by Josh Bis
on Sun, May 27, 2012 at 2:46 PM
For me, the second day of Sasquatch felt like a series of thematic mini-festivals blurred into one very long Saturday. On the "soul revival" train, Pickwick looked and sounded incredibly comfortable warming up the imposing main stage. Galen Disston and company's course-correction from indie-fold to neo-soul continues to pay dividends; seeming more self-assured and magnetic with each successive show and entirely worthy openers for screaming eagle of soul / former James Brown impersonator / documentary film subject Charles Bradley, who's rightfully basking in the glow of his relatively-recent ascent to adoration.
Later, bridging th gap into deeply-felt roots rock, Alabama Shakes staked a claim on most compelling set of the day. Brittany Howard's vocals are a wonderland of impeccably coordinated contrasts — from delicate highs to deeply powerful lows. The band seems at exactly the right place for a well-timed NPR nudge to make them to go-to album to buy when stumped for a gift for just about any music fan on your shopping list. Their set sort of opened the "powerful women of rock" section of the day, which included sexy monodrone from Dum Dum Girls, stadium-filling new material from Metric, proto-futuristic rhymes from Thee Satisfaction, the richly textural live looping theatrics of tUnE-yArDs, and culminating with the darkly angelic powerhouse Annie Clark of St. Vincent whose "Cruel" continues to dig in its hooks with every listen.
Headlining the mainstage, Jack White looked like someone that Tim Burton might invent if he didn't already exist. Sideburn islands and a seemingly invented accent were the only distractions from the manic parade of new solo material woven into a deep and satisfying back catalog of singalong hits from the Raconteurs and White Stripes eras. At the top of the hill, the Roots had the task of keeping the crowd up past midnight. Before making a run for the border, we stayed only through their first few songs of their set, which opened with a cover of the Beastie Boys origin myth as tribute to MCA.
Great Branding, Honda.
Even at an indie rock festival, people go nuts for television personalities. The Portlandia crew packed the Banana Shack with adoring fans who delighted at Fred and Carrie's droll slideshows and party games. Similarly, people flocked to hear Donald Glover's rap personality Childish Gambino on the mainstage even though he's a far better at playing a geeky ex-jock community college student than rapper.
Canadian pride remains in full effect at this event, with conspicuous displays of nationalism on display at the Yeti stage for Or the Whale
The Yeti, in general, was one of the more pleasant spots for recharging with the always-enchanting sparkle pop from Craft Spells among the day's high points.
Despite being horribly named, the tiny Maine stage drew the most enthusiastic crowds, with northwest hiphop devotees swarming the barricade-free stage to get up close and maybe too personal during sets from Fatal Lucciauno and Sol.
"Secret shows" are trending: on Friday Macklemore apparently did an impromptu performance above the mainstage; on Saturday ReignWolf played a few songs on the roof of the Easy Street Records.
I'm not usually at the front of the outrage brigade when kids stick a few neon feathers in their hair or slap on a little face paint, but Honda's campaign to get people to photograph themselves (for souvenier bandanas) in native american and other culturally insensitive costumes as a way of drawing people to take a look at their cars was among the grossest things I've seen at any festival. I can't imagine which ad wizard green lit this year's particularly appalling campaign.