Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011


    sasquatch 2011 500x500 260x260 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011“Not considering this opening worthy of more attention, I continued our pursuit to the Northwest, being desirous to embrace the advantages of the prevailing breeze.” – George Vancouver, 17th century English explorer

    Breathtaking describes a lot of things. It’s typically a “go-to” adjective for anything remotely awe-inspiring. For Sasquatch! Music Festival, it’s the only word that works. There’s little room for where it doesn’t work, come to think of it. Even the drive in from Seattle, WA is enough to yank tears from the eyes. Driving through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, you can’t miss the ominous Douglas-firs, or pry your hands from the wheel at the unpredictable roads that weave and snake through the mountainous terrain. It’s an adventure in every sense of the word.

    But, that’s just the drive. Once you’re there, snuggled between the small towns of Quincy & George, you’re essentially cut off from the traditional confines of society. You’re a free spirit, roaming the natural habitat. It’s a liberating feeling, but also somewhat frightening. You’re at the hands of society’s loose change. Actually, it’s very frightening. But, that risk is what makes it so extraordinary. After everyone’s settled and the traffic conditions slacken, festivalgoers, musicians, and staff co-exist together in a melting pot within a melting pot. It’s madness, it’s a little chaotic, but it’s raw. It harkens back to the age-old American idealism of venturing beyond, exploring the uninhabited abyss.


    What an abyss, though. It’s so easy to just say, “Well, the Gorge is out of this world. Duh.” But, that’s really it. Natural wonders retain that title for a reason. The Gorge earns it triple-fold. There are colors baked into its natural walls that haven’t even been named yet. Even more spellbinding, these colors evolve every minute, every hour, and each day. So at first glance, it’s something you’ll remember forever, but that feeling never leaves you.

    Couple that with music and it’s truly a win-win.

    -Michael Roffman

    Friday, May 27th

    Rival Schools – Bigfoot Stage – 4:00 p.m.

    rival 7 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

    Photo by Heather Kaplan

    “Hey there,” Rival Schools‘ vocalist Walter Schreifels muttered, cracking open the four-day Sasquatch! weekend. As the still evolving crowd poured in from the nearby gates – which had only opened 15-20 minutes prior to the set – the New York rockers breezed through a slightly raucous if not traditional set. Opener “Wring It Out”, their current single supporting this year’s Pedals, wrenched some acclaim from fanatics who scattered around the mid-sized Bigfoot stage, granting the band access to segue straight into other new material, specifically “69 Guns”, which turned things up a notch. It didn’t take long for the quartet to scale back to older material, either. Oldie ”Everything Has Its Point”, a track that dates back to their 2001 debut, United by Fate, popped up rather quickly. Then the rest just fell into place. -Michael Roffman

    Mariachi El Bronx – Yeti Stage – 4:30 p.m.

    mariachi 3 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

    Photo by Heather Kaplan

    There’s a moment in every festival where a band conjures up the wonderful “freak flag” moment. For Sasquatch!, it came an hour into the weekend, when Los Angeles’ own The Bronx donned the sombreros and dove head first into mariachi music. Dubbed Mariachi El Bronx, after the group’s WTF 2009 LP of the same name, the group really stirred the proverbial post-modern fiesta hippy pot, to which everyone just sort of let their souls run wild. Sometime amidst the chaos, one of the band members exclaimed, “There’s some badass shit going on today.” Although it was a tad too early to admit this, that pretty much summed up the remainder of the day. Mariachi men or fortune tellers? Hmm. -Michael Roffman

    Biffy Clyro – Bigfoot Stage – 5:00 p.m.

    biffy 1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

    Photo by Heather Kaplan

    I was lucky enough to catch Biffy Clyro at the Illosaarirock Festival in Finland last year and was completely won over by the Scottish trio’s driving live act and larger-than-life sound. Though the catchy prog-metal band isn’t well known in North America, and they were one of the first bands to play at the start of the festival, they still managed to draw a sizeable crowd of fans who knew all lyrics by heart and were moshing out during some of the harder numbers. The Biff (as their fans affectionately call them) were quick and bouncy, turning their more pop-based songs into metal numbers and causing lead singer and guitarist (and Jesus lookalike) Simon Neil to break his strings several times over. -Karina Halle


    Bob Mould – Mainstage – 5:45 p.m.

    mould 1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

    Photo by Heather Kaplan

    Similar to Paul Westerberg, Bob Mould travels alone these days. Actually, the major difference between the two is that the latter actually travels. However, their stage show is strikingly similar – at least when Westerberg last toured. It’s bare bones logic: a famed songwriter, alone, with an electric guitar, and a largely celebrated discography in the noggin. That might sound like a match made in heaven, but when you’re playing the Gorge Amphitheatre, it’s a tad…vacuous? Still early in the schedule, with the sun blazing beyond the hills and mountainous plains (if that makes sense), Mould, decked out in red flannel and some jeans, strolled out to a small yet adoring fan base. (Small in the sense that he’s performing at the fucking Gorge.) Still, as he patrolled through Hüsker Dü classics like “Hardly Getting Over It” or solo hits a la “Wishing Well”, he maintained an edge that was hard to dismiss. In the middle of the set, one fan nearby caught his attention, screaming, “Just rock on man! You’re doing great!” A sweaty, rather exhausted Mould replied back, “I’m trying, man.” In the end, you have to respect that. -Michael Roffman

    Against Me! – Bigfoot Stage – 6:10 p.m.

    againstmesasquatch Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

    Photo by Christopher Nelson

    In keeping with Friday’s theme of nonstop hard rock, Against Me! played a consistently high-energy set to close the Bigfoot Stage for the evening. No acoustic breakdowns or intimate stage banter, just rocker after rocker, including highlights “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong”, “T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)”, and “I Was a Teenage Anarchist”. At one of the Florida punk band’s headlining shows it would have been tiring, but this was an ideal one-hour festival set. Outside of maybe Dave Grohl, Wayne Coyne, and Dave King, Tom Gabel was quietly the most likable frontman at Sasquatch!. Against Me! also earns points for choosing plain black tees over the flannel everyone else was wearing throughout the weekend. – Harry Painter

    The Bronx – Mainstage – 6:45 p.m.

    thebronxsasquatch1 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

    Photo by Jackie Kingsbury

    “I want to see all of you move out there! There’s a Sasquatch in all of you!” – Matt Caughthran


    Not many bands received two sets at Sasquatch this weekend; although, it’s arguable you could even count The Bronx’s shows as two sets. After an upbeat Mariachi show, they wandered to the Sasquatch stage where they stripped off the gear, but turned up the volume. There, the band screamed and thrashed, while the nearby pit proceeded to go ape-shit. They slammed through tracks like “They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)” and “White Tar”, and set a much different vibe than the Mariachi set, as body parts were actually smashed at this show. To go from playing sexy salsa tunes to hardcore numbers with names like “Heart Attack America” was more or less a bloody and triumphant transition. -Ted Maider

    Death From Above 1979 – Mainstage – 8:00 p.m.

    dfa 4 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

    Photo by Heather Kaplan

    The banner behind what would eventually become the DFA riot was a picture of a tombstone that read: “DFA 1979, 2001-2006”. Far more interesting than the tombstone, however, were the ghoulish images of Jesse Keeler and Sebastian Grainger emerging from the gravesite. The secret’s been out for some time (see: Coachella and SXSW), but Death From Above 1979 are back from the dead and sounding better than ever.

    dfa 5 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011

    Photo by Heather Kaplan

    Not ones to stop and chat, the pioneering duo took the stage and began melting faces right off the bat. The two took the slow afternoon from zero to 60 in a matter of milliseconds, and they didn’t relent for the entire time they were allotted. Mosh pockets opened up in literally every part of the Gorge, from the very front of the pit to the lawn seating, which made sense, considering DFA1979 has the power to bring human beings the insatiable urge to push one another. The set climaxed with a three song KO – “Sexy Results”, “Romantic Rights”, and “Do It!” – and as one might expect, everyone left the pit drenched in other people’s sweat, blood, and booze. Which I’m sure is what DFA consider a complete triumph. -Winston Robbins


    Foo Fighters – Mainstage – 9:30 p.m.

    foo 8 Festival Review: CoS at Sasquatch! 2011When Sasquatch first announced that the festival would be four days long instead of three, many people wondered how on Earth they’d be able to draw in the crowds on Friday, the day that wasn’t a national holiday. Then they announced the Foo Fighters were headlining that night and everything fell into place. If there is any band that fans would skip out on work for, it’s the Foo Fighters.

    Of course, it’s always been kind of “cool” to rag on the Foo for being too commercial or “happy”, but riding high on the success of their latest album, Wasting Light, even cynical festival-goers were at least stopping by the main stage to check out their act. And if they checked their cynicism at the door, it was hard to walk away disappointed.

    From the moment Dave Grohl and his plaid-clad crew of chain-smoking Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, and Taylor Hawkins (the only one not in flannel), took to the stage, the audience was treated to two hours of wailing guitars, singalong anthems, and never ending energy. They opened with Wasting Light’s raucous “Bridge Burning” and sailed all the way through to “Everlong” (forgoing the encore, as Grohl said, “We’d rather keep playing until the end”) and the enthusiasm from the band and the crowd never dipped for a second. Though I would have loved for all songs off of Wasting Light to be played, they did pull out a fair chunk of it including “White Limo”, “Arlandria”, and “Dear Rosemary” (featuring Bob Mould who played the same stage earlier). The soaring, feel-good “Walk” united the crowd as much as their older hits such as “My Hero” and “Learn to Fly” did, and they even tossed out lesser-played songs such as “I’ll Stick Around” and “Generator”.


    The thing about the Foo Fighters is that they never just play their songs as is, they have to take them a step beyond. At Sasquatch this meant an extra epic jam session for “Monkey Wrench”, a drum solo courtesy of the tireless Hawkins, and numerous bridge breakdowns and build ups. Though it’s an effective live tool, the technique became repetitive after the 10th song, but as soon as Grohl slams back into the chorus, you were singing along with him and bumping elbows with people in the world’s happiest mosh pit. There were rumors that Grohl’s ex-bandmate Krist Novoselic was there watching from the side stage, which would have been an amazing opportunity for him to come out and join the band (especially since he contributed to Wasting Light’s heartfelt “I Should Have Known”), but perhaps he wanted this moment to be all about the Foo Fighters and not a quick Nirvana reunion, which is understandable. The Foo Fighters ended Friday with a sea of smiles and set the bar high for the whole festival. –Karina Halle

    Photo by Heather Kaplan

    Friday Gallery by Heather Kaplan

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