By Liam Prost
May 28, 2016
GEORGE, WA. — Every morning of Sasquatch! without fail, the hordes of campers all wake bright and early, but not necessarily by choice. The hot sun beats through their tents starting at around 7:00 a.m., and by late morning it has coaxed pretty much everyone out of their tent and into the drink. Thus, early show offerings like Tangerine and Hibou don’t quite get the audience they deserve.
We regrettably missed both due to some socializing with our American camp neighbours, but we made it down to the site with enough time to catch Matt Corby on the Sasquatch! stage. Handsome, young, white, R&B inflected singers do well at Sasquatch!, and Corby certainly wasn’t the only one today, but he commanded the big stage well.
Sled Island alum La Luz zipped and zapped at the Bigfoot stage, bringing the surf haze that was sorely lacking in the hot sun. Moshe Kasher was lucky enough to perform in the tented stage, making progressive politics accessible with quippy jokes about cat-calling and gay stereotypes.
We were excited to see Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, but evidently so was Hollywood actor and comedian John C. Reilly, who bust onto the stage in a cowboy hat to introduce the band. Rateliff thanked Reilly during the set, but the weirdness of that moment still rang strange to us. Rateliff though, was incredible. Punchy horns and a few well-timed guitar solos were strangely lacking at this year’s Sasquatch, but the Night Sweats brought more than enough for the whole fest.
Protomartyr wins the award for the least energetic set of the day. The vocalist nursed a can of Bud Light while the guitarist and bassist worked playfully. Definitely an odd choice for an outdoor festival, BeatRoute anticipates that Protomartyr will have a better showing at this year’s Sled Island festival in Calgary.
We managed to catch a few songs of Lord Huron’s before rushing to see M. Ward, but we were certainly impressed by what we heard. These boys have a keen ear for hooks, and warm, hand-dialed guitar tones let rip some slippery earworms.
M. Ward plays down the guitar on his records, but in the live environment almost every instrumental melody is played impressively on guitar by Ward. We had to leave Ward early to hit up the Yeti stage, but we have no reason to expect anything but quality from the man.
Hop Along was our favourite set of the day. High energy indie-rock is more and more rare on big festival stages as the culture shifts towards electronics, a welcome progression to be sure as M83 and Major Lazer would prove later in the day, but Hop Along’s loud, hooky rock set was raw and refreshing. Frontwoman Frances Quinlan’s vocals were even more frazzled and gravely that on the record, to great effect. Friends of the magazine Shannon and the Clams followed up with a fun-loving costumed set. They attracted a strong crowd too, to which they humbly decreed to be the largest they’ve played for.
Vic Mensa took the stage at Bigfoot with a small army of mannequin cops on either side of him, the symbolism of which became clear during set highlight “16 shots.” Great dance moves and enough fog to sate Stephen King accented a tremendous and politically potent set.
Calgary’s Preoccupations took the stage at Yeti to a small crowd, possibly due to their late addition to the bill, name change, or conspicuous absence from the mobile app schedule. Either way, they played their hearts out, debuting new tracks within their refreshed identity.
M83 felt like they closed the night off with a massive set rife with climaxes. Songs from the new record contrasted their older material strongly, but the band made the transitions smooth with elongated interludes.
Major Lazer made their Sasquatch! return as the mainstage headliner, a decision we fully understood as they took the stage. Their “Simon Says” stage performance and live dancing girls brought out the biggest mainstage crowd we’ve seen, even during a year with relatively low overall turnout.
A few hours of stony sleep later and we’ll be back with Sunday’s wrap-up tomorrow.AB, Alberta, Hop Along, La Luz, Lord Huron, M. Ward, M83, Major Lazer, Matt Corby, Moshe Kasher, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Preoccupations, Protomartyr, Sasquatch 2016, Vic Mensa