Friday, June 1, 2012

Sasquatch: Day 2

I woke up bright and early to the sound of a drum circle going on a couple cars down (lovely). I planned to go see Reptar at 12, but computer problems (that almost led to tears) prevented me from getting to the show on time, though I was still able to check out Electric Guest.

I first heard Electric Guest a couple weeks ago while I was putting a mix together. I was ecstatic when I found out they were going to be at Sasquatch. They started out by sharing their gratitude to be back in the United States after playing shows in Germany. Lead singer Asa Taccone was grooving to the music just as much as the audience was. It was easy to be into their music, which took influences from bands like the Doors and soul music. Definetely a fun show, though I grew tired of Taccone’s falsetto after about the third song. The band will be much improved when Taccone can no longer sing that high.

I took a break from going to music shows and caught Portlandia next. I didn’t really have any idea what the show would be like, but with nothing much better to do I went. Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, the pair who make up most of Portlandia’s characters, talked about themselves and then taught the audience about Portland via digrams and audience parctipitation. I was worried that the show would be just an attempt to recreate the television show and would be pretty scripted, and while to an extent this was true, Brownstein and Armisen seemed to be enjoying themselves and even improvised at points. The best part was when they had members of the audience participate in “Have you read it?”, a game that was featured in a skit from the TV show where friends try to out do each other based off what they have read recently. Armisen and Brownstein had to change the game for their live shows so people would do it with what they’ve seen, tv shows or movies, because “the only thing people read anymore is Twitter”.

Next, I ran over to go see one of my favorite bands, the Dum Dum Girls. The girls, who dressed in all black, seemed unfazed by the rambunctious audience. After a messy start (they obviously didn't have a soundcheck) the band got their "sound in check" and played a strong set in the hot midday sun. The band shows the "bad side" of girl-groups. With bangs, black dresses, and patterned black tights they are the cool older sisters you always wish you had. Before playing the popular "Jail La La" from their 2010 debut album, I Will Be, singer Dee Dee said cooly "this is a song about where you go if you're bad". There is an obvious shift between I Will Be and last year's Only in Dreams. The maturity in Only in Dreams isn't found in the lighthearted I Will Be. As a band, the Dum Dum Girls, among other things, have become experienced, something that is evident in their live tight live performances.

After the Dum Dum Girls, I went over to see Metric at the main stage. Metric played a variety of songs, most off of their new album Synthetica, which will come out in June. Synthetica is an accurate description of the many new songs they played. Many feature synths much more prominently than in their past work. For a band that's been around for more than ten years, this new change might be an example of the recent popularity of electronic music. This slight change doesn't take away from the band's original sound. Lead singer Emily Haines' still sings often in a high almost doll-like voice. She dances around the stage and with her blonde hair shaking, something that is reminiscent of Blonde's Debbie Harry.

I stayed at the main stage to get a good place for the Shins. After making friends with the people around me I enlisted the help of a fellow concert goer to take pictures for me (thanks tall guy!). The second they got on stage, the mellow unabashed persona of the band was apparent. They started with "Kissing the Lipless" and played a mix of older songs as well as songs off their new album, "Port of Marrow". Throughout the concert the audience sang along to almost every song, something Mercer found surprising. After performing "Bait and Switch", he appointed the audience official members of the Shins due to our singing. While the band was playing to their fullest, it's hard to believe that you can describe a band that only has one of it's original members as the same band. A huge stadium also isn't the ideal place for the Shins to play. Their delicate sound fits in much better at smaller venues, when you can share an intimate performance with the group.

I left the Shins early to go see St. Vincent. This was the third time I've seen the group and each time has been better. The first show I saw of them, lead singer and guitarist Annie Clark was nervous and the music felt understated. Now, after releasing her third album and gaining much success, she has turned into a bona fide rock star. Her passion, skills, and creativity are next to none. She moves across the stage like a mad woman who is in her own world. She puts all of her energy into her music and it shows. She sang "Cheerleader" with more raw power than I had ever seen her do. She ended the set with her new song, "Krokodil", and sang almost the whole song while crowd surfing and squirming around, like she was fighting the sea of people who worship her.

The final show of the night was Jack White. With a new solo album out he has truly become a musician  not defined by any group act. He played new songs as well as old favorites that covered the wide range of acts he has been a part of, such as the White Stripes' "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" and the Raconteurs, "Steady As She Goes". Jack White is an icon and can certainly put on a stylized show. He wore a striped suit that matched the similarly dressed other members of the group. One fellow reporter commented that they could have been in "Edward Scissorhands".

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