Image from Recherches sur les Poissons Fossiles by Louis Agassiz, 1843
So I just got back from the Sasquatch! Music Festival today - it was my first time ever attending the four-day outdoor rock festival that's held at the Gorge Amphitheatre, overlooking the Columbia River in central Washington state. My brother and I elected to skip the first day of the festival (Friday) - the lineup didn't hold much of interest, so we arrived at the Gorge Saturday morning. We wanted to get there fairly soon after the doors opened because we wanted to catch Swedish electro-dreampop act the Radio Dept. We got there early enough to catch the first band to perform on the festival's main stage, a band called the Alberta Cross from the UK. Described in the always-amusing festival program blurbs as a British version of My Morning Jacket, they were predictably uninteresting, bordering on terrible.
The Radio Dept.'s set was much better - with their minimal three-man setup on a huge stage in broad daylight, they didn't make much of a visual impression, but their set sounded quite good. The vocals were mixed a little low, but the setlist had a lot of high points, including the band's best singles ("Pulling Our Weight", "Heaven's on Fire"). When they were done, we were happy enough with our spot in front of the main stage that we stuck around to see Seattle roots-pop ensemble the Head and the Heart, a local favorite. I was impressed with their musicianship, versatility, and energy, but their songwriting needs to develop a bit. LA indie-pop band Local Natives, who took the stage next, did a better job of impressing with their multiple vocalists.
We spent the rest of the afternoon watching performances on the festival's two smaller stages. J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. did a great-sounding solo set on the tiny Yeti Stage, but he was counting on using loops to layer his guitar parts and his equipment wasn't really cooperating. As a result, the set only really got any momentum going when he managed to get a long solo going. We saw Jenny & Johnny do a solid set, marred only by Jenny letting Johnny take the lead vocal on occasion, and they were followed by New York's Antlers, who sounded really good as well. After the Antlers' set, we caught the last half of the Thermals' performance on the small stage (twenty minutes is plenty to get the full Thermals experience), and then we watched a little of Iron & Wine on the big stage before deciding to pack it in for the evening. Sleigh Bells were playing at 10:00, but there weren't enough good acts on earlier in the evening to make it worthwhile. We saw almost seven full sets, so it was a day's worth of good music.
"Pulling Our Weight" by the Radio Dept.