The music and camping marathon of Sasquatch has done away with printed schedules this year, leaving their app and one oddly-placed center schedule for all to live by. This has begun presenting problems with the chemical indulgence committee, as stage time confusion became a real issue for some. Nonetheless, Day Two of the 15th annual Sasquatch music fest in George, Washington yielded strong showings from a number of performers including Protomartyr, Digable Planets, Preoccupations and more, with a surprising standout in Vic Mensa’s sociopolitically incendiary performance.
I’d been looking forward to seeing Digable Planets live for roughly two decades, so when they took the main stage with soul-infused updates on early-90s backpacker-hop cuts like “It’s Good to Be Here” and “Pacifics (NY Is Red Hot),” I was the hollering celebratory maniac up on the hill. With an all-black live backing band, Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Craig “Doodlebug” Irving and Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” delivered an astonishingly tight set, considering it’s the first time they’ve played together since 2011. The massive showing on the Sasquatch stage, as well as the ‘90s hip-hop nostalgia flowing in full during “Cool Like That (Rebirth of Slick),” set the mood straight for the day.
This was my first time seeing Protomartyr, who descended on the Yeti stage in late afternoon. Frontman Joe Casey angrily spat at the mic as he nursed a can of Bud Light, giving off the vibe of a guy who took a wrong turn on the way to his best friend’s funeral, got drunk & angry about it, and joined a band instead.
We’ll remember Blind Pilot‘s softly emotive pleasantries from the Bigfoot stage, but given the high energy of the day it was difficult to get on board with frontman Israel Nebeker’s heartsongs. It’s not you, it’s us. Another time, Blind Pilot.
We found a stronger energy and a new band fascination in Shannon & The Clams, who delivered a tremendously good set laced with a whole lotta R&B and doo-wop. Frontwoman Shannon Shaw has legitimate star power, and she and her band are firmly on our radar now.
Most passive fans expected a fairly straightforward set from Vic Mensa, but he had other plans. The Chicago rapper took the stage at Bigfoot backed by an army of cardboard cops, the symbolism of which became clear during the explosive performance centerpiece “16 shots.” The cadence, lighting, crowd involvement and weight of the track, about another black life recklessly lost at the hands of cops, was peak Sasquatch intensity on Saturday night. And when he brought “16 shots” back on a reprise, the entire crowd roared their approval.
Then we have the night’s closers, Major Lazer. The party collective made their Sasquatch return as the mainstage headliner, and stepped up to the challenge with a wild display of dancing girls, a “Simon Says” stage performance three coordinated wardrobe changes. Diplo ran around like a maniac, shouting at the crowd to get their hands up and, in case they forgot, to dance. He also told everyone to take their shirts off – and instead of the sea of joyously bouncing boobs he may have anticipated, a discomforting amount of drunk and/or otherwise fucked up men obliged. Naked bro party you guys!
Oh, what’s that? What about the music? Pull up Spotify and push play. Same shit. This isn’t live music, and tens of thousands of people were partying to party, not for a musical experience. That’s half the fun of a festival, so the bass drop masses shall not be judged on their taste. But jesus, when the main stage headliner is pushing play on a simulation of Sonic The Hedgehog fucking a dial-up modem against its will, something’s gotta give.
On to Sunday!
Photos: Johnny Firecloud