Story by Jason Anfinsen Photos by Jennifer J Dohner
This year was my second encounter with the legendary Sasquatch! I saw him for the first time in 2005, when it was only a one-day festival. Since then, the keen folks at House Of Blues have turned this monster into a 3-day orgy of music ranging from metal to folk to indie for a phenomenal lineup. The plan was to conquer this event with a dear close friend who became unavailable at the last minute when her leg was tragically filled with lead on the north side of Chicago one month ago. I decided to kidnap Neighbor Wes, a young metal head, to join me in the three-day excursion. With $48.00 of organic vegan food, no car insurance, no camping gear, I drove two and a half hours from Seattle America to the mountains of George Washington. I documented the entire event, to the best of my ability, under extremely horrific weather conditions and highly illicit substances, to bring you this synopsis in true Gonzo journalism style. Here now are three days worth of scenic snippets from the unimaginable Sasquatch! 2006.
I can't believe we made it. I started tripping near Snoqualmie pass, too high to drive and the highway was slick, which made the Focus slide. Neighbor Wes had to talk me down. This is the beginning I thought to myself, it starts now. Arrive at 3:00 on Friday. Good driving time. Chilly. Rainsy. Money to be spent and made. Nine Inch Nails fans dressed in fun club gear. HIM fans, girls. Adult humans dressed as Sasquatch animals play national anthem, tuned in "d."
4:01 p.m. Wolfmother
"Apple Tree." Singer giant fro, red open leisure suit jacket. Trio with electric keys. "White Unicorn." I've had this rekkid forevers, knew all songs for so long. "Love Train." Tom Morello? "Woman." two guitars, singer prance dances like Mick Jagger, throwing mic stand as the keyboardist shows off NIN school of playing, really yanking that melody board. Sloooow creep opening, eeeerie keys with a detonating kick drum thump as the weed smoke enters nostril passages to start "Mind's Eye." Cool organ with fuzz pedals can be seen on the jumbo-tron super screens. "Now it's time for the Wolfmother to get weird," says singer Andrew Stockdale. "4 o'clock rock & roll time for the Wolfmother."
"Lead singer is awesome," says Neighbor Wes. Cape...we've got cape! "Colossal." People behind me, different ages different dudes, "Sounds like Zeppelin...sounds like Ozzy." "Joker And The Thief." Such theatrics from the singer. Bowing after every song like a gentlemen's dance, throwing hands towards adoring fans, such oddball speech from the Aussie. And the crowd in the pit chants for more...
Girl in front of me has a pirate skull sword combo belt buckle, tattoos on lower hips like a pinball machine blinking towards her crotch. Game over.
I pick up the trash around the place. Litterbug animals. Floating white napkins block damp green grass. Empty ketchup wastebaskets, plastic bottle trajectory weapons to shoot at shit bands. Girl in front of me has a pirate skull sword combo belt buckle, tattoos on lower hips like a pinball machine blinking towards her crotch. Game over. Filth and The Fury shoes.
Storm brews in the distance above the pulp mountains miles behind the stage, instruments protected under the impenetrable fortress of midnight black trash bags. Birds having a meeting swirl around above, hundreds of them sputtering around the stoney masses. Audioslave plays on the loud speakers and I can't understand how terrible that quick cash cow is. Pathetic attempt at anything quality.
"Mushrooms?," drunk kid says. He's asking. Not selling. Everyone in our section is confused and he is senseless incoherent. His pal wearing the Fort Sill rugby shirt says, "scavenger hunt." Kid almost falls backwards off the rocks to his death. The crowd agrees with my thirst for blood. I look at Neighbor Wes. "You got me?" He looks. "I'm going to swing on these daytime ravers, you got me?" "Sure," he says, "what the hell," as he smiles up a clinched fist.
Disneyworld man with red shirt, 20 gallon white hat. This is the devil horned evening. Trail Of Dead already behind 14 bloody minutes in the solid schedule. $30 for tour shirts, really? I'm going to check and see if any band sells a shirt for less than $30. Drops are happening. Not liquid LSD on tongues, I mean wet stuff from murky sky.
5:18 And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead...
Dead come out to a trail of goth church kill god theme that this mercurial crowd understands and empathizes with oh too well. "This is from our first record," says Jason Reece, who looks like Baba Booey. "Relative Ways."Will I See You Smile Again" from the barely noticed World's Apart, pleasure. Two-minute instrumental opening before the vox kick in, two drummers banging, wowie wowie. Killed that song, spent almost the entire set on that scathing eruption. "Another Morning Stoner." Switch 'em up play time for this Texas band, musical switch players, fire sparklers like Drive Like Jehu, At The Drive-In, Quicksand.
5:39 Sound dies dead. Jeers. No juice in amps for miles. Complete absence of feedback speaker survival. "It's over. Sasquatch 2006 is officially over. Pack it up and move it out jerks," yells some handsome wise ass named me. Viva La Improvisation! The crowd cheers along with the twin drummers, claps, it's an improvised soundgarden. Baba Booey twists the tambourine atop of the large decks. Noise again. Drums go flying. These boys are animals. Same song, last verse, same as the first, it's pure voltage! Sonic. Finished like two verses of the song, ruled, professional chaos.
"Caterwaul." Baba Booey is now in the front row kissing babies, shaking hands, Conrad Keely with the silver guitar looks like Cornershop kid, he very much rules, still engaged to Juliette Lewis? Guitarist in the back looks like Matt Hollywood ex-Brian Jonestown Massacre strummer wearing Amoeba Music shirt, lit cig in mouth. I imagine that Trail Of Dead are adored in the U.K., appreciated and maybe even admired more than stuck up stateside. Six beautiful magicians. The rockabillier, Texan Radiohead without republican oil money.
I just came. Baba Booey stabbed the drumstick, like Van Helsing upon the undead body of Dracula, slicing his giant bongo drum to death. He fell through it's skin. Drums everywhere. Screeches and wails still puff out of the smoking instruments. Dead run over to hug TV On The Radio who have to clean up the mess. This is my new favorite live band. Last was The Arcade Fire at the Sasquatch 2005 .
Lots of characters characterizing themselves as colorful individuals to make up the black swirl of this fantastical festival populous. MAD SCIENTISM. Dead, TVOTR, Bauhaus, NIN, Wolfmother, Him, I'm not sure how I'll sit through that yet. Only 6:24 now. TV On The Radio can be spotted way down there by gigantic blowout of Kyp Malone.
6:28 TV On The Radio
We all turn on the tv. Sun brought out by dead to see the radio, hear the tv, noise start. It's that whistling song. Nasty smoke from the death grille brings a waft of animal flesh to life. "Dreams" with twin vocals and this crew is hot right now, the booming set is working wonders on this accepting crowd, diverse requested. Damn shame I don't have a working camera for evidence pictures. I shall evoke up the spirits of Pollack, Basquiat, Warhol, and that crazy PBS kid Bob Ross to paint as well as these finger brushes will allow. Quick recording and chop up replay of "Sasquatch" elates the stondedd crowd who love to be puzzled by the wonders of recorded audio.
Mountains on all sides of the stage dwindle down into the water deep below, the gorge. Some boats are anchored in the distance, catching an ear or two of the spirit sound reflecting off the amphitheatre walls like an almighty Olympiad. "Not used to playing in the daytime on a mountaintop. Where are all the sheep?" asks Tunde Adebimpe. The ones here to see HIM, I thought silently.
Basking in the sun listening to TVOTR on the rocky steps of the Gorge in the beautiful evergreen state of Washington is today's job description. Realize how rich I could be if I charged The Tripwire to print this or required monetary funds from dear readers for my blurred photographic retellings of this weekend ceremony. This is about the experience, not the thought of anything later from now, especially not involving the sale or profit from this spontaneous documentation. That is, unless it will bring me enough cash to snag a souvenir Sasquatch shirt. Can I expense one Birthday Boy Bobby English, huh can I? Cover of some "Frito Lay" song then the obligatory trademark joint, "Staring At The Sun," as we watch it go to sleep for the evening.
I hear high-pitched hisses and know it's for HIM. Him Hu? No...that's my laundry guy. I'm talking about HIM, the phenomenon from Finland. Singer comes out smiling with The Stooges on his shirt. Johnny Depp doesn't call people like this guy to ask for his look back. Michael Myers piano keys start some song...I'm trying not to hate but I just don't get it, as I am not a 12-year old with a vagina. Or MTV.
I hear high-pitched hisses and know it's for HIM. Him Hu? No...that's my laundry guy.
Girl next to me is doing devil horns. Her mom sits rocking behind her, arms hug folded knees = rocking. "The Crow" is smoking during his vocals like a black and white talk show host. HIM fits, oddly enough, in the evening of these music misfits. Speaking of Danzig, I could totally go for some New Jersey midget punk right nizzy. Modern day equivalent of Neil Peart from Rush, this kit master has three kick drums, which combined spell H-I-M. Aww...they only look and sound stupid. Still not hating.
Their songs remind me of My Chemical Aerosmith. Cheesy metal that lacks anything dangerous or evil. They, like the little dark shrouded followers who have me barricaded on this grassy knoll, clap sing love along with this hideous crap. I just have no idea what this is all about. Now they rip into "TV Eye," Stooges anyone? Their symbol could be the swastika for all I know, pyramid heart in a circle emphasized with blinding red neons. It would seem that in 1991 when Pretty Hate Machine gobbled up goths and 1994 when Marilyn Manson snatched all the spook kids, that now in 2006 these lil metal mofos are spinning in the same cycle which unfortunately ends up at the bottom with HIM. Shit, I used to like Poison. Look What The Cat Dragged In, but at least they tried to look like something...KISS or early Motley Crue. But tragically (even though Brett Michaels inflated Pam Anderson) Poison went all to shit like Vanilla Ice, Milli Vanilli, or Backstreet Boys. I still want to see CC Deville in a bare knuckle boxing match with Flavor Flav (my money's on Flav in the third). See where the mind drifts off to when being tortured by Finland's second greatest export (mmm pickled hearing will always be #1).
After announcing that the band is vegetarian these exaggerated enigmas "Rip Off The Wings Of A Butterfly." At least the drummer has a Motorhead shirt on, sleeveless. They make the odd choice to cover "Wicked Game," Chris Isaac's contribution to David Lynch's Wild At Heart, which featured that boneriffic chick in the video...whatever her name was. "Buried By A Thing Called Love" was morbid enough, I caught myself bopping my left foot to that bastard. Yes all right! Black Sabbath cover of Black Sabbath from the album Black Sabbath. Sun dying away, everywhere red, faces in the crowd drenched in putrid ichor, singer looks like Depp in Once Upon A Time In Mexico. Through the scary riff, the singer got the crowd of teen queens covered in MAC makeup and size 42-x pantaloons to chant, "Black Sabbath Saved Our Lives," which went on way too long and we all sorts of needed to get high(er). I did welcome the spectacle of HIM, the dude obliges.
A girl is being taken off on a stretcher after some drunkie fell down the hill and landed on her head. Smoke canisters, white, red. A bat flies in and poof it becomes Count Dracula Peter Murphy. Standing. Boasting. Cleaning off his vampire suit. New song, he says, which is real dancelicious like LCD Soundsystem. Murphy does one stellar thing the entire set which is yell at his sound man. "Look at me all the time, fix that now." It wouldn't have been a resurrection flashback set without "Kick In The Eye" which was, is, the only Bauhaus song I have really sexed along with...well there was one cool evening in Miami when we cha cha cha'd to "Holy Fool," but this wasn't no Love & Rockets kids, this was a prostitution birthday party. Murphy exists and passes the baton to Trent. Bring on the nails buster and they better be nine inches! Everyone has gone up front to bow down to the one they serve, no mortal remains on the hill. Peaches on the pre-show, "Fuck The Pain Away."
Green laser beams off the east mountain for light stimulation that we really don't need. Everyone snuggles under blankets and hoodies, tootsies are being freezed off. A cage-like apparatus dresses the stage, stage lights being tested in some fun game of bright illumination. It now says NIN. Now it says "kill your parents." Now it says "if you love Bush yell"...silence for millenniums.
10:37 Nine Inch Nails
The crowd salutes their god. Cell phones provide some shine in the dark night. The world is blinking, tripping mind, Trent is screaming through our souls. "Somewhat Damaged" into an unknown tune, then "You Know What You Are." Smoke finally clears enough to see Trent. He's beefcake and bald. "Sin," "Terrible Lie." This light and sound brigade are maximum professionals. "March Of The Pigs."
Day 1 ends with a bang. NIN live in this setting are untouchable. Makes me want to go back and try on all of the Halos, listen to every ounce of Trent from 'The Perfect Drug' to 'Afraid Of Americans' with Bowie. Wow, they blew a hole in the stratosphere with that set.
The cage-like shield, like the chicken wire that kept The Blues Brothers safe from the good ole boys, is now pulsating different bar codes and colors, purple, numbers, everything is flashing bright strobelike and no one knows what everyone else is seeing, we can only hear just fine. "Something I Could Never Have," "Closer," red lights melting down like The Matrix, a volcano of dripping cherry colors.
Some douchebag lit a flare in the pit, red. The crew slices up the next series, blasting into one song, back to "Closer," only to hear the final piano keys on "Piggy." Light show plinko now and hey Moody Blues, I found your firefly brigade. Wow this light show is worth the 2.5 hour drive alone. "Gave Up," "Only," then "Wish." "Slipping Away," then into a song called "Make Love Not War" which Trent later said they haven't played in 20-years.
Solo Trent on the keys in orange glow for the first section of "Hurt," which was later hammered home by the exceptional band...none of whom can be identified, we never know who exactly Trent has in his music making (Pretty Hate) machine. "The Hand That Feeds" and "Head Like A Hole."
Day 1 ends with a bang. NIN live in this setting are untouchable. Makes me want to go back and try on all of the Halos, listen to every ounce of Trent from "The Perfect Drug" to "Afraid Of Americans" with Bowie. Wow, they blew a hole in the stratosphere with that set.
The kids here tonight are not three-day troopers. They are young, with parents, and dressed in all black for the sake of cool. They came to see HIM or NIN, this much is true. The place looks like a disaster, couldn't these Satan worshippers realize that Hell is beneath the Earth and we must keep this place clean in order to make hell a better place, what?
Neighbor Wes and I made the trek back to the campsite. Tons of tents, rented RVs, and groovy kids who mostly likely camped out the first night (skipping the audio horrorshow) and await the hippie sounds of Saturday's lineup. We find a space way out at lot 21, pull the Focus into a tight spot, put the seats back and snooze in the cruise.
May 26, 2006
Jason Anfinsen was born in West Palm Beach Florida 1977. He is a professional noisemaker who has created weirdo kkkomedy for the past decade on stage, radio, and in print. He has performed improvisation around the world at comedy festivals and theaters in London, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Toronto, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle. Jason is a contributing writer for The Tripwire, Redefine Magazine, documentarian for the BellEvUe mENtal HosPitAL series, and author of the book Stab At Sleep. His loudmouth voice has blasted 103.1 The Buzz in West Palm Beach, Virgin Radio in New York City, and can be heard screaming on 107.7 The End.
He lives in Seattle America 2006.