Throwing on my Sonic Youth “100% Dirty” shirt had new meaning on day 3 of the Sasquatch music festival, day 4 of camping. I’m tired of “Honey Buckets,” am covered from head to toe in a thin film of dust, and ready for my own bed to crawl into.
A relatively quiet day in comparison to yesterday’s bedlam leading up to NIN and Jane’s Addiction, day 3 proved to be a perfect wind down to the festival. It was also a day of very powerful women to grace the stages, starting with Erika Wennerstrom of the Heartless Bastards.
Wennerstrom was a vision in a bright blue dress; her raspy voice sounded full and robust live. The first main stage act of the day, the Heartless Bastards played to a sparse crowd but the area quickly filled as Japanese noise pop band Deerhoof prepped to play.
Satomi Matsuzaki, the petite and quirky frontwoman and bassist for Deerhoof, sang in Japanese and English; the band was composed of two guitarists and a minimalist drum set with snare, bass drum and cymbal.
“Thank you very much. It’s very hot,” Matsuzaki said as the early afternoon sun beat down. For the band’s last song, Matsuzaki donned a lion’s mask and handed her bass off to close the set with an eccentric dance number.
Santi White, who goes by the stage name Santogold, was another captivating performer, charming audiences with her offbeat humor, including referencing the Burger King she ate before taking the stage.
“Let’s see what happens, see if I throw up,” she said. Projecting her voice, the Brooklyn producer/singer/songwriter was a bit rasta, a bit hip hop and a lot of energy. Touring for the first time with a band, the group was on its fourth show. With relentless energy, White inspired a dance party on the hill during “Unstoppable.”
She also performed a punky rock number from her former Philadelphia-based punk rock band Stiffed. She closed the set by hand-selecting her “best dancers” from the front row to join her onstage.
Erykah Badu , who performed the main stage directly before headlining act Ben Harper and the Relentless 7, was a sultry and calming presence. Dressed in a Public Enemy hooded sweatshirt, fetching shower cap underneath the hood, the soulful hip hop and R&B artist had massive stage presence. Serene and peaceful, she closed the show by stating, “One smile can cause a million.”
Following her concert, Erykah Badu signed albums for her fans. Her style was an apt lead-in to Ben Harper, who headlined the evening.
Harper’s new band is excellent, but it’s like getting into Jets to Brazil when you know Jawbreaker exists: You just wanted to hear some old songs. Instead, Harper played a Zeppelin cover and a Queen/Bowie cover, a slew of songs from his new band, the Relentless 7 (a four-piece). He did perform “Another Lonely Day” during the encore, but it felt odd that he didn’t deliver any more fan favorites.
Other notable bands of the day included the animated Gypsy punk band, Gogol Bordello, a nine-piece band that seemed like they could soundtrack a gypsy wedding during the sailing of the seven seas. The swashbuckling lead singer, Eugene Hütz, is originally from the Ukrainian, and his grizzled growl and energetic transitions paired with the multi-instrumental combinations made the band thoroughly enjoyable.
L.A. indie rock band Silversun Pickups had a sunset slot but a muddy sound (muddier than they already are on studio recordings) as they were projected throughout the venue. During the band’s hit, Lazy Eye, lead singer Brian Aubert appeared to have some technical difficulties during the song’s climax, and asked his band to improvise, leading them into an elongated jam session.
Greg Gillis, the creative DJ behind Girl Talk, drew the largest crowd on the secondary stage. The mash-up artist drew a spectrum of people, from small children to a crowd surfer dressed as Green Man. It’s nice to seem Gillis on the video monitors, as his shows are typically packed tight and Gillis is hard to see. Because he can’t make a lot of money off selling his music, he’s bound into delivering live and consistently good shows. Propelled into the spotlight for his unusual skirting of copyright laws, Gillis has and is slated to perform at most of the country’s major festivals.
After three days of music, we’re “tired and wired” and have hundreds of miles to go before we hit our own beds. On the trip home we lament about how special the Gorge is and how stunning it appears each time we see it. As we blast some of the biggest bands of the summer on our iPods, the long haul home feels just a bit shorter.