Sasquatch delivers an incredible weekend


Rolling into the Sasquatch! Music Festival camping grounds at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, the scene looked more fitting of Woodstock – an endless expanse of tents and half-naked college students, many of whom had already broken out their acoustic guitars and body paint. The annual four day festival taking place at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, WA, draws music and party-lovers alike from all over the Northwest. As someone who has never been to Sasquatch before, I must say this initial glimpse was a little overwhelming.

The campgrounds are about a mile and a half from the actual venue (we decided to never actually time the trek in order to make it seem less exhausting). Those who paid for “Premier Camping” were shuttled to the venue each day, as well as being offered free showers. As poor high school students, we opted for basic camping, meaning we would have to hike the dusty trail every day to the concerts, as well as go without bathing for five nights. The two campsites are separated by a Berlin-esque fence, complete with “no trespassing” signs and guards ready to accost those who attempt to hop it.

After making it all the way to the venue, you must pass anywhere from a 15 minute to an hour-and-a-half line of people, and then have your bags and clothes searched for alcohol and food. Only then are you admitted.

The first night of the festival opened perfectly with “AlunaGeorge,” a British electronic pop duo. The lead singer, Aluna Francis, had great stage presence, and knew how to handle the crowd’s excitement after the first full day of Sasquatch. The visuals and lights kept the audience dancing, despite the slight repetitiveness of their songs. I was slightly disappointed though that she didn’t sing my favorite song, “Friends to Lovers”, which I had been looking forward to.

The last act of the night, “Flume”, was timed perfectly. At the BigFoot stage, it seemed almost all of the festival was packed in by midnight to watch what the Australian DJ had up his sleeve. I was skeptical as to how great a concert could be with only a single man and his MacBook Pro on stage, but I was not let down. Flume was expected to be one of the best performers at Sasquatch, and for good reason. He started out his set with “Holding On” and ended it with his remix of Lorde’s “Tennis Courts,” which everyone could sing along to. The energy of the audience was wild during every single song, accompanied by interesting computer graphics on the screens by the stage, which added more depth to an otherwise rave-like performance.

Another highlight of the festival for me was the Modest Mouse performance on Saturday. The indie rock band started out with a slightly more melancholy tune, “The World At Large.” If I thought that song was sad listening in my room, the emotions were amplified by ten on the big stage. Without crazy light shows or graphics, the lead singer Isaac Brock managed to captivate the audience with his raw emotion. The only downside to the concert were issues with feedback in the microphones, which was a shame because it truly distracted from an otherwise impressive performance.

On Sunday, Milky Chance, Temples and St. Vincent all allowed for calmer concerts, building up to the headliner Lana del Rey. On the mainstage at 9 p.m., Lana Del Rey looked more like an old Hollywood starlet right out of a Marilyn Monroe film than a singer in 2015. The wind blew back her vintage white dress and tousled hair almost as if she had planned it. Her vocals and band were much better than I had expected in person, after reading mixed reviews of her concerts. When, during her cover of “Chelsea Hotel”, Lana pulled out a cigarette onstage and laughed her signature throaty laugh, the crowd went wild. Despite her playing every song I had been looking forward to, from “Born to Die” to “Radio”, I left the venue that night wondering, like much of the audience, if I had dreamed the whole thing.

The last performance of the weekend that I watched on Monday night, and had been anticipating for months to come, left me both ecstatic and slightly confused. There is no denying that Kendrick Lamar was born to be on stage. My friends and I lined up nearly an hour and a half before his concert to be as close as possible, and after the first two songs we were pushed all the way to second row. Seeing someone in person up close whom I’ve admired for so long felt surreal. Kendrick started with “Swimming Pools”, with all the die-hard fans rapping along to every word. He went on to sing “Maad City”, then sing it again after deciding the crowd didn’t have enough energy. Behind him, hauntingly beautiful footage of Compton played on the screen. Then two separate fans were brought onstage, one boy and one girl, to rap the entire song with him, which I appreciated because no other artist that entire weekend had given fans that chance.

It was only after the concert that I realized it might have been nice to use one of the four renditions of “Maad City” to sing a song from his new album. Kendrick ended the concert with an emotional performance of “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, while the entire audience, packed from the stage to the far edges of the field overlooking the amphitheatre, waved their phones and lighters in the air.

“These phones represent more than just when you call someone, when you text your friends,” Kendrick said, pacing the stage. “Look around you, we brought the stars down here tonight. Each and every one of you has a story; you are all stars.”

Leaving the venue that night, I was almost completely satisfied with the last concert of Sasquatch. However, I think it would have been nice for Kendrick to play more than just one song from his new album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” considering this was his first performance since its release.

Overall, I would give Sasquatch an A-. Despite minor inconveniences like the daily hike and ridiculously overpriced concert food, there is no denying this music festival is the most fun you can have for $350. The only advice I have is plan well before coming to the venue, keep an open mind about new bands, and don’t get too excited to hear specific songs. For any young music lover, Sasquatch is an incredible experience.