Sasquatch! | 05.23-05.25 | The Gorge

Sunday :: 05.24.09

The Avett Brothers

Sasquatch 2009 by Pecknold
In this day, it can be tough to come up with a unique sound, which is why The Avett Brothers seem to be the real deal - bluegrass meets punk, Americana reinterpreted. I read of them being described as "Violent Femmes-via-the-Appalachian-Mountains," and I can't think of a more apt, five word description. Acoustic guitar, banjo, cello and bass create a warm, comfy sound over which the Avetts, Scott and Seth, deliver their alternately tuneful and yelpy vocals. It sounds odd, but it is unique and honest, and it completely works. It is summertime music, and given that they're touring through late July hopefully you can check them out for yourself. Really, how often do you hear a rippin' cello solo? Well, I heard one on Sunday at the Main Stage. (CS)

M83
M83 played to a huge crowd Sunday night, the same wild crowd that would later rock out with of Montreal. But, before everyone could be mesmerized by futuristic craziness, they needed to take a moment to reflect on their youth, of simpler times... cue M83. Anthony Gonzalez creates beautifully melancholic, John Hughes-esque ambient pop heavy on the synths. He gave the audience everything they wanted including hits from Saturdays=Youth (he thinks Saturday is the 'coolest day of the week for a teenager' and that's why it's in the title) like "Kim & Jessie," "Graveyard Girl," and "Couleurs." He also played a personal favorite, "Teen Angst," which echoed hauntingly through The Gorge. Everyone was singing-along, swaying arm in arm with their friends, feeling the good energy that Gonzalez was putting out. It was a high point of the day, mainly because it was a break from running around, sweating and thinking about what's next, who's next, where to go next; it was a set that demanded your attention. It made you think about where you came from (everyone suffered teenage years and can relate) and how far you'd come to get to right where you were. Thank you for helping us all enjoy the moment. (LC)

of Montreal
While everyone else was claiming their plot of grass for NIN and Jane's Addiction, I joined the other half of the crowd at the Wookie Stage for of Montreal. Holy Cirque de disturbing Soleil! There were animal masks, blood, acrobats, cartoon graphics, costume changes, and even a Prince cover. Frontman Kevin Barnes took the already pumped up crowd (as mentioned above, M83 kicked ass right before they came on) to the next level. Their music is catchy, weird, up-beat, Bowie-esque and dance friendly, and even if you didn't know one song (not many people around me had ever heard of them), you were rocking out. This was truly a spectacle; a vaudeville show at its finest. The entire crowd was smiling at and laughing at Barnes and company, especially when he came out with what looked like a bear fur jacket that was smoking. At one point, musicians who had performed earlier in the day joined them onstage to play 'paparazzi' to the crowd, shooting our photos and pointing at us. It was weird and fun and it worked. John Vanderslice was particularly noticeable jumping around shooting fan photos. Overall, this was the best show I saw the entire day. However, I wasn't at NIN and Jane's, so maybe Court has something to trump me. (LC)

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails Sasquatch 2009 by Nelson
I'll be honest. My high school years called and they needed me to come to The Gorge. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to go to Sasquatch! was to check out NIN (and Jane's Addiction) and experience what for years I'd heard was one helluva show. Indeed, it was one of the most aurally and visually punishing, yet completely enjoyable sets I've ever witnessed. 20 years after he freaked out the squares with his angry, industrial, sexually aggressive debut, Pretty Hate Machine, evil genius Trent Reznor proved he's still got it. In spades.

Bursting forth from a dense fog rolling off the stage just before sundown with his live touring band, Reznor was immediately the center of attention. Looking and sounding good, he lapped the stage and delivered each lyric like his life depended on it. The sound was big, simple, bright and clean, boasting the industrial-meets-pop sound NIN is known for. And though his music is themed around alienation, despair and less-than-warm-and-fuzzy feelings on the vibe spectrum, Reznor seemed pretty damned happy. "This is one of my most favorite places in the world to play," he announced with a bit of excitement.

The Main Stage was flanked with huge light banks and strobes that caused my eyes to flutter and pulse with each flick. Both the floor and The Gorge's cavernous lawn were filled. It felt like something very special was happening, and I think it was. Reznor has said that after this tour, the band will go on 'hiatus' (every music fan's least favorite phrase). Pretty Hate Machine's "Terrible Lie," Downward Spiral's "Doesn't It Make You Feel Better," as well as newer, instrumental material from Ghosts I-IV was played. "Head Like A Hole" was the closer, and then, lit only by subtle stage lights and hundreds of lighters from the audience, NIN encored with a blistering "Hurt." Out of nowhere it appeared that the audience was beamed the lyrics as nearly everyone started singing along. It was as chilling as it was beautiful, which perfectly sums up the lure of NIN's music. (CS)

Deadmau5

Jane's Addiction by Nelson
Even if you're not a dancing machine, you have to appreciate the show that Deadmau5 (aka John Zimmerman, DJ from Toronto) put on. The crowd from of Montreal ran into the dance tent to end the night jumping and fist pumping. Deadmau5 rocks the mouse helmet/mask/ears, which looks a lot like a huge version of Mickey Mouse's famous dome. It's visually fantastic to see a giant mouse spinning records, and even if you were in the back, you could appreciate the scene. He 100-percent slew the massive crowd. The only price to pay was you definitely had to be okay with being squished and sweated on by the masses, which from the looks of it most people were. A great end to a great day. (LC)

Jane's Addiction Jane's Addiction is the latest "old" band to reunite for a tour, this time with NIN. The spectacle is still there and the tunes hold up - they were f'n great 20 years ago when they were written. All the material Jane's played Sunday night on the Main Stage was off their first two studio albums, Nothing's Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual. Opening with a ripping "Three Days," complete with Dave Navarro jamming out during the extended solo, the instrumentation and mix sounded really great from my spot in the center of the floor. Bassist Eric Avery dropped strategically placed, gut rumbling bombs and was tight as could be with drummer Stephen Perkins. Seriously, the rhythm section was tops. Navarro did his shirtless schtick and I have zero complaints with that. The one weakness seemed to be lead singer Perry Farrell's voice, and frankly, that was the complaint I had most often heard about Jane's reunion shows. But who cares? He seemed to be using some sort of looping device to extend the notes and my feeling is it's fine; at least he knows his limits. His delivery was slower and the phrasing emphasized different lyrics than back in the day.

Farrell conducted the show, proving he's still one serious showman. He drank from a bottle of wine, at one point, jumped down into the barricade in front of the stage and gave sips to some fans. Farrell seemed honestly pleased to be at The Gorge and did his best to bond with the crowd.

Most of the songs were preceded by a few sentences of banter, which was initially directed at the men. There was a lot of talk about penises, snakes and fucking. I mean a lot. But, it took me a few songs to realize they were introductions to songs, and though it was cheesy, again, it was okay because a lot of Jane's songs are about sex. I was happy to be there to hear a lot of my favorite songs played live and loud. Highlights included "Whores," "Pigs In Zen," a thunderous "Mountain Song" and a funk-tinged "Ocean Sized." The audience at-large seemed to enjoy the singles "Been Caught Stealing" and "Stop!" off Ritual. It was a good show and a solid delivery, but it felt like maybe the performance wasn't all that different from previous stops on this tour. (CS)

Continue reading for Monday coverage of Sasquatch!...


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