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.

Attendees of the 2011 Sasquatch! Music Festival (photo by Christopher Nelson)

Festival promoters estimate 25,000 tickets were sold each day to music consumers–many who paraded out their finest kitsch. From leopard print leotards to body paint to bodysuits, there was no shortage of creative fashion on display.

Walter Schreifels of Rival Schools (photo by Jackie Kingsbury)

Rival Schools opened the fest on Friday with a song from the new album “Pedals,” a mellow album that shows the group’s groovy soft side. Walter Schreifels—known for his work with Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits and Quicksand—eased the crowd into the first afternoon. “This is a special occasion,” Schreifels said. “Have a great festival.”

Sasquatch planners extended the festival to four days in 2011 in celebration of its 10-year birthday. Though initially quiet, the venue filled by Friday evening with fans anticipating the headlining acts, including a reunion of Death From Above 1979 and a performance by the Foo Fighters.

Bob Mould (photo by Christopher Nelson)

Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü christened the main stage on Friday, his grizzled voice appealing in its familiarity. He stumbled a bit on “Hear Me Calling,” commenting that “I don’t know that one anymore.” Mould discussed his focus for the last couple years, in which he’s spent writing his biography. “It’s a page-turner for your beach activities,” he said.

Tom Gabel of Against Me! (photo by Christopher Nelson)

Punk rockers Against Me! didn’t break once through their set, opening with “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” and clamoring through popular songs from the group’s 10-year discography. Frontman Tom Gabel’s characteristic smile left little doubt he was delighted at the crowd’s reaction. Unusual of Sasquatch sets, Gabel and crew returned to the stage for an encore, singing the classic “Baby, I’m and Anarchist” and “We Laugh at Danger (and Break All the Rules)” as shoes went flying.

Sebastien Grainger, of Death From Above 1979 (photo by Christopher Nelson)

Canadian-based duo Death from Above 1979 readied the crowd for Foo Fighters. Reunited after calling it quits five years ago, their Sasquatch appearance was one of only six that the band will perform in North America this summer. On the group’s website, drummer Sebastien Grainger commented: “2011 has a nice ring to it & if you’re so inclined, it may be the last year ever!…So why not say YES to stirring up a writhing pit of sweaty humans? YES to riots! YES to heavy music! YES instead of maybe, and YES to make death your adviser and remind yourself always, that this is not a dress rehearsal. This is the big show.”

Crowds at Death From Above 1979 (photo by Christopher Nelson)

With plenty of screamo and a torrent of rock, the two-piece seemed unstoppable. “How’s the view?” Grainger asked. “I wasn’t taking about us. I know we look good.” In good humor he reminded the crowd of a YouTube from last year of the couple having sex. “I might need something to watch when I get back to the hotel.”

Foo Fighters in concert (photo by Kyle Johnson)

The Foo Fighters followed, opening with “The Pretender,” and it seemed that Sasquatch is all grown up. The group has an important place in Americana and it was delightful to hear Grohl’s screams ricochet through the amphitheater; he hollered to the point of nearly losing his voice.

“When I was driving in, the first thing I saw was this big fucking sign that said ‘beer,’” Grohl commented. “Even reading that word makes me happy.”

Grohl pointed out the Foo hasn’t played the Gorge in 10 years. “It’s an honor to be here,” he said.

Read about Sasquatch 2011 Day 2 > > >

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About Anna Paige

Anna Paige is a writer, poet, and photographer advocating for live music culture, visual and performance arts, and the creative class in Montana through writing. More >>