Getting things started right on Monday afternoon were Seattle hip-hop R&B duo THEE Satisfaction. With local producer and beat maker O.C. Notes as their DJ, MC”s Stas and Cat vibed their way through a set filled with cool jams and some heavy beats. The bass in this set hit HARD. The duo even worked out some choreographed moved, and they played off of each other really well. Young rapper and fellow Sasquatch performer Porter Ray even joined the group onstage to spit a verse.
As the weather started to take a slight turn towards the ugly side, Courtney Barnett and co. took the main stage and put on a pretty powerful show. Winds and light rain started to infiltrate the festival in the middle of her set, and with roadies frantically running around stage behind her and with wind blowing all around her, Barnett ripped through her catalogue of fantastic rock songs.
The highlight of the festival for me came on the main stage Sunday evening when Australian psych rock band Tame Impala ripped through an hours’ worth of musical perfection. The band is set to release their third album Currents later this summer, so anticipation among fans was high that they would break out some new material. The band indulged the audience with brand new tracks “Let It Happen” and “Eventually”, as well as a few instrumental interludes that could be precursors of things to come. The crowd seemed extra worked up for this performance; there were beach balls everywhere all of a sudden, and girls jumping up on guys shoulders all over the place. Tame Impala ended their set with an extended version of “Apocalypse Dream”, and just when it got to the point where it looked like they were finished, the guitars kicked in harder than every and flooded the crowd with a sonic tsunami and everyone was washed in a state of euphoria.
Another highlight from Monday was Canadian quintet Alvvays, who to me sound like a delightful cross between Camera Obscura and Best Coast. Their songs are often perfect jangley pop gems, and in this nighttime live setting they sounded just perfect. They even performed a splendid cover of a Deerhunter B-side called “Nosebleed”. This was a scenario where my plan was to catch about ½ hour of their set then head over to see Run the Jewels, but the more I watched Alvvays the more I was slowly falling in love, and it made it harder and harder to tear myself away when the time came.
Run the Jewels was a highly anticipated act, and anyone who’s seen the duo of El-P and Killer Mike perform live knows why. They put a lot of energy into their shows, and this performance was no difference. What WAS different about this performance was that it was hard to see. The lighting left a lot to be desired. Maybe it was partially by design, but for most of the show, both rappers were just shadow-figures bouncing around a mostly dark stage. There was no light on them, only red and blue lights behind them. Visual dilemmas aside, the group did great; they brought the energy, they got the crowd into it, and they put on a hell of a show. I just wish I could have seen it better.
Monday’s headliner was one of the biggest names in rap music over the past few years, Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick is coming off of the March release of his latest album To Pimp A Butterfly, so expectations were that fans would finally get to hear some of those tracks live. As it turned out, the story after the show seemed to be his lack of desire in playing any of those new songs. He did perform one song from the album, the banger “Alright”. That being said, it was still a fantastic show. He opened the set with hits from his 2012 album Good Kid M.A.A.D. City and the crowd was going absolutely crazy. Halfway through the set he brought to people out of the crowd to each rap a verse from “M.A.A.D. City”, and thankfully the people he brought up were pretty competent because as anyone who’s attempted to sing a rap song at a karaoke bar before can tell you, it’s not easy. So doing so in front of thousands of people with no lyrics to read is a pretty daunting task, and props to them for pulling it off.
All in all, this is the best Sasquatch I’ve been to yet. Here’s hoping the 2016 version brings more of the same.
(Lots of thanks, love, and credit for the folks who posted their videos to youtube so quickly so that we could share them here.)