Sasquatch: Day Two

Day Two:

Finding ourselves camping next to a really awesome group of folks from Seattle & San Francisco, the morning started out right with laughs and delicious breakfast burritos. Not to mention that the sun was shining, though not too hot, in order to make for a beautiful day to come.

The first show of the day was at the mainstage with Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans, LA. The band had been a recommendation, so I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect. What I got was fun old-timey jazz music played by men in suits in their 60s (mostly) and lots of dancing and smiling and clapping by the audience. These guys were having a great time, on tuba, trumpet, trombone, piano and more, and so were the rest of us — it was a great way to start the day.

Next, was Robert DeLong up at the Bigfoot stage. He was really interesting to watch because his set-up is almost exclusively a one-man electronic band, plus a live drum kit. He used joysticks, keyboards, midi-controllers, remote controls — all to change the effects on his voice and the music. We left mid-set to go back to the mainstage for the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. These dudes (and a dudette!) were leather-jacket clad (on a hot day) ripping guitars, bass and drums for their rock music. I enjoyed listening to their set and watching them take their on-stage persona to the fullest (is it just an act?) as the guitar player lit up a cigarette during the last song.

Andrew Bird is a name I’ve heard a lot, but I had never taken the time to listen to his music. It was truly delightful and at times whimsical, full of three-part harmonies, plucked violin and superb whistling — the perfect music for a backdrop scene like the Gorge Amphitheater at the mainstage. By contrast, Bloc Party played the mainstage and rocked the crowd with their 90s-esque rock music.

Looking for a place to settle for the last two shows of the night led us to befriend some folks sitting on the terrace steps, who kindly offered to share their space with us — wow! For those of you who don’t know, this coveted location is not one people generally give up easily, let alone offer to share. The “good vibes” theme is still alive! Anyway, we settled there for The xx and Sigur Ros.

The xx is very ethereal and moody — in their music, in their light show, their clothes, and their facial expressions. Their music is slow and sometimes almost club-like in the rhythms, and the guitar and bass player fill the lead roles, sometimes alone, sometimes in tandem. They often sing together, though usually in octave unison, not in harmony. Their show was anticipated by many, including our neighbors, and, according to them, they did not disappoint.

I could probably write a thesis paper on why Sigur Ros was the best show at Sasquatch. However, it wasn’t until I braved the move from the terrace to the mainstage floor that I really felt their music completely. Occasionally, even writers have a hard time putting their thoughts and feelings into words — but I will try. They were able to re-create the drama of their studio music through a full live band — including horn section and strings. The light show added just a hint of flavor, but it certainly wasn’t necessary for the music. Behind the musicians was a panoramic screen playing scenes of slow motion people, grass blowing, trees — all of which evoked a sadness I had not felt in the music alone. As the set moved forward, the songs became more intense and dramatic, until finally frontman Jonsi left the stage after the final number, throwing off his guitar. It was the final encore that sealed the deal, however. For the first time ever, I was mesmerized in such a way where I simultaneously wanted the music to continue and stop — because I couldn’t handle anymore. I think this is what one might call a music-gasm. I was stunned when it was finally over and couldn’t speak about what I had just heard — I was completely satisfied.

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