I'm exhausted. I'm also a little sad that my fourth consecutive Sasquatch Festival is over. This was my first year attending the festival as media and I've got to say that working the event is way more tiring than merely attending the event. Finding time to hang out with friends, jump from stage to stage to photograph the performers, and of course just plain taking time to enjoy some of the great music over the course of a four day festival is actually quite daunting. Nevertheless, I did it and I loved it.
Based on the performances I saw this Memorial Day weekend, here are the bands I would say you should never EVER miss should you have a chance to see them in concert. At the end of the post are links to photo coverage for the event, including some taken by Christopher Nelson at the Sasquatch main stage, a special set featuring Nate Ruess of Fun., and some of the people who attended the 11th annual edition of the festival.
- Yellow Ostrich: The unique sound achieved by building layers of looped guitar and vocals when paired with wildly creative lyrics make for a strong and powerful performance whether seeing them in a small venue or at a big festival.
- Explosions In The Sky: How emotionally charged can an instrumental rock band be? Based on witnessing this band's opening night set on the Bigfoot stage, there is no limit. Crazy energy and wicked arrangements mean that when you close your eyes at one of their shows... you can travel anywhere inside your head.
- Jack White: At this point in his career, it's safe to say that Jack White has solidified pure legendary status. Blazing guitar solos and heartfelt rock dominate at his solo shows and his stage presence is larger than life.
- Childish Gambino: Is he acting? Is this the real Donald Glover? Who knows. But what you'll see when the sitcom star takes the stage with his hip-hip persona is nothing short of genius. The guy never stops going. His flow is impeccable and his tongue-in-cheek lyrics will make you smile and sometimes make you exclaim "whoa" under your breath.
- The Staves: There was no act at this year's Sasquatch Festival (that I saw anyway) more beautiful than the set by UK sister trio, The Staves. I know that a lot of people fell to pieces during The Head and the Heart's main stage performance, but music from The Staves invades your heart like a slow moving fog rather than boldly declaring its presence. Their harmonies vibrate in your chest and the intelligent lyrics stay with you long after the music has stopped.
- Zola Jesus: This Wisconsin singer's performances are just as much an art form as her music. In a word, she if flat out- captivating. This was easily the most fun set to photograph and while her music isn't for everyday listening and should be reserved for just the right moment. Her haunting shows should never be missed.
- Fun.: Alright, so I'll be the first to admit that I am quick to disown music once it becomes mainstream. I've been following Nate Ruess (the man behind Fun.) for a long time now. I was sad when he announced his band The Format would no longer be making music but even sadder when I head his follow-up band, Fun.'s song "We Are Young" during a Super Bowl commercial. I knew the kids would love it and that I would stop listening. Yet, I must say that the energy packed shows Ruess puts on are fantastic and super entertaining. So don't be surprised if you're at one and you see this 35 year old in the crowd with you singing along.
- The Cave Singers: I saw these guys open for Fleet Foxes a year ago at the Crystal Ballroom and I knew then that their music was special and their performances were heart shaping. But the work this group turned in Monday evening on Sasquatch's Bigfoot stage was a level of energy I didn't know they had in them. It could have easily been a stadium show. If you see their name on a concert bill in your town, whether they are opening or headlining, just buy a ticket. You're welcome.