Sasquatch! 2010

By: Brendan Kane

Sasquatch! 2010
Photo: Devon Boulton-Mills
Sasquatch!

Posted: June 9, 2010 – George, United States

It's usually mid-January when music festival lineup predictions start popping up all over blogs and chat rooms. Those who are decent at Photoshop will whip up impressive little replica posters for Coachella and Bonnaroo. They usually will hail Radiohead, the Zeppelin reunion or else the reincarnation of a senior citizen Ziggy Stardust and, as importance dictates, the fonts for all auxiliary acts thereafter descend down the image in optometry test fashion. While this scrutiny is going on, many of the same bands are casually signing up to play Sasquatch! in the pristine Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington for about half the crowd.

Sasquatch

Sasquatch! crowd

The 2010 edition featured an odd-ball set of headliners—My Morning Jacket, Massive Attack and Ween—followed by fantastic intermediate depth—The National, LCD Soundsystem, Pavement, Band of Horses and MGMT—while breakthrough gems included the Tallest Man on Earth, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and The xx.

For me, Day One began at 4 am in Calgary where, amidst an ice storm, I jet set to Yakima, Washington by-way-of Seattle. Yakima, as it turns out, is the venue's closest airport and a 20 minute puddle jump from Seattle. There were 14 other people taking my flight, and due to the nose-heavy nature of the aircraft, we all were told to sit in the back quarters to distribute weight for a proper take off. The confined space would prove advantageous to my next cause: hitching a ride to the Gorge.

Driving to Sasquatch!

Practicing tunes in the campground

I met a 30 year old yoga instructor from Albuquerque named Valerie in baggage claim. She had been traveling for three years and had her car parked with all of her former belongings inside of it on her Uncle Mike's farm. If I didn't mind waiting (which I didn't), she would pitch in part of my ride. Sure enough, Uncle Mike drove up in a truck with a decal emblazoned across the back window that read: ‘Cow girls rule, always have, and always will', which I took to mean ‘it's business time' and away we went.

writerBrendan Kane taking a break

Arriving on the farm, we encountered a snafu in that the ignition key was nowhere to be found, so the next couple of hours were spent rummaging through the car and contacting locksmiths in Yakima who would be a) able service us on Memorial Day long weekend and b) arrive equipped to configure a key for a 2001 Hyundai. Eventually, we decided that the most expensive looking ad in the yellow pages ought to be fit for the task and we were right. The next stop was the convenience store where we constructed a sign out of a cardboard monster energy drink flat that read: ‘Gorge us George'. Uncle Mike and Valerie dropped me off at an I-90 onramp where I waited for about 10 minutes before hitching a ride with some concert goers from North Dakota.

The first (at least for me), long awaited (and my most anticipated) set of Saturday was The National. The Brooklyn-based five-piece, who released their soon-to-be critically acclaimed fifth record, High Violet, earlier in the month, put on an almost uncharacteristically upbeat show that saw singer Matt Berninger vault the security railing and spend an entire song swimming through the crowd. Next up was Vampire Weekend who further spurred on the dance party with steel drums and ska riffs galore. This was a great warm up for Z-Trip who is one of the pioneers of the mash up phenomenon along with Girl Talk and Toronto's Dead Mau5 who is more than just some DJ, but only because of his lighting and costume spectacle.

The National The National

Moustaches in the crowd

Edward Sharpe

Edward Sharpe

Broken Social SceneBroken Social Scene
Sasquatch! attendees

Portugal. The Man

Dancing in the rain

Day Two began with an early solo set from Sweden's Tallest Man on Earth, who got his break a couple of years ago by touring with Bon Iver.  He stood authoritatively alone on the secondary stage for a healthy throng of adorers and received a big roar for "King of Spain". Musician and actor on How to Make it in America, Kid Cudi was one of the few hip hop acts and he played early evening on the mainstage. Cudi worked the crowd, demanding they throw up dual peace signs. It wasn't until LCD Soundsystem, though, that the partying hit fever pitch on the cliffs of the Gorge. They almost immediately shot into "Drunk Girls", creating an epidemic of people sledding down the hill on whatever they could find (other people in one instance). But the Pavement reunion took everything down a notch, with a visibly irritable Stephen Malkmus muttering things on more than two occasions about sound quality and/or the tastes of the young audience.

Tallest Man on Earth

charactersSasquatch! characters

Kid Cuddi

Crowd

Sit and wave

Devon Boulton-Mills gets a hair cut in between shooting

The XX

Crowd shot

Sonically speaking, Brit trip-hop proprietors Daddy G and 3D of Massive Attack were the festival's highlight in the Day Two headlining spot. Their first studio album in seven years, Heligoland has already made a strong case internationally for album of the year with contributions from many of the duo's preferred session vocalists, Horace Andy, Martina Topley-Bird and Guy Garvey. The light show bombarded the crowd with corporate logos and questionably heavy media headlines while a revolving door of vocalists continually changed the tempo. Horace Andy's performance of "Girl I Love You" was memorable, soulful and visually apocalyptic.

Massive Attack

Massive Attack

Day Three saw Passion Pit get their second crack at Sasquatch! after a shaky outing for the talented, viral newcomers last year. The Boston band started out as just a Valentine's Day gift recorded on a laptop are still riding last spring's full length, Manners. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for this band's story and hoped their danceable high-pitched vocals would prove a lot of people who think they suck wrong. It may have worked with hit makers like "Smile Upon Me" and "Moth's Wings".

Passion Pit

Dancing whale

She & Him

Band of Horses seem to be the leader of hipster cowboy acts and they threw down an aptly plucked setlist that got "The Funeral", "There is a Ghost", and the "Great Salt Lake" out in the open early. Then there was plenty of room to break in solid tunes from the new record, Infinite Arms, like the title track and "Laredo". MGMT, who had the biggest crowd of the weekend, began sheepishly with an acoustic rendition of "Pieces of What" and seemed to apathetically struggle through every song that wasn't a hit from Oracular Spectacular; in fact, it was almost as though the sound was at a lower level out of shame for the new record.

MGMT

MGMT

Crowd surfing

New Pornographers

Sasquatch! 2010 would be closed out by Ween, an unlikely throwback who sound like everybody else yet nobody else sounds quite like them. A lot of observers deemed it strange that a festival be headlined by a band who you can still find in 2000 seat venues over much of the globe. But this rule is practically a godsend seeing as none of those people would think that had they seen a hilarious, psychedelic and creepy Ween show; but I suppose they've been stewing on that choice since January.

Ween

Sasquatch! at night

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