Sasquatch 2015 Review: Chemical Currents Drive a Dance-Riot Saturday

Music as a Drug in a Chemical Culture

Music is a backdrop to the experience in 2015. People don’t know the details of the bands they’re adoring in a wash of sensual psychedelia, and they don’t care. They’re not fascinated by the stories of how a band came to be, how a song was conceived. Father John Misty’s Fleet Foxes connections don’t matter to those on the hunt for the opportune moment of maximum bliss. And maybe that’s because these formerly revered and mythologized stories are now for sale, every micromovement detailed on social media. No mystique. So we use them and their product as devices to a greater rush.

Is this what Eddie Vedder was hoping for twenty years ago when he rallied against the messianic worship of the grunge era, urging fans to worship the music instead? Perhaps not. But the value network for today’s musical experiences is a far different one from the age of flannel, and progress cannot be stopped for nolstagia’s sake.  

Whatever the case, you’re in the tide or you’re cast aside. And we made the long pilgrimage to the 2015 Sasquatch Music Festival ready to have a blast with an incredible lineup spanning a kaleidoscopic spectrum of sound, in one of the most majestic venues on Earth. At every turn all weekend, pupils were massively dilated and jaws were a’grinding from the latest batch of stepped-on party favors. Here’s what happened along the way…

MVP Breakthrough: Twenty One Pilots

We knew these cats were on a serious upswing two years ago, when spastic singer Tyler Joseph was climbing to the top scaffolding at Outside Lands, a massive early-day crowd in the palm of his hand. Now, on the strength of a tremendously well-received new album and a wildfire of word-of-mouth, the dynamic Ohio duo have kicked into a level of perfect harmonic equilibrium between riotous energy and razor-sharp showmanship.

Scaling the sound booth, wearing masks, tearing off Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” instructing the crowd to get as low as possible (with unanimous compliance), the antics were merely condiments to the incredible energy and connective spirit Twenty One Pilots brought to the Sasquatch stage. Keep an eye on these cats – there’s a reason busloads of people were raving about them hours after their set, and they remained on the tongues of weary-eyed campers on Sunday morning. 


Disco Heroes & Pupil Dilation: Chromeo

Chromeo packed crowds to the back of the main floor and on up to the very top of the hill, full of fans dancing their almighty asses off. The pre-Chromeo tension in the air was telling: anxious crowd shuffling, overenthusiastic dancing to PA intermission music, and random hip-grinding at every turn was a recipe for only one thing: Mollytime. 

Forget the Bid Light branded side stages, the ambiguously flaccid Jack Daniels display by the Bigfoot stage. If there were a brand for molly/ecstasy/MDMA, it would be the dominant stamp of the entire Sasquatch experience from late afternoon onward. You can fight the brand all you like, but the culture trend is undeniable. It is driving the entire economic infrastructure of the festival circuit.

Chromeo’s set is entirely the same as every set you’ve seen since White Women was released last year. But it’s a formula that works, and they’re clearly in no hurry to stop the party.


Golden Moments: Sunset on the Hill

Enough said.


Rock Shred Evolution: Diarrhea Planet

As the inevitable dance-domination movement continues its steady climb, a few guitar-driven rock outfits remain with lava-firehose intensity concreting the case for their continued survival. This year’s driving example is Diarrhea Planet, who defy their retarded name with head-banging, wind-rocking, shredding bliss. Guitars squealed, classic rock-bro poses were strutted, boiling moshpits were a constant, and shit-eating grins ruled the day unanimously between stage and audience. 

Talk all the shit you like about their name – these cats bring an absolute fucking blast to any party they step into. 

Bliss in Passing: Real Estate

The end of Real Estate’s set was an ethereal embrace, a trance-dazzling goodbye to the last remaining light of the day. We saw virtually none of it, but their sweet sounds carried us between destinations in the most perfect of ways. We weren’t alone in our sentiment: a girl was humping a mannequin to the music as we passed.


Folk Disinterest: The Decemberists

Look – we love Portland’s merry hipster prototypes. They’re incredible, and have a catalogue of material that is undeniably brilliant. But for as tight as they were, as well-placed as they were in the canyon-rich backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, Colin Meloy and friends just didn’t pull off a captivating set. Perhaps we were simply used to a higher-caliber dance energy, given the wild parties of Chromeo, Twenty One Pilots, Glass Animals an more throughout the day. But as great as it sounded, we couldn’t get on board. 


Artist to Watch: Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso’s light continues to shine with increasing brightness – with a more polished stage presence we’ll be seeing a hell of a lot more of them.


Single-Serving Sexual Liftoff: Father John Misty

He wasn’t good for attention spans more drawn to beats in the neon haze of Sasquatch at night, but for those who endured the molly pull,  Josh Tillman dropped a set of sexual chocolate pulling quite heavily from his magnificent new album I Love You, Honeybear. You’re either in bed, or you’re not. Half-assing a FJM show is simply unacceptable.


Pure Bliss After Midnight: Odesza

We ended our night in a state of sheer electric joy, wrapped in the synthesized sounds of Odesza.


All Photos: Johnny Firecloud