By Victoria Holt and Bryan Anton
In preparation for this year’s Sasquatch! Music Festival, we decided to skip telling you about the obvious sets (Kendrick Lamar, St. Vincent, Modest Mouse, Hot Chip, Tame Impala, Little Dragon, Lana Del Rey, Father John Misty, etc.) and focus on some small to mid-sized acts. You should still catch those big names, but no festival experience would be complete without seeing a few new acts.
After a failed attempt to split the festival into two separate weekends in 2014, this year the event returns for four days over Memorial Day Weekend. Music lovers will descend on the Gorge once more to take in the magnificent views and see some of the best in today’s music. Here’s the list of acts we can’t miss:
11. Slow Magic
Monday, May 25th, El Chupacabra Stage, 8:30pm
A man without a face brings heavy influence with his dance evoking melodies. This enigma creates elaborate strings of emotion through synthesizers and live percussion accents. A densely layered drum track gives the listener something to hold onto while intriguing sampled elements run wild. Preferring anonymity, this artist wears a mask at all times and hasn’t revealed anything about his name, age, or origin. Hoping to avoid being pigeon-holed, the artist lists the genre on his Facebook page as simply, “no.” Regardless of who he is, Slow Magic will move you inside and out, so don’t miss his set this year!
10. Kate Tempest
Sunday, May 24th, Yeti Stage, 4:00pm
U.K. rapper and singer Kate Tempest of South East London pumps out rhymes reminiscent of The Streets’ Mike Skinner, swaggering between straightforward rapping and more experimental, stream-of-consciousness speaking. Her wordsmithing reveals heavy themes of identity and aspirations amidst the toil of poverty and class issues. Tracks like “Lonely Daze” and “Bad Place for a Good Time” reveal her penchant for capturing feelings of stagnancy along the way. Quite to the contrary, at only 27 years old, she became the youngest person to win Britain’s Ted Hughes Award for innovation in poetry. She has written an epic narrative poem called “Brand New Ancients,” and has been commissioned to do work for the Royal Shakespeare Company. There’s much more on the way from Kate Tempest, so take your chance to see her now.
Saturday, May 23rd, Yeti Stage, 9:15pm
This set will be worth a stop, if only to see how Ty Segall performs on drums instead of guitar. But Segall shouldn’t be the main event, as bandmates Charles Moothart (guitar, vocals) and Roland Cosio (bass) shine just as bright on their respective instruments. Fans of hard rock won’t be disappointed, as the trio hearkens back to early ’70s incarnations. The music video for raucous track “Raise” features a boy watching the band on TV and slowly turning into a slimy lizard, seemingly because of the blazing hot guitar riffs. Try as he might to change the channel, he eventually goes fully lizard, reaching out the touch the screen, as all goes silent and the screen goes fuzzy. The music video continues as such for another three minutes, really hammering home the pun.
Monday, May 25th, Bigfoot Stage, 8:00pm
Danish Karen Marie Ørsted (stage name MØ) should be a lot of fun to see live. Judging from her music videos, she’ll undoubtedly wear some interesting outfits, and it seems like she has a good sense of humor. Growing up in Denmark, she first got into music when she discovered punk music, and had a punk band for awhile called MOR. She made her debut working with the likes of Iggy Azalea and Major Lazer, but her new album No Mythologies To Follow is worth a listen. Songs like “Waste of Time,” “Walk This Way,” and “Don’t Wanna Dance” are undoubtedly pop songs, but they blend alternative elements skillfully, giving the songs an edge which rock and hip hop fans will grab onto. Who knows, maybe Diplo will even show up . . .
7. Diarrhea Planet
Saturday, May 23rd, Yeti Stage, 5:05pm
These look like really fun guys to hang out with. There are six people in the band, four of them guitarists, so they’re bound to bring the noise live. They possess that feel-good, singalong Fat Mike or Blink 182, Warped-Tour-2003, nostalgic pop punk vibe sometimes, especially on the track “Separations,” but their guitars are a little heavier (not to mention there’s more of them). There’s enough high fives, coordinated footwork, and sweet smiles per capita to make me want to go to their show just to be around them.
Monday, May 25th, Yeti Stage, 9:15pm
The sun-kissed twangs and dreamy vocals of this Toronto-based band (pronounced “always”) would be right at home on the Gorge’s sunny grass, which is why we’re confused at Sasquatch’s decision to schedule them for a 9:15pm slot. Try to imagine those warm rays on your skin as you ride their reverb waves. The songs are reminiscent of Let’s Get Out of this Country-era Camera Obscura, and are sure to bliss you out no matter the time of day.
5. Will Butler
Saturday, May 23rd, Sasquatch Stage, 1:00pm
Will Butler is the multi-instrumentalist in Arcade Fire who, during their early performances in 2005, would leave their sets blistered and bleeding, climbing stage scaffolding, wilding out, and pretending to smother bandmate Richard Reed Parry. It’s only natural that this eccentric and creative genius of such a big name band would branch out and make his own music. His debut album Policy was just released in March of this year, and we’re excited to see where he goes. As the first set on the main stage Saturday, this might seem too great a feat to attend. But when the first notes of the intensely catchy “Anna” start up, we know where we’ll be–booty shaking no matter the temperature. If you need any help with dance moves, check out the music video.
4. Courtney Barnett
Monday, May 25th, Sasquatch Stage, 3:10pm
When we saw Melbourne, Australia artist Courtney Barnett at Coachella 2014, we were blown away, saying, “Courtney Barnett’s music is perfectly suited to slow, overheated days, her vocals rife with apathy and deadpan delivery. She uses just the right disinterested drawl to carry the lazy tune along, rambling from one self-deprecating line to the next.” We adored her set, and she’s sure to put on a great performance again. If the weather forecasts hold up, 3pm on the main stage may well be a scorcher. Her new album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, sizzles and sears like only she can, offering minute after minute of cynical, spot-on advice.
Friday, May 22nd, Yeti Stage, 4:00pm
They’re up nearly first for the weekend, but getting in early will be well worth it. Trust me, you can drink all the beers later that night at your campsite, do not miss this set to tailgate! There will be hard-rocking ladies in high heels, whipping their killer locks around the stage. Their new music video was filmed at Fred Wildlife Refuge in Seattle, and is made to look like a single take, following singer Molly Sides around a rainbow colored ’70s-style club. There’s a whole cast of interested characters, and the band features a few great mentions, including Whitney Petty (previously of Deerhunter), Cumulus’s Leah Julius, and La Luz’s Lena Simon. We can’t say it enough, do not miss this set.
Sunday, May 24th, Bigfoot Stage, 6:15pm
Hailing from Britain, Temples are a band who could have easily formed in 1965, disappeared, and re-materialized in the present day. With sounds clearly inspired by yesteryear, this four man band has gained much-deserved popularity and heavy recognition for their first full length Sun Structures. Their debut single “Shelter Song” sounds like something straight off of the more psychedelic side of The Beatles‘ Revolver. They create effortlessly catchy tunes that you’ll sing along to, even on a first listen. The fact that fellow psychedelics Tame Impala are also rocking the weekend makes us wet our pants a little . . . But you already knew not to miss them.
1. The Glorious Sunset
Every Day, Sasquatch Stage, around 8:30pm
Okay, so it’s not a band, but seriously, you need to witness the glory that is a sunset at the Gorge at least once. You have four opportunities, so it shouldn’t be too hard. I mean, come on. Get those cameras ready! And enjoy your festival weekend.