And Freddy’s pass was pretty fantastic, too!
A great big, full, brand new trailer for The Master.
**Note: For the rest of the Sasquatch posts, I tried to use mostly pics Emily and I took, but I was most often mesmerized by the music, so my pictures are few and far between, and not very good. Thus, on the rare occasions I use someone else’s images without permission, I’ll give credit to wherever the photos came from, and if you click on someone else’s picture, it will take you to their site.**
Friday. Even as I awoke that morning in a tent, after a rough night without much sleep, it still didn’t seem real that I was actually at Sasquatch. Too many things fall through, and the closer we got to Sasquatch, the less excited I felt. I don’t let myself get excited for something in advance, one of my defense mechanisms. Too often, things look good, but in the last moment, they fall apart, just like Achebe promised.
Yet, here we were, killing time at the Wildhorse Campground, waiting for the first shuttle to the Gorge. It was a relaxing day, spent charging phones, sitting in the sunshine, and wondering why time was passing so damned slowly.
Finally, the time came for the first shuttle, and we made our way over, amongst the already drunk college kids and the Canadian hipsters. [Side note: it’s easy to tell the difference between Seattle hipsters and Canadian hipsters, Seattle hipsters wear vintage Sonics hats, Canadian hipsters wear vintage Calgary Flames, Vancouver Grizzlies, Edmonton Oilers, and the old red, yellow, orange Canucks hats.]
We got our fancy microchip Sasquatch entrance bracelets, made our way through the mandatory pat downs, and were finally, at long last, inside the festival.
Allen Stone: Our first scheduled show was Allen Stone at the Sasquatch Stage (also known as the Esurance Main Stage). We’d never heard a single one of his songs, but we have an abundance of friends who speak highly of him, both personally and musically. He’s a local artist, so we know lots of folks who’ve seen him play, hung out with him, dated band members, etc.
We were taking our time making it to the main stage, being that we still had a few hours before Stone was set to perform, when a random guy next to a Kokanee beer tent grabbed our attention and asked us if we liked Allen Stone. Half worried he was trying to sell us something, we said, “Sure, we like Allen Stone.” It’s good that we did, because apparently the guy was just trying to corral people into a free acoustic mini-set that Allen Stone was going to be doing in the Kokanee tent.
Thus, our first experience with Mr. Stone was not amongst the huddling mass at the main stage, but amongst 20 or so people. He performed three songs, just him and his guitarist, and let me tell you, it was love right off the bat. His vocal range is remarkable, and he’s every bit the playful, energetic frontman. Although, as you can see in the picture, his style is akin to an old white lady who sells homemade jewelry at a flea market in New Mexico. That’s okay, though, we music lovers have always enjoyed quirky musicians.
If I wasn’t already falling in love with Mr. Stone, he then launched into a song all about insomnia. It’s called “Sleep”, and it immediately became my favorite cultural artifact about insomnia. I’ve embedded it below, for the curious. Check it out!
In the good spirits of those who’ve just stumbled upon unexpected goodness, we made our way to the main stage to wait and see what Allen Stone was like plugged into his entire band. Wee-ow! He didn’t disappoint. His band is tight, he showed off an ever more impressive vocal range, his energy is contagious, and I challenge any able-bodied person with a soul to make it through an entire set of his without shaking their ass, at least a bit.
His band started playing the opening tones of MJ’s “Thriller”, but right after the band started up with the iconic notes that actually open the song, Stone jumped to the microphone and shouted, “Psych!”, as the band moved on to one of Stone’s own songs. It should have been lame, or at the very least disappointing, because that song is amazing, but in the context of Stone’s set, it was just funny and endearing. Plus, he made up for it later by playing a beautiful cover of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love.” I’ve shared a version of that, too, performed in LA.
Of Monsters and Men
Another band which came highly recommended, but that we had never heard before. If I wasn’t already intrigued, Amazon picked the album as their favorite of the year so far, and dropped the download price down to $2.99 the day we left. The price has since gone up to $4.99, but still worth it!
Of Monsters and Men is an impressively talented group from the home of Sigur Ros. They create music that is full to the brim with that big, epic, dynamic Icelandic sound we’ve all come to expect from music that makes its way across the water.
They appeared to love Sasquatch, and Sasquatch loved them right back. Thanks to them, our night was off to a perfect 2 for 2 to start off!
Santigold (formerly Santogold) is part R&B, part poppy punk, and part random other stuff thrown in for good measure. I feel bad for anyone having a bad drug trip during her show, because they probably had a nervous breakdown. The show wasn’t in your face in a crazy light show sort of way, but the subtlety of its oddness was probably all the more unsettling for our poor drugged out compatriots. From her oddly dressed band, to her ironic background dancers, to the moment when two guys come out on stage in a horse costume, this isn’t your average opening act.
Her music didn’t strike me the way Allen Stone did, but she was perfect for keeping the Friday night dance party going, in preparation for the god of all dance parties.
Then, came Girl Talk. Oh, my sweet, sweet, Girl Talk. He can be accurately called a mash-up artist, since that is what he is doing, be he is head and shoulders above other mash-up stars. Normally, mash-ups are just two songs mashed together, with the beats-per-minute adjusted to keep the two songs at the same pace. Girl Talk goes way beyond that. His clips rarely last longer than 30 seconds before he’s onto another song, and at times he’s combining five or six songs at once. In concert, he and his road team have perfected the art of creating an insane, sweaty dance party.
This was my second time seeing Girl Talk. The first time, I wanted the concert to last forever. I was having that much fun at this huge, amazing dance party. That first night, here in Seattle at the Showbox SODO, when the set ended, I immediately realized that I was dehydrated and that my legs were about to give out from under me, but I’d been having so much fun I didn’t notice until the show stopped and the adrenaline wore off. That was drug free folks, I was just having that much fun.
This time around, I was properly hydrated, and though my legs were tired from standing for a few hours leading up to the show, nothing was going to stop me from getting the most out of my time with Girl Talk and a 20,000ish person dance party.
In my short time looking for video, I couldn’t find anything that came close to conveying the joyful celebration that one feels participating in a Girl Talk show, but I did find a video that shows his sets amazing light show/fireworks, albeit with really poor audio. It’s the best I can offer for someone who has never seen him live.
I’m not ashamed to admit that Girl Talk was one of the things I was most looking forward to at Sasquatch. My soul desperately needed to spend over an hour dancing like an ass, and that is exactly what I did.
If you look on the Sasquatch schedule online, you won’t find Seattle hip-hop star Macklemore between Girl Talk and Pretty Lights. You won’t find him anywhere for that matter. That didn’t stop him from showing up for a surprise performance. On a scaffolding built during the day amongst the crowd for no other purpose than his surprise appearance, the lights went on and he performed a few songs for a delightfully shocked crowd.
We just so happened to be in perfect position for his show, thanks to the fact that we were making our way to find a seat after spending the rest of the evening way up front. A bit of the way through the show, while dancing amongst a huge crowd of people, Emily tapped me and directed my attention beside us. We were shoulder to shoulder with Allen Stone and his super hot girlfriend.
No big deal, just watching an awesome surprise performance while dancing literally shoulder to shoulder with the guy who killed it earlier that evening.
Did I mention that Sasquatch is a magical, magical place?
Nothing was topping what had already happened so far that night. My goal was to expend every last ounce of energy I had dancing at the Girl Talk show. I succeeded. Then we danced even more during Macklemore’s surprise visit. This made it so that neither of us had anything left for Pretty Lights when his set began. He’s a more traditional electronic/DJ. His show was good, and it seemed fun for the people up front, but for my money, Girl Talk should have played last and closed out the night.
Overall, it was a hugely successful day one. We made our way back to the campground, via shuttle, grabbed some late night food at the kitchen (which was always open until 2 or 3 in the morning to make sure everyone got whatever food they wanted after the late night shows ended), and retired to our campsite. Just before heading into our tent for the night, we were treated to one final treat, watching a ridiculous man dancing across the parking lot because his buddy turned a strobe feature on his flashlight on. He finished with a furious combo of punches aimed toward the ground, and a high kick for good measure. It was an exclamation point on the fact that Sasquatch is in fact a crazy, joyful, and magical place.
To answer Marley’s question, via Allen Stone earlier that evening, it was love that we were feeling.
Time for the inevitable raving about Sasquatch that any readers of this humble blog knew would come once I’d returned from the promised land. I suppose to do this right, I’m going to have a to a few posts, much like I would have done at the festival if I actually had internet access and a laptop, which I didn’t have. I’m sure my recollection will suffer as a result. Then again, this is all probably purely for my own benefit anyway.
Also, I’m really sick with a head cold and mono symptoms. [For any readers who don’t actually know me personally, I get really intense mono symptoms whenever I go too long without sleep or rest. As an insomniac trying to sleep in a tent at a crazy four-day music festival, plus a fairly sleepless night the day before we left, I ended up going six days without sleep or rest… on with the sickness! Worth it.] Anyway, who knows what sorts of odd typos and incoherence you may find if you read this.
For those who want the abridged version, here are the festival stats:
Days away from home: 6
People making terrible life choices: 19,485
People making terrible clothing choices: 24,463
Memos we missed: Thigh tattoos, face and body paint, groups dressed according to theme (Where’s Waldo, America: Fuck Yeah!, Animal Costumes), tutus, spending hundreds of dollars on shitty beer in order to be too drunk to remember the festival you spent $315 just to get into, wearing flags.
Bands we saw live, at least in part: 33
Cost of a frozen margarita: $14
Cost of a 24oz PBR: $11
Bands We Saw In Entirety, Good Enough To Be Worth Mentioning:
The Good: Of Monsters and Men, Santigold, Charles Bradley, Blitzen Trapper, Childish Gambino, Tune-Yards, St. Vincent, Gardens & Villa, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, The Joy Formidable, Feist, SBTRKT, Beck
The Amazing: Allen Stone, Girl Talk, M. Ward, The Head & The Heart
The Mind-Shattering: The Civil Wars, The Roots, Bon Iver
Most atrocious schedule related casualties: The Shins, Jack White, Little Dragon, Shearwater
Most atrocious visa related casualties: Mogwai
Now, for those who want the full version… Aaawaaaay we go!
Thursday: Traveling to Sasquatch
It’s been a year and a half since we’ve had a vacation just for the sake of having a vacation. Thus, we were excited to get out of town and head out on the open road. Thursday, we picked up our rental car. It wasn’t the car we had reserved, because rental car “reservations” are just jokes rental car companies play on their unfortunate customers. We reserved a midsize car, we ended up with a Yaris that had no power to its cigarette lighter (because why would we want to charge our phones on the road?) and a trunk that consistently took three tries to close. This was for a car we had the presence of mind to reserve three months ago. Fuck you, Hertz!
We took the long way, Route 2-East through Stevens Pass, instead of taking I-90, because we wanted a longer, prettier road trip. We had one road trip non-negotiable: Blizzards from DQ on the way there and back. We don’t have a car, and there are no local DQ’s within convenient bussing distance, so Blizzards are a luxury these days. Go ahead, hipsters, roll your eyes… I’m not apologizing, Blizzards are the fucking shit!
So, we hit Target in Northgate, hopped up to Shoreline, grabbed DQ west in Woodinville, and began our trip in earnest across the great state of Washington. As anyone who has driven from one side of Washington to the other knows, it is a state that doesn’t disappoint in the scenery department, especially through Stevens Pass. Our road trip was beautiful, so beautiful that we took the same route back to Seattle after the festival. It’s an awe-inspiring trip: from the beautiful winding mountain highway, into the kitschy Bavarian wonderland of Leavenworth, and on to the high plateaus, wineries and orchards of Quincy and George, where the beauty is accentuated by the breathtaking view at the Gorge.
We’d heard horror stories about people staying at the main Sasquatch camp, where the weekend is a non-stop drunken, oversexed, drug-induced, garbage covered party where no one even attempts to sleep. We knew I was going to leave Sasquatch sick enough as it was, so that was out. Emily looked into Premium Sasquatch camping, which would have been $170 total added onto the cost of our tickets, and with a little internet research it became clear that in recent years “premium camping” has devolved into the exact same conditions as the basic camping.
That’s when Emily discovered Wildhorse Campground. Best find ever! A mile from the amphitheater, with shuttles running constantly all day until the last camper is picked up in the early morning hours. It was only $120 bucks total for all five nights. It included near-complete quiet at night, had food made to order until 2something in the morning, and had hot showers (no matter how long the line for showers was, they were always hot!).
Oh yeah, and since we didn’t take 90, we missed all of the traffic. Within 30 minutes we were checked in, had our campsite prepped, and our borrowed tent assembled. We were eating a Wild Burger and a Turkey Wrap at the campsite’s kitchen while we charged the phones we weren’t able to keep charged on the road (again, fuck you, Hertz!). Then we got to sit and watch the long line of cars, stretching as far as the eye could see, of folks waiting to check into the regular Sasquatch camping.
Long story short, Emily and Wildhorse FTW!
We relaxed for the evening, turned in early (which was futile on my part, but a nice try all the same), and spent the night snug in our bed with visions of hipsters and awesome music dancing in our heads.
Next: Friday, Day One!
It’s been a while since I’ve written a ‘five things’ post. The time has come.
In personal news, I finally got back to writing my novel in earnest, again. It’s still early, but I’ll be pushing past the 20,000 word mark today, so that’s a lot better than nothing.
1. The Magician’s Elephant – Kate DiCamillo
I’ve never read DiCamillo’s hugely successful books, The Tale of Despereaux or Because of Winn Dixie, so unlike most who have read her work, The Magician’s Elephant was my first encounter with her. Emily encouraged me to read it because she thought it would be the perfect story for my sensibilities. She was very, very right.
I want to believe that there is genuine beauty and magic in the world. I want to believe that there is grace and goodness there for those who keep their eyes open to see glimpses of them. I want to believe that there are such things as home, belonging, and love. I want to believe that if we are good to one another, and if we are willing to do crazy, extraordinary things, the world can be made lighter and kinder and better. I want to believe those things, and in my better moments, I actually do.
The Magician’s Elephant, the story of a boy in search of a home and a family, is written by someone who wants to believe those things along with me, and it is written for everyone else who feels similarly.
2. The Avengers
I know, I’ve written about this once already, but there was one important thought that I forgot to mention in my last post about it. It seems like today is a good day to blog about it again, as in its third weekend so far, The Avengers CRUSHED Battleship, leading everyone in the blogosphere to make bad puns about sinking and torpedoes.
Speaking of which, I still don’t understand how they can say that a movie is based on the game ‘Battleship’ when it has nothing to do with the game ‘Battleship.’ I mean, just because there are battleships in it doesn’t mean you can say ‘based on the game.’ Just because both the game and the movie happen to center on the reality that battleships do, in fact, exist… that’s enough? I’m going to write an indie film about a tortured architect trying to complete a project building a huge tower. The project is going to cost him more and more emotionally and financially, but his ego is going to be so tied up in the project that he is going to push himself to utter ruin because he just won’t let go. I’m going to call it Jenga. I mean, they both have towers, so I think that is probably enough to say it is ‘based on the game.’
Anyway, the thought that I forgot to share before was this: In almost every movie that has as much scope and potential as The Avengers, I find myself disappointed. I still like the movies, but usually I find myself saying, “It was really good, but they could have done so much more! Maybe they will in the sequel.” Not so with The Avengers. It delivers excitement, fun, and size that truly fulfills all of the movie’s potential. It is everything a movie with this many great, dynamic, superhuman personalities should be. I’ve seen it twice so far, and I am itching for number three.
The life of a Community fan sure is bittersweet. First came the news that the show would be renewed for a fourth season, but only for a half-order of episodes. Then came the rumors that Dan Harmon was out as showrunner. Then came the confirmation that Dan Harmon was out as showrunner. It’s entirely possible that most of what we all love about the show will be leaving with him. Hopefully not, but it is highly likely. He was the brains, heart, and soul of the show. It was his baby. Now that he’s gone… ::sigh::
Yet, since the final episodes of Season 3 were written with the distinct possibility that the show would be cancelled altogether, they offer a beautiful end to what Community has been. From the awesome 8-bit episode, to Jeff’s final monologue in which he articulates the soul of the show: that even though we are cynical, jaded, self-centered, broken people, we still need each other, and we make the world better when we embrace that and get over ourselves a little bit. It’s a thought that temporarily zaps the beard off my inner ‘Evil Abed.’ It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears when the final story ended with a single screen featuring the ‘six seasons and a movie’ hashtag. I love the show that much. I really hope we don’t all come to wish it had just been cancelled when Dan Harmon was fired. I really wish the show had somehow moved to Netflix like Arrested Development. That would have immediately made Netflix my favorite company on the planet.
4. Wasteland Companion – M. Ward
I realize that I’ve never recommended M. Ward’s newest release. That’s an oversight that needs to be remedied right this moment. Ward is a master of crafting sweet, sad, spiritual songs of life and existence, disappointment and love. He has the ability to be as silly as he is melancholy. His music is perfect for the soul of the rainy pacific northwest. I love him.
Speaking of M. Ward, Sasquatch starts Friday!! And I’M GOING TO BE THERE!! In the immortal words of Jason Penopolis, “Wee-ow!” I made a list of things I want to do in my 30’s. This weekend, I cross one of those things off!
I’m not done with my master’s degree, but I’m also not in school right now. The reason is a long story, or maybe several short stories all wound up together in succession. Either way, my life is in a pretty odd place. I miss a lot about being in school. I like being in school in general, and I really enjoyed being at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in particular. What I miss most is absolutely the conversations that were so easy to come by in grad school. In class, after class, in discussion groups, just hanging out with other students… it was so common for things to evolve into conversations of deep things. It was good for my brain, and good for my soul.
Being in a place where the goal is to become more than we are, individually and collectively, is such a beautiful thing. The Seattle School is one of those places people go because they dream of making the world a better, more beautiful place. I come to realize more all the time that I am diminished by no longer being a part of that community.
This diminishment is my own fault. Leaving school there was always inevitable. Even if I had never decided to slow down, and then taken a leave of absence, eventually I would have graduated, so either way I was going to walk away eventually. I needed to maintain a connection with a community of people who desired stepping into deeper conversations of ultimate things. I didn’t do that, but now I desperately need it back.
I had already been thinking along these lines, and then I got together with my friend Naomi and our conversation ended up running the gamut of all sorts of awesome things. We talked about politics, art, race, her music (she’s a brilliant singer/songwriter), 30 Rock. It was good.
My brain has been sleeping. Something has changed in me, has turned off. Even with my close friends I’m less likely to share my opinion and thoughts, which is really weird. My friends are safe, they might tell me I’m fucking nuts if I say something they don’t like, but they’ll still love me afterward… at least I think they will.
I need more outlets and contexts for conversation and engagement. Once I get going, it’s what I’m best at. Does anyone have some they are already a part of? Or want to start some with me? Think tanks? Writing groups? Discussion groups? Book clubs? Movie watching clubs? Anything?!? I’m already a part of a context that is trying to do this, and I don’t mean to diminish that, but I need more.
Maybe you live in Seattle and are interested. Maybe you live somewhere else and we would need to get creative. I just know I need to exercise my brain, to be me again, to awaken my soul from its painful and distressing slumber.
Any takers? Anyone? Anyone?
I finally finished the first season of The Killing, just another of the many great shows I am woefully behind on. Now I’m just a little late in watching this season’s episodes. I’m hoping the second, and final, season will be as good as the first.
Sure, the first season did get a little Law & Order: SVU at the end, but it was so tightly written and acted that I didn’t really care.
Sasquatch is getting closer. It still doesn’t seem real that I actually get to go, but I’m hoping that changes soon. I hope it does work out. I’ve had enough disappointment already this year.
One of the shows bound to make a scheduling conflict for me at the remarkably packed festival is SBTRKT. He’s never in the area, and I want to dance my ass off to a live performance in the hot sun at the Gorge. His most recent video contains a crazy time loop.
In other crazy time loop news. Coming Soon has the poster for an upcoming time travel movie starring JGL and Bruce Willis.
Their synopsis of the plot is: “Time travel will be invented – but it will be illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past, where a “looper” – a hired gun, like Joe (Gordon-Levitt) – is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good… until the day the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Willis) for assassination.”
I’m a sucker for time travel.