I hadn’t been to Sasquatch since 2008 when R.E.M. and The Cure were playing at the festival. I had tickets to last year’s two weekends but once the second one got cancelled I didn’t feel the pull to go. When this year got announced, I was impressed at the lineup and the mix of different artists and genres. That has surely changed in the last few years in the festival scene with the big pull dance music has had especially with the targeted demographic.
I enjoy going to music festivals because even though the more popular names bring you there, it’s the smaller ones that you talk about days later because of the surprise effect they have on you. This one was no different for me, because although the big acts were just as breathtaking as advertised, the ones I weren’t expecting caught my attention. I was lucky enough to see more than 40 sets over the course of the festival but below are the acts that stole the festival for me; if you haven’t seen any of them, make sure to catch them next time they are in town. There is no doubt that Gogol Bordello, Father John Misty, Tame Impala, St.Vincent, Mother Mother, The New Pornographers, Little Dragon, Modest Mouse, Spoon, Jenny Lewis, SBTRKT, James Blake, Royal Blood, Angel Olsen, Flume, Sharon Van Etten and Kendrick Lamar were some of my favorites, but I already knew that going in. This is more for the unexpected draws this year.
Ayron Jones and the Way:
If you were not familiar with them before Sasquatch, you were happy if you caught them. Their chemistry on stage and with the audience is something that will send the boys from the Puget Sound to the next level in their career. From playing killer riffs to smashing electric guitars, the band was a great way to kick off the main stage.
Another Seattle band opened the Yeti stage and the fact that I haven’t heard of them until now upsets me a little bit. They rocked the stage so hard everyone in the crowd couldn’t believe what was going on. There wasn’t a moment that you could look away from Molly and the rest of the power girl band.
Another Yeti band that I’m glad I caught on Sunday that I haven’t seen live. Their sound is very reminiscent of the Black Keys in a way, albeit better. They have high energy on stage and they enjoyed rocking out with the crowd.
I’m always impressed when an artist can take the main stage almost solo and keep my attention. Alejandro Rose-Garcia had no problem keeping it for the rest of his set. Perhaps it was the flag of Texas on stage that captivated my attention, and his uncanny resemblance to Bruce Springsteen. Perhaps it was his mix of blues, country and rock that kept all the people engaged the whole time. I’m happy I had the chance to check him out live.
The indie pop duo of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn didn’t need much of a set up on stage, but that didn’t mean the crowd was not impressed. The duo started playing together after Amelia sent a song to Nick after meeting him a few years ago that sparked the beginning of a great collaboration. The Bigfoot stage was overly crowded and excited to see the artists perform live.
The last time I saw the band was at a very intimate show at the Gibson showroom in Seattle, and I immediately fell in love with Dave Bayley’s silky smooth voice. The El Chupacabra stage was packed with the lucky people that got in on time for their set. The guys did a great job performing and entertaining the audience.
I wasn’t expecting to be so taken by her performance that impressed me even more in the end. The Danish native’s voice echoes loudly through space giving a feeling of elevation through her lyrics and sound. After playing “Don’t Wanna Dance” and her cover of “Say You’ll Be There” by the Spice Girls came time for “Lean On”, her collaboration with Major Lazer and DJ Snake that has burst her through popularity worldwide.
Twenty One Pilots:
This band was by far the biggest surprise for me at the festival. I was not that familiar with their music and the latest single hadn’t really gotten my attention. Seeing them live, however, was something completely different! They were captivating constantly changing up their performance and keeping the audience engaged throughout the show. From bringing out drum sets on 2-by-4’s and performing while the crowd held them high to Tyler Joseph running through the crowd and singing on top of the roof, the band was my best find this weekend.
It seems that the German duo has found its way into the right audience because the main stage was packed with people dancing around the whole time to their unique sound. Clemens Rehbein and Philipp Dausch carried the stage as if they were veterans of music festivals with years of experience. Some maybe just came to hear “Stolen Dance”, but by the end of their set, every song was just as great to hear. They return to the Marymoor this summer with Walk the Moon, a show that should not be missed.
Of Monsters and Men:
The mystical Icelandic band did not disappoint when they came to the main stage after getting delayed by the weather. I never know what to expect from a band that suddenly becomes very big after one breakthrough album, so seeing them live always is a test. The rusty vocals and catchy songs make for a great show and the band is undeniably very talented. I would go see them again in a heartbeat.
I discovered this band by going to a Bombay Bicycle Club show last year at The Showbox. I’m so happy that I didn’t skip the opener as I often do. I haven’t stopped listening to their songs and when they released their new album I was even more taken in. Their show at the Columbia City Theater is probably one of my favorites of this year thus far. It’s hard for me to say that I like listening to a whole album these days, but they have achieved that with Control. I don’t skip any songs and I always go back to it every week. I really want them to get the recognition they deserve because they have a very unique sound that gives you the feeling that your life is the best movie ever made. A must see band for sure.
Jose was probably one of the artists I was looking to see the most at the festival. I have liked him since the first time I heard his classical guitar and sad low vocals. I saw him at Austin City Limits but wanted to see him solo for a long time. I was completely overwhelmed when he opened his set with “Crosses” because it’s my favorite song and I felt so much joy. His set was truly magical that I stopped taking pictures in the pit to pay attention to the song. The fact that the sun was setting in the distance made the experience even more magical than I could imagine it being. He played his popular covers of “Heartbeats” and “Teardrop” and with every song I wondered how a single guitar could grab my attention for so long. His talent and persona is truly captivating that nothing else is needed at that moment but his voice.
There is no denying that Ryan is a great artist and a guy that really likes to help young talent at the beginning of their career. The fact that he does what he likes at every show regardless of what the audience expects makes me like him a little more. It was entertaining when he stopped to call out a guy in the audience that asked for “Summer of ’69”. He was sarcastic and very blunt calling him a little prick among other things. He continued with a great set and even brought Natalie Prass out to sing “Oh My Sweet Carolina” with him.
Lana Del Rey:
I didn’t know what to expect from Lana Del Rey since the last time I saw her was at an in-store at Easy Street Records after the SNL fiasco. I really enjoy her music and seeing her on the main stage with the wind blowing her hair wild was truly magical. Her simplicity and very few movements on stage made her voice an even larger draw. Stopping to ask for cigarettes and covering “Chelsea Motel” gave her a charm that was unexpected. She is for sure on top of my performers list from the main stage.
I was a little upset that the band didn’t get the recognition that they deserved on Friday night because most people opted out for Flume that was at the same time. I didn’t expect everyone to stick around because of such a young crowd but I was hoping a lot would take advantage of seeing the legendary band that had such an impact on rock music. This made me think of how much the festival crowd had changed since the last time I’d been here.
From the main stage acts Robert Plant undeniably takes the first place, it’s hard to compete opening with “Babe I’m Going to Leave You”, my favorite Zeppelin song. From the first note he had everyone’s attention until the end of the long guitar solo. I was impressed at the crowd who was easily on average a third his age but was ready to be swept away by his voice that is so powerful.
It was a weekend full of so much great music and exceptional artists that made me so glad I was finally back at the Gorge for it.
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