Sasquatch! 2006 | Saturday review in words & pics
ELVIS PERKINS @ SASQUATCH! 2006
There’s nothing worse, we thought; nothing worse than the unforgiving shadelessness in the 95 degree heat in the middle of Central Washington. Nothing, that is, until the hail hit this past weekend for the annual Sasquatch! Festival, which has tripled in size in an effort to pounce on all other festivals in the nation… all at once. [I’m looking at you, Chicago.] With such expansion, the variety of musical acts has grown, and along with it the variety of acts of God. For Matisyahu we were given a rainbow; for Band of Horses a scorching sun. Neko Case? Welts from relentless hail and eternal damnation.
I exaggerate a little. Some say the hail was the size of dice. Others say golfballs. In a week or two, it’ll be softballs; and according mythic hail stories, they don’t come any larger than that.
Seconds after entering the gate on Saturday we heard the familar voice of New York regular Elvis Perkins singing “Without Love” to a small group at the Yeti stage. Unlike his local shows, here he was playing without his backing band (pshhh, “airfare”) and while the band is fantastic, Perkins is just as complete flying solo. As much as we love Elvis -and the the idea of a stage called the Yeti Stage- we stayed for only a handful. He gave me a shoutout though, which my sister thought was cool.
GOMEZ @ SASQUATCH! 2006
Gomez had already begun by the time we joined the main stage and were jamming to “Warm Trombone” followed by an extended version of the title track off their latest album “How We Operate.” As always with Gomez, they seemed ecstatic to be playing, as if every performace will be their last. Tom Gray [in flannel] was especailly smiley. That’s why we love them.
Over at the Wookie stage Architecture in Helsinki was playing at the same time and already wrecking havock on our schedule. We arrived late, but midway through “Maybe You Can Owe Me” it was clear that AiH could bring a party, even one at 1:00 in the afternoon. They went straight into “Do the Whirlwind” as we started to dance and soaking up the sun. And with the that Sasquatch reached it’s first euphoric moment.
The second came only moments later as Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks rocked “Baby C’mon” to those of us wise enough to skip Sufjan. A late addition to the festival, Malkmus played a whole string of tunes off the forgottenly excellent 2005 Face the Truth before going back to some of his older material -I didn’t recognize any Pavement however. It’s a shame Malkmus didn’t tour more last year to remind yet again all how awesome he is. We forget bands who don’t tour. Or tour too much. Either way, he went head to head against that Sufjan guy and the crowd was thinner than it should have been.
“WAYNE COYNE WATCHING IN THE WINGS”
With Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips watching in the wings, Band of Horses took over from there and all we can say is, Wow. Of all the bands on Sub Pop that sound alike [Shins, Rogue Wave, Fruit Bats] this latest addition is far, far more engaging. People in Seattle are damn proud of this band and now we can see why. Ben Bridwell sports a pedal steel guitar and some badass tattoos. To fill out their emerging setlist, they included a new song called “No one’s Gonna Love You” and an Hall & Oats cover “You Make My Dreams.” Bridwell was a remarkably gracious performer. When he thanked the audience for coming, someone shouted “Thanks for the album.” He replied “Hey, thanks for the attitude.”
If that’s not enough politeness for you, try the Ben Bridwell appreciation thread.
We left the Constantines to catch Neko play the main stage. Or so we thought. After only a few songs, the hail began to fall and what at first seemed like ‘a really cool experience’ quickly became cold, wet, and annoying. Some took cover beneath strangers’ tarps hoping it pass sooner than later. Others found more firm coverage. I just got soaked.
“I JUST GOT SOAKED”
Thirty minutes later, the weather let up and Neko never finished her set. The Wookie and Yeti stages closed down for the day leaving Sam Roberts, Matt Costa, Tim Seely, and Common Market without a show. According to the Seattlest, Common Market popped their CD into their van and began to freestyle for the crowds as they made their way out to their cars for dry clothes.
Once the sky cleared, the Tragically Hip played to a crowd soaked to the bone. Most of those excited by this point were Canadians who were equally as interested in the hockey score. The Shins played after them and -I hate to admit it because I love them- they were once again rather forgetable. James Mercer is still an unparalleled songwriter, but as live entertainers they fall a little short from where they need to be. Then again, those who I spoke with loved them just the same.
BEN HARPER @ SASQUATCH! 2006
In a switch of line-up due to the inclimate weather, Ben Harper played next, thus irking many hoping to see the Flaming Lips before calling it a night. We were a little bothered, but wanted to see most of Harper anyway. His show last summer at Irving Plaza, NYC, was supposed to be a rare and intimate evening but turned out to be rather tedious one. This time, Harper was back to form in the grandiose outdoors. He played a two-hour double set show, beginning the second set with three solo and ending the evening on an -ahem- high note: “Burn One Down” and “Steal My Kisses.”
For those who had the stamina after the two hours of Harper, the staging for the Flaming Lips was ridiculously long. “This can’t be worth it” I thought around 12:45 AM, already seven and a half hours standing at the main stage. The second the Lips started, it was. Totally worth it. The aliens to the left, the santas to the right. Coyne riding the crowd in his giant gerbil ball. The camera microphone. The smoke gun. The green balls everywhere [the size of hail!]. It actually looked like a Jose Gonzalez commercial for a second. And despite the theroretically depleting crowd, the main pit was as packed as it was all day, making for one hell of an insane dance party during the guitar solo in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
FLAMING LIPS @ SASQUATCH! 2006
“Yoshimii” was awesome. Everything was awesome. My clothes were drying. I was tired but my adrenaline was still high. It as with regret that I left the Flaming Lips early, but it was 1:30 and you can’t sleep in at a campsite. When you neighbors wake up, you wake up.
That night I dreamt the Lips played till dawn…
The Flaming Lips @ Webster Hall, NYC | pics