Sasquatch! Day One: Reunions, Sea Wolf and Father John Misty

Sasquatch!—like many music festivals—is an entity in flux; new bands come and go, while different promotional events and partnerships set up shop around the grounds, ensuring another year is paid for. Still, one constant exists in the form of the reunited. You see it in airports too, the hugs and high fives of friends from years past. No matter where you are in the festival—be it the main stage or the campgrounds—you’re bound to see someone take flight into the arms of an old acquaintance. This is the same with bands. And while it’s always great to see and old friend, experiencing new music can be just as satisfying.

Sea Wolf

This seemed especially true for one of the first bands to play on Friday, Sea Wolf. Though light rain threatened to turn some crowds back to their tents, by the time the band hit the stage, the sun was shining and their fans were out in force. “It’s too bright up here,” said front man Alex Brown Church, while adjusting his sunglasses to cheers from the crowd.

Sea Wolf joins a pantheon of bands that share the group’s titular animal—Wolf Parade, Wolf and Cub, AIDS Wolf, Wolfmother, Wolf Eyes, to name a few. But beyond a similar namesake, Sea Wolf proved to have a nuanced sound all their own.

“Priscilla”— a cut off their album Old World Romance—opened with acoustic guitar and Church’s airy vocals. The drums were slow and loping but the crowd had little issue moving to the music and expanding across the lawn.

The band closed with their biggest hit to date, “You’re A Wolf.” “I’m walking, I’m a southern stream, get to the river ‘fore I run too low,” sang Church over a marching drums and ethereal plucks on electric guitar. At this point, everyone was singing and dancing. “You’re A Wolf” may be well known, but I’m willing to bet it made a few new Sea Wolf fans before it ended.

Father John Misty

At this point, J. Tillman’s emphatic live performances as Father John Misty have been well documented (see Sub Pop’s handy bingo guide).  And after seeing the group for the first time, I’m not sure how he does it. After playing the same songs night after night for months at a time, conjuring any kind of energy seems like an unwinnable battle. Still, as FJM hit the stage Friday evening, it didn’t take long before Tillman had worked his way to the front of the stage, sat down and began crooning to the screaming crowd.

Tillman’s moves may be impressive (scratch that—very impressive) but it also doesn’t hurt that Father John Misty’s most recent effort, Fear Fun, should be considered as one of the best releases of last year.  “Funtimes in Babylon,” “I’m Writing a Novel” and “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” had the crowd pushing up against the front median, while those who couldn’t fit watched, danced and sang along from the cement path behind.  “We are killing this shit,” said Tillman. “Burning this motherfucker to the ground!” From the impromptu scatting solo, Tillman’s thoughts on making love connections, to a quick rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” I’d say he was right.

Editor’s note: Keep checking back for more coverage of the festival over the course of the weekend