SASQUATCH! AT THE GORGE

Words by Tanya Seledee :: Images by Greg Homolka

Sasquatch Music Festival :: 5.26 - 5.28 :: The Gorge :: George, WA


Sasquatch 2006
The Sasquatch Music Festival at The Gorge in Washington overlooked breathtaking views of the Colombia River and the dramatic inclines of the canyon surrounding it. The festival took place over Memorial Day Weekend, with each day bringing together an eclectic mix of bands.

Friday night was "Goth" night with major bands like H.I.M., Bauhaus, and Nine Inch Nails taking the stage. H.I.M. (or His Infernal Majesty) is a band out of Denmark that formed in 1995. While the majority of their set was definitely hard-core rock music, complete with the black clothes and eyeliner, their edgy rendition of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" showed a softer side.


Bauhaus - Murphy & Ash :: Sasquatch
Bauhaus began in 1978 and basically started the whole post-punk rock movement, which saturates the radio today. Within every song, a familiar beat or riff could be heard, which is probably due to their massive, if not unconscious, influence on a majority of today's music scene. Their presence on stage was dark and dramatic, but still light enough to dance to. They commanded attention with their theatrical flair and proved that despite their age, they can still keep up with the rest.


NIN - Trent Reznor :: Sasquatch 2006
Nine Inch Nails performed a super-long set that had an amazing light show and a huge response from the crowd. Having never seen NIN, I didn't know what to expect, but after seeing them, I'd say it's definitely a performance that shouldn't be missed. Even if this type of music isn't your thing, you'd be surprised at how NIN can suck you in. Trent Reznor's voice is hypnotizing, and the atmosphere he and the band create is thick with sexual tension. The songs NIN chose were easy to get into, and standing still was near impossible. This show was one of the top performances of the weekend, a definite A+.


Gomez - Tom Gray :: Sasquatch
On Saturday, the weather wasn't the typical sweltering dry heat of past Memorial Day festivals. Rather there was an odd mixture of blistering sun, clouds, rain, and hail the size of gobstoppers. On the main stage, English rock band Gomez was the second act of the day. These guys were goofy in between songs, giving the audience a glimpse of their everyday personalities while performing with the seriousness and expertise of a surgeon. Three of the five band members took turns singing, each with a distinct sound that defines the multiple dimensions of Gomez.

Watching Sufjan Stevens and his band was a lot like being broken down in the middle of the "It's a Small World" boat ride at Disneyland. While the patriotic costumes of his many performers, their instrumental skills, and the whole orchestrated sound of it deserves recognition, an hour of this kind of music was too much to take. Apparently, his whole shtick has to do with making an album for each of the fifty states; his current album is Illinois. But still, unless you have a serious love for geography, it's really too much.


Iron & Wine :: Sasquatch
Following Stevens was Iron & Wine, who performed a mellow mid-day set. Lead singer Sam Beam was joined by his sister Sarah Beam and back-up band in this melodic performance. His voice was haunting and familiar, allowing people to come into his personal space where his deepest thoughts dictate the very subjects of his songs. Iron & Wine is a group that has tapped into the human psyche and created songs that are deeply moving and easily understood.


Neko Case - Tom Gray :: Sasquatch
Neko Case was up next despite the impending thunderclouds and rain. Her voice was so beautiful and raw that these elements only highlighted her natural talent. A couple of songs into the set, the hailstorm proved to be too dangerous to keep equipment on stage, so Neko Case and company were forced off the stage. Although her set was cut short, her few songs were impossible to forget, she is clearly a very talented woman.

After an hour or so, the hail and rain subsided and Canadian Hall-of-Famers Tragically Hip took the stage to perform an hour's worth of what they do best: rocking out like rock stars. The music was typical Canadian rock but with a little too much emphasis on screaming rather than singing. Perhaps the charge of the audience (which was made up of a lot of Canadians) led this band to feel that this performance wasn't about finding new fans, but rather jamming out with the old ones.


The Shins :: Sasquatch 2006
Portland, Oregon's The Shins came out next after clearly having taken the hailstorm as a sign to enjoy a few cocktails. No longer the stiff performers they once were, their interaction with the audience was friendly and familiar, showing they have learned to loosen up as they've evolved. Despite the cocktails, these guys proved they are talented musicians who understand the intricacies and nuances of their instruments. Their set was a mixture of past hits and new songs, all of which had that signature Shin's sound that makes each an instant sensation.

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals were scheduled to headline Saturday night but ended up switching with The Flaming Lips due to weather and tour complications. From the looks of the crowd, it appeared that a majority of the people there were all about Ben Harper. The whole amphitheatre was packed with adoring fans that could barley contain themselves during the set. Of course, Harper has a huge following because his music is from the heart and needs no labels.


The Flaming Lips :: Sasquatch
Closing Saturday's show were The Flaming Lips. Aside from NIN, this was the best performance of the whole festival. For those of you who have never scene The Flaming Lips live, I suggest finding them along their tour this summer. This is one band that manages to make their show seem like the apocalypse is right around the corner and anything goes. The Lips basically transformed the amphitheater into a scene straight from an extraterrestrial movie filled with dancing aliens and Santa Clauses. Lead singer Wayne Coyne crowd-surfed in his signature inflatable plastic ball, shot multi-colored streamers into the audience and stage rafters, and attached a camera to the top of his microphone so that his bulbous head could be projected onto the screen behind him. The Lips' rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" titillated the audience, setting them up for an even rowdier rest of the night. Despite the weirdness and no-holds-barred feeling that goes along with anything that Wayne Coyne does, he kept it all together under the guise of unity and peace.


Sasquatch
Sunday's highlights included sets from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Arctic Monkeys, The Decemberists, Matisyahu, Queens of the Stone Age, Death Cab for Cutie, and Beck. Even though it was the festival's closing day, tickets were sold out and the venue was packed.

The Arctic Monkeys had their share of fans, probably the very same kids that are into Franz Ferdinand, She Wants Revenge, and the like. Despite the fact that they only approved a handful of press to take their picture during the set (with all other press getting their equipment confiscated if caught), they were only average, which begs the question: Why the hype? There was nothing spectacular about them, except for the fact that they can be seen in every mainstream music magazine these days.

The Decemberists took the stage next and performed their brilliant mixture of narrative and song. This is another band that put on an entertaining show, mixing a little dramatic flair with their songs. At one point lead singer Colin Meloy jumped into the photo pit to get a little closer to his fans, passing his guitar out for people to strum. As with each performance, The Decemberists belted out heart-felt music that rocked the audience.


Matisyahu :: Sasquatch
Matisyahu, Phish-kid turned Hasidic Jew, brought the reggae flavor to the festival with words of hope and love. Fittingly, a rainbow burst out of the sky during his set, inciting some spiritual discourse about Faith. Yet this musical dialogue wasn't inundated with religious-type talk, rather Matisyahu turned it into a message of openness and friendship. Each of his songs was filled with a special type of contagious energy that can always be found in reggae music. Yet with him at the helm, there was more to his beats than just good vibrations and good times.

A total 360 degrees from Matisyahu led The Gorge to Queens of The Stone Age. They quickly turned the happy-go-lucky crowd into moshing head-bangers with the strum of an electric guitar. The band's demeanor on stage was serious and almost unapproachable, as if they felt out of place in such an inspiring environment. Despite their coldness (or perhaps boredom?), the Queens pulled off an impressive set displaying exactly why they are bonafide rock stars.


Death Cab for Cutie :: Sasquatch 2006
Death Cab for Cutie pulled a lot of people from the smaller stages due to their indie-pop rock sound. They performed a solid set that impressed most die-hard Death Cab fans, but alas, I only caught a few songs because I was anxiously awaiting Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on the Wookie stage.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was another highlight of the festival. The lead singer Alec Ounsworth's voice is almost identical to David Byrne's, giving Clap's songs a distinct Talking Heads sound. There was quite a crowd for these guys, and when they finally came on, everyone went wild. This indie-rock band sold 45,000 records out of their manager's apartment, proving that you don't need a record label to find a huge following.


Beck :: Sasquatch 2006
Closing out the weekend festival was Beck, who has been pouring out the hits for over a decade. He sang a mixture of old songs from Odelay and Sea Change with new ones from Guero. Yet, even with these brilliant songs under his belt, Beck's set was lacking in the enthusiasm and high tempo seen in most of the acts over the weekend; but then again, who can really beat The Flaming Lips and their all-out crazy energy.

Despite hail and a slightly lackluster finale, Sasquatch was a massive success. From the line up to the view it was pretty hard to go wrong. With festival season dropping into full-swing Sasquatch was certainly a wonderful way for many fans to officially kick off their summer.

JamBase | The Gorge
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[Published on: 6/7/06]

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Comments

All Loving Liberal White Guy starstarstarstar Wed 6/7/2006 09:39PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

great pics. really nico case looks hot, the flaming lips are weird as always and bahaus pics are sweet too. great festival, if only ben harper and matisyahu were removed from the bill, it would be near perferct. i don't know whos is more withered and pretentious those two or the chilli peppers? either way, i totally dig the gorge shot and the one of the fans.

dannymo starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/8/2006 12:33AM
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attacking Ben and the Chili's?? You are hopeless fool. Great pics

BansheeBeat starstarstar Thu 6/8/2006 01:16AM
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BansheeBeat

Very nice pictures. I only got to go on Sunday but Sasquatch definately was a success. First of all there aren't many places that can compare to the Gorge. Beautiful scenery, and usually some good Northwest vibes. Queens of the Stoneage were great. Where are the pictures?? Also Beck stole the show!! "Lacking in Enthusiasm", I'm not so convinced. No mention of the puppet show??? Or the table jam session?? Oh well... See you all next year!!

multibeast starstarstarstar Thu 6/8/2006 07:05AM
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multibeast

Great writing, Tanya. I really like how you described all of the bands, their stage presence, and their fans. I really had a great feel for the festival. I love the gorge and I don't think it matters what kind of music is played there, it's just a great venue to see a show.

Some might say that these aren't Jambands and shouldn't be reviewed on here and I totally disagree with that view. Well I totally disagreed until I saw the comment above me where this person exclaims how hot someone looked and how withered and pretentious certain acts are. I can't disagree with you more, ciffy, about Ben Harper and Matisyahu. Sorry they're not top 40, but they're incredible artists that put their heart and soul into every note and word spoken. If this is the kind of traffic that these types of bands bring, then maybe they're better left to other outlets.

kickbackfriendly star Thu 6/8/2006 11:23AM
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Describing listening to Sufjan Stevens as being on a broken ride at disneyland makes you sound like a fool. His music is much deeper than a geography lesson. If you would have done some research on him before making your terrible review, you might have seen that he is one of the most brilliant songwriters of our day.

ers7 star Thu 6/8/2006 03:35PM
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I don't know what the promoters were thinking with this lineup, it seems like every year it has gotten worse. The first Sasquatch in 02 was great, with Galactic, Ben Harper, and SCI headlining, well worth the drive from Salt Lake City. I have to admit though, I was a little dissapointed when most of the people I talked to at the sand pits had no idea there was even a show going on that weekend!? Most were just there to party on Memorial Day Weekend, can't you sit on your ass and get drunk in Seattle just the same? I mean why even drive out there? I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, but these artists just don't go together, it seems like they're trying to throw in something for everyone so they can sell more tickets. Oh, and as for your comment ciffy, that's funny because I was thinking they should take everyone else off the lineup except ben and matisyahu (beck and the lips are cool too) Bring some good bands back to the gorge, it's been too long. Peace

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 6/8/2006 09:17PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

just a festival with ben harper and matisyahu?! awesome! we can call it frat fest!!! while matisyahu scorns us for playing beerpong. noting like a gorge full of folks wearing american eagle outfitter clothing as far as the eyes can see.

whobjohn starstar Thu 6/8/2006 10:56PM
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nice fan perspective. I was interested in how this monster would turn out. If you read through the lines of this it seems like the festival was only partially successful. If one of the main acts doesn't perform that is a huge letdown, even if, " his music is from the heart and needs no labels." what is that all about? On another note, not only do bands like the arctic monkeys and QOTSA seem to not fit in at a festival, they also seem to dislike playing them. If you dont like playing in that kind of environment, and you show that to the paying customer, then leave the offer on the table and play a show you can be enthusiastic about. thats it.

joxley1 starstarstarstar Fri 6/9/2006 12:43AM
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Withered and pretentious sound like good words to describe Bauhaus. Ben and Matisyahu can anchor my festival any day of the week. Aside from that, cool review. I'd also like to express continued appreciation for the coverage of all kinds of music on this site. My thing is much more the blues/jam/funk continuum, but I dig seeing the diversity.

hellyeah Fri 6/9/2006 12:00PM
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if i wanted to be preached at i wouldn't have stopped going to church when i was a child, or i would go to a hasidic rapper's concert. think i would prefer church almost. and ben used to be cool when he was actually concerned with playing some rockin music and not just making the girls swoon with his high voice singing sensitive songs. a festival with just those two sounds like my personal nightmare, and could only be worse if you threw in a few more bands that played at sasquatch.

diamondthieves Fri 6/9/2006 01:47PM
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Seeing Ciffy's post made me think of what I think is the biggest problem with the jam band scene (though I'm not trying to pick on Ciffy since I do agree that a Ben/Matisyahu fest would suck balls)....people are judged by the clothes they wear. Most people that follow jam bands hate how superficial most people are and how people are judged based on appearances, so why do those that follow jam bands do the same thing but just require dreadlocks and tie dyes instead of American Eagle. How many dudes with dreads wearing hemp necklaces and what could only be referred to as a dress have sold bunk acid at shows? How many dudes that look like hippies go to festivals and steal stuff? Don't get me wrong, most people who dress like that are awesome, but we shouldn't judge based on appearances. And dudes wearing AE stuff can be awesome too; sometimes that just dress that way to get chicks. Ciffy's comment only inspired me to write, I'm not accusing him/her of being superficial.

goodlovingroove starstarstarstar Fri 6/9/2006 02:13PM
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goodlovingroove

so most of what has to be said about sasquatch has already been said...but i would just like to say that this isnt the only festival that is trying to sell more tickets by gathering a group of artists that seem a tad too eclectic..ahem..roo..ahem *cough*
however, for those that prefer the jambands: do festivals need to have jambands only?? ponder that.
personally i was under the impression that festivals were also about exposing people to different types of music..oh and just because they are there doesnt mean you have to go see them

Jamshyd star Sat 6/10/2006 03:23PM
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I agree that your statement about Sufjan Stevens was waaaaaay off base. You should actually LISTEN to the music before making your childish comparisants. Sufjan fans are fans of GOOD music, not just "geography". You try writing an interesting article about two states before you start critizing Sufjan for making two critically acclaimed albums about states.

aud7 Mon 6/12/2006 07:12PM
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Sufjan Stevens is a creative artist. I was at the Sasquatch Festival this year, and the music was great. Ben Harper is also an amazing artist, because he can rock AND he can be mellow. I don't overly understand the post about hippies and people at these concerts are judging people who wear American Eagle?! That is a silly comment. While making this comment you managed to judge the "hippies". One of the best things about this concert was as far as I saw everyone was there for the same reason. Music! If you don't like the music there, why did you go? , Or if you did'nt then why are you talking and judging?

glkaiser Tue 6/13/2006 04:06PM
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I had a blast at Sasquatch....made it for Saturday and Sunday. I never understand why there is so much hate for Ben Harper...the guy pours his heart into every song, plays his ass off and is very talented...I really, really enjoyed his set. My first time seeing Death Cab, and I was really impressed. I thought Beck was very lacking. Too much theatrics and not enough talent. My big regret is not being able to stick it out for the Lips. The hail/rain storm did a number on me and I was just exhausted...

jungMD starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/20/2006 02:12PM
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Actually, Ciffy needs to be taken down a few rungs...this is the second time I've seen the holier-than-thou commentator make angry, disparaging comments about people based upon their brand of clothing (see Jam on River article as well). The readers would like to know what makes Ciffy so authentic and unpretentious. Certainly not the tired, angry rant. Step-off and stop shredding everything and everyone.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 6/22/2006 12:40AM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

hey jung,

why dont you read diamontheives post ?

jungMD Fri 6/30/2006 05:29PM
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ciffy,

I hear ya. Let's just focus on the tunes and not worry about the threads.

peace,

jungMD