Sasquatch! Festival 2013 Review

Sasquatch Since it started in 2005, I have wanted to go to Sasquatch! Festival at The Gorge, but time and time again I found excuses or alternate plans, or picked to spend my hundreds of dollars at Coachella.

This year I was on the same track as years before -- I liked the line-up but wasn't sure it was the best time to throw down for tickets in light of some later vacation plans and coming back from Maui the weekend before. Did I mention, I went to Maui?

This year worked out because I got the ticket hook-up for the first half of the weekend from a co-worker, yes! I learned I got the tickets on Thursday morning, which was plenty of time for me to notify Amanda and get us packed up to head east to George, WA on Friday afternoon for that evening's line-up, headlined by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

The drive out on Friday was fairly typical for a long weekend, jammed at Snoqualmie Pass and otherwise OK. We rolled up to our grassy camping spot between neighbors that were 5-10 years younger, not entirely surprising. What was surprising was all the steel piping that came out of the Jeep Wrangler next to us.

"What are you building there, a canopy?" I asked the ringleader.

"No, man," he replied enthusiastically. "We brought a full-size trampoline."

No joke, 20 minutes later the group was jumping on the trampoline just feet away from my Jeep, which caused me to pull it forward a few feet. My mother is an insurance agent, after all.


We left the party and headed into the concert grounds to see Father John Misty, which Sergio has been raving about. We waited amongst the throngs of youths and it rained a bit. We overheard a conversation behind us between a 20-something Canadian and younger 20-somethings. They were guessing each other's ages and talking about college and the sorts of conversations people have at that age. Amanda and I entertained ourselves people watching and talking about our house and chickens and the sorts of conversations people have at our age.

We enjoyed the Father John Misty show -- a Jim Morrison reincarnation -- and made our way over to grab some festival food before the Arctic Monkeys show. We picked a teriyaki bowl (decently healthy) and an elephant ear (queue the coronary) for a reasonable $15. This was just the main course around the many snacks Amanda packed and rationed for the day. Drinks were absurd and Safeco Field-priced at $8-$13 a beer. We decided to stick to sobriety and snacks, which we enjoyed with a view.

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The Arctic Monkeys show was great and reminiscent of when I saw them at Coachella in 2007. The band plays incredibly clean but there's just not enough soul in the lead singer's voice to get me invested. The drummer kicks ass. Kicks total ass.

The main event on Friday night was Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and their show was equal parts Northwest celebration and Macklemore celebration. The theatrics of the show were excellent. Macklemore rose up from the stage on an elevated podium. They had back-up dancers and confetti and giant balloons. I was moved by the "My Oh My" performance. Macklemore commanded the crowd on the floor to jump during "Can't Hold Us," and the earth shook from the bouncing.

Macklemore spent a little too long celebrating his achievements and adoration. It was kind of like a homecoming but with too much attention on the homecoming king. My primary criticism, however, was the set list. This may seem like a minor detail but they played the exact same set as a show last fall at WaMu Theater.


Tangent: half of the Sasquatch attendees are Canadian. When Macklemore shouted out asking where people came from, Vancouver won out by far. Seattle and Portland didn't even come close.

We departed back to camp and got tucked into our tent. That's when I heard Macklemore again... blaring from the neighbor's Jeep Wrangler. The ear plugs we brought muffled the treble but only emphasized the bass coming from the aftermarket sound system.

I sat there in the tent contemplating how to handle the situation. I looked over at Amanda who was clearly annoyed with eyes wide open. I didn't want to be the lame 30-year-old guy who wanted to sleep at 2 a.m. I wanted to go with the flow.

But I also wanted to sleep. And I didn't want to hear the same recorded music, perfect and familiar, that I just heard live, imperfect and emotive.

So I got out of the tent and headed toward the party epicenter at the trampoline.

"Dude, you got to turn that music down," I told the ringleader.

"This is Sasquatch!" he replied.

"Right, and you're kinda being the jerky neighbor at Sasquatch," I said. "I mean, we're in parking overflow. This isn't even camp. It's 2 a.m. and you're playing Macklemore on the Macklemore night. If you're playing some chill music it'd be OK, but the club music isn't kosher."

"Ok, man," he said. "I don't want to turn it off, but we'll turn it down."

"Cool," I closed.

Of course, the music was still a little too loud and the bass was still thumping at a lower volume, but I figured I won some ground. The music turned off about an hour later.

I was so tempted to blast some Macklemore at 7 a.m. when we woke ahead of the rest of the camp, but I couldn't bring myself to be that cruel.

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We lounged around and watched the sluggish bodies rise from tents and wander around corners trying to find the Honey Buckets. I walked to the general store at The Gorge and bought some terrible coffee for $5.

My cousin-by-marriage Ra Scion opened the schedule on Saturday and we got back into the festival grounds early to watch. He pulled in a good crowd for the hour. Amanda and I nodded (that's what you do at hip-hop shows; you nod to the beat) through his catalog from Common Market to Victor Shade.

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We weren't too enthused about the following acts, at least in the afternoon, and skipped over to Cave B Winery for some wine tasting. It was a refuge for the old crowd who can't hang in the filth of the concert grounds and campgrounds all day. It was wonderful. We had about 10 tastings and liberal pours and swayed our way back to my cousin's campground to hang out, where we wore off our buzz and planned to hit the road assuming Saturday headliner Sigur Ros would put us to sleep out there on the lawn. Sarah McLaughlin got me like that a few years ago. We also wanted to get a jump on getting back home to see our dog, cat and chickens. They're very exciting, you know.

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While we had a great time at the concert, I think we were subject to a consumer psychology where we didn't put as much energy into maximizing the experience potential because we didn't pay for the tickets. Everything was optional, so we acted that way, casually passing on acts that we did know, didn't know and decided we didn't have time to get to know.

It was all very casual and lazy, which is a great way to spend Memorial Day weekend.