[Photo by Julia Olson]
I didn’t think this year’s Sasquatch was going to be good. There it is. It’s on the table, no sugar coating. I didn’t think the lineup was great, and I personally knew quite a few people boycotting the festival. I just couldn’t quite shake the shock of seeing Twenty One Pilots, the enemy and subject of various memes within the indie music community, as headliners. And what’s more, Frank Ocean cancels as headliner? Nah. I wasn’t expecting much. But hey, who wouldn’t take a free press ticket? Take some pictures, eat some free press sandwiches and little oeuvres, whatever. I’ll do it. Little did I know, however, how beautiful of an experience Sasquatch was about to be, with such a strong and supportive community. And I’ll admit it: maybe a certain band I had deemed the “meme of the music community” wasn’t so bad after all…
Day One: The festival was hot as hell. Pitching a camp took time, and the group I was with decided to take our time heading into the festival because, well, we thought it wouldn’t be all that good. We first caught Seattle rap artist Porter Ray, whose set was absolutely great, even if I’d already seen this Seattle native a number of times before. The Hotelier put on an alright set, if not all that memorable to me, personally. Thee Oh Sees quickly turned things around. Although there was notably less people at Sasquatch than in previous years, everyone there truly was ready to have fun, and Thee Oh See’s quickly started a frenzied mosh in the crowd, braving the heat like it was nothing. The excitement almost made me forget my previous bias towards the festival and their choice in headliners. After Sales and a quick change (because I guess it gets pretty cold in the desert at night), Foxygen began his set, jumping onstage with a full band behind him, and effortlessly playing a few new (and very complicated/big band sounding) songs off his latest album, Hang. Other Foxygen hits that were played included bangers such as the hit, “San Francisco.”
Amidst all of that, over in the dance tent, Seattle native Manatee Commune absolutely killed it. The tent was full, and he had everyone dancing their butts off with some really unique mixes. His sounds were EDM-based with just a touch of something orchestral at its core. By that time, those earlier complaints of a “bad lineup” subsided.
LCD Soundsystem might have put on one of the best shows I have ever seen. The band took the stage with a quick word:
“I know we weren’t your first choice of headliner. I know we are just a replacement for Frank Ocean.” Afterwards, though, they quickly began to show Live Nation who should have been a first pick for the headliner spot.
LCD Soundsystem played with a full band onstage, and not only did they play pretty much every song the audience wanted to hear, including their legendary “Dance Yrself Clean,” but they also played a handful of brand new songs off of the album they just finished recording a few days ago. You heard it here first.
Day Two: Twenty One Pilots’ soundcheck was my alarm clock to the start of day two, but by that time, I was over myself. Sasquatch 2017 had already proven itself enough. After a brief morning off-road hike in The Gorge (and some lost keys), Klangstof started off the day of music for us. I saw Klangstof open for the Flaming Lips in Seattle not long before, but their performance at Sasquatch was beyond anything I could have expected. I got to chat with the band a little later that day, who told me about their band’s beginnings, and friendship since childhood. This bond was heavily reflected in their set, as members played off each other effortlessly and smoothly. I walked away from this set in awe as about twenty people around me could be heard saying, “Damn, who is this band?”
Comedian Fred Armisen performed some skits, picking up a guitar for a few bits (and he can shred; who knew?). We promptly stopped to see American Football, where I cried, and moved on to see MGMT. MGMT was, again, one of the better, more memorable sets I’d seen in quite some time, even if they had to sing through some sound issues on Live Nation’s side. After a little Vulfpeck, it was time for the thing I was dreading: Twenty One Pilots. Fairly worn out from the day of off-roading, we perched ourselves on the Gorge’s amphitheater-style seating and prepared.
All I will say in an effort to not undermine all that I stand for: Twenty One Pilots was not the worst. Although not musically that unique, or even good, the band knew how to put on a show, and their set really seemed to make a lot of people happy, which was a beautiful thing to watch at the end of the day.
Day Three: By day three, I was pretty hot and tired. It generally gets too warm to sleep in the desert by around 8:00 a.m., and I was absolutely coated in dust. By noon, it was 90º and I was warm. We spent the majority of the early afternoon getting to know our camp neighbors, sitting in the shade of their car and talking about music. We briefly left our shade haven to see Seattle lovelies Car Seat Headrest who, need I say, played an incredible set. After another brief, shaded nap, we headed as a new festival family (neighbors and all!) to see Jay Som, where we danced together in the setting sun to her beautiful voice. We all laid out on the hill and listened to The Shins as the sun fully set in a melodramatic and beautiful moment of happiness, and later went to dance with our new friends at Mount Kimbie.
Chance the Rapper closed out the night for us, and our sunburnt legs were ready to dance. Chance came on a little late, but after a little speech about his humble beginnings, we quickly forgot of the tardiness as we partied the night away, leaving tired, happy, and fulfilled.
If you made it this far in my article, congratulations (a little MGMT pun for you). I went into Sasquatch with low expectations. I left feeling not only very satisfied with the music I saw (The Shins, MGMT and LCD Soundsystem absolutely killed it), but more importantly, I left with new friends and a new appreciation for what music festivals are capable of. I found my campmates on Reddit because I initially couldn’t find a single person who wanted to go to Sasquatch this year (huge shout-out to Tyler and Carter for coming through). Although I was so happy with the music I experienced, I’ll never forget the mash-up family we met. Dancing with friends old and new in the setting sun, and sitting around a cooler full of beers after a long day of music with some of the kindest, most interesting people out there is what it’s all about. It might sound a little cheesy, but with new friends who I hope to attend Sasquatch with for years to come, it was hard not to feel like Sasquatch was an odd sort of home that I’ll happily return to next year, and with an open heart if it will have me.
JULIA OLSON | “You could have at least run this poor excuse for journalism by your editor.” | KXSU Head Reporter