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Sasquatch! 2015 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

A rising star tops the Gorge's fantastic four-day weekend

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    Four days of a festival can be grueling. Living long on a campsite, with so many neighbors not showering, is a lot to ask of people. Yet this year’s Sasquatch! Music Festival made it an easy choice, boasting one of the season’s solidest lineups. It was a chance to see legends like Robert Plant and Sleater-Kinney and witness the birth of future myths Kendrick Lamar and Lana Del Rey. Not to mention that The Gorge Amphitheater isn’t all that bad of a backdrop either.

    Photo by Eric Tra
    ca
    Photo by Eric Tra

    The headliners may have been the big draw, but this year’s undercard provided some of the biggest surprises. Sasquatch! has long been an outlet for young artists to make their break into something bigger. Tame Impala even recalled their chance booking in 2010 and how they made it a goal to one day play on the main stage with the picturesque landscape behind them. They wouldn’t be alone as many of this year’s rookies showed potential to make the same leap within the next few years.

    Photo by Eric Tra

    Photo by Eric Tra

    Sasquatch! is also an absurd place. It’s a festival where you can dance to Jungle next to a girl dressed as a banana or vibe out with a dinosaur at James Blake. At times, the crowd looks like unlockable costumes for Tekken characters, and that’s all part of the charm. There was a snarky vibe in the air, too, as jokes about corporate sponsor Twix floated left and right. Even artists got in on the fun, mockingly encouraging people to eat the candy and feigning enthusiasm about its chocolatey goodness. But if the worst thing to happen at a festival is candy, that doesn’t sound so bad.

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    Ahead, you’ll find our coverage of the best and worst of the festival.

    –Dusty Henry
    Staff Writer

    Jungle

    jungle cai2 Sasquatch! 2015 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

    Photo by Lilay Cai

    P-funk outfit Jungle matched the vibe of the scorching and sweaty opening day. They served as the ideal primer to hype up the crowd, even getting people on the lawn to dance without inhibition. After a few tracks, though, the set became monotonous; it was hard to tell when an extended funk jam began and the last one ended.

    S (Jenn Ghetto)

    Sjennghetto_cai2

    Photo by Lilay Cai

    Seattle songwriter S, aka Jenn Ghetto, has been a local favorite since her days in Carissa’s Wierd. Her Sasquatch! set let her thrive in the laid-back attitude of the early afternoon. Switching between guitar and piano showed her prowess for downer indie rock. Sometimes, however, Ghetto’s music was a bit too subtle and nondescript for the festival setting. Ghetto is an act better savored with headphones alone, not on a bright and sunny afternoon. She kept her commentary playful between her melancholic songs, offering anecdotal quips about the festival like, “All your favorite stars in the same place!”

    Hiss Golden Messenger

    Hiss_Golden_Messenger_Eric-19

    Photo by Eric Tra

    With Ryan Adams going full rock, Hiss Golden Messenger held things down on the alt-country front. Donning trucker hats and tattoos, the group wistfully played through tracks off the band’s great 2014 album, Lateness of Dancers. The live set struggled to capture the energy of the record, however, with many people passing by unenthused. The group also had the unfortunate luck of following a rousing set by Kate Tempest, making their acoustic-tinged tunes feel a bit underwhelming in comparison.

    Bishop Nehru

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    Photo by Eric Tra

    Before Bishop Nehru hit the stage, his DJ hyped the crowd with classic Brooklyn bangers. But as everyone was bouncing up and down, he delivered the ultimate buzzkill as he shouted out “R.I.P. all the dead rappers.” Despite the quell in hype, the young rapper dominated the stage with old school bravado. Nehru constantly repeated his joy for music, drawing from the crowd’s vibe. At 18 years old, he’s still following the standard MC moves, no doubt learned from watching his more established peers. While he plays it off well, Nehru still needs to find a new dynamic to set himself apart.

    Flume

    Flume_Eric-2

    Photo by Eric Tra

    Electronic music was the big draw this year for many attendees, making Flume a consistently circled act on schedule pamphlets. The massive crowd hung on every beat and sample. 3D-generated visuals kept people engaged even on the outskirts. With so much hype around the producer throughout the day, it seemed like there would be a bit more of an edge to his set instead of the classic and overdone DJ-with-video model.

    Merchandise

    merchandise cai2 Sasquatch! 2015 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

    Photo by Lilay Cai

    On a blistering, hot day, Merchandise relied heavily on waves of reverb and rumbling bass lines. It was a much-needed reprieve to relax in the shade and many used the set as a brief moment to recharge before jumping back into the chaos of the festival.

    Will Butler

    willbutler cai3 Sasquatch! 2015 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

    Photo by Lilay Cai

    If the crowd wasn’t sure which person on stage was Will Butler, he had them covered. Each wore a black sweater with their name on it. The Arcade Fire multi-instrumentalist howled and danced across the stage like a millennial Elvis without irony, especially during a wild rendition of “Take My Side” straight from his debut solo album, Policy. It was all of the fun of Arcade Fire without any pretense or sweeping statements.

    Perfume Genius

    Perfume_Genius_Eric-3
    Photo by Eric Tra

    In a low-cut, black jumpsuit, Mike Hadreas sashayed across the stage as Perfume Genius. Despite being relegated to the acoustic suck of the El Chupacabra EDM tent, he made the best of the situation. He hit breathtaking high notes with grace and shook his shoulders to the industrial beats of “Grid”.

    Real Estate

    realestate cai2 Sasquatch! 2015 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

    Photo by Lilay Cai

    Real Estate was quite possibly the most sedated act of the weekend. Their lush sounds were the ideal soundtrack for the dust and haze of cigarette smoke. The mix gave clarity to the Atlas tracks, highlighting the aching lyrics hidden beneath the dreamy guitar jangles.

    The War on Drugs

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    Photo by Lilay Cai

    Just over a year after the release of Lost in the Dream, The War on Drugs have already transformed into young festival veterans. Their nebulous guitar tones permeated throughout The Gorge. The painted scenery behind the band could’ve easily been album art for one of their records. It was a rich atmosphere that made them the perfect band to see on the lawn.

    Natalie Prass

    natalieprass cai2 Sasquatch! 2015 Festival Review: From Worst to Best

    Photo by Lilay Cai

    At the beginning of her set, Natalie Prass deemed the festival “Prassquatch”. In some ways, it was an apt description. She found herself taking part in two of the weekend’s biggest surprises (both of which everyone totally saw coming). The first came during her own set, in which she brought out Ryan Adams to play a dynamic guitar solo on “Reprise” while she picketed wiht a plush Godzilla in the air. (The second surprise would come later.) Even without Adams, Prass wisely held down the Yeti stage on her own with material from her self-titled debut and an exceptional cover of Janet Jackson’s “Any Time, Any Place”.

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