Sasquatch! 2013 came and went this past weekend, four days of incredible music, memorable friendships and drug addled debauchery. There is no better reason to navigate the beauty of eastern Washington state towards the gorgeous sights of The Gorge Amphitheatre. Graced with the winding currents of the Columbia River, the panoramic views are equalled only by the performances taking place there. Day one, Friday the 24th, saw a headlining performance from Seattle hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, representing their home state, as well as fantastic sets from Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Father John Misty, Japandroids and more. Kicking off the festival, there were memorable moments but also disappointing ones. See our recap of the first day below.
Day one of the festival was off to a rocky start. After trekking from Vancouver to The Gorge, our group arrived at the festival grounds at 2:30am to the sight of a lengthy lineup. Fast forward to 6am and we finally began setting up our tents, exhausted by the drive and lack of sleep, dizzy from the numerous beers consumed. As the rain began to pour down, we laid back for a much needed sleep. After six hours of rest, I wandered the campground, running into friends and soaking in the festival atmosphere. There was excitement in the air and I couldn't help but feel the same way. Sasquatch! had begun.
After hours of drinking, my girlfriend and I made our way to the festival grounds. Once our media bracelets were secured we headed in, ready to catch ScHoolboy Q & Ab-Soul at the main stage. The crowd was packed in front of the Sasquatch stage, but to our and everyone else's disappointment ScHoolboy and Ab-Soul never showed up. People in the crowd muttered things along the lines of, "Oh, they must have gotten too high," but that's no excuse. Kush coma or not, it was a disheartening start to the festival.
On a more positive note, the absence of ScHoolboy and Ab-Soul did give us the chance to see Japandroids at the Honda Bigfoot stage. Saying "fuck you" to scheduling conflicts, we made our way to an energetic crowd cheering for the Vancouver duo. Their performance brought to light one of the biggest issues I had throughout the festival: the sound at the Honda Bigfoot stage (more on this later). Despite this, Japandroids' loud sound overcame these problems and led to a rowdy crowd and a great performance. The crowd-surfing was already in full swing.
Father John Misty followed Japandroids at Honda Bigfoot, bringing his eclectic folk stylings to the The Gorge crowd. He and his band brought a colorful backdrop, complete with an overarching rainbow. J. Tillman and co. tore through their debut album Fear Fun, delivering fantastic performances of "Nancy From Now On" and more. Thankfully, the band's gospel folk sound was not victimized by any sound problems. Rather they gave fans an energetic and memorable set, continuing the tone that Japandroids set before them.
Making our way from Honda Bigfoot to the main stage, all I could do was bask in the beauty of the scenery. Sweeping vistas and carving river canyons, it's impossible not to feel lucky being at Sasquatch!.
Approaching the rising hill of the Sasquatch stage, it was clear that UK outfit Arctic Monkeys had amassed an incredibly eager crowd. Sitting comfortably atop the hill with a beer in hand, I watched impressed at every minute of their performance. Dressed in a dapper suit, frontman Alex Turner was in top form, driving forward with boming vocals backed by Jamie Cook on lead guitar, Nick O'Malley on bass and Matt Helders on drums. The Brit rockers have such a polished live sound, and it showed when they broke out renditions of "R U Mine?" and "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor." If the crowd on the hill was excited, then the people in front of the stage were going absolutely insane. Swaths of fans swayed and danced in unison, arms in the air ready to move or clap whenever called upon by Turner.
For a festival experience that started off with some disappointment, the three bands I did see more than made up for it. Japandroids were loud and energetic. Father John Misty was unique and put his all into hyping up festival goers. Arctic Monkeys simply killed it. Unfortunately, the cold weather and some poor clothing choices on my part, day one ended early. I missed Vampire Weekend, but it wasn't the end of the world. I heard Macklemore & Ryan Lewis gave an outstanding performance, appreciative of a headlining spot and such dedicated fans, but I wasn't torn by the thought of skipping it. In the end, turning in early turned into a night of drinking with friends and a delicious meal at our campsite. After all, Sasquatch is more than just a festival, it's camping, getting dirty, drinking, smoking, and generally enjoying the time you spend with those around you. While I didn't see a ton of bands the ones I did see were great, and overall Friday set the perfect tone for the days to come.
Day two will be published on Monday, with thoughts on Nick Offerman, Holy Ghost!, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Bloc Party, The xx and more.
By Adrian McCavour