Monday, June 6, 2011

Snapshots from Sasquatch '11

Sasquatch celebrated its symbolic 10th anniversary this year, and as the decade turns over Adam Zacks flaunts his curatorial prowess by booking dozens of today's top alternative musical acts. The appearance of such groups as Against Me!, Foo Fighters, Bassnectar, and Bright Eyes represents a wide variation of genres. A division between the traditional guitar rock and single DJ electronic music was prominent, but the fragmentation of modern music did not prevent the folks at Sasquatch from bringing together the most talented practicing artist-musicians for 4 days of the rockin'est concert of all time.

My first roomate and trusty concert-going comrade Jeff and I hit up the Roseland on Thursday night to see Neon Indian and Sleigh Bells. I had never been there before, and although I was a bit skeptical of the guitarist hyping the crowd with Iron Man, the intense moshing that continued throughout was quite splendid.

Friday morning/afternoon we drove up through the Columbia River gorge then up through the Yakima Valley via WA-97/I-90 towards Wenatchee. This is a seriously scenic drive.

Friday night we saw Dave Greul and the Food Fighters. Seeing such a staple grungy alt-rock band was a special experience that lots of people enjoyed.

Saturday morning we woke up and wandered groggily over to the (shuttle) and saw Wavves and Radio Department on the main stage. Radio Dept's band members and sound are reminiscent of the best of Broken Social Scene, and contrasted the most pit of youngster punks at the Wavves that quickly turned into a pointless pushing match.

We headed over to the Yeti stage afterwards to check out Wye Oak who does well the awesome folk-rock sound that underlies the aesthetics of many of the younger rock groups playing the festival this year.

I met Jesse Rogers, a writer for, at the Worf Parade show who told me to check out this band, the Thermals. They have a cool new-punk style that puts the required energy into updating the well-loved genre.

We had to peace because the Thermals played at the same time as Washed Out (who brought the band and knocked us over with ten foot high chillwaves). We missed Iron and Wine but got good spots for Bright Eyes which was awesome because their performance was spectacular. He was less drunkenly than when I saw him at the Concord Center for the Performing Arts in '05, which was much appreciated since every song, including new material, was crisp and delicious, and really tapped into the pop-emotionalism that makes Bright Eyes' music so successful.

Snapshot from secret seating area with secret trashcan tripod.

Death Cab played splendidly and really tempted me to go out and pick up all the new releases I haven't kept track of. You can see Ben Gibbard rocking out in this pic, but all the rest are blurry--like my memory of their insane performance at S'quatch '08.

Typhoon, one of the best known bands from the Tender Loving Empire record label, opened Sunday morning on the Bigfoot stage. The twelve-piece set up was pretty impressive. Complete with quasi-homeless looking percussionist shown above.

Typhoon is one of the most exciting new indie bands coming out of Portland. Their large ensemble with lengthy, sweeping compositions is pleasing to post-rock fans, while their pop vocals and lyrical themes cater to a more general audience.

Das Racist was pretty outrageous live, half hour late, belligerent, but the beats were good and the rapping was entertaining.. as always. Their recorded work is more expressive of their talents.

They were rapping to me, and only to me.

Boogied over to the mainstage to see Wayne, Steve, sunglasses-bassist guy and the remaining Flaming Lip I did not recognize. They played soft bulletin all the way through, which was totally righteous as it is one of their finest most comprehensive (and certainly well-loved) albums.

Their shows are beyond the hook.

This is an image of Isaac Brock illuminating the world with beautiful lo-fi music.

A bright new group named "the Young Evils" kicked off Monday.

After some minor bands and a visit to the comedy tent, I couldn't have been ready for the face melting that Guided By Voices delivered. Chromeo fans cleared out from the mainstage area, leaving behind a committed group of experienced indie rockers. The assembly was small, but certainly had the highest crowd-surfing and mosh-dancing per audience member ratio of any show that weekend.

Epic cloudery

The lead singer of Best Coast is a real comedian, and a cutie! (Whatever, I got a crush.) I shouldn't let that overshadow the fact that they had one of the most satisfying lo-fi indie rock sounds of all the new performers (that I caught) this year.

My distant view of Decemberists fans.

The long awaited Wilco played THE headlining spot on Monday night, tearing up every classic and new track with exceptional clarity and energy. They played the catchiest riffs the loudest and made sure to deliver ample guitar and drum solos, which may seem like cheating but damn what could really make a rock concert better?

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