Sasquatch 2014, Day One
Show Review & Photos by Abby Williamson
This was my fifth year covering the Sasquatch Music Festival, and I guess I could say that it started out like any other year, just a few hours earlier. This year the premier Pacific Northwest music mecca downsized to Friday through Sunday, cutting out Monday entirely. To be completely honest, I can’t say I wasn’t happy about it. Four days can get real smelly if you’re camping like I did. I like three days. Three days is good. And boy were they a great three days.
Opening Friday was a trifecta of local talent – Portland’s own Modern Kin on the Yeti Stage, Mary Lambert on the mainstage, and Iska Dhaaf on the new Narwhal Stage. I managed to make it to parts of all of them. Three bands in one hour, I was off to a great start.
The Narwhal Stage was where it was at this year – boasting all local talents, without a pit separating the stage from the fans – it was surprisingly intimate for a music festival. Plus, it was the only stage named after a real animal instead of a mythical beast. Next up on this little stage was Seattle’s own Cascadia forest-dwellers Kithkin – who somehow conjured up the tree creatures they are so lovingly named after – for what was one of the most energetic sets of the day, and just at 3:00 in the afternoon.
Another standout of the day was the Texas gentleman Shakey Graves, who brought out a huge crowd to the Yeti Stage that he could have easily killed it at the Bigfoot Stage. His earnest growl and charm brought the familiar singer-songwriter down to the swamp – not quite country and not quite blues, but some lovely place right in the middle.
Narwhal wasn’t the only party of the day though – Bigfoot had quite the lineup on Friday as well. Chance the Rapper somehow managed to make otherwise badass hip-hop adorable. I mean, the songs weren’t adorable by any means, but the dude did not stop smiling, so it was perfect for the late afternoon lull, where one would normally want to take a nap. Kongos, Phosphorescent, and Phantogram were a couple other highlights from the Bigfoot stage that day, though drawing completely differing crowds.
One of the only times I went down to the mainstage that day was for Foals – whom I got to see back in December at Deck the Hall Ball, but that was a painfully short set. I wanted more Foals, and goodness did I get more Foals. At one point frontman Yanni Philippakis jumped down into the photo pit, ran all the way through the thing, and back up through backstage to finish out a song. That little man is such a ball of energy, it’s a wonder that they’re just now getting the audience they’ve always deserved.
Changing gears, I made it a priority to see some comedians this year. And I can safely say that I succeeded – starting with the odd humor of Eugene Mirman, who shared his perfectly inappropriate pleas for advice from “Ask The Pastor” and talked about his role on Bob’s Burgers. But it was Maya Rudolph with Princess that made my day. Princess is – no lie – a Prince comedy cover band. That’s all you need to know.
Closing out the night were the South African shock-rockers Die Antwoord, and I can honestly say that after that show I felt like I needed to be exorcised. They started their set with a huge video screen of a man with progeria playing over lyrics that even offended me, and once they got out on stage, it got even weirder. Yolandi Visser, whose voice I can only describe as a demon baby – ran around the stage while Ninja thrust himself every which way, which definitely lent itself to some interesting photographs. But it was the third song in where it all went wrong. There were over 20 photographers and media people in the pit that night, and without warning, Yolandi took one of the water bottles and poured it all out on the photographers. She didn’t spray the crowd and we just caught stray droplets – she dumped it all on us. Thankfully I was on the other side of the pit when it happened, but like that wasn’t enough – Ninja then spit right on the lens of another photographer. So needless to say I was okay with getting out of there half a song early. I’m all for shocking, and I know that their stage persona is an act, but that’s just rude. Thankfully I got some got decent shots from their set, and from what I heard from fellow festivalgoers, the crowd loved their set. To each their own, I guess.
See more photos here.