Bittersweet end to Sasquatch! 2014

(original/revised for edit post can be seen here, via mxdwn)

Day Three of Sasquatch! was chock-full of nothing but incredible music. It burst open with awesome punk, and continued churning out talented groups and innovative musicians for the rest of the day, wrapping up with a performance from Queens of the Stone Age, who pulled out all the stops to please their crowd. All things considered, Sunday put Day One and Two to shame.

First up on the docket was Brody Dalle, former lead singer of The Distillers who has revived her career with a new solo album, and collaborations with Garbage. She also happens to be the wife of Josh Homme, who would close the festival that night with QOTSA, but as she stood on that stage, it was all about her music, not his. It was definitely a punk set, and she delivered the vocals in such a raw and badass way. Complimenting this were the pounding drums behind her and the deep and gnarly bass beside her. Carrying this spirit, it felt a solid compliment when she dedicated a song to “all the misfits out there.” The mosh pit below her didn’t seem to respond too adequately to it, however, as the group looked asleep as they restlessly bumped into one another. Dalle addressed this by thanking the crowd for showing up so early, stating she knew it couldn’t have been easy, then began shredding the hell out of her guitar for the last song.

In a quick interview with Pink Mountaintops before their set, frontman Stephen McBean talked about how the band was currently touring “everywhere” to support their release of Get Back, released just a week ago. Pink Mountaintops has also consisted of as many as five members and as little as two, but the current lineup is a four-piece – when asked why members so frequently move in and out of the band, McBean laughed and said, “No one really gets along with me!” Once the group got going that afternoon, with a drawn out jam featuring lots of feedback and charging guitar, it was clear this set of musicians may be here to stay with their impressive rock ‘n’ roll. McBean also had a faster, more gravelly approach to his lyrics than he uses for work with side project Black Mountain, and it went fantastically with the music. This was especially true with classics “Plastic Man, You’re The Devil” and “Sweet ‘69” – his energy gave new, exciting life to these already great songs. Especially the former, which was almost too good as they upped the tempo a bit and flourished it with deep bass and plenty of wah wahs.


Pink Mountaintops

tUnE-yArDs was up next, with lead singer/musician extraordinaire Merrill Garbus flanked by women for this, her Nikki Nack tour. All three of them served as occasional backup singers, an interesting change from Garbus’ previous performances, in which she worked mostly as a Jane of all trades and did the majority of her vocals on her own. Her presence wasn’t diminished by the addition of these ladies, however – they added wonderful dimension to her already impressive songs, especially the powerful “Bizness.” And in all fairness, Garbus is still as cute, whimsical and multi-talented as ever, with a beautiful voice (even when she’s shrieking), all serving as a reminder that she can do whatever she wants. Case in point: halfway through “Powa,” she laughed mid-song and admitted “that was a wrong note,” plugging on without a pause. tUnE-yArDs also played a couple of songs from the new album, “Hey Life” and “Water Fountain.” Garbus brought attention to the fact her and one of her singers’ outfits mimicked the record’s cover. For this and the rest of the set she was all smiles, but that’s nothing new.

Taking the stage next were Cold War Kids, who appropriately opened with a highly rockin’ number, then launched into all their hits. Lead singer and guitarist Nathan Willett did an exceptional job with his performance, using powerful vocals – as well as such a unique voice for rock n’ roll – and an attitude that said he was really into the music. This carried over into his delivery tremendously, making the crowd want to be as into it as he was. Fans got excitedly worked up for “We Used To Vacation,” “Mexican Dogs” and “Hospital Beds.” Winning the prize for most outstanding songs of the set, though, were “Hang Me Up To Dry,” which the band performed with serious grit, and “Saint John,” a dramatic closer that Willett punctuated with perfection.

Over on the Bigfoot Stage, Black Joe Lewis came out and wowed the crowd with his fierce guitar playing and cool demeanor, just as he always does. His band, no longer affectionately titled The Honeybears (a moniker that once followed his, for the band’s name), has seen some of its original members depart but now sounds fuller than ever. It certainly helps that he’s still employing the sexy work of saxophones and trumpets for his music, for the horns are what cement the band’s signature sound. Lewis does the rest of the work, with his brash guitar and raunchy lyrics, and together the group delivers a fun-lovin’, good time havin’ kind of set that should not be missed.


Black Joe Lewis

A few of the bands playing over the next couple of hours really stood out, remarkable considering they’re all so new to the game. LA’s PAPA put on an exemplary set for the Yeti crowd, rolling through a bunch of songs that hinted at soul music, morphed into the kind of tunes befitting college radio. BANKS then slay the crowd at El Chupacabra with her stunning voice and truly delectable R&B beats – she is absolutely an artist to keep eyes and ears on for the next few years. Then, Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts demonstrated why everyone’s been talking about them lately, delivering a performance layered with talent, creating a sound definitely New York-based that walks the fine line between punk and rock.

Two acts from two very opposite ends of the spectrum, Rodriguez and Big Freedia, followed and both put out thrilling performances. Rodriguez was exceptional, evoking Bob Dylan with his politically charged lyrics and extraordinary guitar work. Big Freedia, on the other hand, known as the Queen of Bounce, twerked as much for the crowd as they did for her. She welcomed a ton of fans to the stage and told them to dance with only their backsides facing the audience. The best moment came when she invited only males up to dance, constantly remarking about how good it was to have such “hot boys” at the festival.

Big Freedia

Big Freedia

And then, just like that, the day of musical wonder and weekend of amazing performances was about to be over, thanks to the arrival of Queens of the Stone Age to the stage. Josh Homme and boys couldn’t have been more suitable closers, wrapping up the festival with a set full of oldies, goodies and new tunes currently establishing themselves as monstrously good.

They blew the doors open with “You Think I Ain’t Worth A Dollar But I Feel Like A Millionaire” for their first song, shutting out music from other stages with their cranked up volume and rockin’ sneer. Immediately following was “No One Knows,” making the crowd wonder if the set was going to be a Songs for the Deaf only kind of set. Their question was quickly answered as the band proceeded to play hits from every one of their six albums, including such fiery greats as “Burn The Witch,” “Smooth Sailing” and “Sick Sick Sick.”

Homme peppered the set by calling out the crowd for their debauchery during the festival, despite the fact he could seen sipping on drinks and smoking cigarettes throughout the show. His hypocrisy was then ironically blatant as he delved into “Feel Good Hit of the Summer,” a song that sings the joy of “Nicotine Valium Vicoden marijuana ecstasy and alcohol/Cocaine,” and easily invites the crowd to sing along. Also noteworthy was his appealing delivery of “Make It Wit Chu,” a song Homme couldn’t help but play up and get the girls going with his sexy moves.

Finishing out the set were a few of the band’s newest, “If I Had A Tail” and “I Sat By The Ocean,” but it was their closer that was just as effective as their opener. Selecting another from Songs for the Deaf, QOTSA ended with “A Song For The Dead,” an aggressive and snarling track. It couldn’t have been a better song to wrap up the weekend, juicing up the crowd as they began the walk back to their tents for the last time.

Sasquatch! 2014 officially closed with a bang, one that definitely thanked both the bands and fans for their participation. Here’s seeing if the festival can match this year’s outstanding lineup in the future – chances are they won’t have a problem attracting quality musicians to that gorgeous venue for years to come.

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