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Sasquatch 2012 Day Four: Sheepish Dogs and a Phallic Phoenix…

Be warned: I may use the term “Show of the Day” more than once. You’re now more prepared for the final day’s review of Sasquatch. I shall now get right to the music.

The Sheepdogs opened the day with a bang. “Show of the Day”! Didn’t think it would come that early did you? Well, here’s why they’re contenders for that title: They rocked so hard at noon on the final day of a four day music festival that people started randomly log-rolling down the gorge conjuring images of the original Woodstock. All that was missing was a mudslide and Jimi Hendrix. And let me tell you, Jimi might have had a word or two of praise for these boys from Saskatoon. Right out of the gate, frontman Ewan Currie hits the mic and announces, “We are The Sheepdogs. We’re from Saskatoon. Let’s do this!” From that point on I saw nothing but excitedly surprised faces looking to their friends or neighbours in the ever-so-delightful, “What’s going on here? What good ole’ fashion rock and roll amazing-ness am I witnessing?” From “Southern Dreaming” to “their Rolling Stones Cover-winning hit, “Who” the Sheepdogs channeled classic rock gods of old and got the day going in ways many of the Sasquatchers weren’t ready for. Really hitting their stride and with a fully captivated audience being pulled in from all over the gorge to the main stage’s rock presence, The Sheepdogs dropped their hit single “I Don’t Know” and everyone knew what song would be on their mind for the rest of the week despite all the acts before and yet to come and the hits those bands wish could be as great as this soon to be rock classic.

After the best start to any of my four days of music here, I headed over to the Media Tent for the obligatory uploading and the much anticipated interviews of the day. Well stuck inside, I heard The Fleet Foxes folky repeater “White Winter Hymnal” flow through the doors from one of the stages and was drawn to the Bigfoot Stage. Performing a fantastic tribute to the Foxes was Walk The Moon, the Cincinnati based indie-rock group and, like many others I saw wandering towards the stage in a trance, they’d successfully peaked my interest. I watched a couple more songs and could tell that their poppy single had hit when the screams of joy erupted out of the throng of fans as they decided it was time to play “Anna Sun”. A fun performance that will have me checking out more on them once back home.

Interviews kept me away from the stages for the next couple of hours (Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Vintage Trouble, and The Sheepdogs interviews all to come later this week) I missed Grouplove and Gary Clark Jr. which many I passed spoke very highly of. The former looking like they just dropped their boards off at the side of the stage and couldn’t wait to hit the waves right after apparently put on a great surf-rock, indie show and the latter garnering many, “You missed it. Just… oh! So good. You really missed out.”

Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside performed on the Yeti stage which was gratefully right next to the Media Tent so a quick pop outside had me grooving to the unique vocal talents of the charming and uber-cute Sallie Ford. Bringing to mind Regina Spectre (vocally) and a great, timeless sound that could have seen them releasing their hits in any decade from the 50’s on, Ford and her band had everyone jumping, jiving, and swinging while tossing their heads from side to side in celebration of the catchy tunes old and new fans alike couldn’t get enough of! In her little black dress with neon accents, Ford entertained all in attendance with her straight-to-the-point lyrics and pulled no punches writing about her feelings towards the music coming out recently; their single, “I Swear” opens with the line, “When I turn on the radio, it all sounds the same. It all sounds the same. What have these people done to music?” If Sallie Ford & The Sound outside have anything to do with it, a change is coming!

After talking to Vintage Trouble earlier in the day, I knew I was in for a performance but had no idea I was about to see… wait for it… a “Show of the Day”! Ty Taylor (vocals), Nalle Colt (guitar), Richard Danielson (drums), and Rick Barrio Dill (bass guitar) took the stage literally had people stopping in their tracks, turning, and running full speed for the stage that was throwing out the good times none of us knew we needed but all were more than happy to get! If James Brown and Al Green had a baby, and that baby got together with Otis Redding; the progeny that would have resulted MIGHT be able to hold a candle to the Ty’s hip-shaking, mic-swinging, full-out dance machine movin’ ways! Getting the crowd involved in nearly every song and Taylor would ask of his fans, “I’m gonna say, ‘Strike your light on me’, and you’re gonna say, ‘Right On Me!’ You can do that, I KNOW you can!” and so many more great inventions to get everyone loving very second these boys were on stage. From their slower, soulful stops at, “Nobody Told Me” to the ass-shakin’ journey through “Blues Hand Me Down”, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed myself so much in a very long time and I don’t think I was alone in feeling that way judging by the faces in the crowd!

Another quick interview kept me from The Joy Formidable who I heard thoroughly entertained but made it with time to spare for Feist. The Canadian indie rocker came out rocking her black guitar with florescent pink decal, sunhat, cute blue dress, and Joplin-esque round sunglasses in front of an adoring crowd. From the get-go though, she didn’t seem to be grabbing everyone in the crowd, plenty right near the front to be sure: her tried and true fans, but the masses on the hill seemed only sporadically entertained when they bothered to listen at all. With a line-up this massively talented, Feist just couldn’t seem to fill the huge stage with enough sound to really capture those maybe not familiar with her indie sound. A fun show, and she was clearly enjoying herself and having a fun with her fans, Feist none-the-less failed to “wow” me with mediocre guitar solos and a rather blase presence. During her closer, “Sea Lion”, she asked her audience to, “… treat us up here like Bon Jovi. Or… well, treat us like any 80’s hands-wavin’ in the air-type band you want to invoke!” and for me I drifted off into the thoughts of which 80’s band I’d rather be seeing on stage instead of joining in.

Wandering off after Feist in a bit of a lull, I came across a name that I’m stunned I didn’t pick up on from the schedule because sure enough, in all his big-and-tall, goofy yet serious demeanour was John C. Reilly, cowboy hat and all crooning out some of his country music on the Yeti Stage. “Dewey Cox” himself (although much less ridiculous and obviously not in any sort of character role) stood before me on stage and had quite the audience loving every note. Although country isn’t a fan favourite in my apartment, I did really enjoy Reilly and, as he introduced a number his accompanying artists, “… my lady and man friends…”. Whether many in the crowd, much like myself, were drawn simply to the fact that John C. Reilly was on stage or the serious country fans out there found a new country music man, everyone seemed in good spirits and Reilly responded in sort thanking everyone and tossing out the occasional joke to keep his quirky reputation in tack: reverb from the mic elicited a mid-verse, “that was those guys.” pointing to the security team in front of the stage and everyone got a good laugh in.

Back in time for Silversun Pickups, this now decade old alternative rock band had the crowd eating up every word coming off of vocalist Brian Aubert’s lips by the time I arrived. Although I missed the first few songs, I arrived in time for the group to discuss the inflatable monkey on-stage with them they’d tenderly named “Rufus” after the, in Aubert’s words, “… time travelling sage that so radically aided Bill and Ted. Right?” Aubert’s charming and disarming at once, the cute-as-a-button with a bass-playing bad-ass streak in her bassist Nikki Monninger, subdued but terribly talented sound manipulator and keyboardist, Joe Lester, and Animal, I mean Chris Guanlao, on drums (seriously… the wild thrashing, orang-utan-arm-swinging, red-shirt wearing man was so very much Animal that I had to wonder who was based off of who), Silversun Pickups rocked out hard!

They thanked all their fans for coming out as this was apparently the first time they’ve been on stage in a long time and they sweetly mentioned that, near the end of their set as it was, “… we get giddy. We just feel so fucking privileged to be here!” Although I only recognized bits and pieces of songs from a catalogue I own but seldom listen to on my computer, I’ll be putting this band on more of my playlist the moment I sit down to re-organize my music, which, will be immediately after the all-out mind blowing weekend that was still to end by that point!

I have to admit something here: I was crazy excited to see Tenacious D with frontman Jack Black on stage and had set my expectations pretty high in hopes of hilarity and heavy metal awesomeness. The set having a backdrop that appeared at first to be a massive phoenix but at second glance, the body being a veiny shaft and set of balls upon closer inspection tossed all my worries of being disappointed out the window. Jack Black and Kyle Glass walked on stage like the rock gods they tell everyone they are in full robes, waiting only for roadies to remove the robes for them before laying down the tasty licks that we’ve all come to love. Engaging the audience between every song, Black had everyone literally doubling over with quick-witted jokes and ridiculously over-the-top antics! While speaking of the beautiful setting, Black went from, “You’ve gotta respect Mother Earth when you see a place like this.” to the song Deathstar: the point of which is that the Earth’s fucked so we better build a Deathstar. Oh yes, and than an “man-in-suit” Alien Squid staggered onto stage that Black promptly “kills” with a nerve gun while continuing to play guitar and sing! At one point he called for his “Sax-a-ma-BOOM” and a roadie ran on stage with a Fisher Price, six-years-old and under style plastic saxophone. The sad part: the 45 second jazz-pop-disco-type-thing that he played was lightyears better than most of the pop on the radio today, something MGMT or the like would kill to sample! From a guitar shredding Sasquatch, a possessed-by-Satan John Konesky (electric guitar and backing vocals), and the Phoenix head lowering during their closing number and splooging confetti out of it’s “head” onto the audience, Tenacious D, in their own words, “… rocked real fuckin’ hard. I don’t think you can argue that we fuckin’ rocked you. Hard.”

Closing down the festival with songs from all over his massive back-catalogue was the one and only Beck. Opening with “Black Tambourine” of his Guero album, the worn-in black leather jacket, black hat, and black boots had Beck Hansen, known the world-round simply as Beck, looked every bit the part of the alternative rock, anti-folk singer-songwriter who fits all those categories and so many more. Launching straight into “Devil’s Haircut” which, unfortunately, he left the final scream-styling lyrics to his back up vocalist, still had his fans going nuts and the gorge rocking. A surprise to me (possibly not to others though), his third song of the night was his freshman smash hit “Loser” and I couldn’t have been happier: It’s the song, no matter how many hits he releases or how many incredible melodies he lays out, you wish you could see live! I, for one, payed very close attention to the big screens during the chorus and am now almost positive that he’s saying, “So…. (something) pay at the door?” Alright… so I’m still not sure but it was just amazing hearing his live version. The rough part: Jack Black and Tenacious D rocked so hard that many, myself included, felt fully satisfied after hearing a couple of classics from Beck and therefore headed for the exits.

After four days of music, three sleepless nights, more costumes than the largest party store could ever carry at once, a bit of dehydration and just a few too many “premium” (insert Labatt Blue or Molson Canadian here, then laugh uproariously) tall-boys, the weekend ended with new friends formed, new music found, and new respect for the majestic setting that is the Gorge Amphitheatre. I’m fully aware that a whole different sort of party was going on right under my nose involving all sorts of fantastically illegal drugs, week-long binges, all-night raves, and far too few condoms, but, well, that’s the great thing about such massive festivals: everyone has their own version of a stellar weekend and far be it from me to judge anyone’s idea of “The weekend they’ll never remember but never forget”? Alright… so that was a bit judgy. Sue me. I loved every minute of this festival and couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. Mind successfully blown. Oh, and for the record, Jack White was hands down the “Show of the Festival” but, let’s be honest, he’s in a league of his own so that’s not really fair to the rest of the absolutely amazing artists that graced the stage day after day. Riggs out.

Check out Chelsea Chernobyl’s photos of Day Four

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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

Sasquatch 2012 Day Two: From “Black Whales” to “White, Jack”‘s and Everything In Between…

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!

Check out Chelsea Chernobyl’s photos of Day Two

Sasquatch 2012 – Day One: And So The Madness Begins…

The pandemonium and mass confusion that accompanies the opening of a music festival, let alone one such as Sasquatch Music Festival where you park in a semi-organized fashion in random fields next to tents and cows, is akin to very few other experiences in a lifetime. The herding, the terror in the eyes of lost souls, the cattle brands… Well, there might as well be cattle brands because, let’s face it, as much as we all enjoy a multitude of bands playing incredible music in one of the world’s most stunning outdoor venues, organizing ourselves on a mass scale just isn’t going to happen without a few pokes and prods.

Arriving a bit later than I’d hoped, the exciting madness was in full swing before I’d even begun to screw up my tent assembly. The “shirtless guy that’s already slammed”, the “ecstacy-girl that’s already tripping balls”, and the “old guy that won’t leave his camping chair and is just out here for the people watching” all offer their hand at my plight and before you know it, my tent is lopsided but my beer is cold and I’m headed for the stages.

Organized into five separate stages, Sasquatch sprawls out over rolling hills and majestic scenery. I assure you, I’m not exaggerating. Majestic. The main stage; lawn seating gently rolling down the slopes towards the bottom of the gorge. The backdrop; the Columbian River flowing into a sunset that artists the world-round would give-up their craft attempting to paint. And this picture I was enthralled by was on a partially cloudy evening!

Although I missed Santigold (honestly, really disappointed about that one) due to the aforementioned madness, walking towards the main stage as Girl Talk, the one-man, hyper-hypo DJ extravaganza that is Gregg Gillis, mashed up OutKast with Phoenix as digital images of bear heads with freakin’ laser beams shooting out of their eyes assaulted all of my senses at once: well, that was an okay way to start the weekend. With upwards of 40 to 50 people dancing and quite literally vibrating with joy behind and around him, Girl Talk threw together everything from Adele and Slayer to 50-Cent’s “In Da Club” with Vampire Weekend’s “A-Punk”. He climaxed, get ready for it, with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” and killed it by seamlessly matching the ultra-fast paced “Break Ya Neck” rap of Busta Rhymes. I’d say you had to be there, but listening to any of Girl Talk’s albums conjures that same “Really? He made that work?” feeling that upwards of 10,000 people were experiencing along with me. The visuals; everything from glowing cat eyes slowly changing from neon yellow to demonic red, sharks swimming from one monitor to the next, and floating, faceless, red lips synching up as fast as Busta could rap, it was almost impossible to concentrate on the DJ himself. Key-word – almost. As is his way, Girl Talk out-danced, out-jumped, out-headbanged, and generally out-shined all the party-people he brought on stage! Oh, and he stayed true to his rep and was barely clothed by the time his set ended. So there’s that, too. The years don’t seem to be slowing down this Pittsburgh maniac one bit!

Following this “one-man show” vibe, the Colorado born, Derek Smith, better known as Pretty Lights brought his LED towers, high-end, FX-based DJ booth and two Macbooks (that’s all you need now-a-days, apparently) in order to tweak hip-hop beats, vintage funk, electronica, and sometimes funk/soul into pulsating beats infused with dubstep lines. Glow sticks thrown into the crowd by the hundreds at perfectly timed moments (the beat drops, showers of neon rain), Pretty Lights was clearly in his element and playing to a crowd that flowed and moved to every change in the tempo with amazing synchronicity. Playing a number of samples from recent single releases: Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Run DMC, and his biggest hit to date, “I Know The Truth” which sent the gorge into a frenzy as whole rivers of glow sticks erupted like so much florescent lava erupting from the volcanic energy surging from the crowd.

And so day one of four ended.

Check out Chelsea Chernobyl’s photos of Day One