Posted on 04 June 2010.
I woke up Monday morning to a thin layer of rainwater on top of my tent, hoping that the weather would still go our way that day.
What do you know? It did.
Determined to see more bands that day than I’d seen Saturday and Sunday, I went and stood in line at about 11:30, even before any bands started playing. We made our way onto the festival grounds to a small crowd watching local band Jaguar Love, which features one half of the former Blood Brothers. Let’s just say I didn’t stand there for very long. Instead I went to the Yeti Stage for Shadow Shadow Shade, a much more pleasant sound for that early in the day.
Shadow Shadow Shade sounded quite nice in the open air, with their multiple instruments and multiple vocalists to create sweeping harmonies fitting to both dance to, or just stand and listen to. I quite liked “Your Perfect Wilderness.” And even though they were playing at noon, they had a nice-sized crowd who had passed over Jaguar Love on the larger stage.
While waiting to head down to the main stage to see The Temper Trap, I caught a bit of Past Lives, also on the Yeti Stage. Unbeknown to me, Past Lives featured the other, less annoying half of the Blood Brothers. Literally, if you’d put Jaguar Love and Past Lives on stage together, you’d have the Blood Brothers. Past Lives weren’t bad. I’m not a big fan of hardcore music, but this was toned down a bit, mixing louder hardcore vocals with darker and subtler melodies.
Next, I went to see The Temper Trap, and I caught the last ten minutes or so of Mayer Hawthorne, who was quite fun from what I saw. I thought he was an odd choice for Sasquatch, but you really never know what to expect. The Temper Trap was about 15 minutes late to the stage, but it was worth waiting for. I have to say that they surprised me. In a good way. I expected a decent show for 2 o’clock in the afternoon, but they were awesome. Lead singer Dougy Mandagi’s falsetto mixed with the pulsating rhythms, and bassist Jonathon Aherne’s stage antics (and a glorious head of hair) made for a moving live show. At one point during “Drum Song,” Mandagi poured all the water out of his bottle onto the floor tom he was beating to create a cascade of droplets across the stage that went along with the light drizzle that had began. I didn’t even mind the rain actually, because at that time of day it was quite hot and the rain was refreshing. The Temper Trap’s songs also lent themselves to the crowd singing a long, like the repeated “lost, lost, lost” during “Love Lost,” and the “ooo-ooo-oos” during “Fader.” And especially for “Sweet Disposition,” which began with a drawn-out intro, everyone sang along. The songs have a driving tempo that’s just right for rocking out without looking like fools.
Looking like fools came later.
But I give The Temper Trap the honor of best performance (at least that I saw) of Monday. I was thoroughly impressed.
Following that great show, I went back to the Yeti Stage for a couple more shows, both starkly different from one another, but both local. First was Fresh Espresso, one of Seattle’s most promising hip-hop acts. Being so well known in the local scene, they drew a huge crowd for 3 o’clock, and I can see why. Mixing hip-hop, pop, and glam, they sure brought the energy. Also, during their set they brought this random guy out on stage, who then proceeded to propose to his girlfriend right now. That was sweet.
Telekinesis was next, who I also saw back in November opening for The Lonely Forest. Frontman Benjamin Lerner was very at ease in this large arena, even if it was the smallest stage at Sasquatch. His light power-pop drew a less energetic crowd than Fresh Espresso had before, but Lerner’s songs were just as enjoyable. One girl from the crowd shouted a song that she wanted to hear, and Lerner replied with, “You really did your homework, that isn’t even on the record.” And then she spouted out something else I couldn’t hear. “That’s your favorite song? Ever? Dang.” Lerner said, very flattered.
As the sun was starting to set, Dr. Dog started their set on the Bigfoot Solar Stage, bringing their bluesy folk rock to the festival. I would have liked to hear their great cover of Architecture in Helsinki’s “Heart in Races,” but their set was still really good. At times it almost had a hint of a gospel vibe along with their strong 60s-pop influences, which I liked, especially “Army of Ancients,” with its relaxed melodies and passionate vocals.
The Mountain Goats, who came next, were one of the bands I was really hoping to see at Sasquatch, and I was not disappointed. Of all the performers, I’m pretty sure John Darnielle had the most fun on stage. He said, “I know it’s corny, but I love playing music.” It wasn’t corny, John. Of all the places to make that declaration, Sasquatch is it. With how much joy they had on stage, evidenced my Darnielle’s wicked awesome facial expressions, The Mountain Goats fans had even more joy. “No Children” turned into a giant sing-along, about “hoping we both die.” No really. It was charming and hilarious and joyous, and perfect for Sasquatch.
After the Temper Trap, the Mountain Goats got my second best performance of the day.
I made my way back down to the main stage for the final time that weekend to see Band of Horses and MGMT, who I wouldn’t say disappointed me, but didn’t wow me either.
I couldn’t get close enough to see anything but what was on the jumbotron, so that could be the reason why I didn’t react to their performances as strongly. Band of Horses were fine, good ol’ southern rock. And I was glad to hear that they did play a lot of songs off their first two albums, because I personally was a bit under whelmed with Infinite Arms. By far the best part of Band of Horses’ set was during “Funeral,” when virtually everyone started screaming the lyrics along with them, which always makes a concert better. A concert shouldn’t just be great music, but also a shared experience with the dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of people surrounding you. Lots of people went to go see Band of Horses, so at least they accomplished that much.
Figuring that it would be a mass exodus leaving the amphitheater after MGMT and it would take forever, I went and sat on the grassy hill for the first and last time that weekend to enjoy them. I wasn’t expecting crazy stage-hopping MGMT, but I also wasn’t expecting the glazed-over possibly high MGMT either. The third song in Andrew Vanwyngarden introduced “Flash Delirium,” the inexplicable hit from their new album Congratulations, but instead they played “The Youth,” from their first album. Hmm. And about a third of the way through, bass player Matthew Asti asked the huge crowd of people in front of him, “has the sun set yet? No, it’s still holding on!” Okay. But the one thing that I do enjoy about MGMT is that their music is so odd and entertaining that you don’t really need a lot of stage presence to pull it off. By the last twenty minutes of MGMT set, the rain began to fall. It was like the sky couldn’t hold on the precipitation any longer and had to let it go.
But the best way to end Sasquatch when MGMT played songs like “Electric Feel,” “Kids,” and “Time to Pretend.” When they came on, I had to get up off the grass and dance around like a crazy fool, because that’s just what you do.
Here’s hoping next year’s Sasquatch is just as good. Or better. That’s always an option.
For the final set of photos from Sasquatch 2010, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/abbigshmail/sets/72157624191722284/
Sunday’s coverage: http://popwreckoning.com/2010/06/03/sasquatch-festival-sunday-with-local-natives-kid-cudi-dirty-projectors/
Saturday’s coverage: http://popwreckoning.com/2010/06/02/sasquatch-festival-saturday-with-ok-go-the-national-vampire-weekend/