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Sasquatch! 2013: Top Five At The Gorge

Becca Grumet, Matthew Del Muro |
June 1, 2013 | 12:08 a.m. PDT

Contributor, Staff Reporter

Neon Tommy writers Becca Grumet and Matthew Del Muro spent four days in the Gorge, the site of the Sasquatch! Music Festival. Between the camping and dancing and friendship bracelet weaving, they also found time to check out some of the festival's many musical acts. Here are their personal top 5 picks from the long weekend:

BECCA:

Father John Misty

Father John, aka J. Tillman, formerly of Fleet Foxes, had the challenge of entertaining the Bigfoot stage audience after the popular Japandroids ended and seasoned '90s band Built to Spill played the main stage.

But for those who were looking for something a bit different, Misty didn’t disappoint. The almost creepily Jim Morrison-esque singer (both in looks and stage presence) sauntered to his mic, breaking into “Funtimes in Babylon” as the crowd sang along.

A brightly colored tapestry mural draped behind the band featured a naked Tillman and his highly amusing “no fucks given” personality. Throughout his numbers, he frequently sat at the foot of the stage and hammed it up for the cameras, hanging his head in his hands, even looking bored. Combined with his addictive crooning voice and goofy lyrics, the antics of Father John definitely did entertain for a great performance.

Nick Offerman

A surprising amount of Sasquatch-ers showed up on Saturday in the El Chupacabra tent for some comedy by Nick Offerman, aka Ron Swanson on NBC’s "Parks and Recreation." Most weren’t sure what to expect, but as the shirtless comedian made his way on stage and proceeded to dress himself in an American flag patterned button-down, it didn’t really matter.

"Parks" fans were delighted to find Offerman’s personality a freewheelin’ version of Swanson's, as he explained his “10 Tips for Prosperity” (favorites include: practice romantic love, eat red meat, use intoxicants) and serenaded the crowd with his guitar. 

Like Swanson, Offerman is a master carpenter, and encouraged the crowd to have a hobby. “Instead of playing Draw Something,” he said, “fucking draw something.” But best of all was the grand finale in which wife Megan Mullally and actress Stephanie Hunt (of "Nancy and Beth") appeared onstage to sing a mashup of “Son of a Preacher Man” while Offerman rapped Cypress Hill’s “Hits from a Bong.” The set ended with the entire crowd joining the threesome in an anthem to "Parks" with “5000 Candles in the Wind.” 

Wild Belle

Sunday happened to be a magical day at Sasquatch. The perfect weather followed by three nearly perfect acts on the more intimate Yeti stage up the hill from the Gorge made for a truly great afternoon.

Sandwiched between Floridian acts Hundred Waters and Radical Face, Chicago natives Wild Belle took the stage around 4 p.m. and impressed the crowd with a slew of pulsing reggae-infused pop led by singer Natalie Bergman. She delivered two tall beers to each of her bandmates, grabbed the mic, and easily slid into the routine of entrancing vocalist alongside older brother Elliot on keys and bari saxophone. 

Songs like “Keep You” hypnotized the crowd as the younger Bergman’s jazz-inspired vocals hovered over psychedelic synthesizer sounds and sax riffs. Wild Belle has certainly mastered their hybrid style and will hopefully show even more chops on their second album. 

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Edward Sharpe ranks at the top of the list purely because their entire vibe matches that of Sasquatch to a T. Comedian Mike Birbiglia even joked at the festival Monday afternoon how crazy it was to see Edward Sharpe “singing to dudes who looked just like Edward Sharpe.”

There is no denying singer Alex Ebert’s connection to a postmodern hippie wannabe audience like Sasquatch’s, especially as he staggeredaround the stage, eyes closed, asking his band what song is up next. It’s easy to see that both his band and his fans love him, even more so in harmony with Jade Castrinos, who looks at him with such an intense adoration it’s hard not to jump on the Magnetic Zeros bandwagon. 

Though the crowd waited for “Home” to close the set, the band held fast onto performing songs mostly off of their sophomore album, "Here," and succeeded in turning the crowd on to their newer folk gospel sounds in “I Don’t Wanna Pray” and “That’s What’s Up.”

Good friend Marcus Mumford joined in on “Child,” and fans eventually did get to hear “Home.” As the band vamped over the all-too-familiar chords, Jade asked the audience if anyone had a story to tell, and proceeded to climb down from the stage to pass the mic to various intoxicated fans. All in all, Edward Sharpe is good, simple fun. And at Sasquatch, that’s all you can really ask for. 

Watch Edward Sharpe perform “Home” before it was big right here in L.A. at KCRW.

Alt-J

Festival goers showed their true colors Monday night as The Lumineers played the main stage at the same time as British band Alt-J on the Bigfoot. As expected, Alt-J packed the lawn of the smaller stage, and while they had less theatrics than lights-and-smoke heavy Vampire Weekend or Empire of the Sun, the band let their first record, "An Awesome Wave," speak for itself. 

The complexities inside crowd favorite songs like “Breezeblocks,” “Tessellate,” and the other-worldly set closer “Taro” were unlike anything else at the festival, most notably the choruses of “Ho Hey” happening down the hill.

Just vocalist Joe Newman’s original voice in harmony with his band, no instruments, had the ability to capture a loud, sometimes obnoxious and distracted festival crowd. Pile on an eclectic array of folk, trip-hop sounds and soaring guitar, and Alt-J easily climbs to the top of Monday night Sasquatch, perhaps even over final festival act The Postal Service.

MATT

Empire of the Sun

Australian synthpop duo, Empire of the Sun, closed the Honda Bigfoot Stage on Day 2 with a performance unlike anything seen within the first two days. Luke Steele and Nick Litttlemore have gone on tour again to promote their second album, "Ice on the Dune," which drops on June 14th. Their debut album Walking on a Dream had several hits including Walking on a Dream, We Are the People and Standing on the Shore.

The band dazzled the stage as they walked out with elaborate costumes and face paint. The duo opened the set with new songs from "Ice on the Dune," titled "Lux" and "DNA."

When Empire of the Sun began the Walking on a Dream chords, the 2,000+ audience roared with excitement and their hands waved about with the melodic dance beats. Although the sound system cut out several times throughout the set, the group’s energy was able to keep the crowd’s attention while music came through the speakers intermittently. 

For the all-important summer playlist, look out for Empire of the Sun’s album in a few weeks. It will be a perfect accompaniment to any beach or summer outing.

Devendra Banhart

Venezuelan singer Devendra Banhart played on Saturday, Day 2, at the Bigfoot Stage. The attractive and cheeky man entered the stage and thanked the crowd for their support.

He’s come a long way since his  festival debut at Outside Lands, when 20 people showed for his set and he handed out popsicles to the crowd. Devendra’s Spanish folk songs entice audiences in, with his humble attitude keeping fans coming back for more. Currently Devendra is on tour promoting his eighth studio album "Mala," which was released on March 13th of this year.

Devendra performed his fan favorites “Shapop Shalom” and “Carmensita” while also playing songs from his new album like “Golden Girls” and “Mi Nigrita”. His band accompanying him played not only the simple guitar but a variety of instruments, even the clarinet, expressing the vast musical knowledge they’ve acquired over the last ten years as a band. His vocals live sound even better and more charming than his studio albums, its impossible to not fall slightly head over heels with the man after seeing him perform live.

For the summer playlist, Devendra Banhart will sound great when camping with a friend or partner in the woods. 

Hundred Waters

Relatively unknown group Hundred Waters played the Yeti stage on Day 4 of the festivals. With a sound best described as “math-rock meets Sigur Ros”, they are definitely a band to look out for with an insanely unique sound.

Originally from Gainsville, Florida, Hundred Waters is the first band to be signed to Skrillex’s label OWSLA and Sasquatch 2013 is one of the first festivals they have played at before.

Incorporating jazz, synthpop, art-rock and folk sounds into a live set is not an easy task yet, Hundred Waters has set their EPs to flow with each other, showing the depth of understanding over their style as a band. The closest artist in sound to Hundred Waters may be that of Bjork, the art-rock legend. Hundred Waters's debut album will drop on September 25th, with the song “Thistle” being the first single.

Live, Hundred Waters was even more musically impressive due to their ability to recreate sounds live with a large group of five. The vocals of Nicole Miglis sound angelic in an open air field. Hundred Waters left the audience flat on the ground, as the crowd could only lie down for the set. Unlike many of the bands at Sasquatch, who were focused on keeping the audience dancing on their feet, Hundred Waters provided a great soundtrack to reflect on the events of the festival and a break from thrashing around in the crowd. 

Disclosure

Disclosure, the British dance brothers, played in the Chupacabra Dance Tent to a full crowd. Recently gaining recognition with their EPs and from touring with SBTRKT and Hot Chip, Disclosure has been playing in dance tents at festivals across the country including Sasquatch and Coachella. They’ll be at HARD Summer at the Los Angeles Historic Park in August. Disclosure’s debut album entitled “Settle” drops this Tuesday, June 3rd.

The house, synth-pop style of Disclosure forced the crowd to dance for the entire set. Songs like "Latch," "White Noise," and "Control" create an electronica wave, overwhelming the ears with synth bliss.

While some of the crowd was under the influence of controlled substances, Disclosure had all under its influence. Due to their primarily computer generated music, they played and DJ-ed from Macbooks, essentially mixing their songs together. It still created a great live experience as the crowd connected with the beats blasting through the tent.

For an upbeat summer road trip or a fourth of July party, make sure to add Disclosure to your list.

The Postal Service

The Postal Service closed Sasquatch’s four-day festival. Headlining on the main stage, the audience welcomed Ben Gibbard back 10 years after the release of "Give Up." After much speculation of a second album, the group decided to re-release the iconic first album, but revamped with two new songs including Jenny Lewis, the Postal Service’s female vocalist and lead singer of Rilo Kiley. Even after ten years since the release of the first album, the 20,000+ crowd remembered each song from the set.

The band opened with “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, sending a wave of nostalgia back from 2003. Ben Gibbard, from Death Cab for Cutie, and Jenny Lewis bounced around the stage through the set showing their musical abilities at singing, guitar playing and even drumming.

The rare show was able to obtain the musicians for one night from their other successful bands and projects. As “Such Great Heights” echoed through the amphitheater, the venue bounced and jumped. Gibbard continuously thanked the audience for giving them the opportunity to “come back from the grave” and feel as though they had never left. It was an unbelievable set and a fantastic way to end the Memorial Weekend Festival. 

Make sure to add The Postal Service to the summer fling playlist. 

Reach Contributor Becca Grumet here. Follow her on Twitter here
Reach Staff Reporter Matthew Del Muro here.


 

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