the grounds before noon gets you a front row seat to the organized chaos that keeps a festival of this size on its feet. It’s pretty impressive, to say the least, watching hundreds of personnel cleaning, building, tearing-down, and re-stocking with near perfect precision.
Walking towards the Yeti Stage, one of the four smaller stages, I found myself drawn to the hard-rocking indie sounds of The Black Whales. A surprise since I was headed this way to catch an aquatic creature of a different pitch; Said The Whale. Although I only caught their closing song, “Where I Come From” (my best guess at the title there), it started the day with a “Fuck Ya!” that’ll have me buying whatever I can find of their music back in Vancouver.
Oh, and just for a visual cue here, with the festival in full swing now, it seems that Halloween has met every thrift store’s dollar aisle in what could be the most comfortable/awkwardly dressed group of people around. No joke, I saw a gorilla making out with a banana. After a couple of high-fives from random passer-bys he yells out, “We just met! Seriously!” Greatest costume hook-up in history.
Said The Whale opened to a full crowd that, from the response to, “We are Said The Whale! (applause) We’re from Vancouver! (overwhelming applause)” came down from the 49th parallel for this and the other large Canadian presence here at Sasquatch. Playing a couple of folky, rock-ballads they got the crowd clapping and swaying right out of the gate. When they tossed out their hit “Camillo” as a finale, the crowd was fully into it and were left wanting SO much more. So, of course, like the good band that they are, they played one more! Speaking to Ben Worcester, one of the frontmen for the band, after the show, he informed me that, “… Sasquatch is actually the grand finale of almost three months of touring. Ending here is, well, Jesus, it’s a dream come true!”
Next up came the aptly named Alabama Shakes. Front woman Brittany Howard came out rocking, pushing her vocal chords to the limit and never let up! With a presence on stage that can only serve to bring them massive success, by the time they got to their hit single, “Hold On”, the crowd was pushing their way forward to get as close as possible to the pulse pounding (I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna call it here…) Show of the day! Everyone left knowing that this was the band that, if not already “their shit”, Alabama Shakes was going to be on the lips of each and every person leaving The Gorge.
On the main stage, Metric took the stage in true rock star style. The always beautiful Emily Haines, dark shades and all, dragged the mic stand around like, well, like it was her job. Guitarist James Shaw, channeling Costello with his fedora, glasses, and tight button-down did his mostly stoic “thing” throughout but Haines was dancing around the stage enough for the both of them. About five songs in, Haines tosses out a surprising bomb; the next song is going to be the live debut of their new album! Sure enough, two bars in, they stopped, confused, chatted quickly, then changed their mind opting for “Speed to Collapse”: the new single they leaked to fans only days before (and one they’ve likely practiced a couple of times unlike their first attempt). A fun show but nothing to write home about, Metric closed with “Gold Guns Girls” and, in line with the rest of their show had to stop and re-start as their auto-drum kit kicked in and, awkwardly apologizing, Haines did her best to champion on but it may have been too little too late as she didn’t seem to have much of a connection with her crowd by this point.
Unfortunately technical difficulties weren’t just plaguing Metric as The Shins, next up on the main stage, found glitches and spikes change their standard “Caring is Creepy into something more creepy than caring. Only three songs in they dropped their newest hit single “Simple Song” to an overjoyed crowd but unfortunately hit a bit of a climax there. A show that I felt would have been perfect at one of the smaller stages, or, better still, a great indoor venue like the Commodore Ballroom in Van, but the crowd seemed restless and slightly unsure of when they should rock out and when they should put their arms around each other and sway to the soothing melodies. Even a “pop’d” up version of “New Slang” wasn’t enough to quell the disappointment I felt as this was one of the acts I was most looking forward to.
Not 30 minutes later though, in a slick, black, pin-stripped suit, looking like Tim Burton’s wet dream (that is, Johnny Depp-ish in his Edward Scissorhands years), Jack White walked onto the stage. Opening with the Raconteurs bluesy, rock-opera “Top Yourself”, everyone in attendance knew we were in for one hell of a ride! White started having fun with the crowd using “Steady As She Goes” as a sing-a-long and no one dared move from that moment on whether fire, flood, or famine! An act that I’m sure many others will report on in wonderfully, excruciating depth, I’ll simply say that his encore started with “Ball and Biscuit”, rocking so hard that the G-string literally launched off his guitar, resulting in a grin of amusement from White. The rest of the encore, you ask? “Weep Themselves to Sleep”, and acoustic “We’re Going to Be Friends”, and absolutely incredible bluegrass version of “Hotel Yorba” and finally cementing himself as a guitar god with a face-melting solo in “Catch Hell” leading right into the stadium anthem “Seven Nation Army”! The man didn’t just play guitar, he owned every hard-rocking, blues-backing, soul-tapping note!
On my way back to the gypsy camps I stopped by The Roots playing on the Bigfoot Stage just as they opened with a bang-on rendition of “Paul Revere” in tribute to the late, great MCA. The party just kept going after that and, much like ?uestlove forgoing his iconic “fro and pick” for a tighter, corn-row style, The Roots played a tight set: perfectly arranged and executed but with style and flair all their own. Put it this way; during a funk-a-licious rendition of “Jungle Boogie”, Captain Kirk (aka Kirk Douglas, guitarist), Mark Kelley (bassist), and Damon “Tuba Gooding Jr.” Bryson (take a wild guess what he plays) were triple-weaving a-la Beastie style and the on-stage dance moves only got better after that!
With a double encore that lasted well past one in the morning, I drifted off with “Black Thought’s”(rhyming) in my head and a smile on my face knowing full well that two more great days of music are still to come!
Tags: Alabama Shakes, AraabMuzik, Banana Shack, Bigfoot Stage, Black Whales, Blitzen Trapper, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaries, Childish Gambino, Coeur de Pirate, Com Truise, Craft Spells, DRY THE RIVER, Dum Dum Girls, Electric Guest, Fatal Lucciauno, Grynch, I Break Horses, Jack White, Jamey Johnson, Kurt Vile and The Violators, Lord Huron, May 26th, Metric, NobodyBeatsTheDrum, Pete Holmes, Pickwick, Portlandia, Purity Ring, Reptar, Rob Delaney, Said The Whale, SASQUATCH, sasquatch 2012, Sasquatch 2012 Daily line-up preview Saturday, sasquatch 2013, sasquatch 2013 line up, sasquatch 2013 lineup, sasquatch daily line up, sasquatch daily line up 2012, sasquatch daily lineup, sasquatch daily lineup 2012, Sasquatch Stage, sasquatch washington, Sol, St. Vincent, The Civil Wars, THE HELIO SEQUENCE, The Maine Stage, the Roots, The Shins, Theesatisfaction, tUnE-yArDs, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wolfgang Gartnet, Yeti Stage