Concert Review

Sasquatch Festival 2012 Review

Words by Ice Cream Man

Photos by Ice Cream Man, Jim Bennett

Sasquatch and All Tomorrow’s Parties are my two favorite festivals in the country and now that ATP has moved away from Kutsher’s I guess that makes Sasquatch number one. I’m sure I’ve said it before but the reason’s why Sasquatch is so great are….

– The Gorge – The best venue for a medium/large sized fest in the country. The view of the main stage and the Columbia River Gorge behind it is breathtaking, even after being there for six years. Because it’s a natural amphitheater and not flat, you can see well from everywhere.
– Main Stage – The headliners aren’t as strong as the festivals with 75k attendees but anyone can walk down to the cement area in front of the stage, scuttle over towards the sound board and rock out 100 yards from ANY band that’s playing.
– Size – The capacity got bumped to 27,500 this year but that’s still manageable, especially for the two smaller stages.
– Backstage – Backstage is normally a (scenically) boring place but The Gorge’s backstage is on the side of a cliff and the views are amazing.

Thanks to Jakprints and Ben & Jerry’s for making our trip to Sasquatch possible. If you were there, hopefully you were able get get a Sasquatch sticker sheet that Jakprints made for the fest. And now… on with the show. To keep things moving quickly (for all of us), I’m going to bullet point some more band reviews then Jim Bennett, our photographer, might add some more words soon.

My top four sets
Spiritualized – Mogwai couldn’t make it so Spiritualized started later and played for an extra 15 or 20 minutes. They were the last band to play on the Bigfoot stage all weekend and they did a proper job of closing things out. About half the set was new material and when they tapped into old songs like “Come Together”, “Stay With Me”, and “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” it really started hitting the spot.

Howlin’ Rain – For some reason their latest album, The Russian Wilds, slipped through the cracks and I only rocked it a couple times. I wasn’t going to miss seeing them live though. I smiled the whole set and these dudes who might be twice as old as some of the other bands playing Sasquatch put on a rock n’ roll show everyone should have witnessed. They’re a bit hard to categorize but they’re seventies-style jams rule.

Apparat – I saw Apparat during SXSW and wasn’t too blown away. They had a lot of problems out there and I let all that slide. To make sure we didn’t miss anything our posse got to the Banana Shack early and posted up 100 feet, dead center, in front of the stage. They had the sunset slot and made the most of it. If you’re into moody, melodic, electronic music played with real instruments you should check out The Devil’s Walk. I think it is safe to say that Apparat picked up a few thousand new fans.

Jack White – Before the fest I was complaining that Jack White shouldn’t be a top-tier headliner because his last two bands weren’t headliners (Dead Weather and Raconteurs). Once he hit the stage it only took a couple minutes for me to realize how wrong I was. Dude’s a perfectionist and you know he’s going to bring it if he’s closing the night out on the main stage. I’m not the biggest fan of his new album Blunderbuss but the songs sounds great live. The (male) band was impeccable and when he launched into White Stripes, The Raconteurs and Dead Weather songs the place erupted (“I Cut Like a Buffalo”, “Hotel Yorba”, “Steady As She Goes”, closer “Seven Nation Army” , ++). I dug the Hank Williams cover (Bama!) and also a piano jam piece mid-set (which likely was during a smokin’ version “Take Me With You When You Go”)

The Rest… in no particular order

Tenacious D – Beck – I didn’t see too much of either of them but since they closed out the festival with Tenacious D (and a Sasquacht) hopping on stage with Beck for “E-Pro” ( song) I’ll wrap ‘em together. Everyone seemed to love but sets and Tenacious D even shot off some cum-fetti from their inflatable penis on stage.

STRFKR – I got them confused with SBTRKT and was happily surprised by their electro-poppy set. Looking forward to seeing them in Portland again soon. When Reptar didn’t make their set STRFKR got to play again on Saturday morn, bonus!

Explosions in the Sky – Always great crescendo-rock, even if it’s pretty similar each time.

Mark Lanegan – Didn’t see too much but I dug the bass-heavy rock. Mark wins for my favorite hat at the festival too

Santigold – Fun, dancey set that people seemed to enjoy. Would love to see her step up with a HUGE stage show sometime.

Purity Ring – Quite catchy music I dug it, just couldn’t tell if their setup was legit or more gimmicky. Either way it worked out and they’re only getting bigger from here.

Alabama Shakes – I kinda feel bad for them because there’s been so much buzz but they live up to it. The songwriting and the live show are both top-notch. And… they’re from Alabama! (The Civil Wars too!)

Helio Sequence – They played THREE new songs!! Can’t wait for the new album. Their last one, Keep Your Eyes Ahead was my most listened to album of 2008

Tune-Yards – DANCE PARTY!!! So happy we found our crew so we could all dance together for Tune-Yards set. “Bizness” is such a jam and the Bigfoot stage was packed for this set

Charles Bradley – He’s got so much SOUL. I’m not talking just soul music but something else that you can see in his performance as well as if you meet him. Check out this Summer Jammin’ session we filmed last year and you’ll know what I mean –

Childish Gambino – Donald Glover is taking the world by storm in many ways. He’s a comedian, actor and – judging by the audience reception at sasquatch – a much-loved hip hop artist. I love the line in one of his songs ‘the only black kid at a Suicide concert”

The Shins – I’m not a big fan but they sounds better than I remember them ever sounding before. “Sleeping Lessons” was the highlight for me.

TYCHO – This was pretty high on my list for shows I saw. The Banana Shack that housed some comedy and even more dance music had a great mix of DJ’s and electronic bands. It’s not always easy to pull off atmospheric music at a festival but TYCHO did.

Reignwolf – I have a feeling that for a lot of people, Reignwolf was amongst their favorite ‘performances’ at Sasquatch. He shredded his set at the YETI stage but also played on top of buildings and all over the campground… THAT’s the way you do it!

Deer Tick – They played their ‘normal’ set time but also a covers set before Spiritualized because Mogwai couldn’t make it. The more I listen to Deer Tick… the more i listen to them, if that makes sense. They’ve got some catchy, driving rock songs and nobody parties like that band.. kudos all around!

Blind Pilot – I feel bad that I consider Blind Pilot a guilty pleasure but their songs are so soft and poppy. On the other hand I pretty much sang along to their set. I’m looking forward to seeing them with a full symphony in Portland, even if it is a year away.

Bon Iver – Again… another soft-rocky band but it’s done oh-so right. Being up front with a backpack full of beers made this a great ‘chill’ set. “Blood Bank” was my favorite. It’s crazy to think 4 years ago (or so) I saw them as a three-piece and now they’re a dozen or so deep.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr – I hate bad band names so I shied away from these guys for a while. I caught a song or two (which were good) then started to walk back to the truck when they played The Beach Boys “God Only Knows”, which was wonderful. I stayed for a couple more and they got the early crowd moving.

SBTRKT – I thought there would be multiple people involved with SBTRKT but it was only one dude. I dug that it didn’t quite sound like any other DJ I’ve heard. A bit all-over-the-place yet organic and groovy. It is weird having a lot of vocals during a DJ set when there’s no one there singing.

John Reilly and Friends – Nothing too fancy here but it was still a fun bluegrass/country set. I was happy that Becky Stark was at Sasquatch, she always puts a smile on my face. Tom Brosseau sat in too!

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Ted Leo IS DIY (punk) rock n’ roll and it never gets old. I bopped around out front for a bit then got sucked into shotgunning a warm Coor’s Light backstage…. ahhhhh

Gary Clark Jr. – WOAH…. I’ve been hearing about Gary Clark Jr for a while (for the first few months i thought he was GUY Clark Jr, ha) and was happy to see him get a good mainstage slot. There was a 10+ minute jam where he went all over the place from Jimi Hendrix to another song, to a scratch-jam then back to Hendrix that was one of the most impressive things I heard all weekend.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! – This was a flashback set for me since I remember doing a tidal-wave dance one of the first years during their set. They had some great, dancey, sing-along moments but most of the songs didn’t have that young, fresh, POPpy feeling. Maybe it’s just because so many other bands took the edgy pop road the last five years. ALL three of their albums and these Barn Session vids are rad.

The Joy Formidable – I’m so happy to see them do so well here, they’ve played most of the big festivals by now and they got their live show down. They are extremely high-energy and lead-singer Ritzy even took a digger once from flailing around the stage. Looking forward to new tunes.

Feist – I swear Feist is Anita O’day incarnate, likely it’s just because of the big hat and dress (watch this Anita video from the fabulous Jazz on a Summer’s Day) . She put together a tight band with the three girls in Mountain Man singing backup and blazed through a fun set that included some of her biggest hits but not her biggest, “1234”. I was jealous too because she said they all went hiking down to the Columbia River and I have yet to do that.

Shows I missed wished i would have seen more of – St. Vincent, Yellow Ostrich, Thee Satisfaction, Little Dragon, The Walkmen, The Roots, Cass McCombs, Vintage Trouble,

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