Sasquatch Day Three
by Rachel Devitt | May 28, 2012
So, I had kind of an angry festival day on Sasquatch's third day. Maybe it was the main stage's decision to wake the entire grounds up with a 7 a.m. sound check after the Roots played till 1 a.m. the night before (dude, we're camping here. Be nice). Maybe it was the steady diet of "Mexi Fries" (whatever that is) I've been ingesting. Maybe it was the fact that the night's headliner was Bon Iver, whom I just don't get. Or maybe it was the knowledge that if I saw one more person in, like, a panda suit doling out free hugs, I was seriously contemplating carving my own eyes out with a eucalyptus leaf. Whatever it was, the Day Three Doldrums had set in. Hard.
But you know, sometimes that happens at a festival. You get burnt out. You have a bad day. You show up in a panda suit and everyone else is totally wearing the same outfit. Whatever. And you not only can't lose the rotten mood, you're too crabby to try. So I just decided to try to run with it and angry-review the fest today. Look, I've even dropped the royal "we" to really get real with y'all (you guys knew it was me all along, right?). Trust me: It's going to be a really authentic, visceral, rock'n'roll experience.
I started the day with Trampled by Turtles, a sleepy little bluegrass band from Duluth, Minnesota. These guys seemed like the perfect doldrums accompaniment because they emphasize the blue in their grass, crooning sad, lonesome, slow songs and generally just embodying a serious mellowness. But then they got all sweet, telling the crowd that everyone usually looks pretty beat up on the third day of a festival, "but you guys look pretty damn good." And then they busted out some fast and furious breakdowns that set their fiddler's full beard a-whipping in the wind and the happy kids a-stompin' and a-jiggin'. And then that panda showed up and had a whole conversation about free hugs with a guy in a hot dog suit and ... ugh. TOO MUCH JOY HERE. Moving on!
Next up, I decided to hit up one of Sasquatch's occasional comedy acts because, clearly, I was in the mood to laugh. Fortunately, the sardonic, perpetually disgruntled Todd Barry was on the Banana Shack stage. Perfect! Unfortunately, he spent most of his set battling the overly loud Maine Stage, which was blasting hip-hop artist SPAC3MAN's set to high heaven. Barry handled it really well, gamely cracking jokes about confronting SPAC3MAN at the artist catering table and putting a new clause in all his contracts that he'll only do shows under impossible circumstances from now on. And the devoted crowd bolstered him with applause. But still, it was a frustrating scheduling move for everyone -- especially your anger ball blogger here. Grrrr...
Then I headed back to the Sasquatch stage to catch Chiddy Bang's set where I found drummer Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin kicking out the peppy, indie-poppy beats and MC Chiddy bouncing around the stage like he's made of popcorn. The sun was shining, the house was jumping and the candy-coated hip-pop was flowing (aside to Sasquatch: more big stage hip-hop acts, for realz. The children love them!). And you know what? These two, who come off even onstage like two all-around nice guys, not only proved that live hip-hop doesn't have to be all posturing and swaggering, they almost snapped me out of my crappy mood. Almost. Luckily, hip-hop shows are notoriously difficult to photograph, what with all the hands in the air and the waving them like they just don't care... Yes! Grumpy Sasquatch Girl lives on!
Next up? I got to watch M. Ward kick out the dusty, bluesy, vest-wearing jams with a bird's-eye view of the band's two organs from backstage, thanks to one of the super-awesome VIP passes Rhapsody's been raffling off all weekend because, well, we're super-awesome.
And then? I got to join something like 10,000 other photographers for a chance to shoot an up-close-and-personal shot up Carrie Brownstein's nose in the photo pit while the ladies of Wild Flag strutted and sauntered and wielded their axes and generally rocked the socks off of the Bigfoot lawn. Rock and roll make Sasquatch Girl more angry!
And then, I headed over to check out electro-pop ingénue/husky voiced powerhouse/teenie-tiny diva/all-around performance artist Zola Jesus at the Yeti stage, where her congregation gaped in awe as the white gown-clad Jesus climbed all over the speakers, called down the sunset and basically turned loaves into fishes. Sasquatch Girl SMASH!!!!
And then I walked by two people dressed as Fraggles.
And then I got drunk.
OK, not really. I just finally broke down and drank most of one of those ridiculous 24oz Bud Lights (you guys, seriously: no one should ever choose to consume that much Bud Light under normal circumstances. But hey, drastic times). And I went over to the Sasquatch lawn and gave myself a pep talk about having fun and muscling through the exhaustion and indigestion and enjoying the fruits of the festival and just generally not being such a horrible, angry person. Blah blah blah.
And then I realized Beirut was also there, playing for what may very well have been the biggest crowd they've ever played for. And that they were clearly truly overjoyed about it. And as Zach Condon's mournful voice echoed off the peaks and ridges, as his band's plaintive Gypsy brass and button accordions swelled across the magnificent Gorge setting, as the blissful crowd clapped along in syncopated rhythm, a little, angry part of me died. (Don't worry, you guys: just the Sasquatch Girl part!) And when a group of bros had a boisterous 30-minute "Frere Jacques" sing-along after Beirut's set, I may have smiled and sung along quietly to myself.
And when Bon Iver showed up with a massive band and a "set" involving ripped-up hanging pieces of burlap and talked about writing songs about college and how awesome it was? I even enjoyed him. But just a little bit.