Sasquatch 2015 Day 1 Journal
By Andy Bookwalter
Photos by Sunita Martini
This year I tried something unorthodox: I brought a notebook and some pens on my Sasquatch press assignment so I could “pay attention to stuff” and “take notes” and whatnot.
Unfortunately, most of my notes, rather than being about the bands, are just disparate words and phrases… little things I thought would be clever, or didn’t want to forget.
For example, one page consists of the word “footbaggery” and the sentence fragment “Sven? From vagina?” (See if you can spot those later on!)
As I set up camp on Friday, I was reminded that standard Sasquatch shanty town equipment includes a big tent, a canopy (more on why responsible canopy erection is important in a bit), a binge-drinking table upon which breakfast can also be made and a flag.
I never understood the flags. The group next door had two: a smiley face flag and a red flag with a diagonal white stripe, which everyone over the age of 40 knows is the album cover from Van Halen’s Diver Down. Good choices, I thought, but I still didn’t get it.
My sister ordered me not to miss Ayron Jones and The Way and the band obliged by opening the main stage on Friday. It was just a matter of showing up and sitting down.
Jones is a local guy who’s been making waves by being freaking awesome on guitar. All the promotional stuff referred to a “melding of blues, hard rock, punk and grunge.” In other words: rock and roll.
The band wrapped up with an intense version of “Voodoo Chile,” a clear setup by the patron saint of making an amateur music writer’s job easier. Because this is a Seattle guitarist who is so technically proficient that he legitimately recalls Hendrix.
It was time for my first mooching run on the snack table in the media lounge, sited as it is every year right next to the relatively small Yeti stage. This made for a system that worked pretty well when I couldn’t decide what to see:
- Step 1: Check snack table and state of cell phone battery.
- Step 2: If conditions require it, plug in phone and load up on snacks.
- Step 3: You’re sitting right there. Might as well see who’s playing.
This approach exposed me to a few great bands I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It also enabled me to eat fruit, which is important when you spend three days sleeping on the ground so you can watch live music in a desert.
Armed with tiny sandwiches, I hung around for Thunderpussy, which is a fun band name to say out loud. (Go on, say it right now in a loud, echo-ey voice.)
Thunderpussy, as should come as no surprise, is four women from Seattle playing big rock with shtick and bombast, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Without shtick and bombast there would be no rock.
Rock also needs catchy songwriting, so for that I turned to Carl Newman and The New Pornographers. But not before a quick trip back to my campsite to refuel.
Keep in mind that the Gorge Amphitheater campgrounds are big. Real big. As I wandered through acre upon acre of shirtless bros, wondering if crying would bring a park ranger to help me find my tent and knowing that Editor Matt was going to make me play up the senior moment-ness of this whole imbroglio, I saw Smiley Face and Diver Down far, far away. I wasn’t even close.
I will never mock the flags again.
I assume it drives the New Pornographers batshit crazy when people call the band a “Neko Case side project.” Fortunately, since these days Neko is jetting around the world in her solid gold airplane and can’t always fulfill her pornographer duties, Kathryn Calder (Newman’s niece) does a more than capable job with her vocal parts. The Vancouver, B.C. band’s set was like a refreshing cool drink on a hot day, which is why I scampered back to the media tent for a cool drink. It was, after all, a hot day.
Next it was right back to the main stage for Gogol Bordello, which are like a really spicy pierogi chased with vodka on a hot day. The NYC-based gypsy punks are one of a few bands my good friend Sara has recommended over the years, and she has never been wrong. Had I taken her advice I could have seen all of the following at the Tractor Tavern on a Tuesday night: 16 Horsepower, Devotchka, Firewater, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and Gogol Bordello.
Anyway, I can’t conceive of a bad Gogol Bordello show. I don’t know what it would look or sound like for Eugene Hutz (pictured above) NOT to own the stage. His band’s insane, multi-cultural set finished dramatically as the wind picked up, the black clouds began rolling in and the skies opened up with rain. It was so loud we couldn’t hear music on the other stages.
I wandered semi-aimlessly for a while, with thunder thundering and lightning flashing nearby.
Later I found myself back at the main stage as Of Monsters and Men started. Here’s something weird: I usually find their Icelandic, vest-wearing folk pop a little too earnest and serious, but against the backdrop of the tumultuous weather it worked pretty well.
Also worth noting is that between Gogol Bordello and Of Monsters and Men, a very drunk woman careened into me and yelled “Sven? From vagina?” What I said was “nope.” What I should have said was “you’re half right!”
Late that night the winds came back, turning the campground in to a cemetery of poorly secured Easy-Up canopies and upside down tents. I woke up about 3 a.m. with the roof of my tent about an inch from my face, coherent enough to be annoyed but not to do anything about it. Before too long my neighbor came out and righted the canopy that had flipped over onto my tent. I silently pledged that when we resorted to cannibalism, he would be the last person to be eaten.
- Grandpa Goes to Sasquatch 2015 (Day 3)
- Grandpa Goes to Sasquatch 2015 (Day 2)
- Stalking Kathryn Calder
- Memo RE Ayron Jones: He’s Good
- Everything is Better With Thunderpussy: An Interview