THE GORGE, WASHINGTON – MAY 24-27, 2013
It’s pretty hard to describe the atmosphere at the Gorge in Washington during Sasquatch! Wading through the grassy fields and beer cans of the massive campground, I noticed a large number of license plates from Oregon, Montana, Idaho, BC, Alberta and, of course, Washington. People come from all over North America, but those northwestern states and provinces seem to be the base of the crowd during these four days. It’s the community between all of these people that makes everything so compelling — the union of equal parts rave culture, hippie culture and dorm culture cultivates in an unusually positive and tight-knit neighbourhood of music fans, united by the elements and musicians they love.
I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite moments, but a bit of disclaimer is needed. With the amount of people, the size of the venue and the scheduling, it’s nearly impossible to see everyone you want, so the experience varies greatly between festival goers.
Macklemore entertained and spread good vibes all night. Closing out the opening night in front of an energized amphitheatre, Macklemore set the tone for the entire weekend with many crazy moments, which included crowd surfing on an inflatable raft and plenty of surprisingly uplifting politically- and socially-charged rants. He was also kind enough to invite the entire crowd to an after-party in his three retro, ’90s limos parked out back.
Best Use of Nipples
Comedian Nick Offerman began his set shirtless, but managed to keep away from his Parks & Rec persona long enough to deliver a hilarious set that had the Chupacabra tent in stitches. Honourable mention goes to fan who strategically flashed the entire Gorge twice on the big screens later, during Cake’s set.
Most in Need of the Main Stage
It was strange to see Vampire Weekend off the list for main stage acts this year and, after seeing their packed set, it became even more apparent that they would’ve been perfect for the main amphitheatre, as the lighting and stage show was just as tight as the band was musically.
Normally, I’d stay away from a category like this but I’m comfortable in saying that seeing Sigur Ros playing at twilight in front of 25,000-ish people with the gorgeous backdrop that the Gorge provides was one of the single-most surreal and euphoric experiences of my life, musical or otherwise.
Maestro of Fun
Cake had one of the most engaging sets of the entire weekend as lead singer John McCrea charismatically lead his band through an assortment of Cake’s dynamic tunes while also setting the crowd in motion with sing-a-longs and humour that was dry enough to soak up the rain that scattered through the entire weekend.
Marcus Mumford was found throughout the weekend lending his hand and voice, including an appearance with the understated Michael Kiwanuka, as well as the rambunctious cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” with the entire Edward Sharpe crew.
True North Strong and Free
Despite the early start time, the rain, the fact it was the last day and despite the fact they didn’t get all their equipment until mere hours before the show, Elliott BROOD still delivered. The Canadian contingent was thick, but the entire crowd sprung into a muddy rain dance. It was the perfect amount of energy to get the ‘Squatchers ready for one last day of music.
Back from the Dead
It was a nine-year resurrection as the Postal Service closed out the Gorge this year. Ben Gibbard was something else as he danced, sang, played drums and held is heart on his sleeve to his fellow Pacific Northwest inhabitants. Jenny Lewis also joined him on stage as they managed to perform a couple newer tracks along with the majority of their adored debut album Give Up.
Burning Down the House
Simultaneously, over the Gorge, I could hear Steve Aoki absolutely blowing the roof off the Chupacabra tent. I only managed to catch a tiny bit, but the crowd’s response and the aftermath of the tent was indication that Aoki may have had one of the most intense and rowdy sets of the entire weekend.
By Cory Jones
Photos By Shilo Delani