This is the view from the room where I stayed at Desert Aire, WA, taken on Sunday morning. Desert Aire is a small recreation-based community about 40 minutes south of The Gorge Amphitheater. The motel was quite adequate, and I plan on booking a room or rooms there again next year for Sasquatch '08:
The Blakes – I saw a few songs of theirs, they were a good rock band from Seattle. Nice, melodic, pleasant stuff. Nothing outstanding, but not bad either. If I lived in Seattle and knew there were playing somewhere, I would probably go see them:
St. Vincent – I found this Texas band to be pretentious, but I liked them anyway. The singer/guitarist had a strong voice, and she was incredibly good on her guitar. About half of the time her guitar was synthesized to sound like various horns and other instruments, and she was able to play extremely complex figures while she sang. No pictures decent enough to post.
Stars of Track and Field – I liked this Portland band very much. If you have heard the Radar Bros., they sound a bit like that band. They use great melodies and vocal harmonies, and their music is dreamy, almost pre-Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd-ish (reminiscent, at least in spirit, of side one of “Meddle”, or maybe parts of “Atom Heart Mother”) at times. It was great for laying back and staring at clouds to. I got their CD, "Centuries Before Love and War", which I think is very good. I don't know where the pictures went for this band, but I will put some up later when I find them. I also took pictures of the clouds I was watching, which I also will post. VERY relaxing music.
Minus the Bear – I wasn’t as impressed by this band, which I believe is a collection of people from various disbanded Seattle groups. They have an amazing guitarist, who played much of his rhythms and solos on the frets. The singer is good, the drummer is also good, but I just didn’t enjoy their stuff as much as most of the other bands I saw:
The Helio Sequence – This was a festival highlight of mine, for sure. I found their music to be transcendent. They are a two-man group from Portland, with a live drummer and a singer/guitarist who controls some other sounds (mostly keyboards, bass, percussion) with computer technology… but even if you’re a rock purist, that shouldn’t put you off because they are just so damned good. The drummer was in a state of ecstasy for the whole 45 minutes, and I swear he must have seen God about a thousand times during their show. His tongue lolled about, he looked like he was talking and laughing while he played, his face was tic-ing a mile a minute… and he was fantastically good. The singer had a great voice, dreamy at times and forceful at others, and his eyes rolled back in his head a few times during his guitar solos. Lots of heavy reverb, soaring guitars, heavy drums that were close to Zeppelin-esque. Their CD “Love and Distance” (SubPop) is good too, and I picked up a copy of that one despite already having a burned copy from a while back. On CD they are good, but live they are almost indescribable. They’re a band I highly recommend seeing… very mind-expanding stuff. The crowd, skeptical at first, was shouting loud words of encouragement by about halfway through the set, and most of the people I observed were all smiles. They closed their set with a mind-blowing cover of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows". This picture was taken during their performance of "The Harmonica Song":
Patrick Wolf – He is an impish English popster with a good sense of humor to go with his pleasant music. He was playing a violin or viola as he sang on some numbers. He and his band performed at the Wookie stage, and I was way at the back, having just arrived from Minus the Bear. Katie bought Wolf’s CD (the cover art is hilarious!), and we listened to a few tracks on the long drive home after the show. I am impressed. No pictures, too far away from the stage.
Polyphonic Spree – Somewhat overblown and pompous but still enjoyable, the Spree had 20 members onstage playing all kinds of instruments. They usually wear robes, but this time they were in clothing that resembled uniforms: black combat kits with hearts, red crosses… They are from Dallas, TX, and they play what has been referred to as “choral symphonic rock. They aren’t a cult like some people imagine, but they are definitely into peace, love, hope, happiness and positive thinking. Leader Tim DeLaughter is kind of a goofball on stage, and he reminded me of a motivational speaker in rock and roll form, which left me shaking my head a bit. (If you have seen "Donnie Darko", his lyrics made me think of Patrick Swayze's character... !) Anyway, they were fun to watch. Sadly, they were able to play only about five or six numbers before high winds forced them offstage due to the danger of swaying (and possibly falling) light fixtures. I would guess the winds were a steady 25-30 mph with higher gusts:
The windy weather forced Spoon to play at the small stage later, at the same time as the Dandy Warhols… so I missed Spoon. Sigh… thanks, Mother Nature! Heh! The main stage was empty until about 8:00 when Interpol played.
Tokyo Police Club – I didn’t watch this band, I just listened. I was at the back of the Wookie Stage area, relaxing, talking with people, watching people, and lying down to rest my aching back. The Wookie area had been suddenly flooded with a mass exodus of Polyphonic Spree watchers from the main stage area, so there was quite a crowd. The Tokyo Police Club singer apparently didn’t know about the Spree’s cancellation, and thought the crowd was all there to see him and his band… I found it amusing, anyway, considering that I didn’t care for his band’s sound all that much. I don't think this guy thought much of them, or maybe had ANY thoughts, for that matter. I asked some other people relaxing near me "Do you think he'll wake up if I take a picture?" Their responses were "That guy may not be waking up for anything!" and "Yeah, why not. We took his picture and he didn't wake up!":
While it was a bit humorous, I got concerned and I did actually check to see if he was breathing... he was, barely.
Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter – She kind of sounded like Janis Ian when she sang, sort of breathy and dramatic. Her guitarist sounded like Neil Young at times. All in all her band was not bad, but not really my cup of tea. If you are hugely into folk-rock, you might like her:
Black Angels – This band kicked butt big-time. I'm not sure where they are from, but their record label is based in Seattle. Their forte is long, dark, droning dirges. They are wholly intense, and their name fits their style. Their songs are excursions into the night, like long journeys. Even though most songs are done on just one or two chords, maybe three chords, I was fascinated by them. Their CD “Passover” was great for night-driving on the trip home. If you love the night, check out this group:
Dandy Warhols – As soon as the Black Angels were done playing, I squeezed way up into the front of the Wookie Stage venue for the Warhols, and it was great. While the stage crew was setting things up, people were throwing tortillas, to hilarious effect. (I forgot to include the photo of the flying tortillas, but I will post it later.) The Warhols' bandleader and highly-affected singer/guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor was the epitome of what I call “silly cool” in all ways. If you click on the photo, you might get a better look at what he is wearing... heh... Keyboardist Zia McCabe was mostly smiles despite the gathering winds and cold, while guitarist Peter Holmtrom mostly just kept his head down, trying to stay warm, sweatshirt hood in the "up" positiion. Drummer Brent DeBoer was a human metronome, and I swear he was playing drums in his mouth with his teeth at the same time he played the drum set… Highlights were “Not If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth”, “Bohemian Like You”, "Godless" and “Holding Me Up”. (In case you were wondering, on "Godless" the band members sang the trumpet line, with lots of help from the crowd!) The crowd action got intense, and I found myself getting shoved and swirled around. It was great fun, and I managed to stay on my feet! Several of the photos below are highly illustrative of the joy this band provides:
Interpol – The winds finally died down at the main stage enough for Interpol to play. They had started well before the Warhols were finished at 9:00, so we caught the last half of their set from around 9:15 to 10:00 p.m. They were playing tunes from their next CD (out on 7/10) and some from “Antics”… we heard “Evil”and “Not Even Jail” among others, and the new songs sounded good. To my ears, they sound better on CD than they did live, although I’m sure that strong winds and 48-degree weather had something to do with how they played. I could see them sounding good if they were playing in a small venue; I don’t think their style and material translated well to the arena-sized main stage venue. They didn’t move around much while they played; they mostly just looked cool, or maybe frozen:
Katie and Kirsten were frozen, anyway...
It was windy, it was cold, we were exhausted. Because of that we missed the Beastie Boys, who were to follow Interpol on the main stage, and Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Wookie Stage. The Polyphonic Spree was supposedly going to play for a couple of hours after everyone else was done, but we weren’t sticking around. The trip home took us four hours and we didn’t get home until almost 3:00 a.m., but I stayed awake behind the wheel listening to Ghostland Observatory, Grizzly Bear, Patrick Wolf, Helio Sequence, and the Black Angels.
The Sasquatch Festival was, in a word, fantastic!
I met Sasquatch and I survived the encounter. I got some angry sunburn on my face, my back got sore from too much standing (but a vicadin every four hours took care of that). I felt pain-free enough to even mosh a bit during the Warhols’ show, and I suffered no ill-effects. In fact, I had so much fun I decided that the Sasquatch Festival will be an annual concert event for me from now on. How about if some of us meet there next year and check out some more of this great new music? I love the older bands, but these younger people just have so much fresh energy; I came back from the festival exhuasted, but with all my batteries recharged.
See you there next year!