Sasquatch 2012 Day Three: The Day Many Men Cried for the First Time In Their Lives…

Sasquatch 2012 Day Three: The Day Many Men Cried for the First Time In Their Lives...

Sitting in a clearing looking out over the gorge, hundreds of miles in any direction, it’s difficult to recall the draw of even the most beautiful cities in the world. Open land, rolling hills, and, of course, the gorge itself cutting down into the Columbia River conjure up dreams of saying, “Fuck it!” and becoming that wandering hippy with a permanent smile that all of our parents are terrified we would eventually become. Then, just off to my right I see three of said perma-smilers and decide to go see some music then head back to Vancouver and my comfortable bed.

At 12:15 sharp, Greylag took to the Yeti stage in front of a far too small crowd. This great up-and-coming Portland folk/rock group brought to mind immediate comparisons to the great sounds and talent of Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, and the closing act of the day today, Bon Iver. By their third song, the uber-catchy “Black Crow”, the crowd had grown significantly larger and more were moving in every minute. A great sound for summer campfires and road trips, Greylag has an ease about them, a laissez-faire that everyone responds to. Great summer days spent with good friends and great music may not be what these guys had in mind when creating the music but it sure is a great feeling to leave an audience with after closing.

A couple of interviews took up the first part of my afternoon so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to catch Reignwolf (which I was looking forward to by recommendation) and Trampled by Turtles (which brought rave reviews back to the Media Tent and through the crowd in general almost immediately following their set). The good news? I had a chance to sit down with the boys from Greylag – interview coming later this week – as well as the charismatic and all too smooth Chiddy Bang.

At 4:20, and yes, even Chiddy Bang, the Philly hip-hop duo that is Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin, took advantage of their fortuitous timing on stage. I’m not sure what was in the cigarette-looking-thing they lit up and promptly smoked and I certainly didn’t ask any questions when a similar looking cigarette was passed my way: If Chiddy and Xaphoon were alright with it, who am I to pass on a 4:20 tradition? Opening with a couple of their newer tracks off the February, 21st release, “Breakfast”, they hyped the crowd up proper before launching into “Opposite of Adults”. Sampling MGMT’s “Kids” and laying down an upbeat, intelligent, hands-in-the-sky vibe, Chiddy worked the stage like a seasoned pro. By the time they layed into “Mind Your Manners” the crowd was jumping around and responding in-time with everything the duo were tossing their way! Although the set felt a bit short, the Philly boys capitalized on every second with great energy, good times, and great tracks. Had they been watching, The Roots, Chiddy Bang’s admitted hometown heroes (Black Thought made an appearance on their debut album in fact), would’ve been proud.

On my way to the beer tent I overhear a hilarious, “Hey, Sasquatch, wud up? We’re Deer Tick and we’re… already pretty drunk so… let’s do this. Right on!” You don’t just walk away from that kind of intro, so, Deer Tick it was. They clearly had a great time on stage despite a few re-starts likely due to their determination to continue drinking heavily while on stage. By closing their set with their hit, “Let’s All Go To The Bar”, I was certain that was exactly where I would find them in t-minus 13 minutes. Conclusion, I’m interested to hear them sober. Them… sober. Not… I was… well I wasn’t, but. THEM.

M. Ward was already closing down his set on the main stage and due to being so thoroughly entertained by Deer Tick I wasn’t too disappointed that I’d missed the first half. I did catch a great, stripped down (not that the original was so “built-up” in the first place) version of “Chinese Translation which is always a crowd pleaser. Ward ended his set with a hilariously fast-paced and joy-filled rendition of “Roll Over Beethoven” which got me up, cheering, and dancing all while watching thousands of others do the same.

Standing in the front pit just before Seattle’s The Head and The Heart took the stage, I struck up a conversation with what turned out to be a trio of H.A.T.H. girlfriends. I became privy to a good chunk of gossip and may have caused a bit of a cat-fight by asking the ever so taboo, “… yes, but, doesn’t it ever bother you? Them being on the road, and, you know… groupies?” To which one turned to another and quickly responded with, “Well, I’m not worried but… (awkward silence and a quick glance in a very specific direction)”. After that I decided to shuffle off and enjoy the amazing harmonics and light-hearted good times that H.A.T.H. jammed out with. The two formative members, Josiah Johnson and Jonathan Russell, the former (in my opinion) a young, hip-looking Jeff Goldblum-meets-John Lennon (really, that was my first thought), the latter smiling and fully engaging the crowd, traded off lead vocals with pinache! Clearly a home-town crowd, nearly every song turned quickly into a sing-a-long and every final not from every song was followed by an explosion of cheers and chants for more. It seemed as if the order of the day on the main stage was touching lyrics in slowed-down melodies followed by up-beat, crowd-rocking hits and The Head and The Heart delivered with style!

I should toss a note in here about Hey, Rosetta! as, from every person who brought up the show had to be sat down in order to catch their breath. Might be the “Show I should’ve seen but missed” of the festival but it was abundantly clear that plenty of others had the good fortune to take in the good times the group had on stage.

Splitting the next hour and a half between the always rockin’ The Walkmen and the always unique and entertaining Beirut had my senses working overtime (my sense of smell had shut down on day one after a single exposure to the much-used, once-daily-cleaned Port-o-Potties). The Walkmen, with such a great back-catalogue to draw from played to their fans launching almost immediately into their smash-hit “In The New Year” with frontman Hamilton Leithauser absolutely living up to his post-punk revival vocal reputation, blasting out hooks at alarming decibel levels! A few new songs including a softer, indie-rocking “Love is Love” and closing with everything they had; explaining Leithauser’s earlier comment to the crowd, “We’re so jacked to be back here! We rarely get invited to shit like this and we definitely never get invited back!”

Beirut came out swinging with their full set of instruments; accordion, piano, full horn section, cello, and guitars among others making one hell of a big sound for five small guys! As with many of the artists performing on the main stage, Beirut battled through their fair share of technical difficulties, at one point opting to have Perrin Cloutier (accordion/cello-man extraordinaire) come to the mic with a, “My accordion. I’m gonna… take this… to a doctor.” and promptly leaving the stage. Band founder and lead vocalist/flugelhorn/ukulele-man, Zach Condon covered with an acoustic solo on the uke that left no doubt that, as was his original idea, Condon could’ve entertained as a solo act without issue. Once the full group returned to the stage I found myself captivated by percussionist Nick Petree who may just be the happiest drummer I’ve ever seen. Literally an ear-to-ear  grin from start to finish, Petree’s grin, I’m sure, had nothing to do with the great indie-folk, world music stylings they were flying through nor the now nearly 20,000 strong crowd.

Oh, Bon Iver. Oh my, oh my, oh my. With a now filled gorge, everyone was in a manic frenzy before Justin Vernon even got to the first note of “Perth” to open the set. By the end of his first song you could tell that this traditionally soft-spoken, tender-voiced folk singer puts out way more rock than anyone (who hadn’t seen him live until now, myself included) was not ready for!

Bon Iver’s visually stunning set was clearly designed to create a comfortable, soft, low-lit vibe or a strobe-light, rock-of-the-ages onslaught at the flick of a switch (do people still flick switches?). A moving rendition of “Creature Fear” caused a joyous flow of tears, literally, to issue forth from a number of fans around me. It’s one of the first live shows I’ve ever seen that caused this sort of visceral reaction akin to the super-stars of old and seeing a response like this in person really had me appreciating the music all the more.

He’s clearly reaching his fans with, often, heart-rending accuracy leaving most happy in the knowledge that they’re not the only ones that have troubles and that Vernon’s music is his offering to connect on a very personal level. It takes a hell of a lot of presence on stage to hold a now full venue – 30 to 35 thousand strong – in the palm of your hand while playing slow, simple, and nearly whisper-soft notes. Bon Iver looked so comfortable with the notion that by the time he transitioned into a absolutely haunting intro to “Blood Bank”, very few were sure where they were and what, exactly, was happening in front of their own eyes. An engaging performer,

Vernon spoke at length about how grateful he was, not only for the fan appreciation and beautiful setting, but for being able to spend a day enjoying, in his words, “… a killer line-up. I mean, how amazing are all the bands here? Really! Top to Bottom!” His encore began with “Flume” causing a number of girls (and a couple guys) to be lifted out of the pit, clearly overcome with emotion. He followed with “The Wolves (Part 1)” letting the phrase, “… what might have been lost?” echo into the night as the crowd finished the song for him. “For Emma”, a happy, more exuberant, horn-filled good time closed the show and had everyone smiling in awe all the way back to their tents.

Bon Iver; the setting was right, the timing couldn’t have been better. You impressed 35.000+ people who had set the bar insurmountably high before you even came on stage. Not bad for a night’s worth of work.

Check out Chelsea Chernobyl’s photos of Day Three

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