George, WA. – Memorial Day Weekend in Washington means more than just a three-day weekend – it’s the time for the premiere music festival in the Pacific Northwest. This year, more than 27,000 festival goers have come from every state in the country and every province in Canada to see the 100 acts, including big-name artists like this year’s headliners Outkast, The National, and Queens of the Stone Age, as well as discover new and up-and-coming bands.
Friday’s opening of the 12th Sasquatch! Festival saw many great artists to kick off a weekend of diverse musical talents, including long-time performers De La Soul and Rhett Miller of the Old 97’s. However, there were plenty of new bands to steal the show. Here are some of our favorites from Day 1:
One of the first acts of the day was Seattle’s own Iska Dhaaf, comprised of Nathan Quiroga and Benjamin Verdoes. The duo, whose name comes from the Somali phrase “let it go,” drew an impressive crowd – impressive particularly due to the earliness of the day. With Iska Dhaaf’s first song “Happiness,” the audience immediately got to their feet, and throughout the set seemed to be transfixed by the blend of punk, rock, folk, and more. The group, who recently released their debut LP Even the Sun Will Burn, showcased their strong lyrics, heavy vocals, and great synchronization through complex rhythms. Even with only two musicians (Quiroga on lead vocals, guitar, and keys, and Verdoes on drums and vocals), Iska Dhaaf had a very full sound – a great sound that the crowd at the Narwhal stage definitely took notice of.
White Sea’s set in one word: Epic. Morgan Kibby’s pure, soaring vocals drew tumultuous applause, while anthemic guitar, synth, recorded backing vocals, and heavy drums intensified the sound. Smoke and lighting effects combined with festival goers blowing bubbles and hitting around a beach ball added to the dance party vibe. While Kibby’s facial expressions betrayed some angst and heavier emotions behind the words, her stellar singing and adorable stage presence kept the set upbeat. White Sea was certainly one of the most popular afternoon sets.
Irish artist Hozier (full name Andrew Hozier-Byrne) took the stage to a roaring crowd. Backed by four musicians, including a beautiful cello, Hozier’s set was filled with bluesy, soulful rock. “To Be Alone,” which he performed solo, exemplified his skill in blues guitar playing and soulful singing. The crowd favorite, however, was “Take Me to Church,” the breakthrough single from his eponymous 2013 EP. Hozier’s set filled the Yeti lawn at mid-afternoon, with some festival goers singing along, while others whispered to each other, “I’m so glad I discovered him!”
Austin’s Alejandro Rose-Garcia is a storyteller. Who can charm the crowd with a smile. And who can play a mean guitar and banjo. Shakey Graves won over the Yeti audience with his Southern folk-rock which soared on tunes like “Unlucky Sin” and “Georgia Moon,” while “Roll the Bones” seemed to be the capstone to his performance.
Chance the Rapper
Although Chancelor Bennett – stage name Chance the Rapper – had to cancel on Coachella and Hangout performances this year, his health seemed to have been in order to give a stellar performance Friday evening. One of the best showmen of the day, the 21-year-old rapper from Chicago blew away the Bigfoot crowd with his charisma, energy, and audience interaction. Utilizing trumpet, keyboards, and drums, Chance’s performance had essences of everything from blues to acid jazz.
Hailing from New Albany, IN, which is right on the border of Kentucky, it’s no shockerHoundmouth’s songs are filled with strong country elements: twangy vocals, tight harmonies, rolling guitars. But what makes them special is how many other musical genres find a way into their music: the theatrics of glam rock, the screaming vocals of hardcore punk, the heavy drums of rock, the bouncy keys of indie pop, and the aching lyrics of blues. What’s also impressive was each musician’s ability to carry vocals and their ease transitioning between instruments. At Sasquatch’s Yeti stage, Houndmouth drew a strong crowd that wound up stomping their feet during those square-dance hall tunes like “Casino (Bad Things)” and jumping up and down at the pop-rock songs like “Krampus.” With a great live show and another album in the works, Houndmouth is a band to keep on your radar.
Photos By Caitlin Peterkin
With degrees in journalism and music, Caitlin’s written for Paste Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and MajoringinMusic.com. She loves cheese, laughing at GIFs of corgis, road trip sing-alongs, and connecting with people over good beer and good music.