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Sasquatch! 2013: The Highs and Lows

posted by Kelsey Stoulil on May 31, 2013

Photo: Killer Mike at Sasquatch! 2013 by Kelsey Stoulil

George, Washington -- Here in the Northwest we look forward to our annual escape into the Washington desert all year long, fantasizing about what many call "the best weekend of the year," so needless to say, we have some pretty high expectations for Sasquatch! Music Festival. Some of these expectations are unfair to the festival itself, such as the weather, which we assume will be a perfect 80 degrees, sunny, and with limited wind - more on that later. The festival has more control over our other expectations, such as scheduling and food offerings, which Sasquatch! seemed to miss the mark on this year. Don't get me wrong, there were some great moments this year, but the ups definitely had their downs, making for a mixed bag in 2013.

Let's start with the good. Killer Mike closed out the Yeti stage on Sunday night and drew a fairly large crowd for the tiny stage. People were pulled away from Elvis Costello and Baths in favor of the MC, who gave a main stage worthy performance. The rapper was overwhelmed by the support shown by fans, even breaking down and getting teary eyed at one point. This fueled the crowd, invoking more enthused dancing and louder chants of "Killer Mike!” while dance parties broke out atop picnic tables (yes, I was involved in one).

Reignwolf was the first set I caught on Friday, and their performance put me in the perfect mood for a weekend full of shows. Jordan Cook, the force behind the Canadian/Seattle band, handles a guitar with more grace and ease than anyone I have ever seen. As if that weren't enough, he takes his seat at the drum kit, and proceeds to play both instruments simultaneously. As he left the stage atop the Easy Street Records van (still playing, of course), it was hard not to fall in love with his natural talent and glowing smile.

It was shortly after Reignwolf's performance that the weather turned on festivalgoers. The rain lasted for about an hour on Friday, all of us hoping that was the last we would see of the unsightly showers, but alas, we were in for much worse. Saturday and Sunday were deceivingly nice, making Monday's wind and rain even worse. Mud puddles sprung up in an instant, plastic ponchos were visible as far as the eye could see, and a general sense of gloom set in. Of course the festival has no control over the weather, but this put more of a damper (haha, get it?) on a few things that were already going not so well.

One of such was sound checks. Sound checks in any setting, especially festivals, tend to take longer than expected. By the time Monday rolled around, prep time was at its longest, with bands going on an hour after they were scheduled. An irritating yet tolerable inconvenience in good weather, but a nightmare in bad weather. This coupled with overlaps (Alt-J or The Lumineers? One of the toughest decisions of the weekend for many) made for a less than ideal situation.

This brings us to the food. Many festivals have adopted a "music and…" approach to their annual events. BottleRock showcases the wines of Napa Valley, GoogaMooga the culinary offerings of NYC, and even those that aren't necessarily "foodie" festivals generally have decent options. This is were Sasquatch! falls short. Very short. One of the biggest jewels in the crown of the Pacific Northwest is our restaurant scene. With many accomplished chefs and a vast selection of natural, local ingredients, it's no wonder we would want to boast about it. However, Sasquatch! hasn't taken this approach, at least not yet. It is very understandable that the location of the festival (the middle of nowhere) poses problems in this area, and that using one company to supply all the food is a much easier option. For all I know that could be the only option that The Gorge provides, but the variety and quality are simply not there, making it hard to even stomach the thought of teriyaki or french fries for weeks after. That is why I propose a local food truck takeover for Sasquatch! 2014. Portland, we'll need your help on this one - who's with me?

Anyways, back to the good. The next highlight of the weekend happened on Sunday morning. Entering the festival just after the gates opened, you could feel the calm before the storm. Everyone was in high spirits from an epic Saturday (with epic weather) and ready to start their Sunday. My friends and I joyfully made our way to the Bigfoot stage for Deep Sea Diver. I had been raving about them all weekend, and, just as I suspected, they did not disappoint. Jessica Dobson bounced around the stage with a smile glued to her face, breezing through their 2012 release History Speaks, as well as a standout rendition of "Fantasy" by Mariah Carey.

The real cherry on top of this mediocre sundae, like one without peanuts, was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' performance. I won't reiterate how awesome it is for us long term fans and Seattleites to see them make it big, but just say that it was a really special performance. Mack recited the verses of "Otherside" without any instrumentals, making an already poignent song that much more moving. Later, he donned a Raven Bowie costume and busted out the fur coat and scooter for "Thrift Shop." Halfway through their set we were told that to show his appreciation, Macklemore had hired limo's full of Lunchables to come through the campground after their performance. I'm still not sure if that actually happened, but anyone who talks of free Lunchables is alright in my book.

Once the masses made their way back to the campground or to their cars on Monday night, it was hard not to look back on the weekend without a nostalgic longing. Despite all the issues that arose, Sasquatch! is still the Northwest's standout music festival, and one that we will await the arrival of with an excited sense of hope, year after year.

Check out our Sasquatch! 2013 Facebook album for more pictures of our favorite acts.

Follow @kstoulil on Twitter

See Also:

Sasquatch! Photo Highlights: Day One
Sasquatch! Photo Highlights: Days Two and Three
Sasquatch! Photo Highlights: Day Four