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Sasquatch Music Festival 2009: Saturday

Last month, I was invited on short notice to attend the 2009 Sasquatch Music Festival, a three-day event happening over Memorial Day Weekend at the Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington state. My role for the weekend was to post updates to KEXP's Facebook account about all the great bands I was seeing; naturally, I also took notes to write up a review of the weekend. With so many bands to cover, I'll do my best to keep this short and sweet.

Read about Sunday at Sasquatch.

Read about Monday at Sasquatch.

Saturday

As this was my first visit to the Gorge, I wandered about for a bit to check out the grounds, before settling in at the Wookie Stage (yes, that's what they called it, and yes the proper spelling for the Star Wars species is wookiee) to hear Owl City. Between the bouncy synthpop music and the lead singer sounding so much like Ben Gibbard, the band might as well be considered The Postal Service v2.0. I thought it was good stuff, but I could see them being criticized as too derivative. Still, if you're longing for more music like The Postal Service, Owl City are worth checking out.

My first visit to the ampitheatre Mainstage, with its gorgeous view of the Columbia River, was to hear modern-rock band Doves. Style-wise, I felt they sounded somewhat like Evan Dando (of the Lemonheads) leading the band Editors. Some of my friends rave about them, but their music never really kept my ear, or so I thought; I was surprised to find that I recognized more of the songs than I expected, and actually knew most of them. Despite that unexpected familiarity, I still felt most of the songs didn't really grab me, but I decided Doves were pretty good after all.

Back at the Wookie Stage, King Khan & the Shrines put on a blazing show that was hotter than the sun. Bare-chested and wearing a flamboyant feathered headdress and golden cape, King Khan led his band in a series of fast and furious party music that ranged back to fifties-style rock, rhythm and blues, and old-school funk. Crazy stage antics included a go-go cheerleader who danced for the whole set, a musician running forward to drop his trousers with his genitals tucked hidden between his legs and dancing in circles during "I Wanna Be A Girl", and Khan donning a Mexican wrestling mask at the end of his set. He balanced out the raucous songs with a slow and spooky blues tune and a silly and raunchy "psychedelic erotic gospel". Although this was not my favorite set of the weekend, it was definitely the flashiest for showmanship and a lot of fun.

I was up at least three hours earlier than usual in the morning that day in order to catch my ride to the Gorge, and between that and the intense desert sun, I was already feeling pretty wiped out by late afternoon. Fortunately the next band was Sun Kil Moon, whose quiet moody songs were perfect for chilling out. I recognized a couple from their first album, but I was so tired that I mostly zoned out through their set. Hopefully I can see them again when I have the energy to listen. Besides Sun Kil Moon, the other band I had really wanted to hear on Saturday was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who played the early-evening Mainstage set. Unfortunately I had developed a headache from tiredness, and felt too removed to get into their music, so after just a few songs I left.

However, I still had an hour before my ride back to the hotel was leaving, so I went over to the Comedy/Dance Tent to catch James Pants. James Pants is all about the good time party, and although it was pretty loud in the tent, his music still lifted my spirits despite my fatigue. He was funky! dancey! a little bit crazy! a little bit spooky! or, as he said at one point, "First what we do is make you feel good about yourself! Then what we do is make you feel better about yourself! Then what we do is make you feel creepy about yourself!" I never did get to the creepy feeling, which is just as well; instead, he helped me end the day on a high note.

See my Sasquatch Music Festival 2009: Saturday photo set on Flickr.


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