I initially found the lineup for this year's Sasquatch! music festival a tad underwhelming. Headliners like Björk and the Beastie Boys made it feel kinda like a time warp back to the music fests of my high-school years, and several of the bands I was really excited about (from Spoon to Two Gallants) were playing at the same time. But Sasquatch! is more than just a concert. It's an experience. And after four years of Gorge-going, it's still an experience I want to have. During this year's melange of drinking, rocking out and applying SPF 45, I started to understand why—and I counted the valuable lessons the Sasquatch has taught me over the years.
Get wasted, stay wasted: There's a reason everyone's drunk (and drugged) at Sasquatch! Your on-site camping neighbors—who are packed in at about 2 feet away on either side—would be incredibly annoying if you were sober. Squeezing that many dirty, tired strangers onto a sun-baked, wind-rattled field and expecting them to get along would be ridiculous without booze. Plus, you walk everywhere (and the grass is real soft), so it's a relatively safe place to get hammered.
Be open-minded: I discovered one of my all-time favorite bands (the Afghan Whigs) thanks to a chance viewing at an outdoor festival, and there's no reason you can't do the same. If you've seen Neko Case (who was quite good) a million times, why not give Electrelane (the Brit ladies covered "96 Tears"!) a shot? The Gorge's unpredictable weather can help, too. This year, a wind storm shut down the main stage for an hour or so, and plenty of Spoon fans moseyed over to the Yeti stage for a dose of Smoosh's tween-rock awesomeness. And hopefully the Blow fans who stuck around for Viva Voce's amped-up cover of Alan Parsons' "Eye in the Sky" truly believe drummer Kevin Robinson can read their minds.
Don't write anyone off: I had a stupid "been there, done that" attitude about the Beastie Boys, but damn if New York's finest didn't prove one of the event's most excellent acts. The Beasties—who kept hilariously reminding us they were in our "motherfuckin' area"—played two sets: one featuring all live instrumentation (Saturday) and one with DJ Mix Master Mike (Sunday). Though Sunday's set was fairly repetitive of Saturday's, the first Ill Communication-heavy instrumental set was undeniably rad. "Sabotage" and "Sure Shot" were delivered with gusto, and Ad Roc bragged about making knishes with Ashlee Simpson. As for Björk, I was a bit too fried to stick around for her set, but overheard at the Honey Buckets that she was "weird, but good" and "you know, an artist."
I'm not terribly surprised by what blew my mind—the Arcade Fire, the Long Winters and Spoon were personal faves—but I was pleasantly reminded at this year's Memorial Day extravaganza that, no matter who's playing, Sasquatch! is a damn good time.