Saturday, May 29 Recap
It started like any other Saturday, with the wife and me piling into the station wagon and pointing it toward Lowes. Along the way, however, I made a wrong turn and we ended up at the Gorge in George, WA. What great fortune! The 2010 Sasquatch Music Festival was just kicking into gear, so we shrugged off our errands and decided to check out the sights and sounds.
Getting inside the festival gates was not easy. Contrary to popular belief, writing one article every couple years for the esteemed NadaMucho.com does not grant you access to the front of the line. We had to wait just like everybody else in what can only be described as an angry mob of horny teenagers. I was reminded of my recent experience navigating the passport check at the Amsterdam airport. Thankfully, in both instances I eventually got to where I needed to be.
We made our way to a grassy knoll near the Yeti Stage where a band called Fool’s Gold was engaged in some sort of tribal ritual. They howled to the heavens, cackled like wild animals, and danced around to the type of African beats that have somehow become a trend in modern popular music. To loosely quote an old Mystery Science Theater 3000, “These Paul Simon backyard BBQs are getting out of control.”
We blocked out the spectacle and soaked up the sun until the next band, Portland’s own Nurses, got things moving in a more positive direction. A small throng of Nurses superfans parted the crowd and rushed the front of the stage, offering the type of support that’s always nice to see when an up-and-coming local band is fed to the festival wolves.
The first pleasant surprise of Sasquatch 2010 was The Middle East, an Australian band with a lot more going for it than cool accents. Boasting the type of story songs that could fill a hardcover book, The Middle East quickly grabbed the attention of onlookers and those lining up to purchase $8 corndogs at the nearby snack booth. The band came equipped with a rootsy arsenal that included a mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar and harmonica headgear. But this was no ordinary pickathon performance. The Middle East play dynamic songs that start deliberately, then build to huge rousing crescendos. It was a truly inspiring set, and I’ll admit it, those Australian accents certainly didn’t hurt matters.
Next up was Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros at the Bigfoot Solar Stage. Any mild interest we had in seeing these faux hippies was quickly dashed when a group of Quincy high schoolers offered us some elephant ear in exchange for “a small, sharp poking device.” Draw your own conclusion as to what they were poking and/or packing, but from our end of the deal we got to stuff our faces with cinnamon and sugar and all we had to give up was one of Vanessa’s safety pins. Score!
Still hungry after the elephant ear, we picked up some chicken fingers and a couple $9 Coors Light tall boys and made ourselves a little picnic for the Broken Social Scene show. The music was nice, but I was a bit distracted by one of my favorite pastimes: dipping things in ketchup. We quickly polished off the fingers and decided it was time to get in position for The Hold Steady even though their show was still a couple hours off.
This strategy backfired in one sense, as our quest for good real estate forced us to pay witness to an entire Miike Snow set. Snow and his band play some sort of European dance music while wearing matching black Members Only jackets. I certainly don’t have anything against Members Only jackets. Nor do I have a problem with the fact that their drummer looks like the lovechild of William H. Macy and David Caruso. It’s just not the type of music I’d normally go out of my way to listen to. And when their set ended and the entire crowd bolted, we realized we had just wasted an hour of our lives. No big deal. I’ve also been known to watch back-to-back episodes of “Two and a half Men.”
Free to roam, we moved up towards the front of the stage and waited for The Hold Steady. Our patience was eventually rewarded with the performance of the day. It’s no surprise that The Hold Steady knows how to rock a festival. Craig Finn and company are working on the deepest catalog of sing-a-long anthems since Guided by Voices parked the tour van. And when you’re outside you can punch your fist even higher to the sky as you belt out those lyrics.
There’s something else that gives The Holds Steady a competitive edge on the festival circuit. Most of their songs are about youth, parties, and getting druggy. If you’ve ever been to an outdoor music festival, you know there’s no shortage of people experimenting with alternative substances, and a startlingly high percentage of these people still have braces on their teeth. Needless to say, these kooky kids gleefully hang on Craig Finn’s every word, just like us old folks do.
As the sun dipped behind the hills, we settled in for the final show of the day. What more fitting way to end these festivities than to hear the vocals of Jim James bouncing around the wild expanses of the Columbia River Gorge. Indeed the man has an otherworldly voice, and when My Morning Jacket plays a venue as wide open as this he’s not afraid to tilt back his head and see how far he can stretch it. On this night, even with his voice sounding a bit road-weary, James sent the masses home with a reminder of just how beautiful a setting the Gorge can be. Of course this image gets skewed when you look down and realize you’ve been standing in someone else’s vomit the entire set.
See what Dan Twat