May 28th, 2014 | by WW MUSIC STAFF Music | Posted In: Concert Review

The Sasquatch Superlatives

From Outkast to Sexy Jeff Goldblum to all 101 individual basketball jerseys, here are the best things we heard and saw at the Gorge on Memorial Day weekend.

steve+bruleThe eyes of Steve Brule were watching Sasquatch. - Matthew Singer.

In the grand scheme of the glutted music festival circuit, Sasquatch is a tier or two lower than the Coachellas or the Bonnaroos in terms of prominence. It always seems to book last year’s big names (with the exception this year of a certain reunited hip-hop tandem determined to break the world record for number of festivals headlined in a single season) and rarely gets that “holy shit” exclusive. Artists never bother flying up their friends for surprise cameos, and the most famous person you’re likely to see hanging around in the crowd is, like, the curly-haired dude from Workaholics

But as music festivals grow more ubiquitous and increasingly more bloated, Sasquatch’s relatively low-key nature has become its greatest strength. It’s a much more manageable experience, especially for those of us with prematurely creaky joints. (Pro-tip: If you’ve outgrown beer bongs, or just don’t want to share with neighboring frat-holes, spring for Gold camping.) Stages aren’t miles apart from one another, and though you often have to hike uphill rather than across a flat polo field, the amphitheater setting means there isn’t a bad spot in the house. That’s to say nothing of the sheer natural splendor of the Gorge, one of the most breathtaking venues in America. Plus, it attracts a boatload of Canadians, making the atmosphere much more polite than the average festival, if you’re willing to suffer through spontaneous renditions “Oh Canada” every few minutes. 

That said, Sasquatch is still a festival. It’s overwhelming, overpriced and utterly exhausting. That’s why we took a few extra days to gather our energy and our thoughts, then came back to compile the definitive list of the best things we heard, saw, felt and tasted this past weekend. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t the yakisoba noodles, the $14 “Guitargarita” or Foster the People.) 

BEST MIDNITE VULTURES: The Stepkids 

I’ve long claimed that Beck’s Midnite Vultures is an underrated masterpiece of Prince-funk by way of Hollywood sleaze, and after watching Connecticut trio the Stepkids’ inspired early afternoon set, it looks like I’m not the only one. This is white boy soul done the right way: synchronized dances, matching outfits that aren’t goofy, and songs that had hooks for days. Guitarist Jeff Gitelman—a session musician who used to play with Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder—pulled double duty on Friday, playing with Chance the Rapper later that afternoon. MICHAEL MANNHEIMER.

The Stepkids.
Matthew Singer.

BEST OLD GUYS: De La Soul

As they made clear multiple times from the stage, the members of De La Soul don’t exactly fit within Sasquatch’s target demo. If it wasn’t obvious enough by the flecks of grey in their facial hair, or by the fact that Posdnuos, wearing a beige sweater and jeans, looked dressed for a PTA meeting, the icons of hip-hop’s Golden Age have been doing this rap shit longer than most of the audience has been alive, and they had no problem acknowledging that the crowd watching them probably had no idea who they were. (At one point they even took a demographic survey, and judging by the response, the majority of those in attendance were still in the zygote stage by the time the group released its fourth album.) Perhaps it was that self-awareness which drew in rather than repelled the young’ns—or it could’ve just been that, with Liars cancelling its competing Bigfoot set, there wasn’t much else going on at the time. Either way, the crowd that greeted De La at the main stage was much larger than anticipated, and while it was obvious few were familiar with classics like “Potholes In My Lawn,” “A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays,” “Me Myself and I” or even the springy late-period single “Oooh” (2000 was 14 whole years ago, after all), it fully embraced what was an unapologetically old-school hip-hop set, dutifully following each directive to put its hands up and “wave them shits,” to make some motherfucking noise, etc. Maybe there’s hope for this generation yet. MATTHEW SINGER.

Chance the Rapper (please say "the Rapper").
Michael Mannheimer.

 BEST SOUL MAN: Chance the Rapper 

Yeah, it says “rapper” right there in his name, and he’s pretty adamant that you acknowledge that part of his handle, but as the 21-year-old Chicago prodigy emerged in front of the largest crowd the Bigfoot Stage had yet seen in the first hours of the festival, his presence was more in line with the blues, gospel and soul greats of his hometown than, say, Yeezus or Lupe Fiasco. But then, that shouldn’t come as a surprise: Though he titled his breakthrough mixtape Acid Rap, there is a soulful warmth to his production and persona that channels the uplift of Curtis Mayfield more than the warped psychedelia implied by the album’s trippy-drippy cover art. Supported by a top-flight, trumpet-and-keyboard led backing band, Chance delivered a slightly truncated set (he started about 10 minutes late) rippling with preacherly energy. He whirled, slipped and slid across the stage, punched the air to the beat and led euphorically joyful sing-alongs to Acid Rap highlights “Everybody’s Somebody” and “Favorite Song,” his band gracefully recreating the sample of Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman” that underpins the latter. Most importantly, instead of barking his lyrics like so many rappers do live, he utilized the same reedy sing-song as on record, and was rewarded by hearing a few thousand people rap his words back at him. He seemed genuinely floored by the response, and when he said this was his best show ever, it didn’t come across as a phony platitude. Unlike his Coachella performance, there was no surprise Bieber cameo to help him make blog headlines. This time, he did it all on his own. (MS)

BEST KARAOKE ACT: Princess

Sure, I was skeptical. A gender-flipped Prince cover band fronted by a former Saturday Night Live cast member? Why not just book the Pizza Underground and Russell Crowe’s 30 Odd Foot of Grunts and set up a sixth tent dedicated solely to celebrity vanity projects? But at least Maya Rudolph has both the genetics (her mother is Minnie Riperton) and the background (she was a touring member of the Rentals...you remember the Rentals, right?) to partially justify taking on one of the greatest songbooks in pop. And anyway, over the last 20 years, Prince has only seemed intermittently interested in being the Prince we all want him to be. Why not let some other famous person take a stab at filling the void? As it turns out, Rudolph and singer friend Gretchen Lieberum tapped into their own generational nostalgia deeply enough to make the act work. Dressed in a trenchcoat and “sexy police officer” outfit, respectively, the duo teased with simple choreographed stripper moves, occasionally flubbing lyrics, and the whole thing came off as an entertaining bit of burlesque, like watching your friends stumble through a karaoke routine at Chopsticks II. What elevated the set above mere wankery was the band behind the singers, which nailed the singular synth-funk of “Lady Cab Driver” and “Erotic City” with impressive accuracy. If Princess put out an album of original material mimicking the famed “Minneapolis sound,” it’d probably be hecka slammin’, for reals. (MS) 

BEST DISEMBODIED HEAD OF A FORMER PORTLAND RESIDENT: Claire Evans of YACHT during Classixx

For my money Classixx put on the best performance in the dance tent, performing a mix of original material alongside its awesome remix of YACHT’s “Psychic City,” which featured the disembodied head of Claire L. Evans singing the hook on the two LED screens on either side of the stage. The next best thing to actually getting Evans there in person. (MM)

Claire Evans beaming in.
Matthew Singer. 

BEST ESOTERIC BABBLING ABOUT “SOUND QUALITY”: Mogwai fans

Not many people gave a shit about being on time for Mogwai’s set, which made sense given their penchant for long, rambling dirges that haven’t been interesting in over a decade. A gulf formed between the folks against the rail and a small crowd of chin-stroking geezers that were circling around an imaginary spot between the stage and the sound booth that had “the least amount of comb filtering.” I overheard three different guys in their late 30s explain to their girlfriends that an arbitrary spot somehow triangulated by the bands eight guitar amps, the drum riser and the overhead speakers was “the only proper place to hear Mogwai.” The girlfriends would scratch their head, wonder why they’re dating such a dweebus, and run to the front of the crowd in hopes of having their headbands blown off during that one part in “Mogwai Fear Satan” where the seminal Scottish post-rock outfit gets REALLY LOUD again. It sounded great from up front, by the way. (PETE COTTELL)

BEST OF ALL: Outkast 

Outkast’s headlining set on Friday night was everything I could have dreamed for, and more. I don’t say that lightly: Outkast is, at the very least, one of my 10 favorite groups of all time, the duo that legitimately got me into hip-hop in eighth grade, the soundtrack to so many parties and car rides and late night headphones sessions when I was 18 and 19 and 20 and, like so many kids running around Sasquatch, making mistakes and probably drinking too much and learning what type of adult I wanted to become. I stayed in on a weekend night in April to watch the livestream of the first Coachella show and have been casually checking setlists ever since, so I knew that Big Boi and Andre 3000 would likely open with “B.O.B.” but I still don’t think I was prepared for the incredible power and speed of and sheer joy of seeing thousands of people jump around and lose their minds at once. I mean, talk about giving the people what they want—”B.O.B” was followed by “Gasoline Dreams,” “ATLiens,” “Skew It on the Bar-B” and “Rosa Parks.” It might be the best opening five song stretch I’ve ever seen. And though things slowed down a bit when Andre 3000 did a mumbly mid-set rendition of “Prototype” and “She Lives in My Lap,” you never got the sense that he didn’t want to be there. For a performer who has mostly remained in the background for the past decade (not to say anything about his stage fright) he looked like he was having the time of his life, dancing with the backup singers, mouthing the indelible horn lines from “SpottieOttieDopalicious,” smiling between every song, and even goofily rolling across the ground in slow motion at the end of the night. Sleepy Brown was the only guest, but when you have two of the best rappers in the world, plus an ace 8-piece backing band, do you need anything else? Keep your heart three stacks, keep your heart. (MM)

Andre 3000.
Michael Mannheimer.

BEST WTF: Die Antwoord 

Literally every Die Antwoord song sounds like the crying baby sample from Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” stretched out for four minutes. Shit isn’t just weird, it’s piercingly annoying even from a few hundred feet away, though worth it for the spectacle and all the jokes it provided the rest of the weekend. Shoutout to Ninja for all the great cat name-drops on new single "Pitbull Terrier": BLACK CAT! WHITE CAT! UH...STRAY CAT?! (MM)

BEST FASHION TREND: Basketball Jerseys

During the Stepkids’ 2 pm set at the Bigfoot stage, I spotted a lanky kid wearing the jersey of unspectacular Boston Celtics rookie backup center Kelly "Neon Jesus" Olynyk, automatically winning the award for Best NBA Jersey in the Wild. Then we saw hundreds of other bros also rocking basketball jerseys, most of them from the ’90s, and decided to document the hottest fashion trend of 2014. Here’s a list of the 101 basketball jerseys we saw at Sasquatch:

  1. Kelly Olynyk
  2. Tracy McGrady (Toronto Raptors)
  3. Alex English (Denver Nuggets)
  4. Hakeem Olajuwon
  5. Clyde Drexler (x3)
  6. Tim Duncan
  7. Jason Kidd (Phoenix Suns)
  8. Carmelo Anthony (Knicks)
  9. John Stockton
  10. Penny Hardaway
  11. Grant Hill (Detroit Pistons)
  12. Allen Iverson (Nuggets)
  13. Scottie Pippen (Bulls)
  14. Derrick Rose
  15. Kobe #24
  16. Kobe #8
  17. LeBron James (All-Star)
  18. Allen Iverson (Sixers x2)
  19. LeBron James (Heat x2)
  20. Metta World Peace(!)
  21. Dennis Rodman (Pistons)
  22. Dwyane Wade (Marquette!)
  23. Bill Walton ‘zers (x2)
  24. Jordan (Bulls, x3)
  25. Dominique Wilkins
  26. Bryant Reeves (wtf?)
  27. Ray Allen (Sonics)
  28. Josh Howard (Mavs)
  29. Gary Payton (x2)
  30. Shawn Kemp (Sonics, at least 5 times, lost count)
  31. Brian Grant (Blazers)
  32. Rasheed Wallace (Blazers, x2)
  33. Paul Pierce (Nets)
  34. Unidentified Harlem Globetrotter 
  35. Ed O’Bannon (OK, this is getting ridiculous) 
  36. Carlos Boozer (Bulls)
  37. Vince Carter (Raptors, x3)
  38. Deron Williams (Nets)
  39. Shaq (Magic)
  40. Brandon Roy
  41. Damon Stoudamire 
  42. Damian Lillard
  43. Jordan (Wizards, LOL)
  44. Rudy Fernandez
  45. Spud Webb (Hawks)
  46. Ben Wallace (Pistons)
  47. LaMarcus Aldridge
  48. Brandon Roy (University of Washington)
  49. Eric Montross (Celtics) 
  50. Mugsy Bogues (Hornets)
  51. Latrell Spreewell (Warriors)
  52. Dikembe Mutombo (Nuggets)
  53. Baron Davis (Warriors)
  54. Kevin Durant
  55. Gerald Wallace (Blazers)
  56. Detlef Schrempf (Sonics)
  57. Mike Bibby (Grizzlies!)
  58. Shareef Abdur-Rahim (also Grizzlies!)
  59. Andrew Bogut (Bucks)
  60. Luke Ridnour (Sonics)
  61. Alonzo Mourning
  62. LeBron James (St. Mary's)
  63. Nicolas Batum
  64. Amare Stoudemire (Knicks)
  65. LeBron James (Cavs)
  66. Tim Hardaway (Dream Team III)
  67. Steph Curry
  68. Kevin Durant (Sonics, RIP)
  69. Vin Baker (Sonics)
  70. Jordan (Bulls, alternate pinstripes)
  71. Kevin Garnett (Celtics)
  72. Sean Elliott (Spurs)
  73. Larry Bird
  74. Alec Burks (Jazz)
  75. JR Smith (Knicks)
  76. John Wall
  77. Ray Allen (Bucks)
  78. Rashard Lewis (Sonics)
  79. Steve Francis (Rockets)
  80. Kevin Garnett (Wolves)
  81. Dwight Howard (Magic)
  82. Dirk Nowitzki
  83. Paul George
  84. Mike Bibby (Arizona)
  85. Michael Redd (Bucks)
  86. Patrick Ewing 
  87. David Robinson
  88. Charles Barkley (Suns)
  89. Elton Brand (Clippers)
  90. Byron Russell (Jazz, WTF)
  91. Shareef Abdul-Rahim (Grizzlies)
  92. Wile E. Coyote (Toon Squad) 
  93. Bill Murray (Toon Squad)
  94. Yosemite Sam (Toon Squad)
  95. Tony Parker
  96. Chris “Birdman” Andersen (Nuggets)
  97. Chris Mullin
  98. Rip Hamilton (Pistons)
  99. Scottie Pippen (Blazers)
  100. Chris Webber (University of Michigan)
  101. Manu Ginobili 

(MM)

BEST WESTERBERG: Rathborne

Wearing ripped jeans and a ratty shirt with long, shaggy, greasy hair, Luke Rathborne could’ve just been some guy who crawled out of a tent Saturday morning and snuck onto the Yeti Stage. It’s unlikely the average Sasquatch attendee is walking around with a bunch of catchy-as-hell power-pop jams in their back pocket, though. His three-piece band’s melodic guitar pop harks back Big Star, the Replacements and the rockier end of early R.E.M., indie touchstones referenced by few other acts at this year’s festival. Rathborne himself has the sweet snarl of Paul Westerberg and Alex Chilton down pat, though he’s really a softie at heart: Rather than antagonize the handful of bros, he complimented their decision to go shirtless. “It looks good on you,” he said, only half-joking. (MS)

Luke Rathborne.
Matthew Singer.

BEST NEW SEATTLE BAND: Dude York

No-frills guitar rock from a trio not afraid to hit the distortion pedal just before the chorus hits. Dude York played to a small but passionate gathering, which included a dude swaying in a homemade dragon costume and a couple dozen lazy stoners who finally started to mosh during the band’s last song. Also, major props to singer Peter Richards’ X-Men sleeveless t-shirt. (MM) 

BEST CROWD SURF: Eric Andre

Comedy is often a rough sell at music festivals. At Sasquatch, comics are shoved into what later becomes the dance tent, forced to perform in the middle of the afternoon when the heat is highest and most folks are either looking for shade or a place to dig themselves out of a k-hole. It takes a special kind of comedian to get the inebriated and/or sun-stroked masses to follow a joke to its punchline. But as anyone who’s caught his absurdly chaotic faux-talk show on Adult Swim knows, Eric Andre is especially good at playing to the stoned, drunk and generally low-attention-spanned. Though his standup is relatively more “traditional,” he brought the same manic energy to his set at the Chupacabra Stage, tossing the mic stand and wooden stool around and delivering his jokes, which blended earnest social commentary with sexual profanity, in a throaty holler. (One family—two middle-aged parents with young kids who must’ve taken a wrong turn on the way to a picnic—abandoned ship around the time Andre entered into a bit about the Mormon practice of “floating.” Look it up.) He reenacted The Eric Andre Show, bringing out co-host Hannibal Buress to help interview a bikini-topped woman from the audience, grilling her about her alleged Twitter account: “You Tweeted that you agree with everything Donald Sterling has ever said. Why?” He ended by reading from a list of fake band names (best one: Alien vs. Predator vs. Brown vs. The Board of Education) pleading for free drugs. Moments after exiting the stage, he was suddenly being carried out of the tent by a horde of fans, security guards in tow, as a crowd gathered around and, for some reason, launched into the “Ole Ole Ole” soccer chant. Methinks dude got what he asked for. (MS)

BEST DEMONIC CONDUCTOR: George Clarke of Deafheaven

San Francisco’s Deafheaven was the only “metal” band on the bill, but its brand of pure volume could almost be categorized as post-rock or shoegaze if it wasn’t for singer George Clark. The theatrics of that boy! Decked out in black from head to toe, Clark commanded the stage with a presence that was both fearsome and goofy, making exaggerated metal faces, pounding his chest like LeBron James, and inciting the small but devoted gathering in front of the stage to come and get him. Top notch performance art masquerading as the best rock show of the weekend. (MM)

Deafheaven.
Matthew Singer.

BEST LATE AFTERNOON BALLAD: Neko Case’s “Deep Red Bells”

The perfect song for when the sun starts to set behind Sasquatch’s massive main stage, sending little rays of light up the hillside as you sit and finish an $11 Bud Light 25 oz tall boy. Case’s set was sparsely attended in the pit, but sounded perfect from up above. (MM)

BEST USE OF YOUNG JEEZY’S SIGNATURE “CHYEAHHH!” SHOUT: Ryan Hemsworth

Thing that happened within the first five minutes I stepped into the dance tent to see Ryan Hemsworth: 1) Someone blacked out, scared the shit out of his friends for 30 seconds, then got back up and started dancing again 2) I was propositioned for drugs, twice (“You got dat molly maaaaaaaaannnnnn?”) 3) Two security guards chased a dude with dreadlocks out of the tent, probably for selling “dat molly.” There’s really no need to, well, dance around the obvious—in 2014, as EDM and dance music continues to dominate the festival circuit, a huge percentage of the people that go to concerts like this just want to get wasted and wear silly outfits and dance with their friends. I saw a lot of glassy eyes during Hemsworth’s set, but in the 30 minutes I was there I also heard the best remix of the weekend, a deconstructed take on Kanye’s immortal “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” that saw Hemsworth stretch out Young Jeezy’s background grunts and “Chyeahhh’s!” to maximum effect. (MM)

BEST UBIQUITOUS SIGN: Steve Brule

Wherever you went, no matter the stage, the squinched visage of John C. Reilly’s socially hyper-awkward public access TV host followed. I’m pretty sure he was watching me in a Honey Bucket at one point, though I can’t be sure. (MS)

My dangus feels funny.
Matthew Singer.

BEST SENSORY OVERLOAD: M.I.A. 

A review of a M.I.A. show might as well read as a list of sounds heard and sights seen. In the case of her early evening set— the true Saturday headliner, considering the size of the audience—that list goes something like: air horn, air horn, squawking chicken, air horn, random eight-bit Technicolor clip-art, air horn, bass drop, a thousand Auto-Tuned babies crying at once, images of rifle-brandishing African soldiers, gun shot, ka-ching, air horn, air horn, air horn. The onslaught was non-stop; even Major Lazer’s festival-capping cacophony had more peaks and valleys. For Maya Arulpragasam herself, though, it was all no big whoop. Somehow, on a giant stage left totally empty except for three crumping backup dancers and her DJ, and wearing a gold jumpsuit, she disappeared into the background of her own spectacle. Nonchalantly sipping water, reapplying lipstick, even pausing for 45 seconds to tie her shoe, there was an air of detachment to her performance. When she brought up a bunch of girls to dance through “Boyz,” it was like a party host hanging out by the vegetable tray as the guests get down in the living room. Not that it mattered: By the time “Paper Planes” dropped, briefly mashing up with Lorde’s “Royals,” it didn’t matter if it was M.I.A., Santigold or Seth Rogen up there. Gunshot, gunshot, gunshot, reload, ka-ching, air horn, air horn, air horn, wild applause. (MS)

BEST UNIRONIC CAPE: Austra’s Katie Stelmanis

At this point, Sasquatch is almost more of a massive summer costume party then a music festival. I’m not sure if it’s just EDM culture or the drugs, but you couldn’t walk more than five feet this weekend without spotting a pack of frat bros in matching banana suits, or a girl in a glowing neon bodysuit sipping a Guitargarita, or my personal favorite, Hidden Jeff Goldblum (see below). It’s refreshing, then, when you see someone like Katie Stelmanis of Toronto goth-pop band Austra rock a cape and make it more rock ‘n’ roll than superhero cosplay gone bad. Austra closed out the small Yeti stage with a rousing set of electropop that culminated with the bouncy “Lose It”, a slow-burning synth jam that allowed Stelmanis to belt out “don’t wanna loooooooooose  ya” while swinging her cape in the wind. (MM)

BEST UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS BUMMER: The National

After experiencing the sensorial blitz of M.I.A., the sight of bearded saddo Matt Berninger mumbling over his band’s morose guitar buzz took on an oddly comedic tone, as if placing the National in the main stage headlining slot was a giant troll on an audience of molly-whopped college kids forced to sit up on the amphitheater hill and contemplate the barren nature of existence before they could get blasted back into ecstatic oblivion by Boys Noize. Then, during “Squalor Victoria,” the LED screens displayed images of what appeared to be a man slowly drowning, and I knew for sure the organizers were fucking with us. (MS)    

BEST SING-ALONG: Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” post-Cut Copy 

Music festivals are exhausting. There’s really no getting around it, especially as you get, how do I say it, a bit older. Saturday afternoon was kind of a slog for me, between the unrelenting sun and too many Banquet beers the night before (why does Coors taste so good at a music festival?). But we don’t go to festivals to complain; we go to get lost in the bliss. Cut Copy’s midnight set at the Bigfoot stage was a euphoric rush of hits—the band started off with newer jams like “We Are Explorers” and “Free Your Mind,” all upward momentum, gauzy synths sweeter than cotton candy, and four-on-the-floor beats. Still, it’s those songs from In Ghost Colours that still absolutely slay; “Hearts on Fire” might be the best Festival Closer written in the last 10 years. As the lights and music came to a halt, Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” came on over the loudspeakers, and the few thousand fans left broke into a spontaneous drunken sing-along, forming a giant circle and hugging strangers left and right. We know that there’s always tomorrow, but that won’t stop us from living in the moment. (MM)

OK, who let the bear into this sing along?
Matthew Singer.

BEST STONER BEACH PARTY: (tie) The Growlers/La Luz 

For whatever reason, a certain segment of the indie-rock scene has recently gravitated toward the reverbed twang of ‘60s surf music, and while it’s merely a guitar tone for many, both of these bands—which played the Yeti Stage on Saturday and Sunday, respectively—manage to sidestep genre kitsch to do some interesting things within the idiom. The Growlers, in particular, drew a surprisingly dedicated crowd for what it likes to call “beach goth,” basically heavy-lidded psych-rock with a hallucinatory sway. Seattle’s La Luz, meanwhile, makes similarly dreamy girl-group pop, infused with a ghostly aura by singer-guitarist Shana Cleveland, whose airy voice haunts the songs more than it sings over them. (MS)

La Luz.
Matthew Singer. 

BEST ARTIST-TO-AUDIENCE SYNERGY: Tune-Yards

No one would claim that Tune-Yard’s arty, tribalist funk is for everyone, but Merrill Garbus and friends at least looked like they could be anyone from the crowd, given that face paint has replaced feathered headdresses as the festival-kid accoutrement du jour, and thank God for that. (The few headdresses I did spot were mostly worn by people who could possibly be of indigenous descent, so at least the memo about that particular brand of offensive cultural appropriation apparently got out.) Maybe it was the band’s own hippie-raver makeup that endeared them to the small crowd that greeted it at the main stage early Sunday afternoon, but the group received one of the more disproportionately rapturous responses for the size of the audience, and with good reason. While its crooked rhythms, built out of voice, bass, some ukelele and loads of percussions, can swing from genuinely funky to obtuse and grating, there really isn’t anyone else out there doing quite what Tune-Yards does. (MS)

BEST SOUL SISTERS: Lucius

The amount of top-flight female-driven talent available on Sunday was a festival bro’s wet dream, but the running from one stage to the next was downright oppressive. The sprint from Tune-Yards set at the Sasquatch stage to see Lucius at Yeti was dangerous in flip-flops, but I know now I would’ve enjoyed it even if I broke a toe en route. Their coordinated getups—black tuxes on the fellas, platinum blonde hair and Jackie O sunglasses on the ladies—made them look like a doo-wop ensemble from some past interpretation of the near future, but their music was a joyous sampler of pop music’s most user-friendly touchstones of the past 50 years. Laurel Canyon-era Americana, Motown, and R&B all coalesced in one glorious moment during “How Loud Your Heart Gets”, one of those shout-alongs that stops passersby in their tracks and inspires a fleeting moment of communion with sunburnt strangers on the precipice of a massive ravine in the middle of nowhere. A moment like this is perfect for helping one forget the rowdy assholes in the adjacent tent or the drunk guy that burnt your hair with a joint. (PC)

BEST “RAPPER”: Hannibal Buress

Remember what I said earlier about comedy and music festivals? As the guy who plays the straight man to both Eric Andre and the stoner-chick tandem of Broad City, the perpetually even-keeled Buress, despite being one of the best standups in the country, is among the comics least likely to translate well at a festival like Sasquatch. At least, that’s what I assumed. But Buress came with a trick up his sleeve: He brought his own DJ. It wasn’t an ironic, Raaaaaaaaaandy-like put-on, with air-horns and hype-man asides dropped in between jokes (though someone in the front row did take it upon themselves to punctuate each punchline by tossing a handful of confetti into the air). Instead, Buress enhanced parts of his set with audio clips, most hilariously in a riff on the trend of rappers using morning wood as a lyrical jumping-off point. Then, perhaps living out a personal fantasy, Buress motioned for his soundman to drop a beat and, suddenly flanked by ballet dancers, launched into his debut single, “Gibberish Rap.” Sample lyrics: “I’m rappin’ rap rap rappin’/In my socks rappin’/Got on my jeans/Put on deodorant/[unintelligible gobbledygook]/Killin’ the bitch.” Tyler the Creator couldn’t have growled it any better. (MS)

BEST MEME: Sexy Jeff Goldblum

Don’t ask why, Brundlefly. It just was. (MS)

Este Haim as Bass-Face Godzilla.
Matthew Singer. 

BEST ROCK GODS: Haim

Earlier on Sunday, I overheard a kid trying to describe Haim to a friend: “They’re, like, super-poppy, ‘80s teeny-bopper stuff. Like Debbie Gibson.” (The friend’s response: “Who’s Debbie Gibson?”) Hopefully that person witnessed the sisterly trio’s Sunday main stage set and promptly revised their opinion. Yeah, these girls know their way around the kind of hooks that wriggle into your ear canal via car commercials and mall speakers, but they’re also self-taught instrumentalists who spent years developing their chops opening any bill that would have them at every hole-in-the-wall venue in L.A. Perhaps the gleaming production of debut full-length Days Are Gone obscures it a bit, but the fact is, in concert, Haim is as much a rock band as the Black Keys, and sometimes even more so: The lead riff on “My Song 5,” played at the lip of the stage with scuzzy vigor by Danielle Haim, is twice as mean as anything currently in rotation on modern rock radio—to say nothing of Este Haim’s famed “bass face,” which would turn Dan Auerbach to stone if he ever got within 10 feet of her. Even tracks like “The Wire” and “Falling,” tightly polished gems on record, unfurl live to reveal the strong musicianship at their foundation. In some instances, the group seemed a bit too eager to show its skills. As it did at Mississippi Studios back in October, the band ate up too much time jamming on a cover of “Oh Well,” a bluesy rocker by Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac. But as the clouds that manifested a few threatening droplets parted during a particularly propulsive “Don’t Save Me,” it wasn’t hard to believe they had something to do with it. (MS)      

BEST DANCE PARTY: “Blue Suede Shoes” by Rodriguez

And as the sun set on the final night—with Big Freedia whipping the neighboring dance tent into a twerking frenzy and Kid Cudi at the main stage rapping in front of a set purchased from a Lost In Space garage sale—a septuagenarian folk singer, along with his stripped-down band, emerged on the Bigfoot Stage to paw at an acoustic guitar and sing four-decade-old protest songs. Dressed in shades and a black cowboy hat with a wooden bird-shaped medallion dangling from his neck, looking like a character out of the next Machete sequel, Sixto Rodriguez couldn’t have come off as more of an anachronism...until he went and pulled out a song even older than his own. After three days of wub-wubbing and glowstick-twirling, there was something satisfying (and funny, honestly) about watching a crowd unironically twist and shout to a rock’n’roll standard like their grandparents did at Woodstock ‘55. Sixto Rodriguez also had the best one-liner of the weekend, quipped after “I Wonder,” a song featuring the lyric “I wonder how many times you’ve had sex”: “I wonder...but I don’t really want to know.” Consider it another winking rejoinder to Generation Overshare. (MS)

BEST MOSH PIT: Parquet Courts 

Brooklyn band Parquet Courts’ new album Sunbathing Animal is all push-and-pull—bracing one chord motorik-punk grooves offset with blasts of immediate garage-punk urgency. The band’s Sunday night set at the Yeti stage was basically a really good basement punk show: a fourth of the crowd was moshing halfway through opening number “Bodies Made Of” and didn’t really stop for the next 45 minutes, as a few dudes even attempted to crowd surf during the slow “Instant Disassembly.” Also: I’m going on the record and calling a spade a spade. Parquet Courts are the best indie-rock band going right now, and it’s not just because guitarist Austin Brown looks exactly like a young Thurston Moore. (MM)

Parquet Courts' Andrew Savage.
Matthew Singer.

BEST NAKED GUY: This guy

BEST PERFORMANCE FROM THE CHILLWAVE SET: Tycho 

The idea of seeing a mellow headphones act that’s mildly popular on Washed Out’s Pandora station after an entire weekend of reckless abandon in the high desert seemed like a bummer on a Sunday night, but Tycho was anything but mellow. The group’s translation from blissful, propulsive earbud tunes to danceable krautrock grooves worthy of the club-y El Chupacabra tent was seamless. Since hiring a full-time band for live support and songwriting duties on 2014’s lush, Day-Glo-hued Awake, Scott Hansen has assembled a beautiful live package that treats the druggy club kids and the audiophiles with equal kindness. Hansen moonlights as a designer, which makes perfect sense of the warm, embering visuals of girls surfing, suns setting and waves crashing in an endless loop while the sound of Tortoise soundtracking a Miami Vice remake rattles a stack of speakers. Perfect for the rally and the comedown, and everything in between. (PC)

BEST REASON TO BELIEVE IN ROCK’N’ROLL AGAIN: Queens of the Stone Age

Rock is dead, at least at festivals not curated by Metallica or populated by Juggalos, but that’s OK: As long as promoters feel the need to shove an actual band into a primetime slot, Josh Homme and whomever happens to be playing with at the time will be there to jolt its corpse awake for 90 minutes. It’s an unofficial tradition at Sasquatch that the least headlineriest headliner closes out the final night after a significant chunk of the audience has already gone home, and Queens indeed took the stage to probably the lowest turnout of the weekend for a penultimate act. But those who gathered at the front of the main stage certainly looked starved for head-crushing, crotch-thrusting, heavyweight hard rock, and showed their appreciation by using whatever reserves of energy left in the tank to wild out for an hour and 45 minutes. There isn’t much to say about the band’s set that I didn’t already say when they played the Keller last month. Opening with “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar but I Feel Like a Millionaire” sans a Nick Oliveri guest appearance was a bit of a disappointment, as was the lack of the awesome visuals they brought to Portland. Still, there isn’t another band on the planet that’s operating on the level of sheer precision that this version of QOTSA is at right now. Oh, and that long grey coat Homme wore at the beginning? Pretty sweet. (MS)

BEST BASS ‘SPLOSION: Major Lazer vs. Gesaffelstein 

If, like me, you were dragging your blistered feet up the path leading back to the campground around 12:30 am on Sunday, you no doubt passed through what could best be described as a “bass vortex.” Booming low-end had pumped out of the dance tent all weekend, but for the last hour of the festival, the throbbing tones emanating from Gesaffelstein’s pounding industrial techno bled over into the pan-electro dancehall of Major Lazer’s set at the Bigfoot Stage, creating a dangerous situation for the softer-skulled among us. (Y’all saw Andy Samberg’s “Davvincii” sketch on SNL a couple weeks back, right? Getting turned up to death is a real thing, son.) Luckily, we made it back to the campsite, with heads together and bowels firmly in place, just as fireworks sprouted in the sky only a few feet away—leftovers, presumably, from the festival’s aborted Fourth of July edition. It’s hard to imagine doing this all over again in four weeks, which is partly why that attempt at a second Sasquatch failed. But, for the first time in a long time at the end of one of these things, I can definitely envision coming back. Provided I can afford Gold camping, of course. Viva convenience! (MS)

 
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