Now in its 9th year, the Sasquatch! Festival has firmly established itself as the Pacific Northwest’s premier popular music event. A stylistically diverse line-up featuring 80+ bands ranged from promising new acts to established tour veterans. Promoter Adam Zacks demonstrated he’s got his finger on the pulse of the current music industry; booking bands that showcase the PNW’s vibrant and eclectic scene, but also those that reflect global online music discovery and consumption. Sold-out weeks in advance, 50,000 fans trekked to the breathtaking Gorge amphitheatre in central Washington, transforming it into the nation’s biggest dance party.
The overarching musical theme across each of the four stages was the blurring of synthetic, sequenced percussive elements and live instrumentation. Electronic acts’ futuristic low-end bass was in bright contrast to the natural beauty of the ages-old Columbia River gorge. OG rap act Public Enemy brought the noise and Kid Cudi and Shabazz Palaces engaged the beat-hungry crowd with cultural conversation, taking rap back to its political roots.
The U.K.’s Massive Attack delivered a creepy, atmospheric set, yet in contrast, high-energy LCD Soundsystem and Vampire Weekend both rallied the hillside into a bouncing, writhing mass with their propulsive electro-pop.
Each night culminated with hedonistic dance parties; sensory experiences at the hands of Z-Trip, Deadmau5 and Germany’s Booka Shade. Also of note were Scotland’s Hudson Mohawke and Swedish duo, Miike Snow. Returning act Passion Pit and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros filled the falsetto glam- pop void with favorable results.
My Morning Jacket, Drive By Truckers, and Band of Horses each offered fist-pumping anthems and tender melodies within their textured, groove-heavy, beard rock. Nerd rockers They Might Be Giants continued the electro-rock vibe while lo-fi harmonic indie acts Dr. Dog, Vetiver, and The Long Winters favored warm, folksy delivery with Grateful Dead covers and pop stylings. She and Him and The xx had a lock on intimate, minimalist song craft.
Though highly anticipated, Pavement suffered from unpreparedness, delivering an underwhelming set. Similarly MGMT’s slot lacked energy, giving credence to the notion they’re a studio band. But it was ultimately Ween, the genre-bending juggernaut fed by raw power and melodic sensibility with their cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” that perfectly summed up the weekend.