Holy fucking shit that was amazing.
It can’t get much better than that, can it? Coachella’s spreading out to two weekends next year, though it’s the same acts playing both weekends. Lolla’s in Chicago, which, while beautiful, is no Gorge, and seems to get more poppy every year. Bonnaroo? It’s in Tennessee. Come on.
Sasquatch is the Northwest music scene almost perfectly personified, and always seems to find acts that are awesome just before they become huge (Zach Galifiniakis was in a comedy tent in 2000, Mumford & Sons played last year, Fleet Foxes stopped by in 2008, Brandi Carlile came by in 2003, as did Death Cab for Cutie, the list goes on…). It’s eclectic and awesome. And that’s why it works.
So with that, here are the artists I saw:
- Location: Standing Second Row Center, Left Side, Bigfoot Stage
- Time: Around 4:00 PM
- Performance: This was the first time I had heard Rival Schools’ music, much less seen them play, and I was quite impressed, despite the lead guitarist’s heavy emphasis on a chorus pedal that mostly fits, but at times is intrusive. Their stage presence was passable. However, there were some issues with their mix (the rhythm guitar was drastically lower than it should have been) and the singer seemed to tire over time.
- Overall: B — No major fuckups, good guitar work, decent stage presence (the singer/rhythm guitarist really kicked ass up there), and good songs. Solid start to the festival.
- Song to listen to (SoundCloud): Rival Schools – “Wring It Out”
- Location: Standing Front Row Center, Left Side, Bigfoot Stage
- Time: Approx. 5:10
- Performance: I was hooked on the banner. Before anything, their banner that backed the stage was full of graphic design minimalist awesomeness. Then they came out and played songs. Wow. Like Rival Schools, I had never heard (or even heard of) them before this show, and the Scottish bastards blew me away. Shirtless, tattooed, and ridiculously tight, their music knew exactly how to push every dynamic button. When they slowed down, it was awesome, when they sped up, it was glorious. Heavy to light and back again, UK rock vets Biffy Clyro blew me away. Even their harmonies were pitch-perfect (being a choir nerd who SO APPRECIATES THESE THINGS), which is unusual for such a loud, heavy band. That’s what comes from 15 years of playing clubs in the UK. You really learn how to listen. The songs were well-written and the stage presence was almost perfect. They could compete with the best on any stage.
- Overall: A- — I would give them an A here, but there was just something missing. That one epic moment that defines their music. Maybe that was due to the fact that I didn’t know them all that well, but even so. Still an awesome act.
- Song to Download: Who’s Got A Match: iTunes
- Location: Standing, Outskirts Left Side, Bigfoot Stage
- Time: Approx. 6:15
- Performance: They were very good. Tough to follow Biffy Clyro and be very good, but they were. However, their set seemed to drag on and the songs started to run together a bit, with many of the same themes running through their songs (mostly about youth and anarchy), and again, being unfamiliar with their music might be deterring me here, but I just couldn’t get into them as much as Biffy.
- Overall: B+ — Great energy on stage, some really excellent songs (see below), but just not where Biffy was in terms of tightness and precision.
- Song to download: Against Me! – I Was A Teenage Anarchist (iTunes)
Death From Above 1979
- Location: Standing, Right Outskirts Floor, Mainstage
- Time: Approx. 8:05
- Performance: I was really looking forward to this show, as DFA 1979 holds the claim to fame of being, well, a really excellent Drum & Bass band that set up the opportunities that bands like Japandroids (who are much better musically than some people give them credit for) have today. However, their show was just OK. Nothing special. No great stage presence, and the vocalist/drummer seemed as if he was just going through the motions.
- Overall: B- — While I’m sure it would still appeal to hardcore DFA fans, it just didn’t click for me.
- Location: Standing, Middle-Right Floor, Mainstage
- Time: Approx. 9:30 PM
- Performance: Well, they’re the Foo Fighters. You expect greatness, and greatness is what you get, even if every song has endless solos and false endings and unpredictable dynamic fluctuations worthy of a seismograph. At any other show, this would be intolerable. But the Foo Fighters are just too ridiculously good. You can’t stop paying attention because the second you do, they’ll blow your mind again. I found THAT out when I looked up at the woman flashing her boobs behind me in the crowd (though, to be fair, my mind was exploding either way). Dave Grohl is funny and perfect with a Washington crowd (he made a point of mentioning that all but the drummer, the ridiculously impressive Taylor Hawkins, wore flannel).
- Overall: A- — Dave Grohl, along with his spectacular crew, including outstanding drummer Taylor Hawkins, delivered a night to remember. Nothing short of excellence, as is to be expected.
- Song to download: Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench (iTunes)
That was Friday, I’ll have Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for you soon.