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Sasquatch! 2008: A Retrospective

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It’s been a little less than a week since the 2008 edition of the Sasquatch! Music Festival came to a close. Along with our video recap, we asked Sasquatch! Blog’s one and only Dustin to help us out with a recap of the festivities…

Saturday May 24, 2008:

10:50am: My wife and I were finally in line (after getting up at 6am, driving from Tacoma to Quincy checking into our hotel, driving to the gorge and getting parked) for the first day of Sasquatch! 2008!!!  Just a week earlier I had discovered that esurance had early entry line passes that were free and you could print off, so we took advantage of that, which was awesome because each day it guaranteed us a great spot on the rocks. We were supposed to be let in 15 minutes earlier than the regular line making it 10:45, but it was usually between 11 and 11:15 before we got in and they definitely did not allow for 15 minutes before they let everyone else in. Having said that, we had great spots all three days to watch the mainstage bands. This is the first year that we hung out on the rocks, every other year we bounced around from stage to stage, but that is too much for my wife, especially now that it is three days so I compromised. This did not mean, however, that we did not check out the other stages because we did, just not as much as usual. After we settled in each day we would wandered around and got some free stuff (the vitamin waters were lifesavers for Saturday and Sunday) and then we would sit down for the first band.  Ok on with the review……

12:00pm (Fleet Foxes): This Seattle band has had a ton of buzz built around it over the last year. This was my first time seeing them and I have to say I see the appeal and from the crowd’s reaction it seems that they saw something special in them too. Great vocal harmonies that seemed to carry through the gorge and a nice less is more approach with the drums and guitars. It should also be noted that they played two sets, as the National’s bus broke, forcing them to end up playing the Yeti Stage later that evening. Although, I wasn’t there I heard that none other than Dwight K. Shrute (AKA Rainn Wilson) introduced The National and was supposedly a great show, again I digress….

12:30pm (Newton Faulkner): We stayed for maybe a song and a half of Faulkner before I realized that he reminded me of the guy in college who everyone liked because he was nice to everyone, had cool hair, and was an awesome guitar players. Unfortunately, he was not was not the best of writers, but no one bothered to tell him…because he was just…so cool. Basically Faulkner is this guy, a corny, British version of Jack Johnson…

12:55pm (Dengue Fever): We really enjoyed all of the international sounding music at this year’s Sasquatch! Dengue Fever are a Cambodian/American band, who put a spin on traditional Cambodian songs along with writing some of their own songs as well. Great vocals from a stunningly beautiful Chhom Nimol and awesome funk from the rest of the band made for fun interesting music.

1:30pm (Dead Confederate): These guys rocked hard, but were a little too dark for me. I wish they had a little more upbeat sound to add to their grungy garage rock sound. They were like what Nirvana would have sounded like if Kurt Cobain did not like pop music, if that makes sense.

2:10pm (Beirut): We definitely enjoyed Beirut’s music, kind of Eastern European sounding with lots of instruments, Gogol Bordello-esque without the punk. From what I’ve heard, Zach Condon did a lot traveling and picked up his sound from his travels. Although I thought his vocals were good, after a while I tired of his voice, and wanted to hear a little more variation in it, but that’s just me.

2:55pm (The Whigs): I really enjoyed The Whigs thanks to the nice pop to their sound… what I felt was missing from Dead Confederate. I would like to see this band again. I noticed they will be at Bumbershoot this year. Check them out if you like you garage rock with a little pop.

3:20pm (Joshua Morrison): A cornier version of Newton Faulkner (see above).

3:45pm: We got in what looked like a ridiculously long line for the comedy and heard a couple of Kathleen Edwards songs from a distance. We eventually got in and wer able to see Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, Tim Meadows, Rich Fulcher, Jerry Minor and Sean Conroy. Matt Walsh and Matt Besser kind of MC’d an open mic in a bad way, most of the stuff was not very funny, an ocassional a chuckle here and there. I thought at least Tim Meadows would be funny, but other than coming out as the Ladies Man with an afro and just a towel around his waist, he didn’t really offer much.  I wish I had seen Brian Posehn, but I put bands before the comedy for the rest of the weekend. I would love to hear from others who saw more comedy and if they found some that they really liked…….

5:00pm (The New Pornographers): On our way back to the mainstage we heard a little of Vince Mira, a 15 year old that sounds just like Johnny Cash. Pretty cool, but I’d rather catch him at Tractor Tavern or something with an $8 cover. We also heard the last song of Fleet Foxes as we were filled in about the National (see Fleet Foxes above). Then the New Pornographers came on, probably the band I was most excited to see at Sasquatch! this year. Now I saw them back at Sasquatch! in 2004 and I enjoyed them, but didn’t know there music. This time I had done my homework and grew to love much of their material, especially their most recent album The Challenger. They did not disappoint and played a great variety, I think all the songs were from their last three albums. It was a really special performance because both Neko Case and Dan Bejar (from Destroyer who had just finished at the beginning of the New Pornographer’s set) joined the band on stage. Aside from a few sound board problems, the performance was awesome. You can’t help, but feel happy when you hear their music.

6:30pm (Crudo): I felt like I needed to check this band out since it was their debut and it featured Mike Patton of Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and all of his other side projects as well as Dan the Automator from the Gorillaz and all of his side projects and cameos. They were different than what I expected. I guess I expected something really weird, but it seemed like it was mostly just a rap/rock band, fun, but nothing special. However, I did think their beatboxing keyboardist was phenomenal.

6:50pm (M.I.A): I went into this with an open mind despite not really caring that much for her music. I didn’t think she would be able to pull off her recorded voice live, but she did. What’s more, her DJ was great, as were her back up dancer and singer who got the crowd going.

8:15pm (Modest Mouse): Every Modest Mouse fan knows that they have an “A” game and a “B” game when it comes to playing live, but I have to say in the half hour we saw of them they definitely brought their “A” game. Isaac Brock really had the intensity that I remember from the other “A” game performance that I saw from them at Sasquatch! 2003. It was fun to finally see him play songs from their newest album well. I wish we could have stayed longer, but I had to see the Breeders…….

8:45pm (The Breeders): We were not necessarily huge Breeders fans, but there was something nostalgic about seeing them play. They played new and old songs with of course, “Last Splash (Cannonball)” was their biggest hit of the night (it is a pretty sweet song). I felt like I was a teenager in the mid to late nineties at a small club in Seattle, say, RCKNDY…..Do you remember RCKNDY?  I like getting nostalgic once in a while don’t you?

10:00pm (R.E.M.): Despite all of the great bands that we had seen all day no one could hold a candle to R.E.M. live. Incredibly professional and tight; my only complaint is that this was my first time seeing them and I wish they had played more hits. Apparently they performed some songs that they rarely do so if you are huge fan I guess this was your show. Regardless, I would have listened to them play another hour with or without hits.

Sunday May 25, 2008:

12:00pm (“Awesome”): I barely knew anything about this band before seeing them on Sunday. They were actually really fun and silly, a great way to start the day. They played kind of silly pop songs with lots of instruments including lots of maracas. Even though they were goofy they were actually a pretty tight band. In short, “Awesome” was, well, awesome!

1:00pm (65daysofstatic): These guys were probably the hardest rocking band that played all weekend and they were pretty good to boot. They are an instrumental rock band with some synth elements from Britain. So if that sounds like your thing they are worth checking out.

2:05pm (Blue Scholars): For some reason I didn’t want to like these guys, probably because I misinterpreted some lyrics in one of their songs early on, but after since listening closer, I realized that I really like their messages. They are probably the best hip-hop group I have ever seen live. It is ridiculous how tight and entertaining. As always they brought some guests on stage, such as RA Scion from Common Market, Gabriel Teodros and some other guy who we could not hear the entire time he was rapping. If you like socially conscious hip-hop then you have to check these guys out.

3:10pm (Cold War Kids): These guys kind of reminded me of Spoon. The lead singer had a good voice and their songs were good, just nothing that made them stand out.

4:15pm (Tegan and Sara): We watched about a half hour of this sister duo. They were actually better than I the first time I saw them a few years ago. Not really my thing, but I see the appeal to young girls who want step up their indie cred and get away from the Hannah Montana craze.

4:45pm (Rogue Wave): Here is a band that I love recorded, but unfortauntly, live, are really nothing special. Is it stage presence? Tightness? I can’t put my finger on it, but I wish they were more fun live. Having said that, they are a indie rock band in the vein of the Shins and Death Cab for Cutie, but enough differences to set them apart, but only on their albums.

6:00pm (Mates of State): We stayed at the Wookie stage following Rogue Wave for this husband wife team who are on Seattle’s Barsuk records. Honestly I didn’t really enjoy them much. A lot of the time it seemed that their sound was not right and the wife part of the team did not seem like she was having very much fun.

6:50pm (Michael Franti and Spearhead): Despite how gooey and sentimental I thought he would be going in, I actually really enjoyed him. He was really positive, fun and sounded great. I agree with the frat looking guy behind me who said, “I didn’t really have to think during his set.” Franti just says it how it is without metaphors or abstract thinking. It was actually kind of refreshing. If there was a low point in his set it was the corny song he wrote his son before he went out into the world. Franti is definitely a sentimental guy, but that’s not always a bad thing.

8:15pm (Death Cab for Cutie): I have to admit that I have been disappointed by my last two DCFC shows. Is it because of all the negative reviews I have been reading lately? Because I have seen them too many times and they don’t change up their set much (other than the new songs, which I like)? Whatever it is, it is bugging me because DCFC has been one of my favorites if not my favorite band since I first saw them back in 1998. Ben Gibbard’s stage banter is getting a little awkward. It is almost as if they are losing their humble beginnings. I may need to take a break from them. Having said all of that they did play “We Laugh Indoors,” which I hadn’t heard live in a while, so that was a treat. Good, just not as good as they were in 2006 and before.

10:00pm (The Cure): I was not a big Cure fan before their show, but I was blown away by them live. Like R.E.M. they were in a league of their own for being professional and tight. I also really liked how they made the performances of their songs very contemporary rather than recreating the 80s sound that is on their albums. Unfortunately, we were really tired and cold by about 11:30 only a hour and a half into their two and a half hour set so we left. I hope to see them again sometime, awesome show……

Monday May 26, 2008:

11:30am (Dyme Def): Another local band starting out the mainstage, which is something I had not noticed about Sasquatch! over the years. A great hip hop group that got the crowd going and were not all about pimps and hos. They still have a ways to go to outshine the Blue Scholars, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

12:30pm (Yeasayer): I honestly do not remember a lot about Yeasayer. I know I enjoyed them and that they had electronic elements infused in their rock, but I don’t know what else to say. I wish I could remember more…..

1:05pm (Matt Costa): This is a guy who I really got into recently. He is just a great songwriter. He could be described as upbeat folk/alt country/pop music. I had heard he sucks live, but I thought he was good; not a great showman, but I definitely enjoyed his set.

2:10pm (The Hives): Though I do not care for their music, the Hives do put on one heck of a show. It was probably the most energy I have ever seen by a frontman. He was constantly working the crowd. I may have been sitting during their Swedish rock performance, but I was nearly exhausted by the end.

3:30pm (Built to Spill): This was probably the worst spot for Built to Spill to play, although I am not sure anyone could follow the Hives in terms of energy. This is not a diss on Built to Spill just an observation. Though lacking energy, they did play their songs well. I was a little bummed that they didn’t play “Strange,” but it’s hard to complain when you love their music.

4:40pm (Rodrigo Y Gabriela): This duo was simply amazing! Rodrigo playing lead and Gabriela playing rhythm. They have a flamenco sound with metal riffs and covered Metallica, Pink Floyd and the White Stripes among others. They are interesting in that they are from Mexico, but made Dublin, Ireland their home, something that certainly influences their set. By this I mean they were laid back and even improvised when Gabriela broke a string.  Rodrigo took over and asked what we wanted to hear.  It was some great guitar playing and a lot of fun.

5:55pm (Battles/Flight of the Conchords): I felt like I didn’t give Battles a good enough chance, only sitting through a song, which I enjoyed, but I really wanted to be watching Flight of the Conchords, as I am a big fan of that show. I was not disappointed, other than their set did seem short. They were as funny I as remembered them from the show. To those who don’t get it, I totally understand if you haven’t seen the show. If you don’t like the show there really is no reason to like their music. Hopefully I will be able to check Battles out at Bumbershoot.

7:00pm (Jamie Lidell): This was probably my favorite set of the entire festival. I saw him at Sasquatch! 2006 and really enjoyed him there, though he only did his DJ stuff in 2006. If you are not familiar with Mr. Lidell he is a beatboxing, mixing extraordinaire! However, he is also a great R & B singer. Think a male Amy Winehouse. He got our booties shaking mixing his DJ and R & B talents together. Just awesome!

9:00pm (The Flaming Lips): It was finally time for the big Flaming Lips U.F.O. show and let me say…it exceeded my expectations. Now if you have seen Flaming Lips shows in the past you know the usual stuff: confetti, giant balloons, Wayne Coyne walking out on the crowd in a giant balloon, a large screen showing weird videos, lights and dancers in different outfits. However, on top of all of this was Wayne and company coming down in a spaceship and walking out from the spaceship in his giant bubble, inviting naked girls on stage and then getting back into his saucer at the end of the show, incredible. He is such a great showman and plays off of the crowd. The amazing set was about two hours, which was perfect, not too long, not too short. A perfect ending for Sasquatch!

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