The weeks leading up to Sasquatch! Music Festival, all I could focus on was the chaos that would ensue Memorial Day weekend, May 22-25.
Alongside countless new faces and friends, I camped five nights in The Gorge. I forgot my pillows. I forgot my blankets. I even forgot my water bottle. It was the best.
Over the course of the weekend, I’d hear a cacophony of sounds blend into one — ranging from laughter on the hill to Robert Plant’s ageless voice.
Courtesy of Eugene Weekly’s access to the festival, listed below are the most distinct moments captured from Sasquatch — as well as why each memory will stick with us for such a long time. All photos by Brinkley Capriola.
Most Inspirational Quote All Weekend: Mother Mother (Friday @ Bigfoot)
“Life is a crazy thing. When it’s bad, it’s funny. And when it’s good, it’s amazing,” Canadian rocker Ryan Guldemond said on stage. “Right now, it’s amazing. Savor it.” Guldemond looked like an angsty antagonist out of some ‘90s indie flick, especially with his blonde mohawk. But festivalgoers were glad to hear his positivity, as well as the hit single “Monkey Tree”, which showcased his impressive vocal range.
Best Matching Costumes from Festival Goers: Banana Suits (All Day, Every Day)
Most Weed Ever Thrown Into A Crowd Ever: Action Bronson (Friday @ Bigfoot)
When Bronson entered, he blasted Albanian music. Promptly, however, he told sound to “cut that shit out” before rapping over more traditional hip-hop beats. He then called The Gorge “picturesque” and brought Big Body Bes and Mayhem on stage as guest emcees.
Later, he took pictures in the crowd to keep everyone hyped.
Halfway through his set, the New York rapper decided there “wasn’t enough second-hand smoke” in the crowd — so he gleefully threw about a thousand dollars worth of recently-purchased, legal Washington weed into the crowd: Mason jars full of cannabis, grams of oil, edibles and all sorts of other legalized delights.
I may or may not have even ended up with a gram of Bronson’s blueberry cheesecake oil.
Bronson promised “the best vocals of my entire career” during sunset, and then he brought the storm as rain came crashing down during his show. He performed two encores, including one eating a plate of chicken on stage. Shout out to Queens, and shout out to his cooking TV show on VICE, F*ck, That’s Delicious, for getting picked up on cable.
Band I Didn’t Start Digging Until After The Festival: Little Dragon (Friday @ Bigfoot)
This band, formed in Sweden way back in 1996 and fronted by Yukimi Nagano, is made up of a bunch of badasses.
Biggest DJ Set of the Weekend: Flume (Friday @ Bigfoot)
This was a huge party, though it was unfortunate for Portland rockers Sleater-Kinney, whose crowd lacked size due to Flume’s massive college-aged fan base. Meanwhile, Australian DJ Flume proved with each remix why he’s regularly regarded the best producer in the game.
Biggest Celebrity I Got Hang Out With: Bear on Fire (Saturday @ Yeti)
This sextet, which sounds like a hybrid of My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses, met in high school. They first started playing in Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s San Fernando Valley backyard. If bassist Mintz-Plasse looks familiar, by the way, it’s probably because he also played McLovin in Superbad (2007).
Years after high school, Bear on Fire are still jamming together and were the first act of Day Two at Sasquatch. “I’ve been acting for eight years, and I feel very lucky to have had a career doing that,” Mintz-Plasse said when we caught up with him. “I feel very accomplished as an actor. I’ve done very exciting things. But I want that same feeling for music.”
Most Improved Reputation in Washington: Benjamin Booker (Saturday @ Sasquatch)
The 25-year-old New Orleans singer-songwriter may make more sense in the environment of a small club, but after an impressive afternoon showcase on the main stage, expect more name recognition as he continues his tour.
“It was weird. The last time we were in Seattle, the show was pretty rowdy and, like, a riot happened,” Booker tells us between puffs of his cigarette. “I didn’t know how it was going to be after that.”
Booker looks great on stage (and in pictures!) and the crowd loved his guitar solos and vocal texture. Plus, the Jimi Hendrix cover was pretty special. Check out his “A Take Away Show” to start your collection.
Best King Tuff Jacket In The Diarrhea Planet Mosh Pit: King Tuff (Saturday @ Yeti)
Cool show from both bands on the small stage. It was also awesome to see King Tuff’s Kyle Thomas rocking his iconic, sleeveless leather jacket in the crowd hours before his show.
Act Most Surprised To See Devoted Fan Base: Dilated Peoples (Saturday @ Bigfoot)
Favorite Performance of the Weekend: Sylvan Esso (Saturday @ Bigfoot)
When we met up with electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso, both singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn had just arrived at The Gorge. “There aren’t very many gorges in North Carolina,” says Meath, who also performed at Sasquatch in 2012 as a backup singer for mainstage headliner Feist.
When Meath and Sanborn have time to write these days, it’s very collaborative and often in the same room. “We definitely make better music when she’s critiquing me and I’m critiquing her,” Sanborn explains. The duo says the more bass-driven, electronic tracks get the crowd going. But when asked if they keep their live performance in mind during their writing process, both quickly refute. “You don’t want it to become a touring thing,” Meath explains. “We’re not an act. We’re a band.”
When Meath opened the set, she asked if “everybody was ready to move together as one body” and the crowd quickly obliged. My personal favorite was “Wolf”, the song Meath says is written about seducing yourself in the mirror when you don’t feel you look most attractive.
Meath’s shoeless dance moves did not disappoint. She briefly covered Beyoncé and blended conversational banter with danceable vibes on stage. This is one of my favorite performances I’ll ever see, and many friends I brought now have a new favorite band.
Band That Sounds Most Like Original Recordings: Real Estate (Saturday @ Bigfoot)
Most Likely To Eat At Tacovore Before Show: Glass Animals (Sat. @ El Chupacabra)
Okay, maybe we cheated on this one. When we caught up with Glass Animals before their set, they told us they ate at Tacovore and went paint-balling in Eugene before their recent show at WOW Hall. “Eugene kind of blew my mind,” says Glass Animals singer Dave Bayley. “We all really liked it.”
Already Played Eugene Twice This Year: Odesza (Saturday @ El Chupacabra)
The Coolest Dude in America: Father John Misty (Saturday @ Bigfoot)
Joshua Tillman entered the weekend my favorite songwriter on the Sasquatch lineup; he left my favorite songwriter in the universe. Tillman absolutely stole the show Saturday. With his suave suit and smooth swagger, he exudes animalistic attraction with every single movement he performs. With such breathtaking and novelistic lyricism, it’s tough to find a more compelling or complex storyteller on this planet. Plus, the thrill we felt when he tossed his guitar into the crowd was unparalleled.
If there’s one thing evident from Father John Misty’s new album, it’s that Tillman is in love. Can you imagine such a complicated brain loving you? After watching this show, I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface.
Most Experienced Veterans: The Decemberists, Modest Mouse (Saturday @ Sasquatch)
Both bands have played Sasquatch four times each now. That’s a lot, but it’s nothing compared to Neko Case — who has played eight times. Fortunately, both The Decemberists and Modest Mouse put on impressive shows.
Much like last year’s headliner (OutKast), I noticed you forget how many hits Modest Mouse brags. Then the banjo and trumpet kick in, and suddenly everyone in the venue somehow knows every word to sing along. Tip of the hat to you, Isaac Brock.
Most Natural Fit For The Main Stage: Shakey Graves (Sunday @ Sasquatch)
Alejandro Rose-Garcia first became known as Shakey Graves when he and his friends ended up giving each other goofy Indian Guide names at the Old Settler’s Music Festival in 2007. Now, quite some time later, the project has taken the world by storm. His voice had the perfect cadence for the breathtaking views of the gorge behind him, and he rocked and rolled the afternoon crowd into oblivion. Shakey Graves offered a perfect fusion of folk, blues, country, rock and Americana. Those who came early were rewarded on Sunday.
Best British Feminist Rapper I’ve Ever Heard: Kate Tempest (Sunday @ Yeti)
Tempest is also a published playwright, novelist, poet and ridiculously impressive emcee. She offers a refreshing change of pace in a hip-hop climate dominated by misogynistic lyricism.
Biggest Surprise of the Festival: St. Paul and the Broken Bones (Sunday @ Bigfoot)
These dudes from Alabama absolutely destroyed up there. Paul Janeway, physically speaking, is one of the last people you’d ever expect to boast such a beautiful voice. But, boy-oh-boy, can this man croon. The ambitious covers of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding were festival highlights, as were Janeway’s dance moves and gold dance shoes — the crowd loved every minute.
Biggest Rockstar of Sasquatch 2015: St. Vincent (Sunday @ Sasquatch)
My first experience at Sasquatch! Music Festival was in 2012, when Annie Clark from St. Vincent stole my heart. She hasn’t yet given it back, and made that even more evident on Sunday with an electrifying performance. And, of course, any St. Vincent show is incomplete without her memorable crowd-surfing.
Best Public Service Announcement of the Festival: Jenny Lewis (Sunday @ Sasquatch)
“If you’ve seen a giant stuffed panda at the campsite, it’s gone missing and we’d like it back.”
Most Heartbreakingly Gorgeous Show: Jose Gonzalez (Sunday @ Bigfoot)
When we met, Swedish singer-songwriter Jose Gonzalez told me he had flown in from Sweden earlier that day and was greeted with quite an overwhelming sight at The Gorge. “For some reason, I was always thinking of big forests,” Gonzalez says. “So I was a bit surprised when we arrived today. It’s really amazing and super beautiful.”
It’s hard not to get choked up just thinking about how the sky looked during “Heartbeats” (a cover originally written by The Knife) on Sunday. Before the song, Gonzalez tuned his guitar and asked the crowd to turn around and watch “the most beautiful sky” he’d ever seen in his entire life. This was beyond a religious or spiritual experience; the show felt similar to that feeling you had when you fell in love the first time. Or, as one friend explained, it made you want to write poetry — even if you’ve never written poetry before.
For a sample of his sound, here is a video he made with the same filmmaker who produced his documentary.
Most Unexpected Dance Party: James Blake (Sunday @ Bigfoot)
Here’s what I love about electronic music producer James Blake: When you hear his music on the record, it sounds melancholy and emotional. But given his ridiculous musical prowess on the keyboard and his impressive looping skills, Blake is able to adjust the tempo on just about any of his songs to fit a small venue or a late-night festival slot. The bass was thumping, so people were grooving all night long. My favorites were “Overgrown” and “Retrograde” — though just about all sounded great, with enough modification to keep the energy alive.
Most Casual Experience Seeing Led Zeppelin: Robert Plant (Sunday @ Sasquatch)
I don’t think I’ve properly process the fact that I watched the lead singer of Led Zeppelin perform over the weekend until I finished typing this sentence. His voice is immaculate, all things considered.
Best Rainy Day Vibes: Courtney Barnett (Monday @ Sasquatch)
I ended up seeing the brilliant Courtney Barnett alone on the main lawn right when it started to rain Monday, and it couldn’t have worked out any better. With her clever wordplay and sweet demeanor, even the most coy smile gave the crowd a certain joy. I was especially pleased when she played “Depreston,” my favorite track on her new LP.
Most Unexpected Special Guest: Ryan Adams at Natalie Prass (Monday @ Yeti)
Best Comedy Set of the Festival: Nick Thune (Monday @ El Chupacabra)
I think the running joke of the festival was how many comedians canceled: First, SNL’s Pete Davidson canceled. Next, it was the Lucas Bros — who were actually there to replace Davidson. Fortunately, the comedy tent still managed a diverse lineup, both demographically and in style.
Plus, the comedy tent serves as a great place to beat the sun and relax. Thune’s bit about accidentally feeding a pot brownie to his dog (who has been sober for a full year now) made my sides split in half. Good work, Thune.
Most Kendrick Lamar Samples Not in Kendrick Lamar Set: Ab-Soul (Monday @ Bigfoot)
It’s almost impressive how often Ab-Soul has worked with K-Dot, and how much of his music collection has features from his Top Dawg Entertainment label mate. I somehow managed to end up shooting this show from the photo barricade (wearing a bucket hat and a tank top) while using a disposable camera. I’m ridiculously excited to develop this absurd roll of film.
Most “Bucket Hats” In A Concentrated Place: Schoolboy Q (Monday @ Sasquatch)
If Schoolboy Q has contributed one thing to the fashion world, it’s the sudden (yet extreme) popularity of his bucket hat. He played his hits, and if you’ve ever been to a campus bar in Eugene you knew way more of his songs than you thought you did. He also did his joint track with Kendrick Lamar (“Blessed”), which was a festival highlight. I didn’t like his lack of remorse for skipping Sasquatch 2013, but I’m glad he thanked the crowd for helping pay for his daughter’s schooling.
Best Cover of Spice Girls/Hardest Name To Pronounce: MØ (Monday @ Bigfoot)
If you asked me the name of this young Danish star, I wouldn’t know what to tell you. But she caught the Bigfoot stage by surprise with an incredibly energetic, enjoyable performance on the last day. Plus: I send major kudos to her for completely nailing the electrifying Spice Girls cover.
Most Played Artist Since I’ve Come Home: Alvvays (Monday @ Yeti)
Most Turned Up Performance of Festival: Run The Jewels (Monday @ Bigfoot)
I did not expect to groove so hard this late at night. El-P was sipping a bottle of Tito’s the whole time, and Killer Mike is (literally) huge. Great show, 10/10. RUN THE JEWELS FAST.
Weirdest/Dopest Moment: Kendrick Lamar (Monday @ Sasquatch)
In his first performance since dropping his new album, Lamar only stuck to performing hits. While his live instrumentation (guitar, drums, etc.) was awesome to behold, the actual set list suffered by his decision to play only one song from To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) and not bring out label mates Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q — both of whom were at the festival anyway.
Lamar did, however, bring out young fans Louis and Peyton (back to back) from the front row to spit verses from “M.A.A.D. City” with him. While it was frustrating to watch that song for 25 minutes, it was awesome to see both fans experience early life highlights. Both knew every word, though Peyton’s verse led to a moment similar to this kid at Coachella when she let a certain word slip while rapping in front of tens of thousands of people. It was a good show, although he ended ten minutes before his set time was scheduled to close.
Best Remix of the Festival: The Glitch Mob (Monday @ El Chupacabra)
When we checked in with these electronic music producers, they told us Sasquatch was one of their first festivals in 2011. “We always talk about Sasquatch,” says Glitch Mob producer Justin Boreta. “It’s one of our favorite places to play in the world.”
When Glitch Mob came on stage to close out the dance tent, festivalgoers got to hear a particularly unique rendition of “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes. Their stage setup was also dominant. “We have a big, custom electronic instrument that we play called The Blade,” Boreta says. “It has touch screens and electronic drums. It’s a big space ship that makes sounds and shoots aliens.”
Best Weekend of My Life: Sasquatch 2015 (All Weekend @ The Gorge)
From start to finish, I’ve never felt more blessed. The Gorge induces a surreal state and I’ve never felt luckier to surround myself with such talent and love.