Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Reviews:: Sasquatch 2007

Sasquatch 2007. It was filled with sun, wind storms and some of the most over (and under) achieving sets I’ve seen in forever. Before I jump into the recap, some quick things. The Gorge is the best outdoor venue I’ve ever seen. You walk in and it takes your breath away. The most surprising set of the weekend – easily – Ghostland Observatory. They tore it up. Best set of the weekend – the “instrumental” set by the Beastie Boys. Worst fad of the moment - having waaay too many people on stage doing essentially nothing. Arcade Fire and Polyphonic Spree, this means you. Oh, and most importantly, Aziz Ansari is NOT FUNNY.

So, here’s the recap of the shows I saw:

Two Gallants
I didn’t intend to catch much of these guys, but the huge lines at the gate let me hear a few songs. I like the new EP a lot, and the boys had lots of energy and had a full time dancer. All in all, it was much better than waiting in line listening to hippies yell about how high they were.

The Blow
The name says it all. We were waiting in line for a beer and got to check out a freestyle about the sky and some discussion if a one night stand was real.

This was the first real set of the show for me. We sat on the lawn to enjoy a $10 king can of Coors, but weren’t able to sit for long. Ozomatli was there to make the people dance. They latin rhythms bounced and the boys were dead set on making their appearance memorable. As the last song finished up, they jumped into the crowd with a drum, some horns and started a huge dance circle that lasted most of the time required to set up for Neko Case.

Neko Case
Obviously a highlight. She was one of the acts that was must see for me on Saturday, and she delivered. Despite having no bass player Neko and crew treated the crowd to an intimate set. Much like her Austin live CD, she jumped around her catalog, but the two standouts for me were Margaret and Pauline and the always fantastic Buckets of Rain. The only downside of the set, was the synth-ony of funk coming from Electrelane on the side stage gave every song a really interesting backbeat.

Ghostland Observatory
I hadn’t really paid this Austin two-piece much mind up until this set. I heard a few songs, and thought they were good. Well, this set converted me. Not to tread on Gorilla vs. Bear’s coat tails, but this band is must see. If you like the drive of Ratatat, but get bored by the instrumental – LOOK NO FARTHER. Nothing complex: Two men. Two instruments. One baby blue cape. Aaron Behrens patrols the stage like some crazy mix of Bowie, Prince, and Jagger. He’s a front man supreme, and Turner’s programming gives him the room to roam. The crowd didn’t stop dancing for the full 45 minutes and screamed for more. They were one of the only bands on the smaller stages to get an encore and when they broke into Silver City, the crowd essentially grooved in unison. They played two new songs – one called Heavy Heart – and songs like Piano Man were unreal. Seriously. These guys were more fun than 90% of the acts I saw all weekend.

Grizzly Bear
I wasn’t going to sit through this set. I wanted to see the Long Winters, but I had some prime real estate for the Beastie Boys instrumental set. I was pleasantly surprised how well Grizzly Bear’s sound played out in a larger open air venue. I thought a lot of the intimacy would be lost, but Ed and the boys powered through the talkers and delivered a nice set. Songs like Lullabye actually sounded beautiful under the warm sun.

Beastie Boys – instrumental
Probably the best thing about this set was that Manu Chau played at the same time. While everyone streamed of to check out the dance party, the small crowd was treated to an amazing set of music. I’ll preface this description with the admission that I’m a huge Beastie Boys fan. I’ve seen them a lot, and obsessed about them even longer, but I was completely blown away by this set. Dubbed an instrumental set, most people assumed they’d simply jam out and play tracks from the about to drop record – The Mix-up. Instead, they tore through an amazing set, playing songs I’ve never heard them play live, rapping over their instruments and blowing the collective minds of those lucky enough to see it. They started out with Time for Livin’ and Gratitude, but then treated us with songs like Live at PJs, Do It and some fantastic stage banter (Adam and Mike traded lines like they were in a bathroom stall with Lohan. The best was Adam’s description of releasing the new record in multi formats – “releasing that joint in every format. LP, CD, MP3, shit we are even selling yogurt in the back. It’s good for you. Tastes great, what else you need?)
Dressed in suits, Money Mark, Alfredo, Mike D, MCA and Adrock joked, laughed and danced for the whole set. When they finished up, and most of the crowd left, we were just kind of sitting there when out of no where, the boys ran back on stage carrying champagne flutes. Since there was no DJ and no beats, Alfredo started banging out a beat on the skins and Money Mark did his best to replicate the trademark hook of Sureshot. As they started dancing and jumping, you could see hundreds of people running towards the stage. They hit us with Egg Raid on Mojo and the mutherfukking The Maestro with MCA on bass before crushing Sabotage. Considering no one expected to hear them open there mouths, the set was bon-kares.

Arcade Fire
Ok. Here’s the deal. I’m not really a huge Arcade Fire fan. I don’t like the new record much, but after reading Chromewaves description of the band being like attending a rock n’ roll church service I was a bit intrigued. I was not overly impressed. Obviously, I’m one of the few as the fans were going crazy, but I tend to think that if you are on stage with 7 or 8 people, they might as well be doing something useful. I don’t think banging an unmic-ed drum or yelling into a megaphone you hold on a mic stand 7 feet over your head is anything amazing. The constant swell of energy built, but never let up. After a while, the show sounded like a confusing blur of chaos, instead of a riveting performance. People screaming into the crowd. People smashing cymbals. Constant angelic choral builds. I know, I’m in the minority, but with so much going on I just got lost. I did get into a few songs – Neighbourhood #3 sounded great, as did Interventions, but I found the set exhausting.

Bjork is Bjork. Words do not and cannot describe her.

Day 2 – Gong show
The morning started out beautiful. No hangover. Sunshine and a breakfast burrito while the Total Experience Gospel choir sang us uplifting songs. I should have gone and checked out St. Vincent, but hearing a choir sing to you looking out over a breathtaking view was something I couldn’t seem to shake myself from. I sat tight for Mixmaster Mike’s set and he sufficiently moved the crows mixing in Led Zep, Rob Base and anything in between.

White-guy approved hip-hop. Gift of Gab loves the fast rap, and for the first three or four songs I was super into the set. He did his best to get people excited, and Salters was awesome on the keys, but after a while the fast rap was a bit much. But songs like Rhythm Sticks got everyone jumping, which at 1 PM on a Sundya is a big thing. I snuck out early to catch Patrick Wolf.

Patrick Wolf
Wow. I wasn’t sure how Patrick’s live show would transfer to a festival audience, but it was amazing. The eccentric, red-headed oddball is completely bi-polar. During his songs, he is overtly sexual and engaging as a performer, and the minute the notes stop, he is a polite, charming young man. He delivered an anthem-esque performance, mixed in sing-alongs, stomp alongs, dark textures and pure enjoyment. Watching hundreds of people stomp along to the chorus of Magic Position, or pump there fists in unison with this dynamo was something to behold. He twisted and contorted, played with his suspenders and lost his shirt. His set included The Stars, Secret Garden and powerful version of Accident & Emergency and a fantastic version of To The Lighthouse. After he was banned from his intimate performance at the Media Club here in Vancouver, it was great to see him get a chance to shine.

Money Mark
I wanted to check out Bad Brains, but Money Mark came on with Sneaky People, and watching he and the band jam out the funk heavy number, I kind of got stuck. The sun was shining, and his set was tough to leave. With Adrock and mike D hanging out in the wings, Mark ripped off a nice, clean, enjoyable set. Pick up the Pieces and Color of your Blues sounded awesome.

Polyphonic Spree
I hauled ass over to catch the Texas troop, but very quickly I wished I had stayed where I was. Another twenty-piece group with a lot of people doing nothing. Arcade Fire writes some great songs, so I can see why they go with the bigger is better, but PS seemed to be a confusing mess. A barely audible choir and aay too many instruments for the sound we got to hear. After two songs, people left and went elsewhere in droves. I know this is a blogger band, but I am confused as to why. During their set the just of winds started blowing, and their set actually got cancelled.

The wind storm was actually a good thing, because it made you go check out other bands. We ran over to check out the end of Seattle click Common Market and then Smoosh on the tiny stage. Those girls can rock. Unfazed by the wind or the huge crowd that spilled over from the shut down main stage, they really impressed me. Jessie Sykes was next, and instead of ditching out and checking out the Black Angels, we opted for the security of the beer tent with it’s firm walls. Jessie played a nice set, as she always does. She was just finishing up, as we were our beers when the stage finally re-opened and Spoon was setting up.

Obviously, one of the acts I was excited to see. While they set up, Michael Franti jumped in the crowd and played some songs on his acoustic. Cool idea, especially since he was moved to the small stage to make sure all the acts still fit in. It was cold as hell out there, but Britt delivered. Spoon sounded awesome and Britt was all over the stage. Sampling liberally from the new record, like I thought, the new songs sounded fantastic. They threw in some crowd pleasures, and if we were in a dome, the top would have come off when they played I Turned My Camera On. If you only listened, you couldn’t have noticed the winds whipping through the stage. Spoon crushed it, and got everyone hyped for Interpol.
MP3:: I Turned My Camera On – Spoon (live at Sasquatch)

It was so friggin cold at this point, people were doing anything to stay warm. Interpol wasn’t fazed too much and gave a powerful, if uninspired set. They don’t move around much and some songs start to blend, but when they get it right, they really get it right. It’s easy to say this band is derivative, but how many bands out there aren’t? And how many people sound as good doing it? With the sun finally setting, and the darkness coming in over their dimly, blue lit stage, it was a great way to warm up for the Beasties.

The Beastie Boys
Any other bad, I would have left. It was cold as a whore’s heart and I was crushed, but the Beasties are the Beasties. They started out with a lot of the same material from the night before, and were very instrument heavy, but with MMM adding some effects it sounded even bigger. They also dropped in the classics. Shake Your Rump. Sure Shoot. Body Movin’. Root Down. Pass the Mic. So Watcha Want. I can’t imagine a better set list and when they dropped the Maestro and Sabotage to close the festival, I was completely happy with the weekend.
MP3:: Sure shot - Beastie Boys (live at Sasquatch)
MP3:: Do It - Beastie Boys (live at Sasquatch)
MP3:: Ch-ch-check it Out - Beastie Boys (live at Sasquatch)

M.I.K.E. to the D.


Money Mark with Adrock peeping the vibe

Patrick Wolf

Spoon on the big screen

Posted at 1:23 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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