First, yes, it was criminal to have LCD Soundsystem playing for only an hour and only at 7pm. I'm not sure how you would've reordered the schedule to make it all make sense, but it would've been great to see them on later and longer. They didn't even get to light up their disco ball (which I'd been anticipating since Caribou's set at noon). After LCD's set, they lowered the disco ball and five stagehands unhooked it and carried it offstage, unused.
But what a fucking hour anyway! They played "Us vs Them," "Drunk Girls," "Pow Pow," "Daft Punk is Playing at My House," "I Can Change," "Tribulations," "Movement," "Yeah," and "All My Friends." (I frankly could've done with "All I Want" instead of "Daft Punk.") The band was ridiculously tight, as usual, and the sound was great, although whatever Gavin Russom was doing with those modular synths in the background was pretty hard to make out in the mix. Most of the synth parts I heard seemed to be coming from Nancy Whang's Moog Rogue. Their new guitarist for this tour, David Scott Stone, looks a lot like Jonathan Lethem, but he played a way gnarlier solo on "Tribulations" than Lethem probably could. On "Pow Pow" James Murphy ad libbed some bits here and there. To the line "from this position I can see the whole place" he added something about it being nicer behind the stage (the new stage at the Gorge had a black backdrop rather than a transparent scrim like last year, so you couldn't see the view). After "we have a black president" he said "which is a really exciting thing for a country with a history of racism" instead of doing the "so shut up" rant. He capped one lyric with the digression, "because we write these long meandering songs that don't go anywhere with lyrics that don't match the rhythm." That all sounds like a lot of talk, but it was a fucking barn-burner of a song, with Pat Mahoney muscling the drums and Tyler Pope, behind him, locked in with that loose bass. Mahoney also added a nice double kick part to the end of "Daft Punk." "Movement" started with the whole crowd clapping along and ended in a surge of white noise (those modular synths maybe). "Yeah" was all strobes and percussion jammed the fuck out and that giddy acidy back half. "All My Friends" has somehow lost some of its luster live, at least for me, and here it felt just sort of cumpulsory; again, I would have rather heard "All I Want" for my bittersweet dance rock ballad needs. Painfully abbreviated, but still a fucking fantastic show.
Pavement's set began with birthday wishes for Stephen Malkmus, who from the crowd looked exactly the age he's always looked. "This is kind of a mystery," he said, mysteriously, by way of introduction. Bob Nastanovich (Pavement's own Flavor Flav) put it another way: "pretend you're in Spain and it's really fun!" Okay. They opened with "Cut Your Hair," Malkmus affected just the right lackadaisical smirk, shaking his hips, and later carelessly flinging his guitar around. After two false starts to "Rattled by the Rush," Malkmus apologized, "This is fucking pathetic, I'm sorry. I know we could skip this song." They didn't, and once the song finally got going some kid in the crowd* had a technical difficulty of his own and apparently passed out and/or puked or something; all I could see was a hole form in the crowd and then a bunch of people motioning towards it to get security's attention (Malkmus had dedicated the song to the security). After "In the Mouth of the Desert," Malkmus said, "I tried to sound like Guy Picciotto...did I?" Introducing "Silence Kit," he said "I don't even remember the start of the set anymore." Later, introducing "Spit on a Stranger," he said, "Fuck, I'm sorry, LCD Soundsystem had all this champagne backstage...I feel like a temp with no time to take a break." Which was his way of saying it was his birthday and he was mightily drunk. On "Unfair," he knocked his mic over swinging his guitar around; unrelated, Nastanovich sang one of the verses, screaming. (Nastanovich also got to scream lead, stalking the stage, on "Two States," which Malkmus introduced as "Tube Steaks.") On "Starlings of the Slipstream," Malkmus followed the bit about Vermont and Alaska with a mumbled "I fucked that part up" in place of the next line's lyrics.
It was definitely a show with a lot of rough edges and fuck ups, but the fuck ups really are essential to Pavement's charm, and they've always had a rep for sloppy live shows. They get away with it not just because nostalgia has made them untouchable, but because the songs are just so damn good. And the guys really can play when they're not just trashing things or jamming out with Nastanovich on slide whistle. And anyway, rock and roll needs more fucking up; too much polite professionalism just makes it seem so tame. It was still a nonchalantly triumphant set, and anthems like "Gold Soundz" and "Silence Kit" just felt like massive feel-good jams. Here's what I can make of the set list (which, as Kirby noted, included a few odd deep cuts and one Spiral Stairs song):
"Cut Your Hair"
"Rattled by the Rush"
"Father to a Sister of a Thought"
"In the Mouth of a Desert"
"Date with IKEA"
"Spit on a Stranger"
"Starlings of the Slipstream"
*Possibly one of the World's Two Drunkest Kids(TM), Drunk Boy and Drunk Girl, who were standing/hunching behind me/on me earlier in the set, looking like they might heave or hit the ground at any moment.
Even before Pavement stepped on the stage it was clear that their slot in the lineup was a misstep by Sasquatch's organizers. LCD Soundsystem had just worked everyone in the crowd, from the front of the stage to the back of the hill, into a delirious, dancing frenzy. It really didn't matter what Pavement played, they would never be able to elicit a response like LCD had. After the set there was an exodus of young concert goers from the front of the stage, what seemed like ten people leaving for every one trying to get closer for Pavement. The light was dimming, and there was no beautiful sunset like on opening night; Pavement's backdrop was a dark, ominous overcast across the gorge. The set started out rough, with the bass shorting out on their third song, "Rattled by the Rush," causing a several minute delay to the already behind schedule show. There were plenty of small hiccups, like Malkmus forgetting a lyric and just singing "I fucked that up" instead, and a general lackadaisical attitude to their performing, but that's what's so endearing about the band: they've always been charmingly crappy. Seeing them now, older and reunited for a short time, it felt like watching a band of cool uncles who got together to play a really big barbecue, performing to a handful of friends and family instead of thousands of people. They played a weird set list, with several songs I was unfamiliar with and others I knew but would never consider favorites. They played one song I didn't recognize which went into a classic "jam" scenario, with Malkmus lazily soloing, and it became immediately clear that Pavement is a shitty jam band. What's awesome about it though is that the band has to be aware of it, and they obviously don't care. They are going to do whatever they want with their reunion. "Range Life," "Silence Kit," and Gold Soundz" off Crooked Rain were played the tightest and seemed to be enjoyed the most by the crowd; the 2010 version of "Range Life" was updated to include a dis on the Walkmen in the Smashing Pumpkins verse. By the second half of the set the band seemed to have shaken off the rust and were in excellent form on the songs "Shady Lane," "Stereo," "Spit on a Stranger," and "Summer Babe," which Malkmus introduced by saying, "Check out this imitation grunge song." By then end of the set the sky was dark and the rain was starting to fall softly. During the closer, "Stop Breathin," guitarist Scott Kannberg, not realizing he was on the jumbo-tron, tried to shoot a snot rocket and it went all over his face. He had to stop playing for a second to wipe it off. It was the type of thing that happens to real, normal people that you just don't expect to see on the mainstage of a huge music festival, but that's why I will always love Pavement. They're just a bunch of dudes playing fun songs, and like it was in their heyday, it's their imperfections that make them so appealing.
A full review and tons more photos will be posted soon. Right now, though, I can hardly move. I guess you could say I was caught in a mosh.
Sunday took a rather dark turn after tUne-yArDs’ refreshing midday Yeti-stage party. I gave the Bigfoot Solar stage another try with the XX—but as I discovered, there may be a minimum distance from which one has to stand to fully enjoy “noir&b.” I elected (wisely, as it turned out), to split from Bigfoot prematurely and head towards the mainstage to grab some good deep-pit real estate for LCD Soundsystem’s sure-to-be-epic performance.
LCD, unsurprisingly, did not let down. James Murphy appeared to be abuzz with childlike enthusiasm—he was the most exuberant perfectionist I think I’ve ever seen. He winced after every less-than-perfect vocal bon mot or technical slip-up, and kept adjusting things onstage and doling out instructions to his bandmates. The dude is just dripping with love for music, and you can tell that he wants, really, really badly, for his band the be “the best.” And, without question, their set was Sunday’s strongest (better, even, than Caribou’s well-executed AM kick-off).
DFA secret weapon Gavin Rossum lurked at the back of the mainstage, coolly scowling at the crowd like the hip lovechild of John Malkovich and that Klingon warlord Christopher Lloyd played in Star Trek III. He had maybe the best job out of any of LCD’s able performers, as his duties included triggering the massive synthesized percussive whomps of “Pow Pow,” each one of which resounded with tidal, sub-bassy pressure.
The day’s second great surprise (after tUne-yArDs totally killing it at Yeti), was turning around during LCD’s set to see an entire Gorge-full of people dancing in perfect synchronization, each person egging the hundreds of people on all sides of them to join in the simple, “hands in the air” mass-consciousness happening. It was 2010’s answer to last year’s infamous “Sasquatch! dancing man” viral youtube clip.
Pavement made for a weird change of pace. While they delivered an expectedly slackadelic set, I was tempted to give in to a darkly melodramatic reading: their multiple, cringe-inducing fuck-ups (Mark Ibold bungled the start of a song not once, but twice, prompting Malkmus to call him “pathetic”) served to sort of put a point on the festival’s generally doomy atmosphere and litany of apocalyptic details. Pretentious reference time: much of the festival has, maybe appropriately, recalled Jean Luc Godard’s nightmarish film Weekend: Friday’s massive, all-night gridlock, the hundreds of festgoers in face paint and feathers, the unexplained instances of animal cruelty (two beheaded snakes may have been found at our campsite Saturday morning). Lots of attendees are moving in packs this year, dressed in identical uniforms or costumes, as if in anticipation of a coming Armageddon and the total breakdown of social order (I thought of them as gangs of nomadic warriors, drunkenly scavenging a post-apocalyptic wasteland).
That said, the second half of Pavement’s set picked up, and they sounded as good as I could have expected them to. I’m still not sure what to make of their trotting out of (what I’m assuming was) a band members’ kid for (non-existent) piano accompaniment on one song. Huh? Felt like aww-sploitation. Maybe it was just something special for Stephen Malkmus’ birthday (not to self: wiki May 30th birthdays, look for Art Bell-worthy conspiratorial ties).
But, hey, if you’re going to ride right into the end times, you’ll need someone holding it down and speaking the truth, and Chuck D is definitely the right mad prophet for these crazy times. I wandered past the Bigfoot stage one last time before checking out last night, and caught some of Public Enemy’s talky set, which was full of vintage Chuck D rants.
For all of us who didn't make it over to Sasquatch—who sat here in Seattle all weekend in the cold and rain, please note: the sun is suddenly shining. And The Beets, from NYC, are suddenly playing a free show tonight at Pony, 10 pm.
Dirty Deeds. This week, DJs Lil' Ozzy and Jodas Priest welcome guest DJ, and former Fastback, Kim Warnick.
There's still some fun to squeeze out of this holiday weekend, Tuesday morning be damned.
click image to enlarge
Eric was right on the money in his effusive description of Caribou’s Sunday morning set—it was well worth the early rise and snail’s-pace trudge through the festival’s congested entrance. I might not be willing to call it the best of the fest so far, but it certainly lived up to my expectations (and now I’m really wishing I’d been at his Thursday night Neumo’s gig).
I tried to vibe on The Tallest Man On Earth’s set, but “tall” though he may be, he just didn’t seem large enough for the Honda Bigfoot Solar Stage (a mouthful, I know). I can’t think of anything explicitly bad to say about his concert, but it just didn’t sound especially engaging, and with Kristian Matsson unaccompanied on the massive stage, there wasn’t much too look at, either (like I could have expected otherwise, but still). I like Matsson, and I like his songs, but it was obvious that Sasquatch! didn’t offer the best conditions in which to see him. Still, his cover of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” sounded awesome.
tUne-yArDs, on the other hand, probably deserved a bigger stage. Multi-instrumentalist Merril Garbus was backed up by a bassist and sax player, though she probably could have rocked the crowd just as hard without them. She howled and chirped and belted beautifully, coming across like the spastic cousin of like-minded vocal loopsters Many Mansions and Juliana Barwick. The purest expression of tUne-yArDs’ childlike enthusiasm—something which quickly infected the whole of the Yeti stage crowd—might have been during her second-to-last song, when she commanded the crowd to bounce up and down in place. The mass of attendees obliged her unquestioningly, bobbing up and down like a single, joy-powered organism. I spied the Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreth in the crowd for Garbus’ set—I wonder if he was one of the revelers jumping around like a sugar-high kid.
I have a feeling that tUne-yArDs will come away from Sasquatch! with more than a few new fans. Everyone watching seemed to be really, really into it, and she was definitely the best surprise of Sunday, if not the fest so far.
For me, the highlight of Saturday's Sasquatch! festivities was undoubtedly The Very Best, who went all out for their evening set at the comedy/dance tent (which is idiotically called the “Rumpus Room” this year). The stage’s tacky zig-zagging neon decorations—a source of great amusement for alt-comic heavyweight Patton Oswalt—helped set the right mood for TVB. Johan “Radiocllit” Hugo did his knob-twiddling and sample-triggering in the back of the stage, next to an inflatable palm tree and flanked by two supple dancers. At the opposite end of the tent, there were fire dancers. It was a good scene.
The Very Best are a band that’s difficult to describe without resorting to clichéd, no-brainer superlatives. Their set felt like a prime example for what an upbeat, wholly absorbing festival performance should be. The band behaved as if in adherence to a shared mental checklist of crowd participation “musts.” When Esau Mwamwaya strolled onstage, he was grinning from ear to ear. He didn’t stop smiling for the duration of TVB’s mega-posi set, and neither did I.
Everyone on and off the stage appeared to be having the time of their lives.
After countless air horn drops and two attempts at crowd surfing (one successful, one not), the set closed out to roaring applause. It was only mildly ironic that the Vampire Weekend-sampling “Warm Heart of Africa” made for an ecstatic late-set highlight while, at the same time and not far away, Vampire Weekend were digging their heels into their own well-oiled set.
The details of TVB’s full setlist are more or less lost to me in the half-remembered, blissed-out blur of their set, but I can tell you that I left feeling a little stunned, a little amped up, and shamelessly enthused. I might have keeled over during Dam-Funk’s set if it hadn’t been for the jolt Esau and crew gave me.
Dam-Funk's set was interesting. While he certainly did his best to work the crowd, he couldn’t psych them up into the same kind of fervor that The Very Best did. I spent most of my time Saturday bumming around in the Rumpus Room, and the vibe was pretty consistent but definitely reached its apex during The Very Best (though the comedians, it's worth noting, were very warmly received).
I was a bit taken aback by the lack of ironic distance in Dam-Funk’s set—he really went for it, with the kind of naked enthusiasm that you’d be more inclined to expect from a for-fun bedroom genre exercise. If there’s one thing Damon Riddick wanted to make clear, it was that he was all about the funk. The dude was cranking out android groovalisations (by piping his vocals through his smooth-lookin’ white keytar) for so long, that I was able to completely zone out for a good while before regaining my bearings only to realize that, yes, Riddick was still milking the same melody. The sheer indulgence of the Dam-Funk project (his debut record was five discs) definitely translated to a live setting, where his extended jams and insistence on sticking with a single groove for as long as possible lent the whole set the quality of a practiced and deliberate DJ mix.
Which is not to say that it wasn’t thoroughly solid. I had a damn good time, even if it all came off as a bit ridiculous.
Broken Social Scene, as has been mentioned already, sounded great, even though their set heavily favored the new material. The rising wind made the band members look appropriately epic (the whole narrative around their latest sorta-post-reunion release Forgiveness Rock Record is one of triumph in the face of near-destruction—the last time they were in Seattle, they seemed convinced it would be for the last time). There’s no question that this band is somehow still at the top of their game, and no amount of hammy Kevin Drewisms (there were plenty Saturday evening) can diminish that.
Sasquatch!: Ween, MGMT, Band of Horses, No Age, She & Him, others
(Gorge) For the Stranger's encyclopedic coverage of Sasquatch!, check out the preview.
(Comet) For their self-titled debut EP, NYC quartet Suckers enlisted Yeasayer's Anand Wilder to produce, a sensible choice, given the band's shared fondness for quasi-tribal percussion and multipart vocal harmonies. "Easy Chairs" escalates from strutting bass, hand claps, and a pied-piper flute to a closing chorus of "Set our easy chairs aflame" chanted over low piano chords and acrobatic falsetto backing vocals. "It Gets Your Body Moving" is a counterintuitively slow-swaying choral-and-whistling number that takes four minutes to build to a crescendo worthy not so much of body moving as maybe just raising a beer. "Beach Queen" achieves a kind of sub—Hall & Oates yacht-rock breeze with a not entirely unlikable groove. Also like Yeasayer, Suckers strike a strange balance between mildly psychedelic wildness and stately, smartly arranged chops—but they can come off kind of glee clubbish, when you get the feeling they're going for ecstatic. ERIC GRANDY
Rad Snafu, Pearly Gate Music
(Crocodile) The Sasquatch! festival is upon us, which means it's that time of year when you see band names you've never heard of atop bills at venues like the Crocodile. Why does this happen? Because sometimes bands that are in town to play Sasquatch! make the most of their trip by booking other shows around the Pacific Northwest—but because Sasquatch! has a blackout period (meaning if you play the festival, you can't play another nearby show for a certain amount of time before and after), those rule breakers have to be clever with the way they bill themselves. So let's see here... Rad Snafu. Whoever could that be? Afar Duns? Fad Ran Us? Sad An Fur? Or maybe sparkly indie-rock trio NADA SURF? You didn't hear it from me. MEGAN SELING
And there's always more in our complete music calendar listings.
Alright! Sold out festival! Who wants to wait in some lines! Seriously, though, you forget about the lines until they’re all around your area, and then they own you. We took off Friday evening thinking we were going to beat that Saturday morning rush, get our camp set up, have a nice relaxing night before the festival started. With little traffic you can drive from Seattle to the Gorge in 2 ½ hours. Our trip took 8. The final three hours were spent in gridlock between the freeway exit and the campground, a sea of cars inching forward for hours on end. People were running out of gas, stranded on the shoulder. So, as everyone waited, the parties started in the cars. Guys in goofy hats longboarded between the lines of traffic. There was a car from Alberta with a couch tied to the roof. We began to notice that virtually every car had a Canadian license plate. By the time we made it through the checkpoint at 3 am it became clear that this place was far beyond thunderdome. No one was directing traffic, or making sure cars parked in organized lines, it was just a mad dash for available land. Tent cities were quickly erected in the dark, and everyone in all directions began to collectively let off the steam of sitting for so many hours in such an insufferable line. Stereos blasted from all directions, and at 4:20am a yelling spread like a wave across the campsites. Soon the dawn broke, so we started playing Frisbee, hitting tents and cars with errant throws. A group of Irish set up behind us, blaring house music from their truck, setting up their tent literally on the back of one of our cars. They pulled up chairs to join us and we drank into the morning.
At 8:45am a large group of Nova Scotians began screaming outside my tent. One of them stood on top of an RV, fervently waving the Nova Scotian flag. I think they also have a karaoke machine. The Canadians are everywhere. This appears to be why the festival sold out so fast: the Canadians planned ahead and bought up all the tickets early. You snooze, you lose, Americans!
First off, it should be noted that the mainstage sounds amazing this year. Whoever is doing sound has their game on lockdown, I have never heard that stage sound so good. Shabazz Palaces sounded particularly great from up on the hill; their sparse beats seemed to reverberate perfectly from the stage up through the crowd. Being able to watch the a close-up of Ish playing his sampler on the jumbo screens was a nice added bonus. Minus the Bear also sounded great on the mainstage, and got a pretty enthusiastic reaction from the crowd up front. They got everyone to wave their arms back and forth for “Into the Mirror,” the intricacies of which made their way through the hills with perfect clarity. They closed with “Absinthe Party,” which is still after all these years an undeniably feel-good song and perfect for a festival atmosphere.
The comedy tent is set up in a new and improved fashion this year. A giant circus-style tent with a stage inside was set up in one of the open fields, letting people sit comfortable in the grass while they hear some jokes. Moshe Kasher was very amusing and had great pacing, telling acerbic, self deprecating jokes about being a nerdy, gay-looking Jew. Brent Weinbach had an opposite approach, creating big awkward sections were no one laughed, as was his whim. Someone actually yelled “You suck!” through the silence. But then he would break the tension with a hilarious observation, and you’d start to think, “Okay, he’s getting his rhythm now,” and then he would make it even more awkward. He did a pantomime set to smooth jazz of delivering a baby, then taking that baby and delivering an even tinier baby out of it, then delivering a microscopic baby from that one. When I left to go check out the main stage he was interrupting his own joke with an explosion sound played at rapid intervals for well over a minute straight. The tent was (not surprisingly) completely packed for Patton Oswalt, who mixed some classic jokes like “Physics for Poets” and accidentally walking in on an orgy at an open house. He ranted on how much he hates Manhattan, told some “sweatpants adventures,” and was very funny and genuinely stoked to be performing. At the end of his set he threw his all-access wristband in the crowd for a lucky fan, but made them promise they wouldn’t do anything psycho backstage.
Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene looked just like Russell Brand with his black beanie and big black sunglasses. BSS played a mix of songs from Forgiveness Rock Record as well as previous crowd pleasers like “7/4 (Shoreline).” Their new female vocalist Lisa Lobsinger is great (and incredibly beautiful. I mean, my God. So pretty.), and she shined on their new jam “All to All.” Why? Didn’t sound nearly as good over on the Yeti stage, with Yoni Wolf’s voice EQed all wrong, emphasizing the nasal aspects and putting them way out in the front of the mix. It was tough to hear any of the xylophone stuff Patrick Wolf was doing on drums, all the sounds washing together into a disappointing mush. Still, I’d rather hear them performing while I wait for chicken strips than most other bands.
Next on the mainstage was Vampire Weekend, whom I had no interest in seeing but gave the benefit of the doubt to anyway and was pleasantly surprised. I still don’t really dig what that band is all about, but their songs are super feel-good and people everywhere seemed to be having the time of their lives. “A-Punk” incited an incredible dance party. It’s so hard to get down on something when it’s causing everyone around you to dance with such unabashed glee. I’m by no means a convert, but Vampire Weekend succeeded in playing a fun, tight set that was easy for everyone to love.
(More My Morning Jacket photos after the jump.)
Caribou, with his first song, "Leave House," easily blew away everything I saw yesterday. It was just an ecstatic set, all material from the outstanding new album Swim, early crowd dancing and into it. Dan Snaith played keys, drums, and sang as part of a four-piece, with a drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist/keyboardist. The band jammed out on a few songs, with Snaith taking a seat at a spare drum kit and locking into the dark, driving dance grooves. They also tended to bury the latter, jammy half of songs under big swells of white noise, the melodies just barely peeking out from under the washes of sound. They played "Kalli," "Found Out," "Bowls" (another total extended jam), "Hannibal," "Odessa" (that wobbly bassline just killing), "Jamelia," and "Sun." Someone threw a bra at the band. Snaith was playing barefoot. On "Sun," their closer, Snaith, while singing the song's only word over and over and over, seemed for a moment to be peering up into the cloudy sky looking for the damn thing, which was just a faint gray orb in the clouds. Above them, a disco ball swayed in the breeze, waiting for LCD Soundsystem to come light it up (as they always do on "New York I Love You"); best set so far, but I fully expect LCD to top it.
The thing about doing a full day of Sasquatch hungover and on two hours of sleep is that your skull and your eyeballs hate each other, and they'll be fighting all day long.
Fool’s Gold played one riff—maybe their big hit?—for like 20 minutes, over what seemed like the span of two songs at that. They’re pretty pleasant, moreso when their frontman isn’t singing. They had a real flute.
I guess the big thing this year dressing like you're auditioning to be an extra in Hair—feathers, headbands, neon face paint—technicolor hippie kids. I blame MGMT. It's weird, because the hippies were just young kids wearing the clothes of their day, right, whereas these kids are wearing, like, pseudo-period costumes*. Other big thing is groups in matching custom-made lol-shirts or other wacky outfits—Where's Waldo stripes, a shirt with all your crews' names on it, that sort of thing.
Lunch was an $8 handful of noodles doused in salt syrup (“yakisoba”) washed down with a $5 diet coke (five times tastier than a regular diet coke!).
Comedy is funny! Patton Oswalt made fun of Edward Sharpe & the Magnificent Zeros, whose music was loudly bleeding into the Rumpus Room during his set. "Did Thomas the Tank Engine just go on," he asked, then he danced a little jig and sang a song about "let's all bake some cupcakes and pick flowers and build forts out of our grandmother's blanket." That's how you do it. He was the second comedian of the day to make fun of the zigzagging red neon lights on stage behind him in the vein of "what's with these crazy lights in the comedy tent?" Well, it turns into a dance tent later. That's why. Ruined your joke.
Broken Social Scene is a perfect band to lie back and fall in and out of almost sleep almost dreaming to. Cool dads: Kevin Drew announced that Charlie Spearin from Do Make Say Think, who was playing with them, had to find a ride to Vancouver BC tomorrow to be at his kid's birthday party, concluding "Let's hear it for all the fathers here!" They played a fairly even mix of stuff from their so-so latest album and You Forgot it in People; "All to All" sounded most amazing, a huge shuddering echo over the amphitheater. Kevin Drew was gracious and positive to the point of being hammy (though he still seemed sincere), Brendan Canning on the other hand said nice, pat things but seemed totally sarcastic about it. They closed the show with a tightly unwinding instrumental rave-up from the new album, Drew capping it by instructing the crowd: “Ok, we gotta scream it all together: ‘Let everything go!’ 1…2…3…” Then: “Ladies and gentlemen, you gotta fight to celebrate and love every moment and make sure your life sounds just. Like. This!” Big crescendo finish.
Miike Snow's "Burial" sounded sweet and floaty while walking around past the stage.
Why? were good as always, playing a mix of songs from Alopecia and Eskimo Sow, Yoni Wolf somewhat successfully swaggering despite looking a bit like Gilligan in his floppy white hat and stripes. He bobbed, the crowd threw their hands up, he skanked a little bit. His vocals were way up high in the mix (after a hilariously long mic check, "me mi moo mah may" that sorta thing), and he kept adding a weird extra warble to his voice that swallowed like entire vowels out of words. It was kind of distracting, really. Good joke: "Wassup, Sasquatch?! I'm usually saying that to my mom. Just kidding, my mom's short. And hairy." No rimshot here, but Josiah Wolf was a monster on the drums (and, simultaneously, xylophone) otherwise, the whole band (bolstered by Fog) totally tight as usual.
In the media trailer, with the wireless out, the rock photographers have resorted to one-upping each other with war stories. It is a special, fake wood-paneled hell.
Vampire Weekend, playing the main stage at sunset, was the first set of the weekend where I was like, Oh yeah, I'm at this thing and it's really pretty fucking awesome! Ezra Koenig sure has some expressive, ready-for-the-jumbotrons facial expressions. On "Holiday," during the bridge describing his Tom's of Maine girl, he was looking side to side and making this bug eyed "can you believe this chick?" sort of expression. He was huge on those screens, floating over the Gorge and the dimming purple sky, his face occasionally marred by one huge dead pixel. Watching a band from afar and letting the jumbotron choose what you see most clearly is funny, especially since the cameramen continually caught various members during down moments when they weren't doing much: Rostam rubbing his hands and getting himself prepped between two nimble keyboard runs. They dedicated "M79" (fantastic, the string lines just jaunty and mannered and perfect) to those who, like them, feel strongly about public transportation (although they didn't specify good feelings or bad feelings). They dedicated "Cousins" to "the beautiful communal vibe you got cooking up today," and later said Sasquatch "has to be one of the most kind-vibed festivals ever." For a couple songs, Koenig or Rostam would teach the crowd a simple sing along; when Rostam did it, the jumbotron caught him giggling and rolling his eyes a little at the crowd's harmonizing, and it was cute. After "Diplomat's Son," he said, "I think it's officially night time, so you can act differently if you want." Rostam and Keonig seemed to hit a couple sour notes when they jammed out a little on that song, but otherwise the band was perfectly on point, bouyant and groovy and peppy. When Koenig gave the crowd the "friendly advice" that "A-Punk" was their easiest song to dance to (it's not, really), so ask someone to dance and make friends, everyone who hadn't already been dancing (lots of people had been the whole time) immediately started doing so. Their set-list:
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
"Blake's Got a New Face"
"Giving Up the Gun"
Finally, an informal poll determined that 3 out of 3 guys on mushrooms think My Morning Jacket is the best festival band ever. More on that later.
*Not entirely fair, I guess the og hippies were also kind of dressing like cartoon native americans and stuff.
Sasquatch 2010 got off to a crazy start. Fortunately, as anticipated, Shabazz Palaces obliterated the midday malaise brought on by Friday night’s bullshit (gridlock, lines, more lines, and one of the most bitterly ironic moments of my life: around 3 or 4 in the morning, as my head finally hit my pillow, an unmistakable bassline unrolled from a nearby boombox. It was Washed Out/Ernest Gonzalez breezily telling me, bro, you “Gotta Get Up.” The light of the sunrise filled the tent. Groan.).
But Shabazz’s set was a burner; relentless, totally hypnotic, and heavily bassy. In a few very superficial ways, I was actually reminded of Animal Collective’s afternoon set on the same stage last year. Both bands wove their material into a unified, grooving mass—using jammy transitions and delay-addled mic improvs to guide the crowd from banger to banger. Another parallel: both AC and SP built an outsized sound out of relatively little, using only Roland samplers and live percussion to make colossal, organ-rattling beats (So far, anyway, Shabazz Palace has mounted the fest’s first legitimately “massive attack”).
Portland’s Nurses offered up a capable-sounding set that was unfortunately mired by a swampy, muffled sound mix that didn’t carry far past the Yeti stage. Fool’s Gold, the LA-based Afropop revivalists who preceded them, sounded louder and more insistent. The crowd—which included a swarm of shameless, gold-adorned die-hards—was eating up the long, jammed-out versions of their songs (none was shorter than ten minutes).
They must have gone too-far with their tricked-out, sun-melted take on album standout “Surprise Hotel,” however—a good two-thirds of the Yeti crowd split after that song had wrapped.
When lead singer Luke Top told the crowd they had “one more jammer for you,” it was almost laughable. Dudes, you played five songs in one hour!
Fool’s Gold setlist:
-The World is All There Is
Despite last night’s fatiguing setbacks, the sun stayed out and I didn’t feel single drop of rain. The Very Best took Fool’s Gold’s polyrhythmic promise of ecstatic, pan-global escapism and ran with it. More on that to come, but I’ll say for now that TVB were by far the best act I saw on Saturday. So far, though, the word of the fest has been “jam”: traffic jams, Shabazz jams, Fool’s Gold jams, My Morning Jacket jams.
My SIFF adventure becomes officially pee-myself today, as I toddle off now to meet THE Ugly Betty (hold me!) and then interview these fantastic chicks...
Damn right! Yodeling lesbian twins from New Zealand! (Super awesome!) But before all that, there is a thing of must be doing that I need to tell you about forthwith. Listen quick!
The Tinniest Tea Dance! at Pony!
This is my pick event for the day—all sorts of beautiful and wonderful perverts hole up in Pony, where they hide from God's wrath and dance around to the singular spinnings of Kurt B. Reighley, and others also too! It starts at 4pm, there is no cover, God can't see through roofs, so everybody's happy! 1221 East Madison. PONY!
I managed to borrow a sliver of internet in Ellensburg and managed to upload few pictures from yesterday's Sasquatch before heading back out to the Gorge (a de facto Verizon commercial, MiFi and cell coveragewise) to hold you over until regularly-scheduled coverage returns.
(more pics after the jump)
Sasquatch!: Massive Attack, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem, Public Enemy, Dirty Projectors, others
(Gorge) For the Stranger's encyclopedic coverage of Sasquatch!, check out the preview.
Kero One, the Art of Movement, MYK, Dumbfoundead, Dok2
(Showbox at the Market) Dumbfoundead, a representative of L.A.'s legendary Project Blowed collective and a rarely outclassed battle rapper, does with his music what a lot of hiphop artists lose sight of doing: He has fun. His 2009 album Fun with Dumb is a collection of tracks that also see him stay focused and on topic (something else rappers tend to forget about) without a hint of difficulty. You get the feeling Dumb was the kid smoking weed and rapping behind the high school during lunch; he's got class-clown wit, a sharp tongue, and the style and skill to back up the shit he talks. Combine that with a tireless work ethic—it hasn't been a year since his debut dropped and he already has a collaborative LP and another solo record in the hopper—and you've got yet another L.A. underground cat more than worth checking out. KALEB GUBERNICK
And there's always more in our complete music calendar listings.