story by Jason Anfinsen photos by Jennifer J Dohner
Well well to quote Pearl Jam, "I'm still alive." Shredded Vans shoes were blue, now covered in mud. I woke up around 6 am and caught the sunrise. Feeling rejuvenated today, way better than yesterday, wow the power of the planet really socked it to me.
12:01 Blue Scholars
First to light the spot on fire. One emcee and one DJ who be getting down with no delay. Shouting out local references for kids in the U-District or Beacon Hill of Seattle America. This day has the most versatile lineup and is themeless more or less. Three underage kiddos are getting busted by the Nazi "Beverage Enforcement." They are forced to wear giant X's on their hands, like the straight edge kids. Neighbor Wes bought a "special cookie" in the parking lot for $5. The Scholars are one of two hip-hop acts on today's bill, if you count miggity Matisyahu. They ask everyone to hold up the two fingers and chant PEACE. We all do, no questions asked.
1:02 Pretty Girls Make Graves
Currently tripping out watching this kid whom I call HESH, as in the loud obnoxious pip squeak geek on Adult Swim's Sealab 2021. He's looking up girls' skirts and drinking foam from the dead Coors can. I'm waiting for Neighbor Wes' special cookie to crumble his mind into some wonderful adventure trip. This one that I am on, this free keepsake document that you are reading, at no cost.
"The New Romance" from this hometown crew's second album of the same name. Plenty of songs from Elan Vital. Lots of snoozers trying to shade underneath this merciless flame ball up high. I'm hiding beneath a plain white T, bucket hat, sunshades. My friend HESH is trying to pull the fast strap off a girl's bikini. His collegiate comrade comes with reinforcement fries, curly salted and drenched in lava ketchup. HESH sticks his hand blindly into the feed bucket, pulling out an oily hot fry and swallows it down, licks fingers, smiles like every Eddie Haskell we've ever known.
"The Grandmother Wolf." I realize that Barsuk Records has a posse - Rocky Votolato, Nada Surf, Death Cab For Cutie. Today is the indiest of them all. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah later, Ben Lee, The Decemberists who just set sail on a journey with Capitol.
HESH is now laying down on the ground, one arm covering the sun from his sizzling forehead, the other pours Goldfish into his mouth. An overflow helping, tiny cheese fish lay on his cheeks, the blanket, this boy has no conception of NO.
"Parade" is dedicated to Andrea Zollo's parents as three girls stage right twist the double Dutch. "Selling The Wind" with the help of an accordion and I need to get the new album, Elan Vital, to add to my Good Health, The New Romance collection.
2:05 Nada Surf
"Popular." Extended play remix of that song that I think is "Amateur," and most of this set I'll encounter the similar problem as names of songs are not coming on strong, I admit. "I Don't Care" song which flips into "Happy Kid," from the exquisite release Let Go. "Killian's Red," which always reminds me of the Boston band Karate. I check in with Neighbor Wes on his special cookie, "I'm not losing my mind but I couldn't find it anyway." The poet. "Inside Of Love" gets everyone in the front to sway back and forth at the command of singer Matthew Caws, doing it for the cause. "Always Love" off their latest, The Weight Is A Gift, then "Blizzard Of '77" for the show closer.
3:09 Arctic Monkeys
This was the only chance to see the hyped Arctic Monkeys, special encore set for those not lucky enough to smoosh into the sold out Crocodile Cafe earlier this year. "The View From The Afternoon" sets off this smashtastic set. "Still Take You Home," then "You Probably Couldn't See For The Lights But You Were Staring Straight At Me." The band admits that this is their first outdoor performance, all right!
"Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But..." as the doom clouds roll us over. "Dancing Shoes." Light drops fall. "Who The Fuck Are The Arctic Monkeys?" "When The Sun Goes Down," "Fake Tales Of San Francisco." The rain comes down a lot harder as the Monkeys finish their set. Somewhere Neko Case is jealous as hell!
The umbrellas pop back as the sun comes thru at 4:15 just before Portlandian Oregonians The Decemberists play rock. The last festival I saw the Decemberists play was Bumbershoot 2005, then I watched their club gig at the Showbox before seeing Colin Meloy play solo acoustic, which equals three doses of Decemberists in the past year. Bring it. Didn't Colin just have a baby, or was that Dan Didier of Maritime? Oh snap, dude behind us throws up. He almost fills a small red cereal bowl not meant for his puke.
4:27 The Decemberists
Hello Colin! They start the show with "The Infanta," first track off their final Kill Rock Stars release, Picaresque. Meloy is wearing his typical vaudevillian apparel; white blazer with black pin stripes. I don't think I've ever seen Funk the guitarist not wearing a hat, hmmm. I cannot locate Petra Hayden on stage, is that deal done? Some sucker stepped in the fresh pile of vomit and everyone around our spot went "ooooh."
"Billy Liar" into "The Sporting Life" with a count off in French which sounded exactly like the intro to "The Loop" on Morrissey's live disc, Beethoven Was Deaf. I wouldn't doubt it one bit, Meloy released a limited EP of Mozzer covers in 2004 and you know your ass he loves him some Morrissey. "The Legionnaire's Lament" into a luxurious ramp start of "July July," both from the Castaways And Cutouts piece. Here comes more rain, under umbrellas now. "The Apology Song" and its so-so rainsy, tiny droplets, more annoying than life threatening.
"Los Angeles I'm Yours" which tripped into "We Both Go Down Together" which Meloy described as "a song that will make you feel even better, as it's about joint suicide." "Sounds like R.E.M.," says Neighbor Wes who continues to fly in and out of consciousness on this shiny, rainsy day. Losing my religion indeed. R.E.M., Dave Matthews Band, The Decemberists?
"Espionage," which I have never ever heard live, had a giant chaotic breakdown in the middle of the song, before ending on the gentle acoustic chords. "Engine Driver." The sun is as powerful as can be. Crowd smoking, eating, drinking, celebrating, rejoicing in the effortless victory over today. Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger joins the crew for "Sixteen Military Wives."
"The Chimbley Sweep" has some improvised new lyrics at the beginning and towards the middle, Meloy lends his guitar to the audience who each get their turn at strumming the strings. No one does a real good job, and like American Idol, the audience began to vote for their favorite. Unfortunately there weren't any fat gray haired 29-year old hicks in attendance. The creep accordion plays underneath as Jenny eventually joins in for the vocals. Everyone in the audience, band, our entire congregation jumps back to life for the set closer. Good luck with Capitol Records and godspeed you Decemberists.
With all of the Bob Marley and Sublime being played in the camp site, Matisyahu sounds like a perfect fit. Reggae dreadheads, leftover hippies from yesterday, and me, I am one of them, stanking no deodorant wearing, all natural flavors, vegan organic captain recycle, bitches!
I'm hip to the yiggy yiggy yo, Youth is the engine of the world message that Matisyahu so blissfully sends, although I can't stop wondering if this holy man should be working on a Sunday, it is the Shabbos until sundown is it not? Eh, who practices after they have their Bar Mitzvah anyway?
"This feels like Heaven," says Matisyahu, of the majestic setting. We all spot a rainbow in the distance and Matisyahu tells us the story..."God decided to flood the whole world and the sign he showed to let people know that they get a second chance in life is the rainbow which symbolizes that the people can never drown." Suck on that agnostics.
"Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad." Hells yes I knows my Hebrews. As the blessing flew from Matisyahu's lips, it could be heard by every head in the coliseum, particularly some kid whose smiling cherub face was being beamed on the jumbo screen. His eyes were closed and homeboy was feeling the effects of this holy day. Just then he opened his eyes to find himself center stage on the giant projector, everybody laughed and we all felt like one, together under the sun...rain...sun...rain again...then sun.
The set closed with "King Without A Crown," which all 1077 The End listeners knew word for yiggy word, wiggy?
The sun still beaming but the jeans go over the shorts, same mud and musk smell from last night, we're ruffing it kids. The day has been good thus far. No huge blowaways, everyone likes to spice up the regular set for the festivals' sake, which is immensely appreciated. Queens are next then over to the side stage for the headliner Clap Your Hands, then back to the main stage for DCFC and Beck. Mother nature has taken a brief break on us. Two light showers and chill freezy winds tingle sunburnt skin. We have all been here all weekend, most of us recognize each other's damaged bodies. Running out of rations.
7:23 Queens Of The Stone Age
An immediate stinger from Lullabies To Paralyze into "No One Knows." Wasn't Josh just in Seattle in April drumming for Eagles Of Death Metal? Is Mark Lanegan still in this outfit? I really miss Nick Oliveri, long live Dwarves. "First It Giveth" then "Go With The Flow." Neighbor Wes appears with two cartons of fried chicken fingers. "They ran out of curly fries and ketchup."
Josh may have recently Netflixed Walk The Line, because his hair is slicked back jet black and his new accent tells that he is from the deep south. Why is he posing? "Rip My Head" and it is clear that this set blows ass. Is he still dating Brody Dalle? After Josh taunts the security guards for asking chicks to come down from their boyfriend's shoulders, I leave their "rock show." They didn't play ONE THING from Rated R, this is a new Queens, one that is comprised of Josh and whoever he can scrape up to play. I do not approve. Please check this concert review from The Metro in Chicago 2002.
8:07 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Holy weirdness Batman, apparently I wasn't the only one who thought Queens were a waste of time, the crowd is thick over at the Wookie stage to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. They drifted in and out through the shotty speakers before finally cinching their quirky sound. Guess who I found, Rita from yesterday. I grabbed her and we moved closer to the stage.
"Let The Coolness Rust Away," "The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth," "Is This Love," "Gimme Some Salt," all sounded pretty wonderful except for the singer's lack of strong singing. Who did he think he was not annunciating his lyrics, Thom Yorke? The kid is definitely a spazz but the set was full of life and joy.
A bunch of hipsters were dancing on top of a bench next to the soundboard and without notice, in mid song, the fucker collapsed and every trendy two-stepper fell to the muddy ground. Everyone gasped at first, then once we realized that no one was seriously injured, the crowd (once again) cheered their faces off and continued having the time of their lives. Humungous dance party broke out behind the sound board, tons of kiddos maybe 100, laughing, dancing, living the life that was meant to be lived. It was an uplifting sight. I believe the closer was "In This Home On Ice," but I can't be too sure. They did come back for an encore of "Clap Your Hands," but at this time I was heading back over, with Rita by my side, to be swept away by the hometown heroes DCFC.
Death Cab For Cutie
I'm listening to "Why You'd Want To Live Here" which must be some sort of joke between Gibbard and Meloy who both resemble one another and who both wrote songs about Los Angeles California. I heard back way back in the distance (during Clap Your Hands) that they kicked off with "The New Year" & "Title And Registration" from Transatlanticism and even "We Laugh Indoors" from The Photo Album. Sean Nelson, the afternoon's goodwill whore, comes back to help on "Crooked Teeth," which spilled nicely into "A Movie Script Ending." From the album We Have The Facts And Are Voting Yes, they dusted off "Company Calls," Ben Gibbard solo acoustic for the charmer "I Will Follow You Into The Dark," and "Expo 86."
The set blasted into full force when Gibbard switched to a small drum kit and banged the shit of those skins with drummer Jason McGerr. It was all out insanity, these kids are extremely brilliant musicians, way more talented than they get credit for, Chris Walla on the keys and axe and he also produces all of their records (and fellow Sasquatch artists Nada Surf Let Go, The Decemberists Picaresque). Wow, that song with the twin drumming was stellar, absolutely remarkable. This was the best that I have ever seen Death Cab perform. I said the same thing about Modest Mouse last year, something about the Gorge brings out the best in bands. They really knocked it out of the park with this set, a truly mesmerizing performance. "Sound Of Settling" and the DCFC boys were saluted with a standing ovation from the Washingtonian faithful.
Moonlight sliver backdrop for Beck who starts strong with "Devil's Haircut." Behind Beck, who looked like a member of the Traveling Wilburys or Dwight Yoakam, were puppets performing the songs live. All puppets looked like Beck and the band. I couldn't tell if Justin from IMA Robot and AIR was in the band? Neighbor Wes and I decided to stay way up top on the hill. "Girl," "Guero," "Hell Yes," "The New Pollution," "Information," "Lost Cause," with a special acoustic version of "Do You Realize" for all of the a-holes who missed The Lips (yours truly included). Quick flashback tracks of "One Foot In The Grave," "Golden Age," and as we were leaving we heard "Where Its At?"
The next morning, bright and early at 9 am, Neighbor Wes and I made the trek back to Seattle America. The trip was ordinary and quiet. Nothing more could be said. We spent three memorable days in the wilderness, battling mother nature, enjoying live music. The highlights included Trail Of Dead, Death Cab drum duet, the collapse of the bench, hailstorm with new friend Rita, and everything that I decided to omit from this piece but never from my memory bank. Until we spot you again next year, Sasquatch!
May 28, 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.