[EVENT RECAP] Sasquatch!: Day 1
Annual Central Washington festival Sasquatch! was held last weekend at the beautiful Gorge in George. The temperature was in the 80's but there was a cool breeze to make it tolerable. The first set I caught of the day was South African four-piece; Kongos. They have become increasingly popular since the release of their new single "Come With Me Now", which was debuted in the US on Seattle radio station 107.7 The End. They were on the second mainstage this year, drawing a crowd of thousands, all which appreciated these four brother's unique and eclectic sound. Just a few songs into their set, everyone was up and dancing on their feet, as the warm sun beamed down upon their sunburnt shoulders. They played a total of 60 minutes, cramming in 9 songs, ranging from their newest hit single, to old favorite "I'm Only Joking". After the set was over, they announced plans to write and record a new album, along with tour in the near future. Although no dates are announced, be sure to check these guys out when they come to a venue near you!
Soon after Kongos, the next band on my list was Cage The Elephant. Lead singer Matt Shultz came out guns blazing, in a red velour jacket, with some white pants and crazy shoes! This classy gentleman didn't keep his white pants clean for long, as he dove across the mainstage barrier to walk on the crowd during their performance of 2012 single "Come a Little Closer". Within the hour long set list they played every song with bunches of energy, and even slower songs such as "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" at a quickened rate, with posi jumps, stage dives, and even a cart wheel or two. It was almost as if I was at a punk pop concert, I might add their performance has gotten increasingly better since a previous time I saw them! Luckily for me, I didn't have to miss a second of their set, which ended with a brilliant drum solo from drummer Jared Champion. Pick up their newest album with bluesy single "Come a Little Closer" titled Melophobia and be a part of the other 250,000 people that already have!
"Young Blood" by The Naked and Famous just happens to be my ringtone, and to say the least they were the band I was anticipating seeing most. I was lucky enough to shoot their set early this year while they were on tour with Imagine Dragons. Within the past few years the band has exploded into the alternative scene, with one of the catchiest versions of alternative I have ever heard. Along with "Young Blood" their debut album also have singles such as "All of This", "Girls Like You" and "Punching in a Dream", while their newest album has slightly slower single, but vocally perfect "Rolling Waves". Along with their vibrant, catchy music, they have also been noted for front-woman Alisa Xayalith's fashion style. From her short bleach blonde hair courtesy of my long time friend, and fellow photographer Jacob Gravebolt, to her silky, felt adorned black jumper, and high heeled black boots, she is a fashion icon in the music industry, no doubt about it. Although I left early to cover a long time favorite of mine; Phantogram, The Naked and Famous' music boomed up the side of the Gorge, bringing in hundreds of thousands of fans who may have been new to their music.
Phantogram has really been on a roll this year, playing all the larger festivals such as Coachella, Outside Lands, Treasure Island, Lollapalooza, and are scheduled for Seattle's Bumbershoot this year! They have virtually been on tour non stop, truly making a name for themselves, all though it seems as though most of their fans have been there from the beginning. Their newest album release Eyelid Movies has been sparking all the touring, and the band admits to humbly loving the stage. The sun was just setting during their set, making it a beautiful sight to see, with subtle red and blue lights following up behind them. Since the photo pass only allows the first 3 songs to be photographed, I had to cut their set short and bound over to the mainstage for headliner Foster The People. I will say, I was extremely impressed with the sound that was produced from who is the two person band; Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, along with a few other unnamed touring musicians. The band is continuing on down the West Coast, so prepare to be impressed when they hit a city near you!
Foster The People's catchy new single "Coming of Age" off their new album Supermodel was the opener for their explosive set, the first set where mainstage lights were used, aka the moment all us photographers had been waiting for. As most other sets were coming to an end, this was the most people I had see at the mainstage all day! The entire lawn was full, as well as the cement standing area. There was jumping, and dancing, and from a view of above, the crowd looked like one big pool party, with hundreds of beach toys from blow up orcas, to beach balls, to crowd surfing in rafts. Our time in the press bit was cut short unfortunately, as there were many people flying our way over the rail, and it then becomes a matter of safety, and liability of our gear. I feel as if this is in my future for a few more sets before the weekend is over. While walking up the huge hill of the Gorge, Foster the People played the song, that I'm sure, mot of us identify them with; "Pumped Up Kicks". Last year this song was dubbed "the anthem of the year" by SPIN magazine, and the hundreds of thousands of people at Sasquatch singing word for word, would back that up I'm sure.
As the evening went on, my camera battery was fading, but my hunger was blossoming. I took a quick trip, only about a mile and a half walk, to the campsite, to notice that my tent had blown into my neighbors camp, and my once chilled cooler was now an abyss of water logged fruit, crackers, and salad. I am no stranger to Sasquatch, and knew this would happen, but had previously prayed to the music Gods to hold off on sending my tent afar. After a quick snack, and a little charging, I was back and ready for action to see Outkast and Die Antwoord, some of the festivals most anticipated acts.
As soon as I danced down my way through the crowd, with much difficulty I might add, I had finally reached the entrance of the photo pit. Apparently, there was some sort of miscommunication, as I, along with many other squashed photographers were not allowed to shoot the iconic duo which is made up of combined talents from Andre 3000, and Big Boi. The set took me back to my childhood, with them performing songs like "Hey Ya", "Ms Jackson", "Roses", and "So Fresh, So Clean". The loss of shooting Outkast didn't put a damper on my mood, as I sat back on the hill and took in all the strange sights and sounds at this beautiful venue. After a few minutes of reminiscing, I climbed my way back up and over the hill for the last time, to head to the Bigfoot Stage, where the strangest, and most unusual performance of my life took place.
Die Antwoord, the South African rap/rave duo, are by no means normal. I approached the stage during soundcheck to see a projection similar to the horror icon "Jigsaw" on both sides of the stage. After a bit of a delay, the band's DJ appeared about 25 minutes late, but at least we knew the music was about to start, as it had been a long day for everyone at Sasquatch! Lead signer, Yolandi Visser, and her partner who goes by "Ninja" appeared on stage in full neon orange jump suits, dancing erratically to the quick beats of their fast paced drum and bass-esq beat. The band is extremely popular because of their odd music videos, and strange look, but I have yet to meet a singular person who actually enjoys the music, let lone understands it. The lighting was full of strobes of neon blues, oranges and reds, along with a mix of fog thrown in as well. The photo pit has hot and stuffy with well over 50 of us all crammed together for this interesting shoot. Within the few minutes I was there, I had water sprayed all over me, along with paint, and confetti. These came both from the crowd, and from the band, but either way, me, and my gear were not having it! I decided to get out of the pit for the evening, and trudge myself back to camp. As soon as my head hit the pillow in the hot stuffy tent, I was out like a light, as the festivities of Sasquatch carried on around me.