Canadians? In My Sasquatch? It’s More Likely Than You Think

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Sasquatch – most often associated with the mythical (or is it?) ‘ape-like cryptid that inhabits forests’ but for 4 days at the end of May (the 27th to the 30th), just outside of the quaint town of George, Washington in the U.S.A, Sasquatch becomes one rocking festival of music to about 20,000 music lovers.

To the readers who have experienced Sasquatch before, congratulations, you’ve earned my jealousy. To anyone who has not yet made the trek to the Gorge Amphitheatre, I will attempt to break down the experience as best, and eloquently, as I possibly can without turning this article into a tome.

Sasquatch 2011

Sasquatch 2011

First of all, you have to camp, no question. I’m sure there’s plenty of nice hotels with nice hot, private showers fairly close to festival but camping is a huge part of the experience. You get the chance to meet some of the most unique people from all over North America that you would never have gotten the chance to hang out with otherwise and there’s a sort of camaraderie that forms within the neighbours you camp beside. There’s also the party tents. The experienced Sasquatch veteran takes their camping seriously, and their party tents even more serious. Walking though the campground, each party tent seems more elaborate than the next and it’s impressive what some people can do with a generator, some Christmas lights and a turntable.

The venue itself, the Gorge Amphitheatre, is about a 20 minute hike away from the campground and is, literally, in a gorge right beside the Columbia River. There’s 3 smaller stages and a main stage spread out amongst the green, rolling hills. The majestic views sitting at the top of the gorge at the main stage are absolutely stunning, and there’s no questioning why the Gorge Amphitheatre is considered one of the most beautiful venues in the world.

Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters

The line-up of bands this year was amazing, from the ‘bigger’ headliners – Foo Fighters, Death From Above 1979, Modest Mouse and the Flaming Lips, to the bands you’d pay $20 to see at the Odeon – Local Natives, Tokyo Police Club, Gayngs, Noah and the Whale, to bands I’d honestly never even heard of until I got there but enjoyed nonetheless – Wye Oak, Basia Bulat, Best Coast. The good thing about having over 100 acts split between four stages is that there’s never a gap in between shows and there’s always something to see. The bad thing is that there’s so much overlap it’s nearly impossible to catch a full set of a favourite band before hauling ass to a different stage to catch another favourite band.

Mariachi el Bronx

Mariachi el Bronx

Mariachi el Bronx was the first show we saw and all agreed they’d be tough to top. Yet they were, by their main band The Bronx who played an enthusiastic set ending with the drummer throwing up all over his drums. Death From Above 1979 rocked pretty hard and brought the party to the main stage, as per usual, however it’s pretty sad in a hilarious way when you can tell the crowd only knows their most popular song. The Foo Fighters were a band I’d never seen live before and have always wanted to, and while the show was great we could have did without the band breaking down each song and giving everyone at least 5 solos each.

Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells were one of the reasons I went to Sasquatch in the first place and they did not disappoint. You know that old saying? ‘All you need is a wall of amps, smoke, lights and a hyper lead singer to put on one of the best shows of a music festival’? Well they followed that adage to a T. However, some awesome person in charge of scheduling put them in the tented Banana Shack stage, so the 200-ish sweaty, drunk festival goers waiting to get their faces melted off got real friendly with all of their neighbours. I would love to fangirl on more about my raging clue for the Sleigh Bells but I have a word limit and several more bands to talk about.

The most energetic and happiest band has got to be Matt and Kim. I don’t think I saw Kim sit still once and Matt has those high kicks from behind his keyboard down. Their show was loud, upbeat and crazy and it was a toss up between who actually had more fun – the band or the crowd.

Robyn

Robyn

Dancing around super sexy, in her sexy leggings and crop top, singing her sexy songs, Robyn put on one of the more, uhm, alluring shows of the festival.  She even took a break half-way through her set to eat a banana, clearly stepping up her game and music since 1997’s ‘Robyn was Here’. I enjoyed the unusually peppy Bright Eyes show from the unusually hyper Conor Oberst, who blessed the crowd with his slightly awkward political views and his rant about how much he hates the internet in between the same songs I’d heard from the more mellow show I saw in Saskatoon the Tuesday before.

Another band I’d gone to Sasquatch to specifically see was Gayngs. Although Justin Vernon was a no-show, thus unable to accept my marriage proposal, they still played that sensual baby-making music I love so much and clearly had a good time playing at the Gorge. I attempted the damned Banana Shack again for MSTRKRFT, but only stayed for half the show. They put on a crazy good dance party playing a lot of new stuff that’s not yet downloadable. !!!, or chk chk chk?, was like an American Franz Ferdinand on ecstasy. Nic Offer, the lead singer, was in the crowd more than he was on the stage and his pelvic thrusts were a highlight of the show.

The Decemberists

The Decemberists

Last, but not least, The Decemberists were the last band I got to see at Sasquatch and were one of my favourites. The band has great chemistry, are amazing story tellers and really up the crowd participation level. They also reminded us about the hilarious scandal of 2009’s Sasquatch where 2 people were caught in a ‘carnal embrace’ at the top of the hill. A special thanks to the impeding thunderstorm for setting up the perfect mood during their encore, ‘The Mariner’s Revenge Song’, when lightening struck at the appropriate time, earning a split second look of awe from Colin Meloy.

Although it might sound like running around a gorge in the hot sun for 4 days straight gets pretty tiring, however there’s always some really good music, and a better dance party  to keep you running around like a sugared up 5 year old at Chuck E. Cheese and swearing that fatigue and dehydration are myths. And, sure, by the end of the festival you’re pretty music’d out, sunburnt, dirty, smelly, and more than ready to sleep indoors and never see a $8 noodle bowl again, but you also can’t wait to get back there next year and do it all over again.

Maybe with less guitar solos, Dave Grohl.

— Photos by Jade Bugera. View more photos on Facebook.