Overhead at Sasquatch day four: Is he dead? No doubt the extended weekend of musical festivities and hard partying took its toll on some of the masses, but if you had any spark left, Monday proved that it was time to dance.
The Old 97’s rocked the stage with their brash, vibrant brand of punkified country. From “Smokers” to “Timebomb,” the Dallas, Texas rockers gave the sleepy, sunburned crowd a jolt.
The Montreal-based electrofunk band Chromeo kept the vibe upbeat in a way that would make Michael Jackson circa 1983 proud. Composed of David Macklovitch on guitar and lead vocals and Patrick Gemayel on keyboard/synthesizers, the electronic duo rocked out on keyboards held upright by mannequin legs in red heels. Macklovitch flashed his shiny teeth and broad smile throughout the set that included dance pop hits “Don’t Turn The Lights On” and “Night By Night.”
“We didn’t expect this for an afternoon show,” Macklovitch exclaimed as he looked across the dance party.
Guided By Voices brought old man flair to the hill, playing a set of their influential tunes. The band, which originated in the 80s, disbanded in 2004 but reformed last year and began touring again.
“Happy Monday the nation of Sasquatch!” said founder and lead Robert Pollard before launching into “Cut-Out Witch.”
On the secondary stage, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis arrived shortly before their set. “We just got here so you’ll have to let me take in where we’re at,” said the Seattle hip-hop artist Ben Haggerty (stage name Macklemore). “This is one of the most beautiful places on the earth.”
Macklemore took a poll of the crowd to discover one 60s baby, a handful of 70s babies, plenty of children of the 80s, but by far the 90s generation was most represented.
“I’m wondering if we can take you guys back to the 80s?” Macklemore asked before rolling into “Crew Cuts” from the VS. EP. “Dodge Caravan, humping in the back. Classic.”
The duo played the majority of songs from the VS. EP, first collaboration project between Macklemore and Lewis, which they released for download. During “Otherside,” Macklemore asked the crowd to make a pledge, holding one finger to the sky. “This is to all those we’ve lost and those struggling with addiction.”
“Look at this beautiful ass neon crowd!” Macklemore said. His alter ego, Sir Raven Bowie, made an appearance…and we danced.
Back on the main stage Rodrigo Y Gabriela brought a different form of dance. Never has the flamenco been so metal. The duo from Mexico—currently not on tour—made a special appearance at Sasquatch. Their fusion of Latin beats, thrash metal, hard rock ballads, and Gabriela’s fierce finger work on the body of her guitar made theirs a stand-out set of the festival. And we danced.
Decemberists took the main stage next, performing their second Sasquatch since 2009. “We love to be back here,” said frontman Colin Meloy.
Present during the performance was the band’s accordion and keyboard player Jenny Conlee, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Though the band has not canceled shows, Conlee was predicted to miss most Decemberists performances in May and June.
Headliners Wilco weren’t shy about praising the audience. “This is the best show we’ve ever played here,” said frontman Jeff Tweedy, mentionoing that the Gorge was where Wilco played its worst show to date. “Were any of you here? You weren’t even born yet!”
The Chicago-based group opened with “Ashes of American Flags,” apropos for the Memorial Day holiday.
Performing “Shot in the Arm,” “I’ll Fight,” “Misunderstood,” among other heart-rendering tunes, Tweedy said, “There’s so many songs in our set that I was thinking about while the Decemberists were playing, thinking, ‘We’re really going to make these people sad after they’ve been so happy.’ But that’s our job, I guess.”
Tweedy’s avant-garde sound was on full display, and his conversation in-between songs like a sweet narcotic.
“Did you guys celebrate the apocalypse? You look like a bunch of sick bastards that would celebrate the apocalypse!” Tweedy said.
Without being swallowed up by religious apocalypse, Wilco’s set was stuff of legend. Their songs were grand and gut-punching. Tweedy and crew wrapped the 10th year of Sasquatch in exceptional style. Hear their Sasquatch set, among others, on NPR.