photo credit: Kyle Johnson (official Sasquatch! Flickr page)
The tenth anniversary of the Pacific Northwest’s Sasquatch! Music Festival 2011 had its ups and downs: riots broke out at the festival entrance, bipolar weather had people burning one minute and freezing the next, and many concertgoers’ tents, including my friends’, were literally ripped apart and looted during late-night performances. But despite the (relatively few) setbacks, I’d give almost anything to be back at The Gorge Amphitheatre, dancing to my favorite bands and discovering new acts to obsess over. Here are some musical highlights from my Sasquatch! trip this year.
My musical adventure began Friday night with DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid. The Portland-based act is known for its Bollywood/bhangra/punjabi and hip hop/techno infusions, and the duo certainly did not disappoint. Even though they were scheduled during the same time as the Foo Fighters, DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid packed the Banana Shack with bass-heavy dance beats and hundreds – thousands if you include the duo’s performances throughout the weekend – of concertgoers who loved them. DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid were the only act privileged enough to perform every single day of Sasquatch!; they later shared the stage with big names such as Skrillex and Major Lazer. Anyone and everyone in the Portland area should make it a point to catch DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid at their FREE weekly gig Thursday nights at Al’s Den, a new bar inside McMenamin’s Crystal Hotel at 12th & Burnside.
The Secret Sisters
I spent most of Saturday wandering around to different stages, as so many other Sasquatch! attendees often do. After catching the tail-end of Pepper Rabbit’s performance on the Yeti stage, I went to watch The Secret Sisters on the Bigfoot stage. The two siblings from Muscle Shoals, Ala. put on quite the show, filling up the field with new and old fans alike. I loved how understated the Sisters’ music was – their 1950s-inspired country sound was a perfect fit for the crowd and the idyllic, sunny afternoon. The ladies are currently on tour with Ray LaMontagne and Brandi Carlile – check The Secret Sisters’ official website for a tour date near you.
Next, I headed over to the main stage to watch The Radio Dept., a Swedish synth-pop band. They were good, though I made note of some minor sound issues (but the main stage sounded weird for most of the weekend – to me, at least). But I was drawn away to the Yeti stage, where a pop-rock act called The Globes was playing.
This Spokane, Wash. quartet played a great (if somewhat short, but then again all the acts were on a strict schedule) set, packing the Yeti stage and surrounding food court area with plenty of new fans for The Globes. “Thank you so much for coming to watch a band you’ve never heard of,” one of the band members said. “It really means a lot to us.” After their show, the guys hung out and greeted fans at the Easy St. Records booth. The Globes is currently on tour and will hit SoCal this weekend.
Next, I watched K-os (pronounced ‘chaos’) on the Bigfoot stage. At first I was only hanging around the stage while eating dinner and waiting for Local Natives on the main stage, but K-os really won me over with his enthusiasm and fresh rock/techno/hip hop sound, which you, too, can discover by downloading K-os’ free mixtape on his official website.
By the time Local Natives hit the main stage, I’d found a decent spot on the sprawling hillside and made friends with some Montanans sitting nearby. In my notes, I’d written the indie/folk/pop quintet from L.A. was “so legit,” and I’m pretty sure that observation was dead-on, for while Local Natives played its second song, “World News,” before the band had even formally introduced itself, hundreds of concertgoers flocked to the top corner of the hillside for a flash mob dance party. Some other stand-out songs for me included “Warning Sign,” “Shape Shifter” and “Airplanes,” naturally. At the end of its set, the band announced it’ll be heading back to LA to record a new album; Local Natives will also play at Lollapalooza later this summer.
I hung out at the main stage long after my new friends had left, and caught Wolf Parade (whom I loved) and Pink Martini (who were better than expected, but probably not as good as I’d heard Wye Oak, who was performing on the Yeti stage, was). I was waiting to watch Iron & Wine, but a few songs into the performance I lost interest and wandered to the Bigfoot stage, where I caught the tail-end of Matt and Kim’s performance. After Matt enthusiastically thanked the audience, the duo played a final song, in the middle of which Kim stood up on her drum set and riled up the already-enthusiastic crowd. They seemed so sweet, and I felt sad to have missed their set, but I guess that’s how it goes with music festivals…