Sasquatch Music & Arts Festival
May 24-27, 2013
By Bryce Shoemaker
Following traffic delays and some running around to get my credentials sorted, my Saturday at Sasquatch began at 5:30 p.m. I get through the gates and become aware of my age as I am engulfed by a sweaty mass of twentysomethings, faces brick-red from sun damage and blatant inebriation, voices never quieter than shouting-volume. Off to my right I overhear a bro-squabble centered on the complaint of “Dude, you gave her my fucking mushrooms!”, to my left the crowd cheers on a gate jumper as he books it down into the festival with three event staff following closely behind, and in front of me a girl in a chicken suit is sodomizing a boy in tiger costume. I need a beer and a nap, but I push on through the Urban Outfitters nightmare of a crowd, my eyes distracted by the abundance of overexposed skin and godawful fashion choices.
The first act I catch is the tail end of Andrew Bird’s set. Not familiar with any of Bird’s songs – they seem romantic and sentimental or something? – most of my focus is on drummer/multi-instrumentalist Martin Dosh (aka Dosh) as he shifts between his drum kit, looping pedals, and Fender Rhodes. The rest of the band is cohesive and technically proficient in their own right, and provide a strong compliment to Bird’s fiddle playing and heartfelt singing. This said, I quickly become bored and make my way over to catch another act I am unfamiliar with, Holy Ghost!. Brooklyn-based Holy Ghost! presents like a boy band comprised of hipster clichés (e.g. scuzzy, Pabst-loving rocker guy; ironic eurotrash guy; Animal Collective fan in a deep-v tshirt guy), but I can’t knock the dudes for getting the crowd dancing. I watch as pool toys and crowd surfers float along the top of a mass of fans shaking their asses to forgettable electro beats, faces smiling as a perfume of body order and marijuana fills the air. After five songs I have had enough and make my way to the tent where Yppah is setting up.
Yppah feat. Anomie Belle was the first truly engaging set of the day. A gentle looking man with a face that appears to always rest with a carefree smile, Yppah is center stage, playing bass along to his dreamy, pre-programmed laptop music. Though Yppah is the billed star, it is Belle’s vocals and ability to play multiple instruments flawlessly that is the true commanding force to behold. The electronic music they generate together seems to have a date to it, reminding me of when Moby was pushing out cuts like “Porcelain” and Martina Topley-Bird was contributing vocals to Tricky’s work. Regardless, the final product has a freshness to it, and came off without a hitch in this live setting.
I had hoped that Sigur Ros’ set would have more surprises in it, but that was not the case. Thought the band did play a few new songs from their forthcoming album, the set was comprised of their most recognizable songs. Where these familiar “hits” came off as almost tired and void of excitement, the new songs had a richness and heaviness to them – something that I would have liked to see more of from the band. Unfortunately there were some flubs during the performance that were unexpected of this well-oiled Icelandic machine, namely, the drum loop of “Glósóli” had a stutter-step glitch that prevented Jonsi from being able to concentrate on his vocals, and the prominent bass line of “Festival” was more or less slopped through. Overall, the performance was decent, but not the best.
Due to issues that delayed their set scheduled earlier in the day, Tame Impala was in the middle of their performance as Sigur Ros concluded, and this was a very welcome surprise. Heavy psych grooves and Kevin Parker’s vocals cut through the midnight sky like a ray of sunshine, I found myself swaying and feeling a release from the emotionally oppressive music of the band I had just witnessed. These guys rock hard and it connects with the crowd, everyone is swaying, myself included. Tame Impala was the best set of the night, hands down.
I make my way back to the exit, drained, sweaty, close to sober. Everyone around me looks confused, like they are in a mall and cannot find their parents. I laugh at the age gap and how I am at least a decade over the prime demographic. Sasquatch isn’t for old people, and that is just fine by me.