Photos & story by: Jordan Calvano
The number 13 has often been associated with being unlucky. For Sasquatch! Music Festival, it was their turn to take on year 13, and things started out pretty good. They announced the festival would be adding a second weekend set for the 4th of July, and although long time fans of Sasquatch disapproved of what was going on and especially the shift back from four days to three days without a change in cost, it was clear this was a big step forward for a once very small festival that started with modest roots back in 2002. However, things went south quick when Sasquatch was forced to cancel the second weekend after ticket sales didn’t meet their expectations. More than ever, festivalgoers started pointing fingers and adding fuel to the fire across message boards and Facebook posts, and the response was by no means civil.
Regardless, Adam Zacks and his dedicated team put this behind them and focused 100% of their attention back on what was now dubbed Maysquatch, starting fresh and doing what they could to get fans back on their side by adding more and more artists to the lineup. It took some time, but people finally starting getting back on board. By May 23rd, you wouldn’t even have known all this went down. The environment was positive, the music was incredible, and there were all new experiences for Sasquatch attendees to sink their teeth in. Sasquatch was down, but they were never out, and we have a handful of pictures and a review of the weekend to prove it.
Friday May 23rd:
Tourist: Tucked in between a slew of big name artists on Friday including Foster The People, The Naked And Famous, and Chance The Rapper was the rising star Tourist. The British producer got the dance party started in the El Chupacabra tent with an unorthodox set, straying from the usual mixing we are used to seeing in dance music and instead building each individual song from scratch before ending his songs, and then starting all over again. Some had trouble understanding this type of flow, but it brought a unique touch to his set as he weaved through recent originals like “I Can’t Keep Up,” “Patterns,” and “Together” using drum samples, synths, and various types of loops. Tourist kept a smile tightly pressed against his face throughout, and even raised his Heineken to the crowd at one point and appropriately stated, “Cheers.”
Phantogram: Keeping the synth heavy vibes flowing immediately after Tourist was the NY-based duo Phantogram, stepping up to the Bigfoot stage and delivering an unforgettable performance as the sunset over the gorge behind the crowd. Backed by a full band, Sarah Barthel stepped up to the front of the stage and quickly immersed the audience with her ethereal and dark vocal stylings, kicking things off with tracks off their recent LP like “Nothing But Trouble” and “Black Out Days” before venturing into some of the group’s earlier works. The rest of the set followed a similar pattern, toying with the crowd’s emotions and striking up a solid balance of more upbeat and dance worthy moments with more emotional numbers like “Celebrating Nothing” and a closing performance of “When I’m Small.”
Rudimental: Closing things out over at the El Chupacabra stage and overlapping with the final hour of Outkast’s set was Rudimental. The British group started about 20 minutes late, but this gave concertgoers the chance to catch a few more choice cuts from Andre 3000 and Big Boi over at main stage before getting down to some of the most live electronic music out there. Complete with eight people including multiple vocalists, the crew stepped onto the stage with smiles laden across their faces and threw down what might have been the most energetic and visceral dance performances in Sasquatch history. Rudimental started things off with a laidback, reggae jam session before unleashing an armada of drum ‘n’ bass anthems from their album Home, quickly spiking the crowd’s excitement with fine tuned performances of “Right Here,” “More Than Anything,” “Not Giving In,” and “Waiting All Night.” In between that they slowed things down and let some garage based beats take over, pulling out “Spoon” and “Baby” before bringing things back up to eleven and closing with a tear-jerking, audience backed showcasing of “Feel The Love.” There was guitars, bongos, sample pads, keys, drums, trumpets, and live vocals on stage, but most importantly there was eight artists who truly love their life and the people that support their music up there.
Saturday May 24th:
Chet Faker: After the weekends most scorching day and one that was filled with a handful of sleepy yet immersive folk sets over at the main stage, it was due time to start picking up the pace and prepare for the night at the dance tent. This role was provided by Chet Faker, providing a median between the indie-based bands that performed throughout the day and the heavy electronic artists that would step up to the plate in a few hours. The Australian producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist utilized a similar technique to Tourist with the addition of his soulful vocals, quickly captivating the crowd while belting cuts from his debut album Built On Glass including “Blush,” “To Me,” “Gold,” and “Talk Is Cheap.” In between these recent numbers were tracks from Faker’s first EP including “Love & Feeling” and his now ubiquitous cover of “No Diggity,” alongside the massive Flume collaboration entitled “Drop The Game.” The crowd was ever so mesmerized by his vocals and live instrumentations, but that perfectly shaped beard definitely worked its magic too.
Sunday May 25th:
Banks: After a Sunday filled with unexpected standouts including Black Joe Lewis, The Flavr Blue, and even Tacocat over at The Yeti Stage, it was once again time to make haste towards dance nirvana over at El Chupacabra. For the next hour though, it was less about the dance and more about the haunting and dark vocals that emerged from the lips of burgeoning singer Banks. There was movement from some people, but others stood mostly motionless as overbearing waves of emotion from each successive track washed over them. This is the type of presence that comes with a performance from Banks, stunning listeners as she unleashed lyrics from heart-stopping tunes from her short but already impressive career like “Fall Off,” “Before I Ever Met You,” “This Is What It Feels Like,” “Change,” “Brain,” and “Goddess.” Before closing things out with the SOHN produced song “Waiting Game” that truly got people moving, Banks took a huge risk for an artist performing at the dance tent by slowing things down with an acoustic take of Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” and her own “Warm Water.” It was bold, but the crowd responded with absolute elation.
Before the night was taken over by electronic artists like Gesaffelstein and Major Lazer, the Portland based Alaskan transplants known as Portugal. The Man laid down a performance over at the Bigfoot stage that got people moving. The Northwest favorites took advantage of ever second of their hour long set, rarely stopping to talk and most often transitioning from one song to the next without much of a pause or any warning. Often mixing elements from multiple songs of their own with pieces of other people’s music, the band weaved through a heavy dosage of tracks from their two most recent albums while splicing in a few classics from The Satanic Satanist including“People Say” and “The Home.” Alongside that was a surprising take on “Nightman” from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, followed byan unexpected reinterpretation of “Another Brick In The Wall” by Pink Floyd. Closing things off was a second performance of “Purple, Yellow, Red, And Blue,” this type complete with a hot 16 provided by German rapper Casper as the group brought energy comparable to that of Rage Against The Machine for the last few minutes.
Other Standouts: Gesaffelstein, TOKiMONSTA, Tyler. The Creator, Chance The Rapper, Crystal Fighters, White Sea, Yelle, Half Moon Run, Cut Copy, and Sir Sly.
-A toilet paper war breaking out during Black Joe Lewis’ set for the first half, with a solid mosh pit taking over the second part.
-In true Sasquatch tradition, another tortilla war broke out at the main stage as Cold War Kids serenaded the audience.
-A naked man climbing the Narwhal stage as security attempted to drag him off, but not before he was able to escape and high-five members of the confused crowd.
-71-year-old folk singer Rodriguez slowing things down on Sunday night with a series of emotional songs and personal words of inspiration as the audience gripped onto everything he had to say.
-Blake Anderson from Workaholics sprinting past security and stagediving into the audience during Tyler. The Creator’s set.
-Kid Cudi taking a picture of himself and the audience behind him and then excitingly screaming “Oh my God I can’t wait to tweet this.”
- The Super Geek League stage keeping people entertained during sets with circus acts, metal covers of rap songs, fire juggling, dwarfs, and everything in between.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing and Adam Zacks definitely aged at least five years in the past few months, but the end result was pure bliss and showed just how experienced a festival like Sasquatch is. You learn from your mistakes, and you move on. The 3-day event once again proved itself as one of America’s top festival, booking artists from across the world in genres across the board while taking risks at every corner to make sure this event was special. It’s not all about seeing the biggest artists in their respective genres here. Sure, you’ll always get the chance to watch a couple heavy hitters that every major festival booked, but Sasquatch continues to build lineups that require you to put a little elbow grease into your research if you really want to stay on top of the game. It’s about seeing the artists you love, but it’s also about walking away with a whole new batch of performers to obsess over and learn about. Sasquatch will return next year to its four-day format, and we can wait to see what the team whips up for us in 2015. You stay classy Sassy.
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