Gold Leaves opened up the Yeti stage on Monday, the final day of the 2012 Sasquatch! Music Festival, with a strong set.
Throughout Grouplove’s main stage set on Monday, there was a perpetual battle between the band and the crowd to see who could be more energetic - the band won. Grouplove’s music thrives on the band’s enthusiasm for their work, and with thousands of people cheering them on, the Los Angeles quintet rose to the occasion, feeding off of every cheer that the audience gave them. Sure, licensing syncs with an iPod commercial and “Glee” may have helped break Grouplove into the mainstream consciousness, but it’s their pure energy that kept the Gorge electrified on Monday afternoon.
Seattle band Poor Moon are all about thick and luscious textures – the twin Rickenbacker guitars and xylophone say it all. And early on Monday, when Poor Moon took the Yeti stage, their melodies and vocal harmonies took full flight. From across the Gorge, you could hear Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott’s intertwining voices pierce the air. Playing songs from their debut EP Illusion Poor Moon woke Sasquatch! up with a great performance that showcased their melodic strengths for fans new and old.
Ben Howard’s set may have been delayed by nearly 15 minutes due to sound issues, but once he had everything set up, he more than made up for it. Energetic and intense, his performance was among the most engaging of the weekend. Although there were a plethora of folk-rock artists at Sasquatch this weekend, Ben Howard certainly stood out among the rest. The British upstart has only been playing international shows for a few months, but he commanded the audience with a stage presence that some artists never develop. It’s a remarkable feat for an artist whose music falls in a genre that thrives on intimacy.
When Gary Clark Jr. started in on his first song, heads turned. From across the entirety of the Gorge, you could hear Clark’s screaming guitar lines as he barreled through an introductory guitar solo. As people ran down to the main stage to investigate, Clark kept the heat up with a slow burner vintage rock track. Jaws dropped left and right and eight minutes later, Clark finally ended his first song to roaring applause. Clark kept his vocals pretty basic for the second track, letting his guitar speak for him. But for song three, Clark broke out a beautiful falsetto for a soulful slow jam that had the entire floor swaying back and forth. Of course, Clark ended the song with one of the most intricate guitar solos we saw all weekend. On the next track, Clark worked with melody, throwing chord changes and awesome lead lines left and right. On the one after, his band played a funky hook while he made his guitar sound like a record scratching back and forth. What didn’t Clark do? Nobody can really answer that with full confidence.
Rollicking and rowdy, Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside’s Monday afternoon set on the Yeti Stage was a seamless mix of American blues, country, and rockabilly that brought the audience to their feet for nearly an hour. Ford’s raw and soulful vocals were filled with passion as she led her band through a tight, 45-minute set that ranked among the Yeti Stage’s best that weekend. Rockabilly wasn’t a particularly prominent genre at Sasquatch! this year, but Sallie Ford’s performance could very well inspire the festival organizers to book a handful more acts to keep both the Canadians and the Americans dancing to one of our finest musical products.
Damien Jurado’s set was cut short by a 25 minute delay. The Bigfoot stage was having some issues with the sound and mix – Jurado’s acoustic guitar was turned way up, while the keyboard and electric guitar solos of his opener were barely audible from the crowd. When everything was finally dialed in, Jurado didn’t have much time left, but he made the most of it. Fans that stuck around were definitely pleased with his set.
Before the release of their 2011 album, “Hysterical,” Clap Your Hands Say Yeah had been inactive for three years, but they were as lively as ever on Monday afternoon. Blowing through tracks from all three of their albums, Alec Ounsworth and company charged through a set full of guitar-based indie rock that catered heavily towards their fans. But judging by the crowd’s response, even those who were unfamiliar with the band were enticed. After playing Sasquatch! 2006 on a much smaller stage, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s triumphant set had the crowd, well, clapping their hands and saying “yeah!”
On the “Maine” stage, Don’t Talk To The Copy may have garnered their huge crowd by manpower alone. With so much going on all the time and so many people on the microphone, Sasquatch! attendees had to go out of their way not to hear them. With a massive and seemingly infinite amount of energy and their super hard mentality, Don’t Talk To The Cops played one of the most fun sets of the day, but chances are, you knew that even if you weren’t there.
Cloud Cult are a band that everyone should see live at one point in their life, and on the Bigfoot stage, they showed that nothing has changed about that fact. With a vast instrumentation and a visual artist to boot (a painter tours with them and finishes a piece by the end of their set), Cloud Cult brought all of their usual energy and gave an overwhelming sense of hopefulness to the crowd. Their uplifting nature permeated every strained note and every beat of the drum. With such an intense emotional draw, it’s wasn’t surprising to see such a large crowd gathered around the band, but Cloud Cult earned every bit of it. Also, the painting turned out pretty cool.
For such a small person, The Joy Formidable’s Ritzy Bryan sure packs quite a punch in her live performances. Although she’s the only guitarist in the Welsh three-piece, her dense, feedback-drenched sound plays to their greatest strength – making it loud. Backed up by the thick bass of Rhydian Dafydd and the absolute monster of a drummer that is Matt Thomas, The Joy Formidable drew perpetually drew a bigger crowd to the main stage as they turned up their volume. As the set reached a fever pitch during the breakdown of “Whirring,” Bryan threw her guitar down, victoriously raised her arms and left the stage, leaving her bandmates to finish off the set with a thundering jam. It was a testament to the sheer power of turning the amps up to 11.
Fresh Espresso played a super fun set on the “Maine” stage in the mid-afternoon. As you can see from our photos, they had fantastic interaction with a great crowd, and their set was a blast for all present.
Vintage Trouble threw the rowdiest party on the Yeti stage since the Reignwolf performance several days before. Their mix of funk, soul, and rock got everyone dancing and many completely off their feet.
Fun. were met with possibly the biggest crowd at the Bigfoot stage all weekend. Their energetic set got the crowd pumped up, and by the time they played “We Are Young”, everyone within a quarter mile of the Bigfoot stage was singing along.
Four years ago, Feist was best known for a song in an iPod commercial, but on her Monday afternoon set, there were no inklings of “1234.” Replacing it was a series of grandiose pop songs that beckoned the Gorge to sing along. Feist has been touring behind her most recent album, Metals for almost a year, but she didn’t show any signs of weariness. Playful and energetic, Feist repeatedly engaged the audience with stage banter and singalong cues. Backed by the vocal trio Mountain Man (who were nearly as entertaining as Feist herself), the show proved that artists can move beyond their biggest hit, and better yet, make even more memorable impressions without it.
Shearwater played a strong set of tunes off their new record Animal Joy on the Yeti stage in the mid-afternoon. Their new live lineup sounded great and did great justice to the organic and primal sound of the record.
If you found the new Shabazz Palaces record Black Up disorienting, then you probably felt dizzy during their set on the Bigfoot stage. Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire each stood at separate stations - Ishmael manning a drum pad, sampler, and laptop, and Tendai holding his own on a mini drum kit and tall bongos. Each of them had separate microphone controls to throw in their tripped out echoes, octave generators, and reverb, too. Putting it altogether, Shabazz Palaces blended lines through use of a simple backing track and manually triggering all of the obscure sounds and textures found on their albums. For the most part, Ishmael rapped from his station, as he was busy creating even more freaky noise here and there, while Tendai threw in spacious backing vocals and drum parts. The tracks were discontinuous and jarring, and Shabazz only let the crowd really jam out in typical hip-hop style once or twice. But no one loves Shabazz because they are a typical hip-hop group. Rather, on the Bigfoot stage, Shabazz Palaces showed why they are worth listening to in full form, and by the end of their set, the crowd realized they are just too awesome to completely comprehend.
John C Reilly played a great country set on the Yeti stage later in the day. After releasing a couple tunes on Jack White’s Third Man Records, we knew that Reilly had chops. But in his live setup, with a full backing band, Reilly tore it up. And yes, he is playing the Dewey Cox guitar in those photos.
The Cave Singers are so fun to watch on stage. While their records are great, the live setting is the perfect place to fully capture the Cave Singers’ sound. Here, their heated mixture of folk and garage rock comes to full fruition and their caveman vibe is a blast to participate in.
Silversun Pickups may have been the happiest band at Sasquatch! this year. As three-quarters of the band took the stage, bassist Nicki Monninger was all smiles as earsplitting cheers came from every corner of the Gorge. When Brian Aubert walked onstage after, his jaw dropped at the masses accumulated for their set. After several years off the grid, Silversun Pickups released new record Neck of the Woods and are just beginning to tour again. As Sasquatch! was one of the first full band dates they’ve played in a while, they were simply happy that people waited for them to make a great new record. But that’s not to say that the band sounded rusty. Rather, they played one of the best sets of the weekend. Opener “Skin Graph” sounded near identical to the album version and their endless wall of guitar noise got everyone in the Gorge head-banging for a solid hour. On top of that, the band had excellent interaction with the massive crowd. Brian tossed jokes around with Nicki and the two had everyone present falling in love with the band all over again. It just goes to show that the wait for Silversun Pickups’ return was well worth it.
Although Mogwai’s last-minute cancellation was disappointing, Deer Tick’s last-minute all-covers set was a surprise highlight of many a Sasquatch! attendee. Starting with a series of old country covers, Deer Tick soon became “the Deerplacements,” who burned through “Bastards of Young,” “Can’t Hardly Wait,” and more tracks from the Paul Westerberg catalog. As soon as “the Deerplacements” had finished their set, “Deervana” made an appearance. Far better received than their previous covers, Deer Tick’s messy but faithful interpretations of Nirvana album cuts brought huge cheers out of the small but rapturous audience. After their oddly enjoyable cover of the Band’s “I Shall Be Released,” the audience dispersed to see other acts and tell others about the fantastic surprise they just experienced.
SBTRKT threw a great party inside the dance tent early Monday night. His self-titled album was one of the most widely accessible (and actually interesting) dance records of the past couple years, and judging by the massive crowd, that understanding was mutual. Drawing heavily from the album and mixing in new material, SBTRKT was a fantastic option for Monday night’s festivities.
Tenacious D fans are not to be trifled with. As soon as Silversun Pickups ended their set, the dance pit in front of the main stage packed in tight. Even before the music started, serious crowd crush began to happen. For casual observers, one fact was undeniable: Tenacious D shows are known for their cult status, and you’d best not get between the band and their diehard fans. As Jack Black and Kyle Gass filed onstage, the crowd surged forward and cheers erupted all around. Mixing music and acting into a clever and interactive show, Tenacious D satisfied all fans around, and reminded us once again that the metal will have its way.
Jason Pierce is nearly stationary onstage even during Spiritualized’s most energetic songs, but when you’ve got a crack live band and a wall of feedback, there’s no need to move around. The expanded touring lineup of Spiritualized rewarded their faithful audience by playing cuts from their seminal 1997 album, “Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space,” but also included more recent tracks from their last decade of output. The crowd bounced along to “Hey Jane,” swayed to “Lord Let It Rain On Me,” and acted as an impromptu gospel choir during “Walkin’ With Jesus.” For those who weren’t looking to party down with Beck on Monday night, J. Spaceman and his space-rock crew was the perfect alternative.
There’s something magical about Beck that is impossible to explain. Beck is set to release a new album this year, but he hasn’t done a proper LP since 2008. In the time since then, he hasn’t played many live shows, and for many at the Gorge, his appearance on the lineup came as a surprise. Beck was quiet onstage. He only approached the microphone outside of his songs a handful of times. “You got the hotwax residues, here?” he said, timidly, before breaking into the classic off of Odelay! - almost as an affirmation, to make sure that his fans remembered their favorite songs. His setlist was definitely geared towards longtime Beck fanatics, whipping out crowd-pleasers like “Devil’s Haircut” and “Loser” up front in order to spend time enjoying Sea Change cuts like “Paper Tiger” and “Lost Cause” with his excellent backing band (the band that helped record the album, no less). For “Golden Age”, the Gorge was dead silent - not because the crowd was displeased, but because they were in awe of the beauty Beck is capable of bringing forth. And as the set went on, tumultuous applause helped Beck’s timidity wear off. “Where It’s At” managed to get the entire crowd doing the classic slide (the one from his Grammy’s performance in 1997), mustering one of Beck’s few genuine smiles all night. Inviting Tenacious D back onstage to help with his encore, “E-Pro” was a crazy party onstage and Sasquatch! ended with rapturous “Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah”‘s over and over again until Beck waved goodbye.