Top 5 Festival Lowlights:
1) The sound at the Bigfoot Stage: I’m not sure what the underlying issue was, but this stage just couldn’t get the sound dialed in (see previous mentions re: Japandroids, Father John Misty, Michael Kiwanuka, Divine Fits, Vampire Weekend, Grimes, etc.). I think Primus was the only set of the weekend where I didn’t have any legitimate complaints, but I was still holding my breath after every bomb Les dropped.
2) Heathrow Airport: Fresh off of a gig at Primavera Sound in Barcelona, Tame Impala hopped across the pond with one slight snafu: all of their gear got held up at Heathrow Airport in London. Luckily, their equipment eventually arrived on a different flight (HUGE sigh of relief), but it meant their set was pushed back 80 minutes….putting them directly against Sigur Ros. A tough choice had to be made, and I opted for the Icelanders over the Australians. Ultimately, I left an hour in only when it became obvious that they weren’t going to play a single song I hadn’t seen a month early at the Bill Graham show in San Francisco. I was able to catch the end of “Elephant” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”, but it pained me to hear about how ridonkulous the entire show was.
3) Poorly publicized schedule changes: When weather and other issues wreaked havoc to the schedule, it seemed like the festival organizers hadn’t really thought of a good way to publicize them. Even though I spent a considerable amount of time in the media area, I had no clue that Imagine Dragons’ set was pushed back a whole hour, or that Azaelia Banks wasn’t even performing. Meanwhile Schoolboy Q & AB-Soul failed to show up on Day 1, and I heard from plenty of fans who stayed camped out at the main stage to see them even AFTER Built to Spill started soundchecking. Clearly, the word had not gotten out to the masses.
4) Monday’s weather: while it’s hard to complain about only 4-5 hours of rainy weather at The Gorge after hearing about the muddy fiasco that was Summer Camp, it was still the worst day of weather I’d ever experienced at the Gorge. It was much cooler than my previous 3 visits, which was actually a good thing, but pairing that with the rain definitely took the wind out of more than a few already-tired festivalgoers’ sails on Day 4. And while we weren’t enduring torrential downpours, the rain still managed to interfere with one of the sets I was most looking forward to: The Barr Brothers.
5) Coming back to reality: This is the case with any festival and maybe a bit of a cop out, but I honestly couldn’t come up with a fifth lowlight. The Gorge is a magical place and the organizers of Sasquatch do such a great job putting together an eclectic and stacked lineup, that I really didn’t have any other complaints. Sure the $13 beers definitely sucked, but that’s on Live Nation, and a small price to pay for seeing some of your favorite acts in such a majestic setting.
Top 10 Highlights:
1) The Gorge: No need to beat a dead horse with this one. Seeing a show here should be on everyone’s bucket list.
2) Shorter sets: Simply put, I saw a s*** ton of bands over these four days. While at other festivals a stage might see 5 or 6 acts per day, Sasquatch, like Coachella, is able to cram in 8 or 9. Only the headliners for each stage ever got more than an hour, and the 40 – 50 minute sets also mean there’s at most only 10 minutes of filler for even the youngest bands, and you’re guaranteed to catch all the hits.
3) Primus 3D
5) Divine Fits
7) Death Grips
9) Preservation Hall Jazz Band
10) The Kowanee Beer Lounge: Free beer? Yes please. I’d never heard of this beer before, but you better believe I won’t be forgetting it now. All you had to do was be one of the first 250 or so people to get a wristband each day and then you were granted access to a terrace by the mainstage where the beer flowed like wine and Kowanee-labelled prizes were routinely pimped out in dance and karaoke contests. The secret was out by Day 3, but as long as you were in by 2pm each day it wasn’t that hard to get in.
Honorable mentions: Cody Chestnutt, The XX, Built to Spill, The Postal Service, Father John Misty, Youth Lagoon, Akron/Family, Disclosure, Reignwolf
Note: Imagine Dragons, Dirty Projectors, Arctic Monkeys, Surfer Blood, Fang Island, The Presets, and Deap Sea Diver all fell victim to being opposite something else and Azaelia Banks was a no show. I have no doubt that some of these bands would have made the highlight list as well. Also, in a nice touch, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready played the National Anthem from the main stage to commemorate Memorial Day before The Lumineers’ set. Sadly, I heard about this after the fact, but so it goes.
All in all, this was another stellar chapter in my festival goings, and I hope it doesn’t take another four years for me to return.
Check out a compilation of videos I shot over the course of the weekend, with snippets from Macklemore, Divine Fits, Youth Lagoon, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Edward Sharp, Death Grips, El-P, and more…