By all accounts, Sunday was the softest of the SASQUATCH! lineups when matched with Saturday and Monday; however, it contained the most surprises and exuberant sets of the weekend. Campers began to fall into the rhythm and routine of partying, wandering the campgrounds and taking in the concerts, but Sunday also brought a large contingent of day visitors, who tended towards the younger, budding hipster adolescent variety. While the pretension and bro-factor was at a weekend high, the music and vibrant sunshine kept the day from veering off-course. Instead of steeping in any attitude, attendees chose to dance and groove to the crashing beats, joyous funk and trippy rock coming from all four stages.Typhoon
and the Smith Westerns
started off the day, diving into rock and making many feel like Saturday had continued straight on into Sunday. This changed quickly, though, when The Drums
took the Main Stage and played a fierce set, pulling from their great eponymous debut album. They set the stage nicely for fellow (relative) newcomers Fitz and the Tantrums
, who, propelled by major press from VH1’s “You Oughta Know” title and buzz from fantastic talk show gigs, completely brought the house down with their electric forty-five minute performance. Frontmen Michael Fitzpatrick (“Fitz”) and Noelle Scaggs had the audience dancing and singing along, even though it was still relatively early in the day.
On the Yeti Stage, endearing folkie Basia Bulat
brought a sizable crowd to hear her play through works from both of her remarkable albums Oh, My Darling
(2007) and Heart of My Own
(2010). She seemed genuinely surprised by the fervent response to her music, as the crowd seemed to double in size every ten minutes. By the end, she had filled the space with people roaring with applause after each song done on autoharp, guitar or charango, sung in Polish or sang with lovely harmonic backup. Songs like “Run” and “Gold Rush” were obvious favorites of the crowd, but she also did great versions of “It Can’t Be You” and “Hush” for the die-hards. For an artist whose music might seem slightly at odds with a huge indie rock festival, Basia delivered a magnificent set that showcased her talent and was matched by few throughout the rest of the day.
Back on the Main Stage, Tokyo Police Club
followed Fitz & Co. with a solid rock-based guitar-loving performance. They drew evenly from their two records, and they certainly appealed to the crowd when singer Dave Monks yelled “We’re from Canada,” drawing a raucous applause from the massive Canadian section of the concertgoers. TPC didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel or stray too far from their characteristic sound while on the Main Stage, but thankfully a small group of attendees had the privilege of catching Dave Monks perform a six-song solo show at the RedLaser Acoustic Tent. Culled mostly from requests, Monks played guitar (he’s usually the bassist), giving the songs room to breathe and be playful in their new incarnations. It demonstrated Monks’ (and by association, TPC’s) versatility, indicating their deserved status as one of Canada’s best indie band exports as of late. Beach House
was next on the Main Stage, continuing the thread of beloved indie groups. They mainly chose to showcase their last album, Teen Dream
, (2010) which is a highly accomplished document of a band exceeding its perceived potential. Unfortunately, they didn’t do much with the arrangements of the songs, sticking to faithful interpretations of standout tracks like “Norway,” “Zebra” and “10 Mile Stereo.” It’s hard to fault the band for performing in such a way, since the quality of the work is so high; however, the set felt uninspired and flat, and singer Victoria Legrand came off as quite peculiar and callous in her audience interactions, verging on arrogance. Still, the majority of those present fawned over their show, and they certainly were better than average, but it still was a disappointment because they have the capacity to be transcendent during heir live show. Cold War Kids
followed with their usual California rock and people spilled in from the other stages to see them perform hits “Hang Me Up to Dry,” “Hospital Beds” and “Louder Than Ever.” But, at the RedLaser Acoustic Tent
, earlier crowd favorites Fitz and the Tantrums
threw down for the second time that day for a four song set, that while booty-shaking and groove heavy was hardly acoustic. Still, the rules were (thankfully) bent to accommodate the band’s neo-soul sound. Fitz and Noelle rocked the front of the stage as their band-mates laid down foot-tapping jams underneath the singers’ wails. The incontrovertible highlight of the frustratingly short show was lead single “Moneygrabber” off of 2010’s incredible Pickin’ Up The Pieces
. Those who came to witness the event sang along with zeal and elation, jumping up and down on cue during the choruses, but never matching Noelle Scaggs’ mesmerizing dance moves. Armed with nothing but a tambourine, she enlivened everyone with her infectious smile and bewitching voice-- the perfect counterpoint to Fitz’s lead vocal. They work excellently on stage, singing and dancing together and injecting each song with passion and unbridled spirit. Even though it lasted less than twenty minutes, their show at the RedLaser tent was one of the best of the weekend.
Festival darlings Flogging Molly
proved they’re still relevant, despite the fact that they continue to grow older as the other acts appear to get younger and younger. Still, they had the audience clapping and singing along, and it was evident that they were truly enjoying playing at the Gorge. It was Das Racist,
however, that stole the show for the early evening timeslot on the Yeti Stage, offering up one of the only great hip hop/rap concerts of the 2011 Sasquatch weekend.
Recently, The Flaming Lips
have been playing their older albums in full, such as classic Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (
2002), as well as covering Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
. They continued this new tradition at Sasquatch, performing their highly cherished The Soft Bulletin
(1999) in its entirety. While the music was still central to the Lips’ stage show, they also brought in a dazzling array of visuals, props, backup dancers/singers and some gimmicks to invigorate the set. The band came onstage one by one through a giant projected eye, announcing the wildly theatrical evening that was just beginning. Frontman Wayne Coyne proceeded to envelop himself in a huge plastic bubble/see-through beach ball, which he took out to crowd-surf the packed throng of those who had come to witness the outlandish and jubilant Flaming Lips presentation. Laughter erupted while Coyne constantly lost balance and fell as he was tossed around by those supporting him. After rejoining his bandmates on stage, they launched confetti into the air via enormous cannons and lit the massive disco ball at the top of the rig as they embarked on The Soft Bulletin.
The Lips were a major highlight of the weekend and a memorable moment in Sasquatch history, marred only by the fact that they played second fiddle to the mediocre Modest Mouse
headlining set. In fact, most of the nighttime shows by other bands (Ratatat, Mstrkrft and Yeasayer)
just didn’t hold a torch to the Flaming Lips. Hopefully festival programmer Adam Zacks will give the Lips their deserved headlining slot in years to come. Since many concertgoers left earlier Monday night to avoid the traffic, the Sunday evening concerts were half-heartedly attended in favor of dance parties held in the campgrounds. If the Lips had closed out the night, however, they would have packed the venue and sent Sunday off in high fashion and just enough time to collect before Monday’s incredible lineup.