Sasquatch! 2011 Day 3 delivers plenty of smiles

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmailby feather

The Flaming Lips at Sasquatch! 2011 Photo by Kyle Johnson

Essentially sitting as the middle day of the whole festival, the lineup for the third day of Sasquatch! seemed to have one mission — get smiles on people’s faces. Time and time again that happened, whether it was The Flaming Lips, Fitz & the Tantrums, Wheedle’s Groove, or any number of Yeti stage bands.

Typhoon – Bigfoot (12-12:45)

It’s pretty obvious opening Sasquatch on any stage is a daunting task. The crowd is small, sleepy, and more than likely they don’t know your stuff. Subsequently you need something to grab their attention. Typhoon, a dozen-large Portland band that’s doing that whole “let’s see how many members/instruments we can fit into a folk act” thing, suffered from the lack of energy, but it’s evident they’ve got something going for them. The trio of trumpets added a nice mariachi flair, the guitar riffs were at times sharp and catchy, but the understated vocals did no favors this early. They’re worthy of a second listen, but the festival setting made for a tough first one.

Smith Westerns – Sasquatch (12-12:45)

On the main stage, the buzzy Smith Westerns were also suffering from the opening set blahs. I’ll give them points for some good, melodic guitar leads and California pop chord progressions, but uninspired synth sounds made otherwise good songs boring. They also didn’t help themselves by looking like they weren’t having fun at all.

Wheedle’s Groove – Bigfoot (1-1:45)

If you don’t know about Wheedle’s Groove, here’s the deal: it’s a collective of soul and funk artists that had moderate success in Seattle and were profiled in a documentary of the same name. I’ve been waiting for some time to see the band, and I tell you what, that is some gosh-darn amazing, authentic, classic music. There were some hot-ass guitar licks, plenty of wah-wah chicken scratch, a fantastic seven-piece brass section, a number of incredibly soulful singers, a monster of a bass player, top-notch percussionists, and all the good stuff. Can’t recommend it enough, especially after hearing the gospel take on Soundgarden’s “Jesus Christ Pose” and set-closer “Five Minutes to Rock the House.” Wheedle’s Groove is priceless.

Fitz & the Tantrums – Sasquatch (2:10-2:55)

Somebody needs to help me find my shit, because I LOST IT at Fitz & the Tantrums. They have at least three songs that should be playing on Top 40 radio at the moment, but the L.A. 80s blue-eyed soul & B revivalists really shine on stage. From “Don’t Gotta Work It Out,” the first song of their 45-minute set, singers Michael Fitsimmons and Noelle Scaggs proved to have more star quality than should be legally allowed. You cannot take your eyes off of them, and personally I could not help but dance like a hopeless idiot. Though the show started with an earnest crowd, Fitz and crew wouldn’t take no for an answer, turning the floor and parts of the lawn into a giant clap-and-dance fest, eventually building the audience to a very respectable size for an earlier-day set. The final five songs of “Dear Mr. President,” the uber-catchy “L.O.V.,” a surprisingly perfect rave-up of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” slow-burner “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” and hit single “Moneygrabber” assuredly converted a few hundred or thousand fans. A star-making set.

Reggie Watts – Banana Shack (3:45-4:45)

Is he a comedian? Is he a musician? Who cares? He’s awesome is what he is. Watts performed with a sort of schizophrenia, one minute looping several sounds together for a beat box tune, then abruptly stopping the music and talking like one half of a valley girl phone conversation. He also declared, “Sasquatch is the nation’s leading sausage festival,” and freestyle rapped about living in Seattle from 1990-2004 (he rapped monosyllabically, “The-best-art-comes-from-a-cli-mate-that-is-gener-ally-un-fav-orable-be-cause-you’re-bored-and-you-need-a-re-lease.”) Without warning he would rap like B-Real, talk like a proper British gentleman, then sit down at a keyboard while acting like a G from the streets (“I’m gonna play some hard-ass ballads for you mother fuckers!”). It’s funny. I don’t know why, but it is.

Beach House – Sasquatch (4:20-5:05)

The Baltimore dream pop band is not much to watch, and they definitely know it. With a drummer, a guitarist glued to a chair, and lead singer Victoria Legrand stuck behind a keyboard, they don’t make much effort to engage the crowd. That being said, they did put some sparkly diamond-shaped thingys behind themselves, so there’s that. Musically they were fantastic. Legrand’s voice is arresting — no problem filling up the mix — but it was like pressing play on their albums, so when there’s up to three other acts playing at the same time, there’s really no reason to stick around.

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – Yeti (4:35-5:20)

You missed it. Despite a late start, the Austin, Texas, crew delivered a solid stream of dirty, raunchy, downright filthy roadhouse rhythm & blues. By the end the crowd was going absolutely bananas, dancing and screaming along and throwing whole rolls of toilet paper all about the place. Black Joe could get the crowd bouncing around just with four-minute riff sessions on one chord, but by closing with a rasptastic “Louie Louie” and “Surfin’ Bird” the crowd suddenly turned into a scene from Animal House.

By the way, all I needed to tell you was that Black Joe Lewis played guitar with his mouth, wore a shirt that said “Fuck This,” and did the songs “Big Booty Woman” and “Booty City” back-to-back. He should be president.

Mad Rad – Yeti (5:40-6:25)

The Seattle-based electro-happy party rappers followed up Lewis & Co. with an energetic set on the Yeti stage, flanked by a cellist, Ben Verdoes of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band on guitar, and the always awesome Trent Moorman on drums. The crowd was large and excitable, and the rock-tinged rhymes went over about as well as could be expected.

Archers of Loaf – Bigfoot (6:20-7:05)

It’s always fun when you discover a band after they’ve reunited. Such is the case with myself and Archers of Loaf, who broke up in 1998 but played one of their first reunion gigs at Sasquatch. I totally dug the guitar-heavy, Chicago-style ‘90s alt-rock, and the bassist was not only rocking like a real son of a gun, but he looked like the happiest person in the world being on that stage. I will be purchasing some of their music for sure.

Flogging Molly – Sasquatch (6:30-7:30)

The original Irish punks had one hell of a crowd opening for The Flaming Lips, and with all that rapid-fire strumming, accordion stabs, banjo rolls, fiddling and God knows whatever else, there was no choice but to go insane on the floor.

Flaming Lips – Sasquatch (8-9:30)

Well, obviously this was amazing considering G.C. head honcho Travis Hay and I got to be part of the Wizard of Oz crew dancing on stage in front of 20,000 or so of our closest friends (more on that later), but I’m going to be straight-up honest: the musical performance was actually under par. The plan was to play “The Soft Bulletin” in its entirety, but time constraints forced the guys to cut a few out. Plus Wayne Coyne rambled a bit, a birthday cake celebration cut out maybe 10 minutes of prime performance time, and “The Soft Bulletin” is a rather resigned album by Lips standards so it was actually pretty hard to dance to. I got a feeling they’ll be back at Sassy sooner or later to redeem themselves.

Modest Mouse – Sasquatch (10-11:30)

Though I didn’t stick around for more than 20 minutes, Sasquatch! vets Modest Mouse were certainly playing one of the best sets of their career at the fest. Unpredictable frontman Isaac Brock was in a somewhat talkative mood, even joking a bit with a crowd member who requested “Cowboy Dan” just moments after they had played it. Speaking of “Cowboy Dan,” it was fantastic, with a slightly more aggressive, jammy bent and some awesome extra violin action. I also caught good versions of “Dashboard” and the banjo-tastic “Bukowski” before heading out. Unfortunately I missed them open with hilarious punk freakout “Shit Luck,” but that might have been a good thing because I probably would have broken into 1,000 pieces trying to dance along in my condition of full-on body pain and exhaustion.

Ratatat

I had to see where all the hubbub about this electro dance duo was coming from before leaving the grounds for the night. From what I saw it’s because it’s hyper-visual, reasonably personable, guitar-utilizing, melodic dance-a-tron that is certifiably badass. The strobe lights and random videos of psychedelic hawks, heat vision, silhouettes of the band members, and unexpected McGruber-esque explosion graphics were so cool, I didn’t want to leave. Okay well that last part’s not true. I had basically been almost murdered by Sasquatch! and needed to get out of dodge with one day left to go.

 

Tags:
Brent Stecker

About Brent Stecker

Brent is a journalist and small-time musician based in Wenatchee, Wash. His passion for music wasn’t discovered until his teenage years, however, when he first got his hands on a Rage Against the Machine CD. He spent the rest of his adolescence broadening his musical tastes, obsessively learning guitar, and harnessing his writing abilities in journalism classes.