Sasquatch Report: The Good, the Bad and the Filthy

May 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

Best set design: Tenacious D and their “Rising Phoenix.” It sprayed white confetti at the end of the show, of course.

Your faithful editor is sunburned, bruised, sleep-deprived and sore after four days of camping, partying and music at Sasquatch. While much of the “indie” scene today is dreck to me, I still saw my fill of kick-ass music. So there! I met up with friends who are usually scattered across the country and we went through many cases of beers and met questionable characters at the campground. I have no complaints with that part of Sasquatch.

See, I like a lot of music, and some of it passes for “hip” and some doesn’t, but the indie/rock/pop scene is not where I belong. I try not to judge other subcultures too much–it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, and there’s a lot about punk that seems goofy to other people– but too much of the music I saw was made by privileged, pretty people for other privileged, pretty people to gently sway to while sipping their $11 beer. When I see live music, I want to see someone expressing an emotion, for fuck’s sake.

Not to mention problems like gnarly port-a-potties, people flinging trash everywhere and how the stages’ sound bled into each other, so the raver tent thump-thump-thump ruined every quiet moment for other bands.

Don’t get me started on the fake warbonnets, either.

So to enjoy Sasquatch, you have to swallow all sense of good taste, put on those neon-pink sunglasses and focus on the music. Casey Jarman at the Willamette Week came to same conclusion. Also, stay sober, because that way you can work up to the front of the crowd and not have to fight your way back out to piss every half hour. Save your drinking for after the shows, when everyone goes back to camp out and bullshit about who they saw that day.

After the jump, my highlights, including Beastie Boy covers, penis jokes and folk singer erotica:

The Good:

Deer Tick–Their lead singer John McCauley came out looking like Beetlejuice and started by saying, “Hey, I started early. Let’s get this set over with so we can go party with you guys!” This was either going to be good, or terrible, but it was great. Near the end of the raucous alt-country/70s rock set, the band announced they’d like their buddies to come on stage and help them sing a song. McCauley grinned and said, “Even if you don’t, I don’t care, ’cause this is gonna be awesome,” and they launched into “Fight For Your Right to Party.” Awesome, it was.

Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside–I’ve missed Sallie Ford when I had chances in Missoula and Seattle, but I wasn’t going to now! She did a great set of surf/rockabilly sounds, and I worked my way to the front of one of the most pleasant, old-timey-danciest crowds. They played some new songs, and I can’t wait for that album to come out.

Girl Talk–I like to dance for fun, and Girl Talk provides fun beats to dance to. I realize he poaches other people’s creativity and does not count as a musician. But I was entertained, so fuck off.

Jack White–I wanted to hear a bunch of loud guitar riffs and White Stripes songs, and Jack White delivered. Excellent.

Tenacious D–Shit, this was fun. Moshing, fist-pumping, giant inflatable penises–all the things I like about shows.

The Surprisingly Good:

St. Vincent–I assumed, mostly from looking at album covers, that St. Vincent made pretty, delicate music with ethereal pop vocals. That’s partly true, but St. Vincent also ramps it up and fucking shreds. Annie Clark plays some fierce guitar and threw herself off the stage and crowd-surfed while shrieking her last song. I talked to a guy who’d worked his way up front, and he said she grabbed him by the throat and screamed at him, and it was awesome. Finally, some goddamn passion.

The Walkmen–I enjoy the Walkmen. They make catchy pop rock. But I’ll never be near as big a fan as the three buff shirtless dudes in the crowd bouncing around, singing with every song. Those dudes ramped up the rest of the crowd and by the end everybody was dancing. Thanks, shirtless dudes!

Grouplove–I was in a good mood Monday morning, and so was Grouplove, a poppy California band that sings about smoking weed and going to the beach. Highly complex themes. The exuberant female vocalist said, “I smoked two joints last night looking at all this…and I decided before we came on to think of you all as one big best friend. And you are!”

Bon Iver–I have a raging crush on Bon Iver now because he sounds exactly like Bon Iver Erotic Stories makes him out to be. He told the audience he loves us, and swore a lot, but in very mild tones. My favorite part was when he said, “Oh, balls.” Also, he tours with a full band, including two drummers, and does louder, more crescendo-building versions of his songs live. Not exactly mosh-worthy, but pleasant to sit on the grass and listen to before calling it a night. Bon Iver will always be the kind of music I put on before going to bed, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

Charles Bradley–We meant to just catch a bit of Charles Bradley’s set before heading over to another band, but I wound up staying for the whole thing once I realized his set was going to be old-school soul and blues.

And everybody else sucked.

Kidding! Kinda. I saw a ton of other acts–Alabama Shakes were good, Wild Flag was okay, Fun. didn’t do anything for me because we were too far back, The Joy Formidable‘s frontwoman was cool, Blitzen Trapper‘s keyboardist was the only band member who seemed happy to be there, etc. It’s hard to sum it all up. The only comedy act I saw was Portlandia, which turned out to just be Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein doing some skits like “Bicycle Rights” and bringing people up to play “Have you heard?” I appreciate Portlandia for it’s brilliant take-down of a very specific culture, but I just don’t find it actually laugh-worthy funny, so meh. I did walk past Fred Armisen later that day, which is the one and only famous-person sighting on the grounds I saw the whole time.

Your editor has now had her fill of fancy big names and the Pacific Northwest in general. Can’t wait to be back in Missoula tomorrow.

–Kate

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