A Slice of Fried Gold

Sasquatch Day 1

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fast forward five and a half hours from the previous post...it's 5 am and we are just finishing setting up our tents so we can go to bed and go to the venue in five short hours. After a car ride with no music (Sheri's car was broken into right before the trip - damn thieves!) all of us were permanently bonded in a trial by fire - a car ride solely dependant on conversations - and were ready for anything at this point. (note: I made four posts today - there are three more below for your reading pleasure)

John and Trent setting up their tent with the sun coming up behind them

Sheri finishing up preparation of breakfast burritos

I suppose what I meant to say was that potentially we could sleep for five hours. But we didn't. Of course not. We slept for two hours, as Sheri and I both got up (to be fair, I slept a bit in the car ride, slept a ton the day before, and slept like a rock for two hours) around 7/7:30 and began getting ourselves situated for the day.

This of course meant breakfast, getting our packs ready to bring in, brushing our teeth, everything. Quick tangent: Sheri was the absolute MVP of the weekend. She made breakfast and dinner for all three days, she brought us snacks and lunch materials for during the day, and she brought sunscreen. Without her, I'd probably be either emaciated or extremely poor right now, plus I'd likely look like a tomato. None of those are good things.

The view of the main stage from above - best venue ever man

After everyone got ready, we all piled aboard the shuttle and got in the enormous line to get in. This gave us time to pick Trent up a pair of sunglasses and time for me to get batteries, so ultimately the line worked out for us. After we got through the line, we rushed in and settled on the best spot we could find - fairly good, but kind of lean-y to the left which wasn't the best deal ever.

Fleet Foxes

The first band up on the main stage was Seattle's Fleet Foxes, bringing their folky, dreamy style of rock to the Gorge at the early hour of Noon. They were very good sounding, if not a bit boring as they just sat there and played. No energy, just performing. That's fine and all, just not my cup of tea - but it did give me time to lay back and work on my tan.

Tangent two: The weather was very good this day, as it was gloriously sunny all day but ended up raining as the day faded to night. Probably 70 to 75 degrees and mostly sunny. Good start!

Sheri, John, and Trent at the blanket


Dengue Fever was up next on the mainstage, and they were interrupted only by Sheri, Erik, and I checking out Newton Faulkner on the Wookie Stage (the stages at the festival were called Sasquatch, Wookie, and Yeti respectively) for a song or two. Both were rather non-descript, but gave more time to rest as we were all crazy tired.

The first band I was really excited about was on the main stage next, and that was Beirut. Beirut is Zach Condon's collective of Balkan styled folk rock artists, and they were very good and did not disappoint. Lots of people on stage that were all very talented multi-instrumentalists, and they performed their tracks very, very admirably. We even got to hear a few new tracks, all of which sounded very promising indeed.

Rainn Wilson disappointing us so well

Up next, we caught a snippet of Ozomatli (entertaining), checked out Kathleen Edwards (cute, but snore inducing), ate some snacks, and then raced off back to the main stage to catch the next big and exciting band - the National.

Or so we thought.

As we sat in excitement, Rainn Wilson (Dwight from the Office) came out and joked with the audience for a good five or ten minutes, and then informed us that the National's bus had broken down and that they would be missing their set - to be replaced by another performance by Fleet Foxes. Fannnnntastic. Erik and I were massively dejected, until we got back to the blanket where Sheri informed us that she was told that the National would be performing at the Yeti stage at 7:45. Crisis averted!

Vince Mira and the Roy Kay Trio

We did not want to watch Fleet Foxes again, so Erik, Sheri, and I wandered off to check out Vince Mira and the Roy Kay Trio at the Yeti Stage. We had read about him and his Johnny Cash impersonation based set, but we didn't know what to expect. This was the first major surprise of the day - he was incredible. He sounded EXACTLY like Johnny Cash, and this is a fifteen year old kid from Federal Way. It absolutely boggled my mind, and provided one of the most entertaining sets of the day.

After that set, we wandered into the Rock Band building and tried our hand at melting some faces. Rock Band was one of the major sponsors of Sasquatch, so they had an entire building dedicated to it and a competition with prizes for the best band. We obviously did not win, but it was very good time as they had costumes for bands to put on. We looked ridiculous but rocked very hard, and it was great to get out of the sun for a bit.

Tangent three: On the third day we wandered back into the building to find that apparently some band actually scored over 1 million points on a song. I'm convinced that was actually a band playing, but I have no proof of this.

The New Pornographers

Shortly thereafter, we went back to the blanket to check out the New Pornographers, but at this point extreme tiredness was setting in for Erik and I, not to mention I was beginning to get disillusioned at performances. There was absolutely no energy in sets - they were just standing and playing. Sometimes that is good, but not when every group is just like that. There needed to be something to mix that up, and the New Pornographers were clearly not that.

What could save us?


Crudo could! As Erik and I were walking off to go back to the blanket before M.I.A. was to perform, we heard pure insanity coming from the Wookie stage. What was that delicious noise?! Was that...was that rap I hear? It was, as it was Crudo, a new outfit formed by Dan the Automator (Gorillaz self-titled/Handsome Boy Modeling School fame) and Mike Patton (Faith No More).

This was the perfect change of pace, as it was organized chaos on stage - a fusion of rock and slick hip hop beats, plus two incredible emcees and one amazing beat boxing woman. Seriously - best beat boxer this side of Matisyahu. However, even with all the greatness we only got to watch about 10 minutes of the set as it was time for the highlight of the day - M.I.A.

M.I.A. and her backup

Dance party plus!!!

M.I.A. and her party posse

M.I.A. was predictably glorious, coming out with a DJ, a backup singer/dancer, and a dude that just danced. Great energy, sounded fantastic, played a brilliant setlist that seemlessly meshed her two albums, and had really entertaining videos playing on the ginormous screens on both sides of the stage.

However, what really capped off the set and made it so incredible was the fact that with four songs left, she casually invited the audience up on stage to have a dance party with her. So for two songs, she performed with what must have been 100 people on stage with her. One of those songs was personal favorite track "Boyz." It was a hell of a sight to see, and I was horribly envious that I didn't get up there (not without trying of course).

After that, she finished with "Galang" from her first album and "Paper Planes" from her newest album, and it was a stunning way to finish the best set of the day. Great job to M.I.A. on really throwing a change up on the main stage audience.

Rainn Wilson introducing the National

After M.I.A.'s set, Erik and I rushed off to Yeti to catch the National, and once again Rainn Wilson appeared to address the audience, but this time to entertain and to announce that the band would in fact be playing (also to note, he claims that they are the greatest rock band on Earth, which I thought was super cool).

Tangent four: After the set started, Wilson came out front to watch the band. After getting pested by people and getting killed by sound, he walked directly to where Erik and I were standing to watch. This exchange then occurred:

Me: Rainn, I just wanted to say - you're a badass. (reaches hand out to shake hands)
Rainn: Dude...you're alright. (shakes my hand)

Still haven't washed my hand.

Ok. That's a lie. But still, very cool.

The National

As for the National themselves, they were the second best performers of the day, cycling between tracks off their releases Boxer and Alligator and sounding fantastic on all of them. I think their live performance made me respect them even more, as the lead singer has a beautiful voice, but it was extremely interesting hearing him throw even more passion behind the lyrics.

The whole band worked very deftly together, but one major complaint I had was that their drumming has always been the most dynamic of all elements to their songs, but their levels strongly favored the guitars over drums, which killed me! I wanted to hear the dynamic drumming from tracks like "Squalor Victoria" in all their glory, but I felt a little robbed of it. Overall, top notch performance though.

Modest Mouse

Erik and I were dead tired after the National though, and after watching three or four songs of Modest Mouse (didn't feel that special, sounded good, just wasn't feeling it then) we decided to bail altogether and go back to the campsite for some much needed rest. We skipped out on headliners R.E.M. altogether, although in our peaceful slumber I don't think either of us cared.

Band of the day

M.I.A. absolutely rocked the house. No one touched her on the first day, as her show was incredibly dynamic and different than everyone else that performed. Worth the wait, worth the hype. Stellar show.

Surprise of the day

Meeting Rainn Wilson was a thrill, even though in typical David fashion I froze like a deer in headlights and couldn't come up with anything interesting to say. Did not see that coming!

Disappointment of the day

The general homogeny of the day 1 lineup mixed with the lack of energy from performers was pretty disappointing overall to me, but what are you going to do. Definitely put me on edge going in to days 2 and 3.

Day 1 grade: B

Bands seen: Fleet Foxes, Newton Faulkner, Dengue Fever, Beirut, Ozomatli, Vince Mira and the Roy Kay Trio, the New Pornographers, Crudo, M.I.A., the National, Modest Mouse.

Overall, good start to the festival. Some of my disappointments may be tied to the fact I was insanely tired and operating on two hours of sleep, but they still are complaints so I definitely couldn't grade the day flawlessly. Tomorrow I'll post my breakdowns of days 2 and 3, so be expecting that.


Patty said...

Glad the National got there after all, it gave you the opportunity to talk to Mr. Wilson.

Post a Comment