The opening day of the 10th annual Sasquatch! Festival was a departure for the indie-heavy event, with bands reliant on power chords and punk tempos occupying the small-scale lineup. Oh, but the traditional Sasquatch! atmosphere was still in effect — plenty of neon colors, face paint and random Halloween costumes were adorned by the mostly college-aged crowd, which was quick to dance and friendly as ever.
Here’s a look at the first day’s highlights.
Foo Fighters – Main stage (9:30-11:30)
Now 16 years into their career, the Foos are as universal as a rock band can get, and as such they made sure to bring the biggest professional rock show Sasquatch! has ever seen. There were extended outros and bridges, crowd sing-a-longs, Zeppelin-style solo trade-offs, a Neil Peart-like drum solo, even Def Leppard-esque harmonized guitar leads. But in the end the Foos came off like a new generation Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, note-perfect with a set that peppered in standouts from this year’s Wasting Light (the speed metal freakout “White Limo,” the Bob Mould-featuring “Dear Rosemary”) and live favorites (the overtly heavy “Stacked Actors,” Colour & the Shape gem “Hey! Johnny Park”) with their myriad of hits (you know the names).
In lieu of an encore, head Foo Dave Grohl kept the band on stage and blasted through trademarks “This Is A Call,” “One By One,” and “Times Like These.” The fiery Who cover “Young Man Blues” spiked the energy, and the Foos sent everybody back to their tents happy with “Best of You” and “Everlong.”
Sure, the selection of the Foo Fighters to headline seemed a bit curious when announced all the way back last fall, but after their two-hour set of unabashed rock heaven, there is no arguing with the 20,000-some odd voices that belted out all those words along with Grohl.
Death From Above 1979 – Main stage (8-9)
While the Foo Fighters had up to seven musicians and even four guitars on stage at one time, their sub-headliner needed just two men, one drum kit, and four STRINGS to deliver SO. MUCH. NOISE. Though recently reunited (a banner behind the bass-and-drum punk-metal duo was emblazoned with a tombstone reading “DFA 1979: 2001-2006”), DFA has not lost a step. Each song was incredibly brutal, and the crowd reacted appropriately by headbanging and throbbing about to what has to be the heaviest band in the fest’s history. I say keep it coming. Ain’t nobody gonna forget this set any time soon.
Against Me! – Bigfoot stage (6:10-7:10)
The black-clad merchants of modern punk spit their usual venom in a full-on onslaught of aggression and energy. But I have to question why Against Me!, arguably the biggest punk band in America at the moment, was playing the second stage at the same time that The Bronx, another punk-based act, was on the main stage. And wouldn’t it be expected that a fan of one of those bands would be a fan of the other considering their similarities? It was a curious scheduling, and isn’t the only instance of like-minded band fighting for crowds at the same time this weekend.
Biffy Clyro – Bigfoot stage (5:05-5:50)
They’re quite big in the U.K., but stateside Biffy Clyro gets no more than middle billing on the second stage. And after seeing their brand of modern alternative rock radio fodder, I think that’s probably right where they should be.
Mariachi El Bronx – Yeti stage (4:30-5:15)
Well I’ll be damned. Just moments before The Bronx played a full set on the main stage, the members put on a fairly authentic set of mariachi — in uniform and everything! — and became the only act to grace the Yeti stage on the day. The crowd ate up their amped-up version of the traditional Mexican style (albeit with punkish vocals sung in English), and deservedly so considering just how precise the instrumentation was (a definite key in pulling off mariachi). This set was also responsible for the line of the day out of lead singer Matt Caughthra: “A beautiful thing just happened — the sun came out. Good for you, bad for us. These suits are HOT AS SHIT!”
Rival Schools – Bigfoot stage (4-4:45)
With their power chord alt punk abandon (think the Sparta half of At the Drive In), Rival Schools fit perfect with the theme the rest of the day seemed to follow. I enjoyed the lead guitarist’s Andy Summers-influenced, effects-laden lines, but at times was bored with their uninspired down-tuned aggro riffs. You give some, you take some.