By: Gracie Roberts
The first full day of Sasquatch! Music Festival, May 28, looked promising from the moment the sun popped over the hills of George, WA. The weather in The Gorge was in the mid-70s, and everyone was eager to get into the Amphitheatre. The gates to the festival opened at 11 a.m. on Saturday, and crowds were already swarming when the overwhelmed festival staff came to unlock them.
The larger portion of Saturday’s daytime main events took place on the main Sasquatch! stage, where fans laid out on the spacious lawn and soaked in the sounds of featured artists such as Local Natives, Wolf Parade, Pink Martini, and Iron & Wine. It made for a relaxing, carefree afternoon that let concertgoers unwind before the fever pitch of activities planned for dusk.
At 7 p.m., electronic music lovers headed over to the Banana Shack where Washed Out kicked off the party scene. The crowd swayed in time to the synthy, 80’s tones and, well, washed out vocals. The set included hits such as “New Theory”, “Feel It All Around”, and “Eyes Be Closed” from the EP Life of Leisure.
Washed Out, whose actual name is Ernest Greene, started making music in his rural hometown of Perry, Georgia in June of 2009. After catching the attention of music bloggers through his MySpace page, Washed Out went on to release his two EPs in August and September of 2009, Life of Leisure and High Times. Fans will be happy to hear that Sub Pop Records have announced their release of Greene’s first full-length album, Within and Without, on July 12.
Performing next in the Banana Shack was The Glitch Mob. It’s difficult to describe how crowded the small tent became in the minutes before the group came on. The Banana Shack’s lineup had already been running about ten minutes behind schedule, so if fans weren’t anxious before, they were now. The Glitch Mob did not disappoint the antsy crowd. Dressed in black collared shirts paired with white satin ties, the Mob appeared as three statuesque figures onstage, blasting the tent with huge, punchy drops and what can only be called “clappable” glitch beats. Their diverse set featured clips from “Sea Lion Woman” by Feist and Darke’s “Forever,” in addition to songs from their debut album, Drink the Sea.
Comprised of Ed Ma, Justin Boreta, and Josh Mayer, the group originally had four members, but Kraddy (Matthew Kratz), the group’s founder, chose to leave the Mob in 2009. Formed in 2006 in Los Angeles, California, these producers made a name for themselves with heavy bass, tempos half the BPMs of their contemporaries, and with their unique choices of technology. The Glitch Mob performs with laptops and MIDI controllers, allowing them to almost stand still at points during their show—although they usually bounce and sway, sometimes popping and locking in sync like a dance crew. Their Sasquatch performance included a drummer, so the band was both glitch-filled and rocky at the same time. The crowd was in the palm of the Mob’s collective hand.
The Bigfoot stage, a short walk from the Banana Shack, featured the night’s next big electronic performer. It was none other than the dancehall queen herself, Robyn. The crowd at Bigfoot had been waiting there for some time to get a good view of the stage. One would think that girls would mainly make up the crowd at a performance by Robyn, but even the big, beefy men at the festival snuck over to get their fix of the Swedish celebrity.
After an unexplained twenty-five minute delay, Robyn’s introduction began in a computerized voice over the sound system. “T-minus thirty seconds and counting until Robyn.” the robotic voice stated. Finally, Robyn’s band started up their synths and the star ran out onstage, opening her show with her hit, “Fembot.” Wearing a West Point jersey, tie-dyed spandex leggings, and a bleach blonde bowl cut, Robyn used every inch of the stage to jump, run, and dance until she was out of breath. Unfortunately, with all her movement, it was obvious that she was lip-syncing all of her tracks. This didn’t seem to upset her throngs of fans, though. They jumped and sang right along with her. Robyn continued to play hits back to back, including “Dancing On My Own,” “We Dance to the Beat,” “Call Your Girlfriend,” and “Indestructible.” As a little treat, she added “The Girl and the Robot,” her collaboration with Röyksopp, from their album, Junior. Robyn closed out her energy-filled set by playing her slow, sweet anthem, “Hang With Me.”
Born Robin Miriam Carlsson in Stockholm, Sweden, Robyn has been in the music industry since the age of sixteen. From her debut album Robyn Is Here in 1997 to the trilogy of EPs released in 2010, Body Talk Pt. 1, Body Talk Pt. 2, and Body Talk, Robyn has never ceased to entertain her fans with her poppy beats and her light, elegant vocals. Each of the Body Talk installments topped her homeland’s pop charts, garnering Robyn five Swedish Grammies in the process. She has diversified her music by performing with an array of artists, including Diplo, Deadmau5, Savage Skulls, and Douster. For now, there isn’t any talk of a new album, but sources say Robyn plans to continue releasing short EPs packed with hits in the future.
The lineup picked up steam as the night went on. Sleigh Bells was the second-to-last performer on Saturday. The pair, made up of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss, is a Brooklyn-based noise pop duo. In 2008, they met and formed when Miller was waiting on Krauss at a restaurant. Strangely enough, this unlikely encounter resulted in sugary, rhythmic songs that combine overdriven electric guitar with Krauss’ velvety vocals. After recording a self-titled EP in 2009, the two went on to record their debut album, Treats, which was released in May 2010. Sleigh Bells filled the Banana Shack with sounds from both albums that rocked the crowd out of control.
Bassnectar was given the honor of closing the second night of Sasquatch. Fans stretched out on the lawn in front of the Bigfoot stage for half an hour after Sleigh Bells ended their set. Many of the attendees had seen Bassnectar before, and those who hadn’t perhaps had even higher expectations—at this point in his career, the hype is out of control. Santa Cruz, California-native Lorin Ashton has been musically active since the late 90s, dropping his first album, Freakbeat for the Beatfreaks, in 2001. Since then, he has released an astounding seven albums and four EPs, playing around with drum ‘n’ bass, jungle, and hip-hop, before taking dubstep to a whole new level. The music of Bassnectar can be classified in many different ways due to its experimental nature. Lorin plays with wicked-sounding basslines, varied musical meters, and pitch-shifted vocals.
Saturday’s set was a bit different than “regular” Bassnectar performances. Lorin chose to include many elements of hard rock and hip-hop in his tracks, exciting the crowd taking them a bit by surprise. “My intention is to heat you the fuck up,” Lorin yelled out as he flicked switches and twisted knobs. With that, he definitely succeeded. A clip from Disney’s Dumbo’s “Pink Elephants on Parade” was integrated into Bassnectar’s blaring dubstep, as the huge LCD screen projected images of the psychedelic pink elephants. Lorin also brought the hits, throwing in “Magical World,” “Basshead,” “Timestretch,” and his remix of “Lights” by Ellie Goulding. The show left the crowd in awe, as usual, and even Ashton was reluctant to stop performing. He was forced to end the night—after playing ten minutes overtime—due to a date at Summer Camp the next day.
Unlike a great deal of festivals, prone to musical monotony with the overbooking of derivative artists and sounds, Sasquatch achieved a winning balance—at least on the electronic side of the spectrum. From saccharine pop to dark, bass-driven wizardry, the first full day of the festival gave EDM fans a little bit of everything.
The Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian (Bassnectar Remix)
Fortune Days (Drink The Sea) - The Glitch Mob
Time Machine - Robyn
Run the Heart - Sleigh Bells
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