The Sasquatch Festival returned to the Gorge Amphitheater of George, Washington for its 9th annual affair. The famously gorgeous vantage of the Columbia River Gorge played background to another stellar lineup of tunes for the 3-day Memorial Weekend Festival. Headliners amongst the dozens of acts playing on four different stages included Vampire Weekend, My Morning Jacket, DeadMau5, Massive Attack, Pavement, MGMT, and Ween. Record crowds braved the volatile Northwestern spring time weather to enjoy a wild success of a weekend on par with Coachella, Outside Lands and the rest of the Left Coast’s best festivals. Check out some of the highlights below.
Portugal. The Man
The Alaskan psych rockers provided an afternoon treat early in the festival with an excellent set on the Bigfoot stage. Leadman Josh Gourley’s vocals were as impressive as ever and the gang put on a dynamic live show that proved they certainly can translate the versatility of their six LP’s to the stage.
Broken Social Scene
Kevin Drew & Co. lit up the main stage with a set that debuted their recently released Forgiveness Rock Record while featuring several classics such as “Cause=Time” from their 2002 You Forgot It In People. The former is one this this spring’s finer releases and BSS showed their five year recording hiatus was well worth the wait.
While listeners may debate over the final verdict of VW’s Contra, there was no room to argue about their Saturday night set. The Ivy League quartet rocked the main stage crowd as well as any other act during the weekend. Much to the pleasure of the audience, the set featured plenty of the surefire crowd pleasing hits off the group’s debut LP. But the gusto and precision that they packed into their new songs ensured that the entire set kept Sasquatchers on their feet and dancing.
My Morning Jacket
I’m about 90% sure Jim James’ monumentally magnificent beard alone would have satisfied the crowd. Fortunately it was accompanied by some talented musicians and a hell of a rock show and a fitting end to the first day.
The LA Natives have had quite the string of success since the release of their debut LP Gorilla Manor. They’ve found themselves playing to eager fans across Europe, at SXSW, Coachella and now at Squatch. Having being fortunate enough to see them live before, this was one of their more impressive performances. Their harmonies were as pristine as ever, but their energy was ratcheted up to new levels.
From fitting Kanye with beats to keeping HARD festivals on their feet, A-Trak ha succeeded on about as many fronts as you could expect from a DJ/producer. So it should have come as no surprise when his Sunday set was one of the Rumpus Room dance tent’s best performances of the entire weekend. Indicative of the set’s success, about half of my friends had to leave the set early because A-Trak’s on stage work lead them to dance themselves into a sweaty, fatigued daze within the first half hour.
I forewarned every Sasquatcher I could that James Murphy and his ensemble were one of the top sets of Coachella 2010. LCD’s Sasquatch performance did not let us down. In fact, their performance–albeit shorter than we would’ve hoped do to an early set time–was easily one of the main stage’s finest. If you’ve not checked out their “This Is Happening” LP released earlier this year, do so. And if you happen to be near one of the summer festivals they’re playing in the near future, do yourself a favor and go.
Stephen Malkmus alerted the crowd that Pavement had played the very Gorge stage they headlined this year fifteen years prior. And while a fan nearby noted that it was strange to watch one of the best bands of the 90’s play in 2010, there show was fabulous. I couldn’t help but let the nostalgia in while they delivered an incredible set that showed they’ve not lost their touch. Sasquatch certainly benefited from Pavement’s reunion tour pitstop in George.
If I had a dollar for every time we played Phantogram’s “Mouthful of Diamonds” this spring, then I would not be concerned about finding a job in this economy/currently living in my parents’ basement. Fortunately, just seeing the New York-based duo live did quite the job of temporarily alleviating my worries. Josh Carter acknowledged what a treat it was for the “small band from New York” to be playing at Sasquatch, but the real delight was held by the audience as Phantogram hardly played or sounded like the small outfit Carter made them out to be.
Several of my friends are essentially addicted to the Philadelphia psychedelic rock outfit, but by the end of their Bigfoot stage set I think everyone that witnessed it was ready for another dosage. Dr. Dog’s bright sunshine rock was also fittingly accompanied by clearing skies and a brewing rainbow in the backdrop. While those who stuck around for Monday’s shows were running low on fuel after two full days of music, Dog’s performance overcame all of that fatigue and they left the stage to more than ample applause.
Band of Horses
Just a few short years ago, Band of Horses was playing a free show at Easy Street Records a few hours west of the Gorge in Seattle. Flash-forward to 2010 and they’ve released “Infinite Arms” and are headlining Sasquatch. And while I’ve heard that Easy Street show was excellent, their main stage at ‘Squatch was unbelievable and was labeled one of the best of the weekend by many fans. Simply put, the Horses’ sweet, airy vocals plus their alt-country rock guitar riffs and all around rock-ability made for an incredibly tight, grandiose sounding, well polished delight of a show.
For as much flak as MGMT has been getting for veering astray for “Oracular Spectacular” with their new “Congratulations” LP this year, you cannot knock them for the final product. While certainly different, “Congratulations” was just as solid of a record. The audience seemed a bit caught off guard as MGMT jumped between the contrasting songs from both albums. Yet the new album’s tracks were excellently performed by the band and well received by the audience. And within the first few chords of any hit off “Oracular”, the entire crowd fell into dancing fury.