Live Review: Sasquatch Festival

The annual Sasquatch Festival in George, Washington is the West Coast’s best-kept secret. This year, the 10th annual event, held at the Gorge (maybe the best outdoor venue in America) kept up with the tradition of truly amazing bands, incredible views and the weirdest people the Northwest. I’ve never met more Canadians in my life.

The lineup for this year’s Sasquatch Festival was an eclectic mix of well establish bands (Flaming Lips, Wilco, Foo Fighters), buzz bands (Twin Shadow, Washed Out, Sleigh Bells) and up and coming artists looking to generate a following (Foster the People, Surfer Blood). The only problem was trying to figure out who to see and who to skip. With four stages going on simultaneously, there were a few key choices to make. Do I see Twin Shadow or Iron and Wine? Do I skip !!! for Bonobo? Either way, out of a group of 50 plus bands, we picked out a few of our favorites. Here we go.

Sleigh Bells – This buzz band has been receiving tons of love from the press recently for their raucous record Treats, released last year. Although I’m a fan of the record, I didn’t think they’d be amazing live. I was incredibly wrong. Lead singer Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Miller destroyed during their Saturday night set.

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Within the first few minutes, Krauss had the audience bouncing in unison as she screamed and sang along with Miller’s filthy, buzz saw guitar riffs.

The Radio Dept. – Before the release of their album Clinging to a Scheme last year, the pop press had pretty much given up on these Swedish rockers. As they took the main stage on Saturday afternoon, it seemed like the Sasquatch crowd had followed suit.

Playing a chilled out brand of electronic dream pop, the band quickly won over the hearts of several hundred people who showed up for their early set. Armed with only a guitarist, keyboardist, bass guitarist and a drum machine, the Radio Dept. proved that less was more, even in a huge venue like the Gorge.

Washed Out – As one of the bands I traveled 3,000 miles to see, I could only feel a slight pang of disappointment when Washed Out finally took the stage. While the music was on point, Ernest Greene’s vocals were a bit shaky. A few songs in to the set, enunciated with chilled out, electronic, dreamy beats, Greene found his niche.

After that, songs like “Feel It All Around,” “New Theory” and “You’ll See It” shone.

Ratatat – With an incredible light show and visuals to match, Ratatat’s Evan Mast and Mike Stroud simply ripped through the crowd with guitar riffs, heavily digitized keys and a knack for break beats. A combination dance and chill out party, crowds clamored to see Ratatat on a side stage on Sunday night. Starting off with the blippy beats of “Mirando,” the band went back and forth between material off their debut album, opting to play some new tracks towards the end of the set.

MSTRKRFT – This DJ tour took the Sasquatch dance tent by storm on Sunday night, leaving in its wake exhausted fans and danced-out hipsters. For a little over an hour, MSTRKRFT blasted through their set with little free time in between. While it was tough to discern a full song, highlights included an inspired “Heartbreaker” and “Bounce.”

Chromeo – Who would have known that Chromeo would have such a fanatical fan base at Sasquatch? Canadians, that’s who. Within minutes of taking the stage, people were running to stake out land for the main stage’s biggest dance act.

Aside from some of the DJ sets throughout the weekend, Chromeo’s set boasted the most people, done up in make up, costumes and beach wear, dancing their hearts out.

Twin Shadow – An ’80s dream. George Lewis has been hard at work, criss-crossing the United States in support of his debut Forget. During his stop at the Gorge, Twin Shadow toyed with versions from the debut, creating a danceable mix of New Wave pop accented by Lewis’ inspired guitar playing and vocals. A humble front man on stage, Lewis let his music speak for itself while he remained mum.

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