Artists in order of appearance: Beat Connection, James Murphy, Beirut, Little Dragon, James Murphy again
My my, what an experience. I arrived at The Gorge Amphitheatre by 3 on Sunday and left at 10:15 that evening and everything in between was a whirlwind of impressive landscape and musical bliss. I could end there but then you’d be irritated with me. There’s so much to tell!
Forewarning: This may be much more than you wanted to read but I’m writing this for myself as well. So we have an understanding.
Mad confusion was the first to greet me as I wandered into a sea of half-dressed, face-painted, inebriated, happy people. It was a small ordeal to locate Reed Juenger among those faces but I did eventually, with relief. He led me to the back of the dance tent (the Banana Shack) where an exclusive, magical wristband allowed me through guarded gates. Having never previously been to Sasquatch or a music festival of any kind, I had no idea what this tent was going to look like. Let me tell you, it was huge. Well, you can see it or maybe you’ve been there, so you know. Had I not previously slain my nerves, praise Jesus (not kidding) then my knees might’ve given out at that point and there were several moments after that in which I could’ve slumped into a pile on the floor. I’m told it’s rare at a festival to have 35 minutes to set up and sound check but we did. Before long, they finished the sound check, ran off stage and promptly ran back on again to begin the set. I thought maybe I was going to get to check the mic I was sharing with Tom Eddy (who’s much louder than me) but alas, time was up. I never saw the crowd filter in so I took a peek through the curtains covering the side stage to investigate. Eesh. However, the only thing that welled up in my little heart was pride for the guys. They’d earned this and were living a dream.
Halfway through the set, Reed called me on stage. Luckily, I heard my name in what was otherwise an unintelligible introduction from where I was standing. I got out to center stage, held up a ‘one moment please’ finger and calmly focused my camera on the crowd who responded favorably by throwing up their hands and cheering. The music began as I lowered the mic at least a foot from Tom’s towering height. The rest was like being in a tunnel, a comfortable one but from this end, it’s hard to look back in and see the details. I don’t remember how much cheering there was, if the crowd was dancing, what I did with my face and hands but I do remember that I loved it. My incredibly dry mouth toward the close of the song betrayed my supposed calm but that was really the only nervousness I experienced. Somewhere in the middle, I spotted friends, Aaron Bloom and Megan Kendig and waved like a doofus. I think I managed to turn it to a dance move but I’ll never know. They made me smile. My vocal cords were at ease, I didn’t miss the opening, and I remembered all of the words. Success. I’m inclined to believe that was a once in a life time experience but another part of me thinks/hopes it wasn’t.
After Beat Connection, I stayed to catch the next performance. I remember nearly tripping over a guitar backstage and looking at the red tape on it which read ‘Tycho’. I nerded out to myself a little bit. I’ve been a fan of Scott Hansen’s design work longer than his band but I do love the music. Their performance was simultaneously serene and energetic, very tight, and just impressive. The sound in that tent was gorgeous and I was told the best on site because of the protection from wind. During the Tycho set, I went to a platform just in front of the sound booth with Aaron and Megan to watch. There, I met a man whose name I can’t remember for the life of me but I found out he was friends with Scott. He offered to introduce me afterward. Naturally, I was down for that and he led us to the backstage gates. The three of us slipped through but our new friend couldn’t with his pass. It was hilarious but slightly terrifying because we had to go and meet the guy ourselves and look like goofs. But if you want to meet someone badly enough, you get over it. Scott was sweet. I mentioned that I had met his friend and performed right before him. He complimented me and talked with Aaron about the Sasquatch poster show which he (Aaron) had run with Ellis this year. Lesson: people are people and almost always awesome.
My parents were my ride to the festival and while I was performing and wandering, they were exploring the vineyard, Cave B next door. Right after I got off stage, my mother sent me a text saying she heard my performance! You’ll never know how excited that made me. I had wanted so badly for them to be there and they were, though they couldn’t see me. They had been wandering through the grapevines and my mother recognized the song as it started and began running toward the fence which was close to my tent. My father said a security guard began chasing her thinking she might be about the jump the fence. Ahhh, comical.
Next, Aaron and Megan took me on a tour of the grounds. The main stage (the Sasquatch stage) took my breath away, backed by the river and expansive canyon ridges. We caught a bit of The Walkmen back at a smaller stage, spotted Annie Clark watching with angelic rapture, and hustled on the catch Beirut back down at the main stage at sunset. Magical, yes. Before they finished, I ran back up to the Bigfoot stage to see Little Dragon. I’ll be honest, this was the group I was most giddy to see. With my wristband privileges I could stand on stage with them, well the side stage and watch from a mere few feet away. Oh, what joy for such a nerdy little fan like me. I adored it. Their performance was the most energetic and unique I had seen, but if you know them, you come to expect that. Yukimi was on her game and way too cute however I was particularly impressed by the skills of Erik Bodin, the drummer and Håkan Wirenstrand, the keyboardist (whose massive beard was missing to my surprise and initial confusion). I stayed for the entire set and then ran off to shoot James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem backstage during his DJ set in the tent. I was the only one climbing around back there and it was exhilarating to have that perspective. I did not stay for it but his appearance drew the most impressive crowd any could apart from bands on the main stage, no surprise there.
And that was it. I ran off the catch my ride home, zonking out in the car after having animatedly and loudly divulged all I had seen to proud parents.
On a last tangent, I kept running into familiar faces which is insane considering the thousands of people wandering around that place. I finally met photographer, Kyle Johnson, ran into Zack from Porchlight Coffee & Records, Aaron Bloom of course, Harry Wirth (whom I used to work with at Tether), and several others.
Endless many thanks to Reed and Jordan for asking me to be a part of their shining moment. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.