Sasquatch! Day 2: An Autobiographical Experience From Bill Koch
Part 2 of 3 is always the make-or-break part. You don’t quite have the excitement that you had for Day 1, and you aren’t on the finale yet. For Sasquatch!, Day 2 was a little of both make and break. I saw a lot of great bands, including a bunch of KSUB studio session alum, but there was also a lot of wandering and times where I wasn’t wild about bands.
Day 2 started off with a performance from New Lungs. Believe it or not, this band was actually a KSUB Studio Session alum, but they played for us under the name “How to Operate Your Brain,” which has since been changed. New Lungs is a loud garage rock 5 piece with two lead vocals. Their songs feature long guitar jamming sessions, and vocals that are turned down to the point that they are certainly not the focus of the music. New Lungs was a great band to see at the start of the day, as their music is very enthusiastic and original. During one song, a guitarist put down his guitar and somehow just played the pedals that he had. I’m not an expert on how pedals work, but I was pretty impressed that playing the pedals was even possible. Later on, another guitarist played his guitar with a bow which was equally impressive. Throughout the set, New Lungs played a variety of material, including their older and newer libraries. The newer songs have less jamming, and the vocals come through better, which produces a better and more matured sound from the band. If you haven’t heard them before, check out New Lungs’ Bandcamp – I recommend the track Concrete.
Conveniently, Sasquatch! scheduled most of the bands that I wanted to see on Saturday right after each other, and all on the same stage. This means that while there’s a set change going on, I get to have a nice relaxing sit in the long grass and work on my suntan. Hobosexual is a much more recent KSUB Studio alum, seeing as they played for us last fall. Hobosexual is a two piece rock outfit whose sound is difficult to describe, but the best term that comes to mind for me is “gravelly”. They feature a guitarist who uses a lot of loops and a drummer, so it’s a pretty simple setup. The outcome is a fast paced, full sound that gets the whole crowd jamming. Despite the harsher singing and lyrics, their between song banter came out in the form of a surprisingly soft and happy voice. If you haven’t heard them before, they have a ReverbNation page – I recommend the track A Motherf#%kin Song About Robots.
For my third show of the day and my third KSUB Studio Session alum of the day, I saw Dude York. As soon as they came on, I was blown away by how loud everything was. I was a sold 20 yards from the stage, and felt like I was in the front row. Dude York is a punk-esque rock trio. They had great stage presence, including a bassist who was dancing around and doing the backup singing. For me, I’m always impressed when a bassist has any kind of on stage action other than some head bobbing. Throughout the set, as the lead singer made requests for things to be changed in his monitors, the drummer would also pipe up with requests like “can I get mine to be higher pitched?” or “can you swap out my monitor for a TV?” I always enjoy little jokes like that, or like how their song introductions were very blatant things like “This next song is about 8th grade” – a heavy topic for all of us, which Dude York handled well. If you haven’t heard them, check out Dude York’s Bandcamp – I recommend the track Eighth Grade.
Sol and the Zillas
This is a show that I was really excited to see. I saw Sol last November at the Showbox, on his first show back after his world tour (you can read all about my experience here). The show at the Showbox was really great, so I expected a lot from Sasquatch. In the six months since I’ve seen Sol, he’s changed. Maybe it was the festival atmosphere. Maybe it was living a life of hype. Maybe he was giving a different vibe since he was playing to a crowd that wasn’t as dedicated to him as the Showbox crowd was. Whatever it was, I hope that Sol reverses it. The first four songs of his set, Sol stood at the front of the stage and rapped. I think through those four songs, he might have taken ten steps. There was no energy, and a lot of him just turning in slow half-circles to get the crowd to cheer. Then came So Damn High, where he finally seemed to discover that he was on stage. Sol began to dance around and jump off his monitors – the good old Sol that I thought I remembered. After So Damn High, Sol kept building energy until a peak about four songs later, where he crowd surfed in an inflatable raft. That, I have to admit, was pretty cool. I have never seen an artist throw a raft into the crowd before jumping in before. After the raft, the show started to die back down. Sol jumped around less, and started talking more between songs. His words were to the effect that he was the realest rapper, and he’d been there since the beginning. If there’s one thing I don’t want to hear from any artist, it’s how good your art is. I know that it’s good – that’s why I came to see you! Despite all this, I still believe in Sol. You should go see him, because his music is great. My suggestion is to seek out a smaller venue so that maybe he won’t blast you with ego at the end of the set.
The next part of my day was a long transient state. There weren’t any bands on that I was wild about, so I just wandered from stage to stage. I saw a few minutes of the Violent Femmes (You know – the folks who sing Blister in the Sun). They were good, but I was so far out from the stage that I decided to wander away. That’s really the main problem with the Gorge. If you aren’t close to the MainStage, you’re way way way out there. I caught a few minutes of Nick Swardson’s comedy. I’m really not sure how his standup got him a spot at Sasquatch – he essentially repeated the same bad joke about doing too much coke. After Nick Swardson, I saw a few minutes of the Deafheaven show. Their set was supposed to start ten minutes before I got there, and when I arrived, they were still tuning everything and adjusting their monitors. I feel really bad for the sound guy that had to deal with them, as the band was just adjusting all the speakers on the stage, instead of having the sound folks do it for them. As a former sound guy myself, this really irked me – just ask the sound folks to help you out and then you don’t gum up the works for every other band on that stage that day. Then I wandered over and saw a few minutes of the Washed Out set. They were good, but too jammy for my tastes. I found myself getting bored with long guitar interludes. My wanderings ended me back up at the MainStage where I got to see some of Neko Case’s set. She’s pretty great, and brought me back to my roots, growing up with my mother singing Neko Case songs in the car – so the whole set was nostalgic for me. It’s hard to beat watching the sun go down while you listen to a band that plays folk-esque rock music.
The next full show that I attended was the Chastity Belt show. Chastity Belt is a four part all girl rock outfit from Seattle. They had some great, loyal support from the crowd, and kept remarking on how many of their friends came to see the show. Surprisingly, the bassist was dancing the most of anyone in the band. She rocked while the two guitarists stared straight down through the whole set. Their music all seems to follow a formula of strong guitars at the start and jamming by the end, but it was easy to dance to, and kept you interested. Chastity Belt was also the first band that I’ve seen do an encore that wasn’t playing the MainStage. It seemed weird to me that they were doing one (seeing as they were playing on one of the smallest stages), but they rocked it. Maybe it was the power of loyal fans. Maybe it was girl power. Maybe they finished their set early. Whatever the reason they did an encore, it definitely made the show more awesome.
I only saw a part of MIA’s set, but I feel like she’s worth talking about. This was easily the flashiest show that I saw the whole weekend. MIA probably used the strobe lights on the stage ten times more than anyone else that played. She also wore a shiny, all gold outfit and danced all over the empty stage. If you were into shows that are loud and bright, this was the place to be.
Tyler the Creator
After I left the MIA stage, I saw the first few songs from Tyler the Creator. Previous to this show, I only knew a few of his songs. I knew that the show would be somewhat dark, but it ended up being even angrier music than I expected. While I didn’t really care for the music, I didn’t really take it offensively either. What was great about this show was the banter that Tyler had between songs. I am not sure if he is actually that awkward, or if it is all an act, but it was a good time to see him looking so uncomfortable addressing the crowd. What got me to leave the set was the fans that Tyler seemed to attract. It was almost as if these people had forgotten that they were at a concert, and were all trying to compete to see who could be the most obnoxious person there. People were throwing elbows everywhere they could, and spinning in circles when they didn’t have that much space. I’m not sure why people think this is necessary.
The last band of the night that I saw was the National. I was pretty excited about them, although the only album that I know much of is Trouble Will Find Me. The first section of the show was entirely off that album though, so I felt right at home from the start. The National sounds very similar when they are live to what is recorded, with the exception of how intense Matt Berninger gets. The man was screaming and throwing the microphone wherever possible. It helped to build energy, but with the music that The National puts out, it seemed mildly out of place. The interesting part of this show is that I suspect that The National was playing through their discography in a reverse chronological order – they played a lot off Trouble Will Find Me to start, and then seemed to go into their older music.
The second day is never the strongest, but I saw a lot of music. If you can keep your head up, you can see a lot of great music at an event like this.
– Bill Koch / Amateur Flower Appreciator / General Manager