Sasquatch! Music Festival, Day 3: Kyle Craft

all photos by Brady Harvey

For the uninitiated, Kyle Craft can sing. At once raspy, evocative, and grandiose, Mr. Craft’s voice sounds straight from his soul, imbuing his music with an immediate punch and anchor. His voice was the clear focal point of an excellent performance at Day 3 of Sasquatch Music Festival at the Yeti Stage, drawing a small but enthusiastic crowd. Craft’s band proved particularly tight, every instrument clear in the mix, which further bolstered material from his Sub Pop debut LP, Dolls of Highland. However, Craft was not afraid to change gears, constantly varying the tone and mood of the set, including two tracks performed by his lonesome, accompanied by piano.

The imagery in Craft’s music remained at the forefront of the set — his songs depict characters and ghosts that would feel at home in a Raymond Chandler novel. Whether singing about the woman dressed in a white fur coat on new standout track “The Rager,” or the titular “Lady of the Ark,” Craft’s characters are brought to life by his music, a talent which echoes the music of Bob Dylan and Robyn Hitchcock, among other greats. On the set’s closing track, the mighty “Pentecost,” Craft’s voice reached an emotional peak as he asked a friend to “take the one in the chamber out,” the music swelling around him before slowly fading into the 80-degree heat.

Kyle Craft


Kyle Craft

Kyle Craft

Kyle Craft

Kyle Craft

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Sasquatch! Music Festival, Day 3: Hoops

all photos by Brady Harvey

“Anybody here from Indiana?”

Representing their hometown of Bloomington, Hoops took the Yeti stage early Sunday afternoon at the Sasquatch Music Festival. On their debut album Routines, the quartet (or quintet live, with touring guitarist) solidify the dream-pop sound they began developing on their self-released cassettes and last year’s self-titled EP. It’s funny to think the project began as the one-man band of Drew Auscherman since they now seem to function as a democracy, not a dictatorship. Auscherman shares the frontman role with both keyboardist Keagan Beresford and bassist Kevin Krauter, taking turns on lead vocal throughout the set.

With that said, Hoops clearly seems to remain Auscherman’s baby as he seemed absolutely elated to be on stage and to see people in the audience. His huge smile was even brighter than the sun that was baking the crowd at 80+ degrees. He waved and blew kisses. And even when he wasn’t on vocals, he was mouthing the lyrics to himself off mic. He seemed positively giddy.


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Sasquatch! Music Festival, Day 2: MGMT

all photos by Matthew B. Thompson

Before a closing performance from Twenty One Pilots, MGMT played a packed set at Sasquatch Music Festival‘s Main Stage, playing tracks from each of their past records, including several to be featured on the forthcoming Little Dark Age. As evidenced by past live performances, MGMT are unafraid of spectacle. The band’s Sasquatch set featured four large video monitors set behind the group showing video footage most easily described as “weird.” This was matched by the band’s weirdo-pop sound, which has veered more and more experimental with each successive MGMT release. Though the set drew heavily upon 2007’s Oracular Spectacular, which features their most well-known tracks (“Kids,” “Electric Feel,” “Time to Pretend,” all played during opportune moments in the set), their new material showcased a knack for mixing power pop tropes with more avant-garde tendencies.


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Sasquatch! Music Festival, Day 2: Jagwar Ma

all photos by Brady Harvey

Going into Jagwar Ma’s Saturday night set at the Yeti Stage, fans had plenty of reasons to be excited about the Australian trio’s hour-long set. The group has opened for Tame Impala and the xx, two other bands who have made being an introvert sound very cool again, they’ve released two stellar psych-dance albums — 2013’s Howlin’ and 2016’s Every Now and Then
showing considerable growth between each LP, and they earned comparisons to acid house masters Primal Scream as well as hugely adored and readily danceable Australian electronica act, Cut Copy — serious praise not to be taken lightly.  


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Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017, Day 2: Aesop Rock

all photos by Matthew B. Thompson

Born and raised in New York, Aesop Rock originally emerged from the city’s indie hip-hop world, releasing his breakthrough album Labor Days in 2001 on Definitive Jux, the label ran by El-P (Run the Jewels). But, Aes (real name: Ian Matthias Bavitz) moved to Portland in 2008, so after nearly a decade in the Northwest, can we start referring to him as a “local artist”?

His seventh and most recent album, The Impossible Kid, came out just last year, reflecting the softer Aesop Rock, a combination of age and the unescapable Northwest vibe. He paced the stage and worked the crowd like you’d expect from a guy with a 20+ year career in hip hop. But then he’d stop and say to the crowd, “I’m gonna hydrate myself. I suggest you do the same.” (Remembers he’s on stage.) “Make some noise for hydration!


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Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017, Day 2: The Radio Dept.

all photos by Matthew B. Thompson

The Radio Dept. don’t seem like your typical “summer festival” style band. On their most recent album, 2016’s Running Out of Love, the Swedish duo paired their dreamy ’80s-influenced synthpop with fierce, biting lyrics towards their homeland’s government. But, somehow, the group got the bros and teens bopping to the songs like “Death to Fascism” and “Sloboda Narodu” (which translates from Croation to, well, “death to fascism”). The boyish, winsome vocals of frontman/guitarist Johan Duncanson and the fun, dancey beats belied the urgency behind the words.

The guys also carry themselves in a quiet, unassuming fashion — a far, far cry from the usual fist-pumping, crowd-rousing performances we’d seen this weekend. Duncanson scarcely, but politely addressed the audience between songs. Sometimes, there was an awkward silence as band members waited for each other to start the next track. At one point, an audience member shouted a request. “No,” Duncanson gently replied. “This one is called ‘The New Improved Hypocrisy’ actually. But thank you.”


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Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017, Day 2: Klangstof

all photos by Brady Harvey

Give me water, yes, and maybe an overpriced Slurpee, but I’ll still contend that there’s little more refreshing than seeing a band truly enjoy themselves onstage. Norwegian rock group Klangstof did just that at the Yeti stage, delivering one of the most fun and adventurous sets of the weekend so far.

Their lively performance may be in part because they haven’t had much time to get jaded. Though guitarist and singer Koen van de Wardt wrote the material for Close Eyes Exit over the course of several years, the band itself had only played together for about a year when they played Coachella — becoming the first Dutch band to do so — and, more recently opened for the Flaming Lips.

On the other hand, maybe it has something to do with the restless structure of their songs, which leave the band ample room to experiment. Their music alternates between skewered electro-pop in the style of alt-J or, at their slinkiest, Flume, and slow-building, melancholic rock, more like, as van de Wardt has said, “Radiohead for people who aren’t depressed.”


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Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017, Day 2: DoNormaal (& Friends)

all photos by Brady Harvey

No stranger to the KEXP Blog or airwaves, DoNormaal took Sasquatch Music Festival by storm, playing a collaborative set which featured additional performances from close collaborators including Raven Matthews, Taylar Elizza Beth, Guayaba, and Astro King Pheonix. DoNormaal remains a magnetic, distinctive performer, particularly in moments where she pauses to observe the crowd or her friends, moments of thought in between spitting complex, varied verses. This stillness is contrasted by the occasional intensity with which she raps, making direct eye contact with audience members while moving around the stage. Her style was well received by the crowd at the Yeti Stage, the crowd bouncing at a constant rate throughout the set.

The crowd’s exuberance was matched by DoNormaal’s music, as well as the music of her collaborators. Playing a track from her brand new Fresh Cut Flowers EP, Taylar Elizza Beth alternated between a menacing whisper and more full-throated rasp, moving jubilantly around the stage. Guayaba, too, performed a highlight from the excellent Black Trash/White House EP, bringing the music fully to life in a live setting. The set closed with DoNormaal’s “Dime,” which heralded the start of summer, also leaving the audience with one strong impression (previously articulated by Taylar): “Femmes run this shit.”

DoNormaal
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Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017, Day 2: Courtney Marie Andrews

all photos by Brady Harvey

It’s difficult to figure out which part of singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews‘ music is most appealing. Her Saturday afternoon set at the Yeti Stage brought it all: timeless country-folk songwriting, warm melodies, and strong, but understated support from her backing band. Her song selection was just as hard to pin down; during her 45-minute performance, she took on rockers about bars and loneliness, eerie country western ballads, and achingly beautiful folk tunes. At the center of it all was Andrews’ powerful voice, calling to mind the beauty and strength of singer-songwriters like Emmylou Harris or Joni Mitchell.

While much of the singer’s influences harken back to to the folk and country influences of yesteryear — she elevated Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” to heights well beyond the Poet Laureate’s vocal range — one of the best songs she performed was inspired by explicitly contemporary events. “I wrote the song I’m about to play after Mr. Cheetoh was elected,” said Andrews to laughter. “This is a song for women who have felt objectified.”


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Sasquatch! Music Festival 2017, Day 1: LCD Soundsystem

all photos by Matthew B. Thompson

As the lights went up on the Sasquatch! Music Festival main stage, James Murphy, founder, frontman, and mastermind of LCD Soundsystem, sauntered out from the wings, sipping a glass of white wine. There’s cause to celebrate: he shared with the audience that the band finally finished their highly-anticipated new album a mere two days ago.

It wasn’t the focus of the band’s headlining performance though: instead the NYC-based group treated the sun-baked crowd to a “greatest hits” selection. Against a pixelated red and black background that looked on loan from the Kraftwerk kollection, they kicked things off with “Us V Them,” rolling seamlessly into “Daft Punk is Playing at My House.”


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