After 420 minutes spent walking from camp ground to concert, four hours of sleep per night and a grand total of zero showers, our final day in the Gorge was certainly tinged with fatigue. For some it was less Sasqautch! and more Sasquatch, exclamation point optional.
One man knew just how to wash that tiredness right out of his hair. As we entered the festival, he was sitting fully-clothed on a fixture in a nearby pond, attracting a crowd of onlookers and some very disgruntled security personnel. He then stood up, spread his arms triumphantly, and dove backwards into the water. Exultant, he proceeded to do a lap of victory, trailed by a beleaguered doggy-paddling crowd-control employee. With this brave soul’s inspiring performance in mind, we were off toward the first band of the day.
Read our reviews from Monday below…
Sallie Ford And The Sound Outside started things off with a swingin’ set of retro blues. Ms. Sallie Ford possesses one hell of a voice, best showcased on songs like “Write Me a Letter.” The Portland-based band’s home fans lapped up their tracks, bopping along to the killer upright bass, played by Tyler Tornfelt (what a name). Sallie Ford promised sunny music for good vibes, and she sure didn’t disappoint.
Things got weird with Awesome Tapes from Africa. Brian Shimkovitz, the man behind the blog-turned-record-label, played the Banana Shack a selection of tapes he collected during a stint conducting research in Africa. Although Sasquatch! organizers deserve props for booking such an interesting act, it was an odd choice to place Shimkovitz in the dance tent. Women in full skirts and beanies swayed. Men in wayfarers and straw fedoras shuffled back and forth. One couldn’t help but feel the audience were mimicking moves from Beyoncé’s “Run The World (Girls)” video in an attempt to recreate any essentialized “African” dance they may have seen. If it were intended as a DJ set, Shimkovitz’s mix could have been better crafted–the beat-matching was poor, and there was no coherent sense of build. Instead of merely showcasing music listeners had never heard, Shimkovitz’s set would have been more effective had he contextualized it for us–mixing the tapes into M.I.A., for example, to show festival-goers where contemporary pop artists have found inspiration.
Felix Cartal restored the Banana Shack to sweaty order, packing in one of the busiest crowds of the weekend. The Vancouver DJ mixed an impressive set of commercial house, and although it may still have been daylight, plenty of Sasquatchers were willing to pretend they were in the back alley behind a club smoking cigarettes at 4 A.M. Among the tunes were Cartal’s “Don’t Turn on the Lights” and “Black to White” from his recent Different Faces album. Cartal runs a tight ship full of massive drops and an expertly-crafted set that had the crowd clapping without encouragement. The audience jumped and shouted as one, audibly exclaiming en masse at least five times during his mix. Felix Cartal, we’ll be seeing you again.
Shabazz Palaces, the experimental hip-hop duo of Ishmael Butler and Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire, played one of the most musically-impressive live sets of the weekend. Unlike other rap acts, there was no DJ — the pair ran their beats off instruments and laptops entirely on their own, often rapping while simultaneously playing the bongos or keyboard. The crowd, seated on the grass and head-nodding by the stage, were taken on musical jams through jazz and funk as the duo rocked out between raps. Shabazz played most of the tracks off their 2009 Of Light EP, as well as 2012′s full-length, Black Up. Their music recalled something raw and tangible often lost from hip-hop today, as they sang “do it for my people so I know y’all can have it” (from the descriptively-titled “Blastit At The Homie Rayzer’s Charm Lake Plateau BBQ July At Outpalace Pk”).
Sasquatch! organizers failed to mention that Sampha, the singer on SBTRKT’s 2011 album and regular tourmate, would not be joining the masked producer on stage in the Gorge. Instead, SBTRKT played a diverse DJ set that acted like a how-to guide for electronic music. Without introducing himself, SBTRKT took to the stage playing a UK two-step beat, which mixed into “Hold On,” followed by Boddika’s “Grand Prix.” Soon, the set veered into garage territory and a mix of “Living Like We Do.” SBTRKT then descended into deep house, before dropping the eponymous Drake remix of “Wildfire” and ending with some crowd-pleasing dubstep. SBTRKT obviously had fun with his set, dropping an airhorn sound-effect at regular intervals.
As we drove away from the Gorge with chapped lips and sunburnt faces, we found ourselves debating the verity of sasquatches. Do they exist? And if so, do they eat bananas? We didn’t come to a conclusion, but we know that this Sasquatch, at least, is one we’ll be seeing next year.
-Natalie and Erin
Treeswingers’ Top Three
Felix Cartal- Black To White (feat. Miss Palmer) (download)
Shabazz Palaces- Are you… Can you… Were you? (Felt) (download)
SBTRKT – Ready Set Loop (download)
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