**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.