Legions of music lovers from the glorious pacific northwest, alternAtives, hippies and average Joes, converged on the Gorge Amphitheatre to experience the 2005 Sasquatch festival on Saturday, May 28, 2005. High atop the Earth’s plain, overlooking a majestic backdrop of lazy fields and endless mountains, we all melted in the sun as one, raided the sunglass hut, bathed in pools of suntan lotion and rocked our individuality under a massive collection of giant hats (mesh, bucket, sombreros, and the security guards brought back the dunce cap). Cheep beer purchased at expensive prices, smart thinkers who brought bags of goodies for all to enjoy, and of course, porto potties. All of us, moms and dads, girls and boys, tattooed and ugly, made a solemn vow to spend this soon-to-be-memorable day together, and experience a good old fashioned summer music festival.
The overall theme reflected by this year’s versatile lineup was a striking sense of boundary breaking. A seminar in sound, how to make music that most people don’t make, and make that music good. Many of the bands are teaching the next generation new ways to craft fresh music from boundless possibilities. Ideas. Thoughts. Instruments. All that. The three stages were dominated by certified rule thrashers, straying from the traditional textbooks while burning down the school, using the ashes to paint their faces with tribal markings of the new noise revolution.
Bloc Party kicked off the scorching day, the apparent victims of an annoying bevy of technical difficulties that made for an unfortunate performance. “Banquet”, “Helicopter”, “Bluest Light”, and “Little Thoughts” were performed without a hitch, but the spark was missing. “Has anyone else got hot feet,” asked Kele between songs as the sound man resuscitated the lifeless P.A. system. The sun’s devil rays or the fact that this band has been touring since the beginning of time, may have been the reason for the 60% set. No game balls given today. In a hissy fit closing moment, the band threw their guitars and microphone stands down in disgust, never to be seen the rest of the day, presumably pushing forward to the venue. Shame. I love the album(s) and the impact of these honest artists. Hopefully we’ll mix it up again for another round.
The Dears, one of two band’s from Canada, performed various assortments from their acclaimed sophomore delivery on SpinART, No Cities Left, which will hopefully begin to gain some much needed notice from people who have money and like to buy records. The crafty six-piece flip flopped instruments in between songs - electric, acoustic, keyboards, tambourines. I think I even saw someone blow into an empty jug marked with XXX. Singer Murray Lightburn spit out the day’s first groaner joke with this stale mate, “it really is a GORGEous day, isn’t it?” Terrible. Gracefully swimming up the Blur or Radiohead current, The Dears offer a romantic spatter of seductive songs peppered with gentle keys and blissful lyrics that you should load up on your iPod the next time you want to take a roll in the hay...with someone else!
Ray Lamountage unfortunately won’t receive a fair report of his musical offerings as we spent the entire, lengthy set, trying to pronounce his name correctly...while laughing at the results. If you begin to sing “R-a-a-a-a-a-y La-lalala-money-tag” with the speedy refrain in a high pitch voice, then vary the tempo from verse to verse, you can create your own song in the privacy of your home or garden apartment. Think David Gray or Badly Drawn Boy, acoustic assault, strong melodies over whispering guitar strokes, and then shout, LA mooooon togh as if you were a dirty Frenchman.
The Arcade Fire flung Molotov cocktails into our helpless faces with the days most vibrant and gut-wrenching performance, having just returned from Barcelona, Spain the day prior. The eight-piece (I counted at least 8) lashed out their traditional opener, “Wake Up”, onto the heads of the sun stroked and drunken folks, revitalizing the lackluster day. The incestuous collective of tremendously talented Canadians played musical chairs throughout the frantic set, each band member settling on a new instrument and playing the fuck out of whatever it was, in time to kick out the next explosive number. Violins, accordions, motorcycle helmets, random people armed with drum sticks banging everything on stage like John Homes. “Laika”, “Tunnels”, and a few ancient recipes from 2003’s Demo EP felt like bastardized versions of their studio brethren, as the live explosions delivered a spontaneous excitement and immediacy to every song...the backbone of the concert experience. Students, that will be on the test. As the dance demon, “Power Out”, came to a climatic close, the fans cheered and gave respectful goodbyes, just in time for the subtle notes of “Lies” to peak their beauty through, making for a priceless segue that you motherfuckers can’t buy in stores!
At this time we raided the Xbox tent. Those dudes and dudettes (we must be politically correct always) know how to have a good time. They let me camp out in their VIP box and we shared some good laughs and happy times. Ah, life. So anyway, I missed Wilco for the reason that I don’t like them, and The Aquaducts, although I spoke with some stoner kids from Spokane who said they ruled, so I believe them. For a few hours we dodged the evil sun, drank and ate the entire hospitality table, secure underneath a heaven sent tent, monitored by law enforcing acne faced teens, while the “not so Tripwire freelance writers” watched with envy. Suckers.
As the sun transitioned from yellow to orange, Kayne West, wearing a purple shirt and slacks with egg shell white blazer, stormed the stage with DJ 8-track, reppin' not only the ROC but hip-hop as a whole at this, although widely diverse, rock festival. “I haven’t been this drunk a minute,” joked Kanye, who taught a magnificent lesson in the power of hip-hop music and it’s capability to reach anyone, everywhere. Realize that this legendary producer from Chicago, who almost died from a car accident, is right here right now on a mountain top in nowheresville Washington, rapping to 20,000 faces about “assess jiggling” and “bling bling-a-ling-alin”. West also expressed his anger towards our current President with lyrics about how old Bushy is benefiting from all of this bullshit he is creating, which drove the crowd into a supportive frenzy. States go blue or stay in Red hell. Dare to dream. DJ 8-track put on a sick display of turntablism, itching even the most inconceivable scratches. That kid’s good. West popped out a number of hits from The College Dropout, and clued us on a few new thumpers from the forthcoming, Late Registration LP.
Modest Mouse, the hometown fellows of the festival (although technically Issaquah is 2-hours from Gorge) were second to last on the main stage, and didn’t disappoint the amassed faithful one bit. With two drum kits, Isaac Brock lead his band of merry music makers on a trip down discography lane, stopping and showcasing songs from each record. “Satin In A Coffin,” “Bukowski,” “3rd Planet,” “Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes,” sounded simply divine. All things were perfect in place and time. Right on. At the point where “Doin The Cockroach” started up is when the drugs kicked in. Moments earlier some hippie by the name of Moon Pie stepped on my foot, and when I yelled out, he threw something into my mouth, hit me on the back, and ran away singing “have fun brother.” I’m not sure why a pacifist not only abused me physically, but doped me up to boot, but that’s what happened. Before I knew it, I was swallowed up by the sea of fans floating (on) in front of the stage. Dancing, singing, swinging glow sticks above my head.
The day was full of brilliant workshops taught by some of
the world’s brightest young scholars. Classes on anti-rock 101, independent music creation study, and the evolution of new breed of rock artistry were soaked up by everyone within earshot, and we all took notes. The golden sun said goodnight, the sizzled flesh of sweaty fans was cooled by the evening’s tickling breeze, and I was goofed up on God knows what. As the memory showed signs of drifting away into permanence, the deans of Sasquatch University’s aforementioned misanthropic music school presented their salutatory speech to the graduating class of 2005...The Pixies.
Plugging in for the first time since, well, the last mega reunion tour that began at Coachella 2004 and drove around the town for the better part of last year, the ageless doctor’s of “Doolittle” sealed the evening with a kiss. Frank Black looked as if he had eaten his other band The Catholics while in hibernation. Kim Deal sounded like she finally switched to light cigarettes, and Joey and David still need to spend more time on the old drum stick toss and catch, but those nit picky observations were blown into the stratosphere, like the rest of us, after the Pixies’ breathtaking performance. Next year mark’s the twentieth anniversary of this Boston band, who played everything that you could possibly imagine ("Wave Of Mutilation" twice, once electric and one acoustic) without saying one word. School’s out for summer.
Special thanks to Amy and Patrick (and his Alex) from Cornerstone Promotion, Xbox, and all the bands for coming way out West to perform. Until we meet again...
Source: Jason Anfinsen (firstname.lastname@example.org)