Only at Sasquatch! do festival-goers wake to the sound of mooing.
As the sun rose on Day Two, weary campers emerged from their tents in desperate search of coffee, food and music to drown out the bovines. Over at the Treeswingers camp, it took four Redbulls and the cows’ relentless racket to get us out of bed. Not even halfway through Sasquatch’s four-day marathon, we were already struggling. One glance at the show schedule, though, and we were skipping to catch our first band.
Read our reviews from Saturday below…
Said the Whale kicked the day off with their adorable indie pop. Playing at 1 P.M. to an unexpectedly packed side stage, it seemed as though the Vancouver-based band were entertaining a home crowd. The seasoned audience shouted along to “Camilo,” while the group charmed new listeners with “The Light is You.” Even some persistent feedback didn’t put a dampener on their set, as they swung their way through several folk-inspired tracks. After a thoroughly uplifting set, the band left the stage with grins as big as ours.
Sasquatch’s Banana Shack, known as the dance party tent, provided much of the day’s stand-out music. The former advertising executive, Com Truise, was an unassuming warm-up to the action. A portly, gruff-looking man with a beard, Com Truise is sci-fi and synth enthusiast Seth Haley’s electronic funk project. Starting with “Sundriped,” Haley had the crowd moving as one with his down-tempo knob twiddling. Sound problems marred the set, with the chord even falling out the back of his synth at one point causing Haley to exclaim: “You hear that hum? That’s six cycles of fucking annoyingness.” The crowd didn’t seem to mind, and simply cheered Haley along when he sipped–what else–PBR. The set moved into more glitchy territory with “Cathode Girls,” without every fully bursting into out-and-out dance music. Throughout the performance, Haley looked a the crowd a grand total of three times, moving himself to fist pump just twice.
If Com Truise lacked stage presence, AraabMuzik oozed it from every inch of his diminutive frame. Decked out in a camouflage flat-brimmed cap and matching shirt, Abraham Orellana swaggered on stage with the bravado of a rapper. Replete with hype-man, his set was electronic styled by hip-hop’s machismo. Indeed, it’s difficult to explain just what AraabMuzik does exactly. The recording’s of the DJ/producer’s 2011 album, “Electronic Dream,” do not do live performance justice. The virtuosity Araabmuzik displays on the MPC drum machine is akin to a concert pianist, while the dexterity and speed with which he pounds the pads of the MPC are truly astonishing. As he played, the live video of his finger action was displayed behind him, furthering the awe-inspiration. The crowd went crazy when he played “Streetz Tonight,” and “Feelin So Hood,” while his mix of Damien Marley “Welcome to Jamrock” provided a singalong that quickly devolved back into dancing. Dead ears and sore feet all around, but we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Purity Ring, the Montreal duo comprised of Megan James and Corin Roddick, took the to the Banana Shack, furthering the day’s Canadian connection. Vocalist Megan James began by taking a Polaroid of the crowd – the first indication that we were in for something a little different. Indeed, Purity Ring proved to be an audio-visual experience, at times veering more towards performance art than music. The heavy effects placed on James’ voice created a dream-like soundscape, furthered by the sight of Roddick hitting drum fixtures that lit up upon contact. In return, James banged a huge bass drum and wailed her heart out during tracks like “Obedear” and “Ungirthed.” The audience lapped up every track from the group’s upcoming album, Shrines, providing an other-wordly precursor to tUnE-yArDs.
tUnE-yArDs kicked off their magical outdoor set with improvised drumming looped upon itself. Led by Merrill Garbus, the band swifly moved into “Gangsta,” prompting a crowd sing-along of epic proportions. Garbus then pulled out the ukulele for “Powa” before moving onto another set highlight, “Jumping Jack.” As the sun set across the gorge, Garbus directed the crowd to look behind them and appreciate the landscape, segueing into an extended loop of vocal pyrotechnics that launched a raucous rendition of “Bizness.” The atmosphere was near-religious as tUnE-yArDs’ set came to a close. No one said it better than Garbus herself, who concluded: “You guys are so amazing. I don’t do drugs, but I feel high.”
St. Vincent’s festival sets never get old, no matter how many times we catch them. Annie Clark, the name behind the music, took to the stage in a glittering black shirt with her black and red guitar. Tiny on stage and with her band very much in the background, Clark never looks like one to command thousands. But after launching into “Marrow,” all doubt was put to rest. Clark pranced around gesticulating, at some points tiptoeing backwards before rushing forward to sing her way through “Cheerleader” and “Chloe in the Afternoon. As always, her hair shook and her guitar wailed filling the walls of the Gorge–and crowd member’s hearts–with unmatched ferocity. The swooning masses, however, had their crushes countered. “Dilettante,” said Clark “ is a love song, if you mixed it with hate mail,” as everyone with a St. Vincent-induced infatuation shuddered and put their fantasies on hold–at least for the end of Day Two.
-Natalie and Erin
Treeswingers’ Top Three
AraabMuzik- Feelin So Hood (download)
tUnE-yArDs- You Yes You (download)
St. Vincent- Chloe In The Afternoon (download)
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