June 10, 2013

Sasquatch 2013: The Good and The Bad


THE GOOD

Once Again, The Acoustic Tent
For the third year in a row, the intimate acoustic tent situated in the middle of the festival grounds, proved its worth. While large festivals rarely offer chances to see your favorite artists up close and personal, Sasquatch sets itself apart with the acoustic tent. If you spin a wheel and win day passes to the tent (you can spin it as many times as you want until tickets run out), you gain entrance into mini-sets performed by some awesome acts! This year, Vampire Weekend, The Tallest Man On Earth, Edward Sharpe, CHVRCHES, and Alt-J all stopped in to give their fans a special experience.


Shovels & Rope
These rambunctious South Carolinians wowed me instantly with their twangy sound that fits somewhere between The Civil Wars and Mumford & Sons, with a healthy dose of barnstorming fun thrown in. The duo sounded like helluva lot more than two people and provided fun for thousands who gathered at the tiny Yeti Stage to catch a peek of indie-twang's newest stars.


Vampire Weekend
I may be late to the party, but I was never particularly excited by the New York prepsters' first two albums. They were pleasant enough, but they didn't capture my attention like their third record has. With their new material, the Vamps mature their sound, leaning more towards rock 'n' roll as opposed to light prep-pop. Along with the recorded improvement in their sound, their live show is now a well-oiled machine of entertainment. They have now proven themselves as one of the premier indie acts of the decade and have a live show to back it up.


Father John Misty
I went into his performance not enthralled with his music, but simply interested. Seeing his hilarious on stage antics led me to believe that Mr. Tillman was truly born in the wrong decade. Aside from the people watching the show through their iPhones, there was nothing to say that this performance did not happen in the 70's. He had all the style and casual charm of a crooner from a bygone era and I couldn't stop smiling.


Robert DeLong
Mr. Delong got the dancing going early on Saturday, enthralling listeners as a truly one-man band. Switching between drum pads, singing, synths, and live drums, he simultaneously looped his own voice and manipulated it using a Wii controller. I was as amazed by the inventive use of technology as by the catchy melodies and infectious beats.


CHVRCHES
My latest musical crush: Lauren Mayberry. The lead singer of this up-and-coming Scottish trio sings honey-sweet tunes over hard-hitting grimy synths and has an adorable accent! She also has the ability to seamlessly transition between The Knife-style weirdness, 80's synth ballads, and Rage Against The Machine covers. What's not to love?


P.O.S.
Going back a few years, P.O.S. was in fact the first act I ever saw at a music festival. And sadly, I was underwhelmed. But this past weekend, the Minnesota rapper earned back my devotion. Mostly running through tracks from his recent We Don't Even Live Here, he spent as much time in the crowd, interacting with the fans as he did on stage. Chatting with the audience (hilariously by the way) showed that Mr. Alexander is perhaps one of the most personable rappers out there. Not even a slippery wet stage and a painful-looking fall could stop everyone from having a great time.

THE NOT SO GOOD



Baths
Baths' debut album Cerulean caught me by surprise, exploring glitchy, ethereal soundscapes that were able to maintain my attention. Unfortunately, with his followup, Obsidian, Will Wiesenfeld, turned a corner and began to focus more on his vocals, often whiny and too straight-forward. At his Sasquatch show, thousands of beat junkies turned up to hopefully hear some of the soothing, intricate tunes he is known for. Little did we know, we would have to wait until about halfway through his set to hear a single track from his heyday. While he was trying hard to plug his new album, fans were streaming out towards something more interesting.


Four Color Zack
I'm not sure what the Sasquatch organizers were trying to do with this one. The Seattle DJ recently won a Red Bull DJ contest catapulting his fame upwards in a matter of days. Maybe it was a deal made with festival sponsor Red Bull, but giving this guy a 2.5 hour set in the Chupacabra tent was far too generous. Sure, maybe he did do well at the contest that he won, but he was clearly not prepared for this, sounding as if a random festival-goer won the chance to open the festival.


Rusko
I'm a big fan of Rusko's music and was eager to hear him close out the weekend in style. Unfortunately, he would turn his bangin' beats down every 30 seconds or so to yell the always important "Let's Go Sasquatch!!" This could have helped pump up the crowd every 10 minutes or so. Instead, his constant commentary only interrupted his flow.

The Food
Other festivals have caught on. Why not you Sasquatch? $13 for a beer? $9 for a frozen chicken wrap? I understand the urge to jack up prices, but can't the food at least be good? Dozens of festivals invite local food trucks and restauranteurs to set up shop for a weekend, and I have no doubt that Seattle has tons of chefs who would be willing to trek out to The Gorge to feed 30,000 hungry fans. I appreciate the addition of the lone food truck: fish 'n' chips and tacos. Hopefully that was a test that proved successful.

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