If you missed the Sasquatch! Music Festival this year, worry not! I’ve got all of the must-see bands covered, some rad pictures, as well as a bunch of encounters with some far-out people! If you’re a fan of artists like Kyle Craft, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, or Chicano Batman, you’ll definitely want to keep reading!
This year, Sasquatch! Music Festival was suffused with loads of refreshing talent and beautiful views all weekend long. The festival took place on May 26th,27th, and 28th at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, about 2.5 hours outside of Seattle. What took me as a surprise was its size. The view at the Gorge Amphitheatre is AMAZING, to say the least. I was convinced that it had to be a fake backdrop because of how the sun fell on the canyons during the day and how they seemed to fade into the black sky and bright stage lights at night. The festival is large yet intimate, containing 3 stages- Sasquatch, Bigfoot, and Yeti as well as a DJ/Comedy tent, El Chupacabra. As a Californian having never been to Washington before, I was expecting cold weather and instead was hit with a heatwave each day beginning early in the morning and chilled with the cool breeze in the midst of evening sunsets.
My experience began as a total blur. Sitting in my college Sociology class, I looked at my phone for the time and saw a message from Aaron (Chief Editor of IndieUG) telling me that there was a Media pass for this festival and I was hit with the revelation that my music writing began as a little hobby and now it’s becoming real. The week before I left was pretty hectic, given the fact that the Gorge Amphitheatre is in the middle of nowhere and I had nowhere to stay. I ended up connecting with the two of the sweetest girls, Ofelia and Sherlyn who attend the University of Washington, on Facebook and having the best weekend of my life camping with and getting to know them. Definitely calls for a trip back to Washington soon!
My Media Experience:
Being able to attend as Media, I was like a kid in a candy store. I had to go to a box office every morning and felt pretty professional saying ‘Indie Underground’ when they asked who I was there with. Standing in line in the boiling sun on the first day, I met the lovely woman who runs KEXP Radio Station in Seattle. She told me a ton of cool stories of performers she has had and how she is friends with the guy who started Sasquatch! and she has been going every year. There was a cool Media room stocked with tons of food and amazing people that I met there and without a doubt have to see again. I was also able to be in front of the crowd at the stages and bring in a DSLR camera to take photos with, which was new to me simply because I am not a photographer. I also went around taking photos of the beautiful view, unique art, tents, and people.
This camping experience totally added to the fun of the weekend. We stayed in standard camping which is a bit of a long walk from the festival entrance, but I 100% recommend it! We were lucky to be only several feet away from the bathrooms, sinks, and water faucet and were also a short walk away from a little convenience store which is stocked with everything you could possibly forget, complete with microwaves and water filling stations (we bought hot pockets 2 nights in a row). Also, next to the convenience store was also a coffee stand which for addicts like me, was a life saver. We got there at 11 pm and pitched our over-complicated tent with the illumination of car headlights and ate snacks in the car for about an hour before going inside because it was freezing outside. If you go to Sasquatch!, bring a really warm sleeping bag! I brought a compact backpacking one that kept me super warm at night, but when the sun comes up while you’re in a tent, it turns into an oven. The people camping around us were also extremely nice and one big group played really good music the entire time that we danced to while getting ready. Another pro tip is to pack light! I brought one backpack with my outfits and a little bag of toiletries- you really don’t need that much! (Plus, it leaves extra room in the car for FOOD which you should also pack a lot of in a cooler because festival food can be pricey!).
There were water filling stations and recycling bins around the entire venue!
BIG tip: Make sure to clean up after yourself when you attend a festival, especially in gorgeous places like the Gorge! There is nothing worse than litter that can make its way into the beautiful nature that we’re lucky to get to hang out in.
Throughout the festival grounds were booths set up that caught my eye like a ‘Change the Face of Music’ Silent Jam booth, a guy creating screen prints of different logos, and in another booth, I caught a guy teaching a girl how to play guitar. There were so many little special things that joined together to create the most positive and lively atmosphere possible.
During the entire weekend, I would stop random people who I thought emanated bright energy and looked like they were having the time of their lives, and asked them if I could take pictures of them. I asked them to put their phone numbers in the notes section of my phone with a note to remind me what picture they were in and when I sent them, they were so happy and it was nice to connect with people like that.
My favourite local vendor at Sasquatch! was Easy Street Records! They sold vinyl LP’s, cd’s, cassettes, posters, t-shirts, etc. of all the bands performing each day!
The Top 9 Acts That Performed at Sasquatch! 2017
9. The Hotelier
This punk rock band from Worcester, Massachusetts attracted a pretty huge audience at the Bigfoot stage on Friday with their lo-fi heavy guitar and intense storytelling lyrics. This three piece has released three studio albums ‘It Never Goes Out’ (2011), ‘Home, Like NoPlace Is There’ (2014), and ‘Goodness’ (2016). After taking pictures up front, I decided to sit on the grass behind the crowd where I could still see, enjoy, and take in the music.
8. Corey Harper
I was introduced to Corey when a friend of mine, Eric from Media, and I ran into him while walking to the main stage. He was Eric’s roommate in college, so they’ve been friends for quite awhile. He was so nice and funny which made me stoked to see him perform after that. Watching him was like watching a young John Mayer. A singer/songwriter, Corey Harper brought the soul and acoustic to the weekend. Originally from Missouri, his talent leads me to believe he began playing guitar before he learned to walk. Initially studying at a school in Eugene, Oregon then leaving to Venice Beach, Los Angeles to pursue music, he has since then opened for the soul musician, Allen Stone and was asked to open for a tour of Justin Bieber’s. The song ‘California Sun’ off of his EP ‘On the Run’ was perfect for the time of day at the Bigfoot stage and the vibe around his set was incredible. I also met his brother and we danced and sang along to Corey’s set!
7. Carseat Headrest
Mesmerizing is the first word that comes to mind when I reflect on seeing Carseat Headrest on the last day of the festival at the Sasquatch stage. Originally from Leesburg, Virginia and currently based in Seattle, Washington, Will Toledo (lead vocals and guitar) formed the band and signed with Matador Records which released their albums ‘Teens of Style’ in 2015 and ‘Teens of Denial’ in 2016. These guys stay true to their garage band roots and write with impeccable introspection.
With Jay Clancy (lead vocals, guitar) complete in Kurt Cobain’s signature white sunglasses and all, Sloucher was my first stop at the festival grounds on Friday afternoon. Sloucher is a fairly new band categorized as “Northwest Alternative” and describe themselves as “Not quite grunge, not really lo-fi, not very alternative, we’re just a basement band” out of Seattle, Washington. They released their first single ‘Certainty’ in 2016 along with their debut 7-track album also titled ‘Certainty’. Sloucher performed on the Sasquatch stage, which was surprising to many because most of the other bands performing on that stage included seasoned indie veterans like The Shins and MGMT. When my favourite song, ‘Flower Girl’ came on, I was overwhelmed with the feeling that this whole experience was a dream, and when their set ended, I pinched myself and realized I had a whole weekend ahead of me.
5. Mondo Cozmo
Mondo Cozmo is, even more, rock and roll in person. The band vibed really well together which rubbed off on the audience, creating an awesome set. These guys were able to embody the feeling of summer during their set on the Sasquatch stage. From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Josh Ostrander became Mondo Cozmo in 2016 and released his enormous hit ‘Shine’ that topped Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs chart. Complete with the ice cold Coronas and all, Mondo Cozmo was probably the coolest guy at the Gorge that day.
O, Canada! An indie rock band from Hamilton, Ontario, the Arkells formed in 2006 and I caught their set on the Yeti stage a couple hours after I got to sit down and interview Max Kerman (lead vocals) and Mike DeAngelis (guitar)(Article up on Indie Underground). The most energetic set I saw at the festival and the most interactive! The Arkells brought a lucky fan up on stage to play Max’s guitar and got the entire audience to dance their socks off along with her. Max even brought up Reuben Bullock from Reuben and the Dark to perform the Springsteen classic ‘Dancing In the Dark’.
3. Kyle Craft
An absolute otherworldly being, complete and utter genius, Kyle Craft. From a little town in Louisiana, and eventually to Portland, Oregon, where Kyle finely sculpted his vintage flare. His all-encompassing vocals caught the ear of many at the Yeti stage. His loose fitting white button up, black pants, shaggy hair, acoustic guitar, and the eclectic band were all he needed to absolutely astonish everyone in the audience. His debut album ‘Dolls of Highland’ (2016) is complete with 12 tracks that symbolize a shedding of old skin and discovering something new.
2. Chicano Batman
By far the coolest and nicest guys I’ve ever met, Eduardo Arenas (bass guitar vocals), Carlos Arévalo (guitar), Bardo Martinez (lead vocals, organ, guitar), Gabriel Villa (drums, percussion) of Chicano Batman, mesh psychedelic soul, funk, indie, and oldies together to sound like honey in your ears. They’re originally from Los Angeles, California, began in 2008, and just recently released their newest album ‘Freedom is Free’ this year. Before their set, I ran into them in the Media area, introduced myself and asked for a quick picture. To my surprise, they said, “Hey, the lighting is better outside, let’s do it there.” In total fan mode, trying to stay chill, I followed them out. When we were leaning against the mural wall, I said, “I feel really cool standing next to you guys.” and Eduardo said, “That’s because you’re the same height as us!” Their set on the Sasquatch stage was definitely the grooviest live show I’ve ever seen.
1. Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Being up close and personal to Rainbow Kitten Surprise made me feel like quite the big shot while I was taking photos. Sam Melo (lead vocals) and Charlie Holt (Bass) came directly up to my camera lens while I was shooting, and it was the most surreal experience I’ve had to date. From the Boone mountains of North Carolina, this band formed in the early months of 2013 and damn, are we glad they did. Their successes began in college and grew into their debut album ‘Seven+Mary’ in 2013 and into another masterpiece ‘RKS’ in 2015.
This festival was the best weekend I’ve ever had; I’m so stoked that I get to do what I love and share it with people. My biggest tip for attending Sasquatch!, or any festival for that matter, is to really plan out each day so you can catch all of your top acts because there’s nothing worse than missing your favorite band! Also, take tons of photos! Looking back on my own, I can’t wait to go next year!