Sasquatch Festival review Day Two

Day Two: Matt & Kim and Aloe Blacc

Day Two was without question when first timer’s to Sasquatch (like myself) realize what the festival is and how it compares to the other established festivals throughout the world. Campers continued to arrive throughout the morning, afternoon and evening, more camping space had to be allocated at the sheer volume of people got closer to the 50,000 mark; the amount in tickets sold.

Disappointingly, as you’d expect, not many showed up right as doors opened to the festival grounds and so a good portion of people missed the Seattle Rock Orchestra, a volunteer community orchestra that performed a variety of excellent Radiohead covers on the Bigfoot stage. This served as a great opener for the afternoon. On the other side of the premises, Pepper Rabbit amassed a decent enough crowd opening the Yeti stage, and seemed to grab some smiles at the same time.

Throughout the day the Yeti stage had it’s moments, Vancouver’s Dan Mangan performed an excellent set with an extremely large audience surrounding the smallest stage. For the first time in the festival, someone had proven far too big for their stage as over a thousand crowded his set. J. Mascis and Wye Oak also had significant responses over at the Yeti stage. The Thermals also put on a good show closing the stage for the rest of the evening with an hour long set.

The Mainstage didn’t have as much support as it did the night before, despite having more people there. Although the crowd attendance went up to a point that ridiculed yesterday’s gathering, the enthusiasm for the music wasn’t really there.

Sweden’s own The Radio Dept. performed well early in the afternoon, they had the crowd enjoy their laid-back vibe, as did Alberta Cross beforehand, but it wasn’t until The Head and The Heart and Local Natives that the crowd really got into it. The Head and The Heart’s set won over the fans at the front of the stage as well as all those covering the hills on blankets. Their chemistry together and occasional cameos by friends leaping onto the stage from behind the setup and dancing did nothing but improve the crowd’s mood and feelings toward them. I even saw an elderly couple walk down the side of the hills leading to the Gorge, join hands at it’s base and head to the mainstay to hear them. Local Natives were also fantastic, the crowd’s response reminded me of something like an Arcade Fire performance in their enthusiasm.

As the evening drew own, the Mainstage which is of course aimed for the headliners received lukewarm responses. Large crowds stayed for Wolf Parade and Pink Martini, both of which performed well, but weren’t met with the response you’d expect from that many spectators. The same can be said for Iron & Wine’s set which came later on. The pit of fans by the stage remained consistently happy to be viewing their group, but further back the same definitely couldn’t be said. Pink Martini also suffered from their genre of music. Fantastic as it undoubtedly was, they presented a more traditional and classical sound of an era most there weren’t interested in indulging in.

Iron & Wine’s set also suffered from poor mixing. The overall sound for the first several songs was too low to reach over the whole Gorge area, and the vocals weren’t high enough. Bright Eyes felt a slight improvement, performing well, but with the fact that there was such a mellow vibe to his music, a good number of fans visited other stages. Much better sound mixing.

As for Death Cab For Cutie, the Seattle group that rounded everything up, they performed their music brilliantly. However, I don’t believe their generally mellow and somber sound is geared for this sort of audience or setting, Foo Fighters’ set the night before suited the vibe much more. Overall the mainstay was best for a few sets in the afternoon. Besides that, Bigfoot was where the real fun happened.

Regardless of the lukewarm crowd response, the camera work for the Gorge’s Mainstage was fantastic. Everything was shot and timed superbly, every moment captured and cameras alternated right on time to showcase the performances.

After the Seattle Rock Orchestra kicked everything off at the Bigfoot stage, the Secret Sisters came along and to a small crowd, charmingly performed their material. The sweet Southern country sound had the crowd smile as they performed such songs as “Why Worry,” which they prefaced saying at the heart of everything they’re just hopeless romantics.

K-Os came on shortly afterwards, considerably more sober than I’ve seen him perform at other festivals. Without question, he was focused and ready to deliver a great show, although at points the audience weren’t doing their job and had to be reminded to get involved. As he motioned around the stage K-Os lost his hat, regardless, he didn’t miss a beat and just continued on. Aloe Blacc came on following K-Os, and didn’t start performing until about 10 minutes after his scheduled set start. As anyone who has attended a festival knows, this is an issue as several artists perform simultaneously daily, so to plan who you see, you need people to be there when they should, at least he didn’t pull a Robyn though.

Aloe Blacc’s set was one of the day’s highlights. He came out to his waistcoats clad, smartly dressed band performing the instrumental to “I Need A Dollar” before quickly switching it up into other album songs. The crowd, largely familiar only with “I Need A Dollar,” lapped it up. Blacc’s smile, dancing and smooth movements won the audience over, when he imitated Stevie Wonder, Al Green and Marvin Gaye briefly, he had everyone’s attention solidified. What stood out was the fact that he really knew how to control the audience, relatively new to recognition,

Blacc had the crowd completing the hook for “You Make Me Smile” after the first verse. Clearly he was happy performing, even dedicating a song about lies and trust to the former Governor of California about his infidelities. The set concluded, of course, with “I Need A Dollar,” in which everyone in the surrounding area headed as close to the stage as possible to sing alongside.

Also on the Bigfoot stage Sharon Van Etten performed. She was interesting to watch, and it being her first festival, she was cute in her awkwardness, Early on she asked the crowd “How many of you are drunk right now?” Which at just after 4pm was met with a flurry of hand raises and roars.

The Antler’s followed Sharon van Etten, and though they did perform well, their melancholy lyrics didn’t work as hoped with their audience. Many were confused as to how to react, although the music behind the lyrics was enough for some.

Matt and Kim though, Matt and Kim! I was a fan before, but they’ve now sold me on whatever they decide to do in the future. One of the best shows I’ve seen, and the best Sasquatch saw that day. Clearly a little drunk, Kim sat behind her drums and Matt behind the keyboard/sampler. The duo, known for their massive hit “Daylight” showcased how to command a stage by literally taking the reigns of their show’s horse. Covering various songs throughout their catalogue, and covering portions of others, Matt and Kim were nothing if not energetic and passionate. Both couldn’t seem to lose their smiles, nor drive for showcasing their music.

Kim stole the show though, she would frequently get out from behind her drums to come to the front of the stage and try to get the crowd to sing along to chorus, but more often than not she would jump up onto her bass drum and stand, dancing along or doing some form of interpretation to their material. She was quite literally the happiest drummer I’ve ever seen, and the audience went on and on and on.

At one point they started dancing along suggestively to “It Takes Two,” they headed back behind their instruments and Matt remarked about Kim “I like to say Kim’s a freak on the streets, and a lady in the sheets.” To which she responded “I wasn’t a lady this morning” before laughing and dropping her jaw staring at an audience member.

Truly, I didn’t expect them to blow me away today. But they did, their personalities were shown on stage.

Throughout the set, when Kim graced the mic she referenced the mainstage, “Let’s make them hear this over at the mainstage!” Thankfully, their set despite it’s huge crowd, was at the 2nd largest setup. People were able to gather as close as possible and still see the actual performers as opposed to their likeness on a larger stage’s screen. Kim even crowd surfer in an unusual manner, asking members of the audience to put their hands up, she picked a cluster of strong looking guys with a few girls around them, and stood on their hands (there were several clustered together holding each ankle. Once comfortable she was stable she began dancing and gyrating above. She did this a few times over.

Of course, the set concluded with “Daylight” followed by Kim running off the stage and jumping to hug everyone in the front row, almost segmenting where she gave her hugs.

Robyn showed up 30 minutes late which was a huge disappointment. Her set was fantastic, the electro sound, with her ad-libbing and surreal stamina, dancing throughout her set and being as sexually suggestive as possible. Had she started earlier, an overly drunk man may have been able to consume his three beers, but “Beverage Enforcement” spotted him, confiscating the beers and marking his arms with “X”s s as not to allow him to be served later and to show that he’d been flagged for potentially drinking too much and the consequences being dire. Robyn’s set was a colourful feast, despite her lateness she left people satisfied. That was unless they wanted to catch the beginning of Sleigh Bell’s set which was meant to fall immediately after Robyn’s at the Banana Shack.

The Banana Shack was packed on Saturday. The Trailer Park Boys really kicked that off, filling the large tent and the Red Bull bar which faced opposite it. Now, although they were amusing, I think the Trailer Park Boys are better suited to their television show, live they were alright, bringing up the Kokanee promo girls on stage and generally loafing around.

The Glitch Mob, also late arrivals, were fantastic. Though many found the Shack’s setup a little too much to handle. There was literally no room to move inside the tent as it spilled outwards, the rave type setting kicking in alongside The Glitch Mob’s flashy light setups.

Sleigh Bells came on at 10pm, and just like The Glitch Mob, the tent spilled out way beyond it’s boundaries as people

Sasquatch day two proved the price of admission on this day alone. Very curious to see how MSTRKRFT will go over at the Banana Shack considering the audiences at Glitch Mob and Sleigh Bells. The main statement to be underlined with today’s events is see Matt and Kim plus Aloe Blacc live. No if’s, ands, or buts.

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