I started my third day of the festival exhausted, but ready to go to 12 hours worth of shows and interviews. I started out by going to go see Greylag, a local Portland folk/indie band who I got an interview with. The show, which started at 12 p.m., only had a couple dozen people there, but by the end of their set it grew to a few hundred. They played songs mostly off their new EP, “The Only Way to Kill You.”
“”The Only Way to Kill You” comes at a time when the band is really just starting.
"I feel that it really captures a band in their beginning stages when everything is fresh,” said lead singer Andrew Stonestreet in an interview. The band is still in the process of solidifying itself, something evident in the EP.
The EP, according to Stonestreet, is highly influenced by his move to the West Coast, specifically to Portland. He was having a hard time on the West Coast and was able to revamp his creativity after moving. Playing music and putting on this EP was a therapeutic experience for him.
“I was anxious and stressed when I wrote it, something just needed to happen,” said Stonewall, adding, "songs like 'Black Crow' and 'Tiger' were there, they just needed to be written."
The band recently finished a national tour and plans to go on tour again. When questioned about the difficulties of being in a band bassist Liam Neighbors laughed and said, "We all hate each other." Stonestreet clarified that the band strives to find the perfect combination of friendship, creativity, and business. Look out for Greylag around Portland eating at their favorite restaurants, Potato Champion and the Broder, or playing shows at venues such as Mississippi Studio.
With no other show I really wanted to see, I went to go see country band Trampled By Turtles at the main stage so I could get a good spot for Blind Pilot, who were playing next. While Trampled By Turtles music really isn't my thing, I do have to give credit to the band as all being very talented musicians. The band was able to get the whole audience in to a genre of music they probably don't listen to all that much. Almost everyone was dancing and an impromptu square dance was started.
After Trampled By Turtles I saw local Portland band Blind Pilot. The indie rock band released their new album, “We are the Tide”, last year. I have seen Blind Pilot many times around Portland, usually playing with the Portland Cello Project. I was surprised that their fame expanded outside of Portland. seeing that they played the main stage at Sasquatch. The band as a whole seemed pretty taken aback as well by the huge audience gathered at their show, but their sound was solid and they were obviously enjoying themselves. My one complaint would be the indie rock band gets occasionally a little preachy, though this is only an occasional problem.
The next band I saw was the War on Drugs. After taking some epic pictures of lead singer Adam Granduciel’s hair blowing in the wind. The band’s music flows like many other similar bands in the indie rock genre, though Granduciel’s vocals and lyrics take inspiration from more classic rock giants, like Bruce Springsteen. The band combines electronica with the grit of classic rock to create a unique sound that transfers great to live concerts.
Following War on Drugs, I saw one of my favorite bands, Deer Tick. On last year’s “Divine Providence” Deer Tick strayed from their earlier more country folk sound to a more rock sound, inspired heavily by the Replacements. Lead singer John McCauley came on stage, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, and declared “let’s get this done so I can come party with you all.” The band played mostly songs off of “Divine Providence” but played a few older songs, including crowd favorites “Ashamed” and “Baltimore Blues No. 1.” Despite McCauley’s character of being slightly drunk and disheveled, the band was incredibly tight. They were all dressed in mostly colorful suits, fulfilling their role as East Coast boys (they’re from Providence) who had turned bad. The highlight of the show was when they played tribute to the late Beastie Boys’ member Adam Yauch by doing a truly epic cover of “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)”.
After Deer Tick was the Portland band Wild Flag, who feature Sleater-Kinney singer and guitarist as well as Portlandia cast member Carrie Brownstein. The so-called super group, because it features ex-members of Sleater-Kinney, Helium, and the Minders, emulates the idea of hard versus soft, with songs featuring heavy rock drums and guitars, but more pop inspired vocals. Each member of the band, while famous in her own right, do not try to take the spotlight away from the other members. The band works incredibly well together as a whole and allows each member to stand out at different times. The band was not affected by the weather conditions, which Brownstein described as “a wind tunnel going straight through the stage” and instead played a great set. One of the best points was when, for a finale, they did a cover of Patti Smith’s “Ask the Angels".
One of the most surprising acts for me of the festival was Beirut. The band, fronted by virtuoso Zach Condon, takes influences from jazz as well as some world music genres. I have always liked Beirut, but I have never been all that crazy about them. Seeing them live, though, gave me much more appreciation for the band. In the hot afternoon sun the band was just as much into the music as the audience. I have also never seen a more hard-working lead singer. When he wasn’t singing, Condon was playing trumpet or ukulele.
Following Beirut, I ran over to one of the smaller stages just in time to catch Swedish electronic band Little Dragon. Having been together for over 10 years, Little Dragon has been able to create their own sound that shines out in the electronic music world. Most of the songs they played were off last year’s “Ritual Union.” Lead singer Yukimi Nagano pranced around the stage, though kept her communication with the audience to a minimum. At a festival like Sasquatch where bands are given sets usually no longer than an hour to perform, Little Dragon used that time very effectively to play a dynamic set.
For my final show at Sasquatch I hoped I would be going out with a bang by seeing Bon Iver. I, with the rest of the people at Sasquatch, was beyond ecstatic to see Bon Iver, the indie king who gained national attention after recording a heart-wrenching breakout album in a cabin. The stage was beautiful, with vintage lights placed in rows all around the musicians and worn clothes flowing from the rafters. Bon Iver played songs mostly off last year’s self-titled album. While the band was tight and the music easy to lose yourself in, something was missing. It was the same problem that I had with the Shins -- it’s hard to fully appreciate such vulnerable bands in huge stadiums with thousands of people.
Overall I enjoyed my time at Sasquatch Music Festival and would definitely go again if given the opportunity. There is no setting more beautiful than the Gorge for such a festival to occur. My one complaint would be the stress that comes with going to music festivals – constant multiple shows going on -- making it very difficult to decide which shows to go to and which to skip. The short sets also make it difficult to really get into the music.