I’m really behind in life right now. Every time I start feeling better, and think I’ve turned a corner, I slip back into feeling miserable again. It really sucks, and it is sapping my already dismal productivity. Hopefully I will get all of my Sasquatch posts up before Sasquatch starts again next year.
Sunday was the last really awesome day at Sasquatch. This is probably in part because it was the last day before I started getting really sick, but it was also largely because the lineup was right up our alley.
Gardens and Villa
We kicked things off with Gardens and Villa at the Yeti Stage. An enjoyable Santa Barbara band who drew a pretty big crowd, comparatively to the size of other Yeti crowds we saw over the weekend.
The lead singer performs with a literal quiver of flutes. So, clearly, this band isn’t exactly like anything else. The sound for this show was a little muddy, and for a song or so the entire right bank of speakers stopped working, but it was still a fun start to the day, overall.
After Gardens and Villa, we moved over to the Main Stage for the rest of the day. I know, we weren’t hip enough to spend the whole day listening to the most obscure music we could find all day. We went to Sasquatch because of how many bands performing there are near and dear to our hearts, and I caught as many as I could without compromising the standards I have to help me enjoy a concert as much as possible.
We caught the end of a hip hop act, Chiddy Bang, and then moved up front for the incomparable M. Ward. Neither of us had ever seen Mr. Ward before, and he was near the top of both our lists of acts we were most excited to see. He didn’t disappoint!
One of the primary things I love about M. Ward is that he’s just so fucking cool. Laid back, always wearing sunglasses but somehow without seeming like a dick because of it, with a soft sing-song voice when speaking… he’s just the epitome of cool.
As is the case with his studio albums, I could have listened to him play all day long. He makes what he does appear effortless, even though he’s actually a really great guitarist. Making difficult things seem like their no big deal is pretty much the definition of cool.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: it often takes conscious effort on my part to keep from heading down to Portland, finding Matt Ward, and following him around until he agrees to by my friend or has me arrested.
If only Zooey had shown up, which would have made things perfect.
The Head and the Heart
This was only my third time seeing The Head and the Heart live. I feel a renewed love for the band after seeing them live again, which is good, since they are Seattle’s ever more popular indie darlings who formed at Ballard’s own Conor Byrne Pub. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how excited I was about the show. I was kind of at the point where I thought maybe I was done with them for a while. I thought, “That may be fun, but I’m probably going to be a little bored with the old material.”
Not so! They wooed me back into love with them with another great set, including a new song in which vocalist Jonathan Russell seems to channel a bit of David Gray. They’re a band that people love to love, which means they are also a band that some sour-pussed contrarians love to hate. I think that even as their star rises they are still delightful. Their energy never wanes, and to be present for milestones in their career, and to watch their reactions to those milestones (especially those of Charity Rose, who I’m pretty sure was crying at the end of the set) is a really fun ride.
I’m looking forward to their sophomore album!
First, I love Beirut. Love! Second, this was a fairly boring live set. Remember when I was writing about The Civil Wars, and how impressed I was that they filled the Main Stage space with energy even though there were just two of them? Well, Beirut was the opposite of that. He had such a sparse band on stage with him, compared to the remarkable degree of instrumentation that we hear on the albums. The music just felt empty and flat.
He needs to figure out how to recreate his sound a bit on stage when he is missing most of the instrumentation that make his trademark sound so unique and enjoyable. Something needs to replace the horns when he only brings one extra trumpet player with him in addition to himself.
**I’ll have to go back eventually and find out where these photos came from. They were just on my desktop from a previous search, but we didn’t take any of them, aside from the last one, which Emily took from her vantage point farther back than me.**
However… after being fairly disappointed with Beirut, Bon Iver proceeded to shut my brain down with awe. His entire set was one long exercise in pure beauty.
I’ve been to so very many concerts in my day, but I have never seen anything remotely resembling Justin Vernon’s current live show. The stage becomes what seems like a pirate ghost ship, with what looks like torn sails hanging from the rafters above the stage, and fog filling the stage to varying degrees throughout the set. With lines of large lightbulbs of varying heights set at three points on the stage, so that the band is actually playing behind lights and not just in front of them, the lights change color and effects repeatedly during the set so that every song has it’s own mood.
One song is even performed lit from the main effects booth out in the center of the crowd, with an effect that made it look like the band was performing lit only through blinds looking out on a futuristic cityscape.
However, more than the impressive light show, Bon Iver’s performance was what was really overwhelming. With eight other band members, Vernon performed a passionate, remarkable set that was literally jaw-dropping. They were just so damned good!
Songs that were once small and intimate became large and somehow even more emotionally charged, and somehow the songs of last year’s masterpiece of an album shone through with all the depth, complexity, and layering that made the production of that album so wonderful.
All the video I could find on YouTube really sucks. Hard. I wish I could take you back in time with me to see this again.
It’s blasphemous to my Roots loving heart, but the Bon Iver show was the most mind-blowing show I saw at Sasquatch… it was close, but Bon Iver ekes it out.
I then proceeded to dance to a dub step show until 1 in the morning, because life is short and I want to try new things. It was really fun, but I still can’t hear the difference between one dub step recording and another… I guess I’m officially an old man.