Last year at Sasquatch, Monday was the one day I spent mostly at the main stage. This year, it was the day I spent mostly at the smaller stages, starting with Past Lives at the Yeti Stage. Although I’d waited longer to get in to the festival this day than the previous two, the crowd was notably smaller. At one point the lead singer joked, “This song’s for all my buddies in the VIP section over there… Thanks for checking us out,” glancing toward the empty stand (which, incidentally, is oddly positioned to face away from the stage). Past Lives’ angular post-punk was a bit harsh for me as the first set on the third day, with vocals often a bit too shouty/screamy for my taste. But I recognized and enjoyed their song “Hex Takes Hold,” and also the low-rock “Paralyzer,” which I mistakenly thought was a cover. So although I could’ve used something lighter first to ease me into the day, I did think Past Lives was worth checking out.
Next up on the Yeti Stage was in fact just the music I was looking for, the electro-dreampop of Phantogram. They played some nice mellow dance grooves with some heavier sexier ones mixed in. Guitarist Josh Carter introduced one song by saying, “Okay, this is a song you can bounce to,” to which keyboardist Sarah Barthel retorted, “It’s in 5/4 though so you’ll have to think about it.” On the recognition scale, Phantogram were a step up from bands like Past Lives or Dirty Projectors: with the latter bands, I’d hear some song and say “oh, it’s those guys;” whereas with Phantogram I knew ahead of time that I liked them and wanted to see them, but I was still surprised by how many of their songs were familiar, and I realized I should have their album.
I wandered away from the Yeti Stage briefly to catch the last part of the Seattle Rock Orchestra’s performance on the Bigfoot Stage. They were covering the work of Arcade Fire, and I heard “No Cars Go” and “Rebellion (Lies),” which sounded great. Back at the Yeti Stage, Fresh Espresso were belting out raps to an enthusiastic audience. I wasn’t really into the rap itself, but they had good backing music provided by drummer Trent Moorman and a DJ (whose name I missed).
At last year’s Sasquatch, Passion Pit was an “oh, those guys” band to me — I recognized their name, but missed most of their set and only realized when I heard their last song from a distance that I’d wanted to check them out. Fortunately for me, they were back this year, this time on the main stage, and I made sure to head down to the front for their rocking set. The crowd in the pit was indeed passionately in love with the band, and the band responded with energy and enthusiasm. For a while the audience was tossing around a large inflated killer whale, and when it seemed the whale was going away, leader Michael Angelakos called out “No no, I want that fucking whale up here!” Once he had it, he paraded it around and urged the crowd, “Sing for the whale!”, before tossing it back. Passion Pit played my favorite song, “The Reeling,” in the middle of the set, and I expected they’d save “Sleepyhead” for the finale, but they played it near the end and instead finished with “Little Secrets.” Angelakos noted that it had been a year since they released their debut album, Manners, which made me think how although it was great to finally hear these songs live, I was already looking forward to hearing some new ones.
After the excitement of Passion Pit, I was starting to feel the weight of the long weekend. Over at the Bigfoot Stage, Camera Obscura’s gentle pop was just the thing to ease that weight. Their music was perfectly suited to the weather that day: light and breezy, with a mix of very warm sunshine and just a touch of rain. It was very mellow compared to everything else I saw this weekend, particularly in contrast to other Bigfoot Stage acts, and a nice relaxing way to spend the late afternoon.
I briefly visited the main stage bowl once more, catching MGMT’s song “Electric Feel,” but otherwise spent the rest of the evening in the Rumpus Room dance tent. Unfortunately, by this point in the weekend I was just too tired to appreciate much of the music. I caught only some of the beginning and end of Hudson Mohawke’s set, which sounded a bit hard-edged for me at first, but then I recognized a smoother song near the end and liked that more. I also recognized and enjoyed a few of Neon Indian‘s songs, but most of the set was lost on me, I just wasn’t quite in the mood at the time. Before and after Neon Indian, I was happy to see the fire-dance troupe Pyrosutra again, giving two different performances set to electro-gypsy music. When Boys Noize came on at 10 with loud techno for the packed-to-overflowing mob in the tent, I knew it was time for me to call the weekend over. On another occasion I’d have enjoyed all of these sets very much and danced a lot, but my stamina and tolerance for jam-packed crowds had given out. Still, it had been a fantastic weekend with lots of great music, and I left in high spirits, blasting my own mix of groovy dance music as I started on the long road back to Seattle.