by Tara Kelly Kearns
Well, it finally happened. The rain that had teased and threatened for the last few days finally came and reminded everyone just exactly what the PNW is all about. That didn’t deter anyone, however, and the music played on even through the wet and the cold.
Fortunately, my first event of the day took me underneath the shelter (and somewhat warmth) of the tent at the Chupacabra stage for comedian Tig Notaro. Having recently seen her perform on one of the late night shows, I was curious to see if she was just as hilarious live — she was. Starting her show talking a lot about growing out her hair, and how, in essence, we are all growing out our hair at any moment, she didn’t stick with her pre-planned bit for long. Taking cues from chatty audience members and unplanned moments, Tig made new material, much of which poked fun at us (or herself), and we could not stop laughing. By the end of the set, she had us in the palm of her hand, shouting when she said shout — literally doing what she told us to do — all in the name of comedy.
The pouring rain was not letting up by the time I donned myself in full rain gear and posted up in front of the Bigfoot stage for Dirty Projectors. This Brooklyn-born 6-piece experimental rock group is insanely talented, not just at writing great songs, but also at executing their instruments individually and bringing it together as a whole. Each musician played with ease, yet also with concentrated precision that made no room for mistakes. When it came to the vocals, frontman and guitarist David Longstreth has a somewhat whiny, awkward, yet interesting voice. However, it’s the female vocals that are truly impressive; through three and four part perfectly aligned dissonant harmonies (reminding me of Seattle’s own Pollens) that created a sweet tension and strange texture, to the vocal chops of singer and guitarist Amber Coffman which had her singing higher than most people can whistle. Their music changes pace and energy a lot, as the songs move from one thought to another, and occasionally they would reach into the hard and messy rock realm, almost as a diversion from their typically neat and tidy musical arrangements. Not your average showman, leader Longstreth was surprisingly, and endearingly, awkward onstage. He was thankful to be at Sasquatch, even despite the rain, and thanked the audience for also braving the weather just to hear them play.
Back under the Chupacabra tent, where I was happy to be dry-ish and warm-er, Toro y Moi brought a much needed good dance music vibe to Sasquatch’s dreary evening. Though they traveled all the way from Columbia, South Carolina, their music sounds like it’s traveled all the way from the ‘70s through every decade and finally settled in the present. After just a few moments, the whole place was a full-on dance party, to what I have coined “disco superhero music.” With the help of samples, the band creates their interesting blend of ‘90s slow jam reverb-heavy vocals and disco drum beats with live guitar, bass, drums and keys. Band leader Chazwick Bradley Bundick has a voice the blends well with each ethereal and danceable song that is backed by heavy bass and warbly synth. The dancing did not stop as the set wore on, and looking all around were smiles of pure joy.