Oh, the sweet Northwest. Despite our drab weather and typically disappointing sports teams, the Northwest has been an indie-rock hotbed for decades. Celebrating it for all its worth, the organizers of the Sasquatch Festival — scheduled for Friday, May 26 to Sunday, May 28 — highlight all that is great about the region’s music scene.
The festival takes place at the incredible Gorge Amphitheatre in Central Washington, which has been voted best outdoor venue in North America by Pollstar magazine for nine years running. But besides its prime geography, the acts have perennially been outstanding — Modest Mouse, Coldplay, the Arcade Fire, Kanye West have each been on the festival’s bill.
For its fifth year, organizers have expanded Sasquatch from a one-day to a three-day celebration. And it’s the festival’s most impressive lineup yet, ranging from the chart-topping (Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age) to the rare (Sufjan Stevens‘s only scheduled summer performance). The diversity of the lineup appeals to a diversity of people, and they can all expect to be treated with respect: Unlike most festivals, guests are allowed to bring in food and factory-sealed bottled water.
But here’s the thing: As with all festivals, such an obscene amount of talent demands careful planning and a willingness to compromise. Three stages will be going at once here: the Yeti stage showcases Northwestern indie talent exclusively; the Wookie stage is intended for medium-sized touring acts; and the main stage is for your heavy-hitters. It’ll be impossible for most fans to see all of the acts they want. Need help making a decision? We’re here to help. (Keep in mind that the schedule may change; check Sasquatch’s Web site to be sure. The organizers also have provided a printable schedule for those of us who like to leave major decisions until the last minute.)
Friday, May 26
With its sparse lineup and scarce amount of talent, Friday might not even be worth the ticket price. If you decide not to attend, Sub Pop rock band the Thermals are playing at the Department of Safety in Anacortes, which is about an hour and a half north of the Gorge, but you didn’t read that here .
Hailing from Bellingham, Washington, the four ladies known as the Trucks are not traveling very far to perform at Sasquatch. Taking cues from Fanny Pack, Peaches and Le Tigre, the group’s brand of synth-heavy dance rock, while certainly niche music in itself, at least makes sense at a Northwest music festival.
Too often compared to the White Stripes, Louisiana’s Deadboy & the Elephantmen’s Fat Possum debut, We Are Night Sky, was a grim confessional of drug-induced mistakes. With the chance to prove themselves here — and with few other bands on the bill to compete against for audience attention — the chances are high these guys will win some new fans.
Another one of these mainstream ’70s-rock throwbacks, and whaddya know, it has the word “wolf” in its name. A little late for that, don’t you think, boys? The trio’s press slogan raises the question, What do you get when Mars Volta, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and the White Stripes all collide in space? If you want to find out, be my guest. I’ll be somewhere else, playing with a Frisbee.
Pretty much the main reason to come on Friday, the members of Trail of Dead have ridden some ferocious waves since they started the band in ’94. If you want to see how their epic live show translates after some of mom’s fine home cooking, Trail of Dead is the band to catch on the first day. They’ll also ease you into the pain of having to sit through an entire HIM set.
Though it sounds very little like an actual TV on the radio (which would be mostly dialogue, naturally), Brooklyn’s TV on the Radio combines most things avant-garde on its records, leaving room for promising live variations. This is the other band worth coming for on Friday.
I can appreciate diversity, but why why why why is HIM, the inventors of the heart-a-gram and purveyors of the “love-metal” genre, playing at Sasquatch? Who is going to pay money to come see this band and, more important, what are they going to do when the set is over? When describing the band’s sound, singer (and Alternative Press heartthrob) Ville Valo says, “It’s crazy surreal, it’s weird, it’s David Lynch, it’s Tim Burton, but with all those things happening within the AC/DC context.” Wow, man. I might actually be into that.
Whoa, it says right here on the press kit that Bauhaus invented goth. Let’s face it, black pleather aside, Bauhaus is pretty much legendary. Having gone strong since ’78, these guys just might be worth checking out when you get bored of setting up your tent. I hope they’ll play “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” the only nine-minutes of Bauhaus any of us will ever need.
Probably one of the biggest attractions at this year’s fest, the prospect of seeing a drugless Trent Reznor bare his soul in front of a couple thousand frat boys might be skippable if there were something better in store, but seeing as how Friday’s lineup is pretty flimsy, why not bite the hand that feeds?
Prefix feature: Sasquatch Festival 2006 Preview (Part 2 of 3)
Prefix feature: Sasquatch Festival 2006 Preview (Part 3 of 3)