Sasquatch day 3: Electric

Ratatat’s late-nigh set closed out Sasquatch’s Sunday lineup (photo by Kyle Johnson)

Sasquatch Sunday rolled late into the night with Ratatat’s closing set. Performances leading up to the New York electric duo’s set included Beach House, Cold War Kids, Flogging Molly, Flaming Lips, and Modest Mouse.

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Sasquatch Day 1: Politicking, dance parties

Crowds at the 2011 Sasquatch! Music Festival (photo by Christopher Nelson)

Day two of the 2011 Sasquatch Music Festival brought Death Cab for Cutie to the stage as a headliner. Earlier in the day, the outspoken “rap n’ roller” K-OS (born Kevin Brereton) gave homage to the band in his lyrics, as did Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. Touring with Death Cab, Oberst gave the band praise for being “on top of their game.”

“They’ll sound fantastic,” Oberst said.

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Sasquatch celebrates 10 years of music

Crowds at the 2011 Sasquatch! Music Festival, held at the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington state (photo by Christopher Nelson).

In what felt like a greatest-hits compilation, some of Sasquatch’s most impressive acts returned to the stage for the 10th anniversary of the northwestern music festival. Held during Memorial Day weekend at the Gorge Amphitheater, the festival was ripe with Sasquatch nostalgia. Saturday headliners Death Cab for Cutie, Sunday’s Modest Mouse, Cold War Kids, Flaming Lips, and Monday’s The Decemberists and Rodrigo Y Gabriela, among others, all returned to celebrate the birthday of the Northwest’s popular music fest.

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Foo Fighters, Modest Mouse and others route through Missoula

The secondary stage at the 2010 Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington’s Gorge Amphitheater (Photo by Christopher Nelson).
The secondary stage at the 2010 Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington’s Gorge Amphitheater (Photo by Christopher Nelson).

The nation’s live music industry remains an unpredictable environment, with fears lingering of last summer’s unusually challenging concert season where artists cancelled tours and struggled to fill seats. Yet 2011 summer music festivals are experiencing record sell-outs.

Tickets to Bonnaroo, Tennessee’s annual music fest in June, are nearly sold out. It was less than a week before tickets for Cochella—Indio, California’s annual music festival taking place next weekend—sold out.

And the northwest’s ever-growing music fest at Washington’s Gorge during memorial Day Weekend, Sasquatch sold all its 100,000 tickets (25,000 per day across four days) just a week after the lineup was announced.

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Orgōne, Kottke set the Babcock stage

New Orleans funk band Galactic in performance at the Babcock Theatre in May, 2010.

Frontwoman for the Los Angeles-based funk band Orgōne,  Fanny Franklin let a modest crowd of fans at the Babcock know, “This band has been on the road for two months. We love it. You know why? We live for music. You all live for music? I can tell. You’re out here. In the snow!”

In her Chuck Taylors and high-waisted jeans, the sultry singer summed up spring fever in Billings and warmed the crowd with her groovy charisma.

The first days of spring have already brought an impressive lineup of musicians through Billings. Orgōne opened for New Orleans-based group Galactic, which took the stage at the Babcock on Tuesday, March 22, their horn-fueled funk rock rolling through the historic theatre.

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Champagne Champagne to perform Billings

Champagne Champagne will perform at the Railyard on Friday, March 25. (Courtesy photo)

Champagne Champagne, a Seattle group that fuses slick hip-hop rhymes with trip pop and despondent shoegazing tunes, performs at the Railyard on Friday, March 25.

Former Blood Brothers drummer Mark Gajadhar (who performs as DJ Gajamagic and serves as Champagne Champagne’s producer) formed the group with rapper Pearl Dragon and MC Sir Thomas Gray. They moved their way from underground Seattle club band to a more high-profile existence with their eclectic mix of electo-beats with dark undertones, what they dub “tropical trip pop.” Seattle weekly noted they “outrap and outparty everyone.”

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Leo Kottke to perform at the historic Babcock Theatre

Guitar legend Leo Kottke performs Thursday, March 24 at the Babcock Theatre.

The week ends with a slathering of excellent music, starting Thursday at the Babcock Theatre with guitar legend and fingerpicking extraordinaire Leo Kottke. He performs an all-ages show starting at 8 p.m. at the historic theater.

In his 24 years of performance, Kottke has been instrumental in creating the combination of bluegrass, bottleneck-blues, and classical rhythms. Born in Athens, Georgia, Kottke grew up in Oklahoma and Wyoming, and had a brief stint in the Navy before settling in Minnesota.
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Nick Miles debuts as DJ Drum

Nick Miles, former drummer for the Photo Atlas, will debut his side project, DJ Drum, Saturday at the Railyard.

With a drum set and a laptop, Billings drummer Nick Miles is getting his clicks in on Saturday. Miles, who once again is calling Billings his home, is taking his first foray into public performance following his split from the Denver-based band The Photo Atlas.

“DJ Drum,” as he’s bid himself, will feature Miles on drums playing along to 40+ songs ranging from pop to rap to indie. From Eminem to MGMT, Notorious BIG to Warren G, The Faint to Ratatat remixes, Miles will improvise drum tracks to a slew of well-known pop songs, as well as some of his personal punk and indie favorites.

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Flowers From Her debuts long-awaited album

Flowers From Her headlines a CD release show at the Railyard on Saturday, March 5, with opening acts starting at 9 p.m. (photo by Casey Riffe)

After nearly a year in production, Billings-based indie rock band Flowers From Her is releasing its first full-length recording, titled “Catharsis,” on Saturday.

Striving to record an album that honestly represents the band live, Flowers From Her worked with local promoter and recording artist Sean Lynch. The band will self-release “Catharsis,” an album mastered by Doug Van Sloun of Focus Mastering, who’s worked with Saddle Creek artists such as Bright Eyes and Cursive.

The album’s title was selected because of the literal meaning of “catharsis,” the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.

“It’s how we feel about playing music,” said guitarist Daniel Gillispie said in a recent interview. Drummer Shan Denning added that Flowers’ music is “an emotional release or an outpouring through art or music—a necessary thing more than a hobby” for the group.

“We tried to make the album best represent how we sound live,” said group founder and frontman Addam John Ostlund. “We didn’t want to overproduce.”
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Bingham fills the Babcock

Ryan Bingham in performance at the Babcock Theatre in Billings on Monday, February 28.

Ryan Bingham may have recently lit up the awards charts, capturing three coveted Hollywood honors including a 2011 Grammy for his song “The Weary Kind,” but in his Billings debut the well-dressed mountain man with the grizzled voice of gold was right at home amongst the PBRs (of the pro bull riding kind and kind that comes in a tallboy), cowboy hats, and bra-chucking women.

Bingham himself was once a rodeo circuit rider, and discussed briefly onstage his fortune to move on without serous injury. Setting off on his own, leaving the drug-addicted parents behind him, Bingham began a music career he couldn’t quite predict. It wasn’t but two years ago Bingham played to a half dozen people at Bozeman’s Filling Station. By noon the day of his Feb. 28 Billings performance, the not-quite-30-something had sold out all 800+ seats at the Babcock Theatre.

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