Sasquatch Music Festival
Sunday, May 29, 2016
The Gorge Amphitheater
By Andy Bookwalter; Photos Lynae Cook
Well, Sunday at Sasquatch was weird.
If you don’t love TacocaT and everything about them you are a sad wretch and I pity you. That said, they don’t control the winds. So, when their set on the main stage was delayed due to “shit blowin’ all over the place,” I was forced to broaden my horizons and hear something new.
This came via Ruler, a band fronted by Cataldo’s Matt Batey. I like my power pop like I like my breakfast, crunchy and guitar based, and these guys delivered.
Next up was highly-regarded band Wimps, who turned out to be three non-teenagers writing songs about mundane things like couches and crappy apartments. Different from TacocaT, but they valiantly took up the non-electronic punk pop banner with short, catchy songs. What a great band.
It had been a full day since anything near me caught on fire, so it was no surprise when I looked towards the campground area and saw the sky filled with smoke. As much as I didn’t want to be the guy whose camper started the Great Sasquatch Fire of 2016, I figured I ought to check it out.
Back at camp, the wind that had been heavy all day was blowing the wildfire away from us. (A 180 degree wind direction change would have caused a conflagration of weed and glitter unrivaled in human history.) Fortunately that never happened; a quick nap and a donut and I went back inside.
The Sasquatch stage remained closed, which was unfortunate for a lot of bands and their fans but kind of a bonanza for lesser known acts. Specifically, Yo La Tengo (pictured above) and Kaleo from Iceland. I’ve taken more than a few cheap shots at Icelandic music, what with the moody howling and Bjork being all eccentric and stuff, but when it’s time to nut up and admit I can be wrong I will … most of the time. So let me say that Kaleo was great. No squeaking, no atmospheric or whooshy keyboards, just electric folky country rock that could have come out of Georgia or Detroit or anywhere, apparently even Reykjavik!
Bully was up next. The Nashbville band, whose ferocious singer/songwriter Alicia Bognanno worked at Steve Albini’s Electrical Studio in Chicago, band sounded EXACTLY like a band with members that worked with Steve Albini.
Midway through Bully’s set a tweet went out from Sasquatch saying only “Be on the lawn at 8:15”. That’s all. Allen Stone had already been rescheduled, no official word on Alabama Shakes, or The Cure, so what could they be referring to? Frankly I was ready to write off Sunday, so I wandered towards the lawn. Leon Bridges had set up and was doing a completely inaudible acoustic set for 50 or so people who were surrounded by about 1000 more people wondering out loud who was playing and why they couldn’t find him a microphone. A very cool gesture probably wasted on most of the crowd.
All of a sudden a wave of people flooded into the previously closed lower main stage area; either the main stage was open or we had a bit of a riot on our hands. Entertaining either way and soon after that Alabama Shakes played a beautiful set of roots and soul, much of which I missed because I got cold and had to get a coat. (And of course my enchanted fleece pants.)
Clad appropriately, there was nothing left but to wait for The Cure with a mix of anticipation and jaded cynicism. I loved them as a teenager (a long, long time ago) and I really didn’t want to see a cover band made up of the actual band hauling out hits from their long past glory days for my amusement. Except that I also kind of did. Here’s the thing: it was MAGIC. Robert Smith and company sounded fantastic. I also made a discovery of something I’m calling reverse nostalgia until I think of a better name. Basically, The Cure (and The Smiths) were the soundtrack to a time in my life when I was unhappy and insecure and very much at odds with the rest of human society. (I know, real unusual for a teenager to be moody and insecure; I didn’t say I was unique) Listening to these songs again, many for the first time in decades, didn’t turn me back into a depressed teenager in the early 80’s, they reminded me of what an awesome life I have now. I’ve always thought of nostalgia as looking back at some alleged “good old days” to remind yourself that you’ve peaked a long time ago. Listening to “The Walk” and remembering how screwed up my brain was in 1983 just made my life in 2016 seem even cooler. Clearly my thoughts weren’t going to get any deeper, so off to bed I went.
Monday morning I checked the schedule, didn’t see anything that grabbed me, and decided to put as many miles as possible between me and Florence And The Machine. Aside from the Nada Mucho Command Center (a.k.a. Camper Van Bookwalter) blowing a tire at 70 mph on I-90 the trip home was uneventful, if slow.
Some notes that didn’t fit into earlier recaps, and might not fit here either:
- If getting old means I can wear whatever the hell kind of shoes I want, without caring about how stupid they look, then sign me up!
- A short list of bands and musicians you should care about: Andra Day, A$AP Rocky, Brothers From Another, Protomartyr, Vic Mensa, Ruler, Wimps, Kaleo, Bully, and The Dip
- The styles this year included dust, butt cheeks, and e-cigarettes. I thought I saw the infamous white guy wearing the Native American headdress, when he got closer I realized it was a french fry hat. My vision is not that great.
Until next year.