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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Foxes, Rivers, Mice, and the Rain

posted by on May 25 at 14:45 PM


The first bummer of the weekend I had to come to grips with was the fact that the one band I really wanted to see on Saturday, Fleet Foxes, were scheduled to play first on the main stage, making it all but impossible to see them unless I had some sort of “wake up early and get me to the Gorge” machine. After the frustrating clusterfuck of trying to get anyone where to tell us we were supposed to set up camp, we didn’t get in to the concert until well in the afternoon. Perusing my unexciting 4:30 choices, I figured the National were worth checking out since, you know, Jenna Bush thinks they’re awesome. This choice lead to the best surprise of the day: the National’s bus broke down and Fleet Foxes were replacing them for a second set on the main stage.

Fleet Foxes
photo by Sean Pecknold

The band started their set slow with “Sun Giant,” “Sun Rises,” and “Drops in the River.” All the people standing around me in the front didn’t quite know what think - there was a visible “I can’t dance to this” expression on a number of faces. Regardless, the entire hill was packed with people checking the band out, and no surprise, the Foxes stood up mightily to the pressure. Their vocal harmonies were bright and crisp, and the mix up front sounded surprisingly full. Thousands of people now think the National is a much better band than they actually are.

Ominous black clouds began accumulating in the sky.

The noise from other stages was so loud during Asssscat that the comedians were fighting just to hear their own voices. Normally UCB has a guest monologist who speaks on a topic suggested by the audience. This time they pulled people from the audience on to the stage to tell funny stories about something that happened to them that day. The comedians did an impressive job weaving the dumb drunken ramblings into funny improv bits, but the noise coming in the from outside was so loud most of the time they had to cup the microphone with their hand to compete for volume. The set closed with Horatio Sanz humping the ground and Matt Besser almost sadly proclaiming, “That’s about as funny as it’s going to get. Goodnight!” That obtrusive noise from outside turned out to be Crudo - Mike Patton and Dan the Automator. Friends at the Stranger tent who heard the set said they were “Terrible. If George W. Bush were a teenager, they would be his favorite band.”

I made the tough choice to see Okkervil River instead of M.I.A. They played high energy folk-pop with front man Will Shelf having about about as much fun playing an acoustic guitar as anyone I’ve seen. Though I never thought this listening to their albums, watching them perform live in their dapper black suits I couldn’t help but imagine them as a much, much, much better version of the Killers. It might just be that they both really like Springsteen.

photo by Piper Carr

Modest Mouse do a fine job rocking a huge amphitheater with the poppy cuts from their last two albums, but it wasn’t until they broke into ‘Trucker’s Atlas” that I was really glad to be seeing them at another Sasquatch!. Issac Brock started out full of spastic energy but seemed to wear himself out by the middle point of the set. “Doing the Cockroach” came off tired and unenthused, with Brock’s voice straining to hit high notes. By the time they played “Trailer Trash” (a lot of off Lonesome Crowded West, which was great) his voice was straight tuckered, though it was awesome seeing Johnny Marr add his own touches to the breakdown at the end. There was a minor exodus after their set as the rain began to pour, and it was a cold rain.

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Yeah, exactly: Crudo sucked, Okkervil slayed, and the Mouse could have been better. Favorite set so far today: The Kooks.

Posted by rk | May 25, 2008 9:21 PM

Look, Fleet Foxes is a fine band, for sure. Maybe even great.

But you're outta yer fuckin' gourd if you think they're better than The National.

There wasn't a better band on Sasquatch's schedule than The National. Recognize.

Posted by me too | May 26, 2008 2:01 AM
3 Pecknold is a former Stranger staffer, eh?

I see.

How anyone could seriously and objectively believe Fleet Foxes is a better band than The National is beyond me.

Makes sense now.

Posted by me too | May 27, 2008 10:30 AM

Fleet Foxes ARE a better band than The National.

The National are a good album band. But live? SNORE.

Posted by Jack | May 28, 2008 1:34 PM

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