Fitz and The Tantrums at Sasquatch! 2011 (05/28/11)
Words and Photos: Drake LeLane
Sasquatch! Music Festival 2011, Day 3
Day three instantly provided a dilemma of sorts, with the Smith Westerns starting the day off at noon, and me being prone to desire sleep. I ended up getting neither sleep nor the desired set thanks to time wasted setting up a promo phone overnighted to me — which turned out to not have any coverage on the grounds of Sasquatch! (AT&T… should have known!). The other obstacle presenting itself upon my earlier-than-normal arrival was that there were no schedules to be found anywhere. So it was an all-around, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of day, buoyed only by some special baked goods unexpectedly gifted to me (thank you, Matt!).
A heavenly slice of Seattle’s history in soul and funk, the seasoned collective of Wheedle’s Groove gave their
lessonset from the Bigfoot lecturnstage, dropping both beats and wisdom. Since there wasn’t much else going on in the festival at that hour, an audience grew pretty quickly, like dancing moths to a single light. Providing just enough history in each song’s introduction to enlighten without killing any momentum, Pastor Pat Wright, Ron Buford, Black on White Affair and more got the party started early with some ass-moving funk and soul. Matt & Kim’s set a day prior now had an equal in smiles on stage and in the audience.
Seattle Moondoggies had the unenviable task of following the full on party that Wheedle’s Groove, and if it seemed like Seattle’s funk elders were laying out metaphorical cocaine on the Coke mirror, the Moondoggies had plenty of finely rolled joints to keep the party going, if in a more mellow capacity. (Yes, Matt’s baked goods were in full effect.) For the current tour, The Moondoggies, who drove all night from Montana to make their set, have expanded to a six-piece, and the extra instrumentation has given the outfit some needed oomph. Old fave “Black Shoe” sounded especially lush, and a couple new songs hinted at the band’s return to the catchier, harmony-heavy debut album Don’t Be a Stranger.
Fitz & the Tantrums
Caught this up-and-coming L.A. act mid-set, but in the few songs (including, the gutsy Eurythmics cover “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These)”), they more than lived up to their reputation as a fine live band. Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs (who has performed with Dilated Peoples, Black Eyed Peas and more) have great chemistry, so even when a song started to fall flat, their interplay kept the party going.
Throughout the set, Ontario singer-songwriter Basia Bulat could not stop smiling. The sun was out, she had friends to bring on stage, plenty of fans in the audience to cheer her on, and of course there was the music. In the first three songs alone, Bulat switched from the South American charango on opener “It Can’t Be You” (a new song), to guitar with friends, to an autoharp, hitting each with the charm that she’s become known for.
Sam Roberts Band
Sam Roberts is the perfect example of the power of the Canadian contingency at Sasquatch!. While playing at the second stage, Roberts’ devoted Canadian following swelled the Bigfoot Stage to the largest I’d seen it (well, since last year’s The Xx performance there). Drawing both from the latest color-by-numbers release, Collider, along with his staple of sing-along classics (“Brother Down,” “Them Kids,” “Where Have All the Good People Gone,” Roberts set was testament to his power to get the kids dancing to rock and roll (even if “them kids don’t know how to dance to rock and roll…”).
At some point during Beach House’ haunting set, singer Victoria Grand found herself needing to break from the action unbutton her black leather jacket as the Sun had worked its way on to the portion of the stage she was hiding. That was pretty much the only action Beach House provided on stage, which was just as well. This was a set to sit back far away from the stage and just let the sounds wash over you.
Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
Besides the far too long soundcheck, Black Joe Lewis’ set was en fuego. Wearing a t-shirt that proudly resigned itself with “Fuck This,” Lewis and his Honeybears tore through the truncated set. During an inspired cover of “Louie, Louie,” toilet paper rolls began to rain from the sky. After another cover, “Surfin’ Bird,” Lewis fashioned himself a turban from the TP and continued to rock. Good times.
Archers of Loaf
Ah, yes, the set I’d been waiting all festival for, and it didn’t disappoint. It’d been since at least ’96 since I’d seen them play last, having officially broken up in ’98, and they sounded just as powerful as I remembered. Eric Bachman and co. wasted no time in dishing out what the Loafheads wanted, playing “Audiowhore,” and eventually, the entire EP of Vs the Greatest of All Time. Throw in four from their indie rock classic debut, Icky Mettle, including everyone’s favorite, “Web in Front,” and longtime fans were surely sated. News came out shortly after that both releases are getting packaged together by Merge Records for a special anniversary reissue (which better explains guitarist Eric Johnson’s Merge branded shirt you see in the photos).
The thing about Ryan Olson’s Midwestern collective Gayngs is that you can’t go in thinking irony. Sure, they count Har Mar Superstar as a member and draw inspiration from the gaudy synth ballad “I’m Not In Love” by 10cc (featuring Godley & Creme), but it is with full sincerity that they approach this project. The reverence with which they covered the aforementioned Godley & Creme’s “Cry” as their third song is a perfect example of how full commitment to a song can take it to another level.
The Flaming Lips
Since this is the 10th birthday party for Sasquatch!, it was necessary for The Flaming Lips to come back and perform, since they’re the act that has kind of defined the festival over the years. All the usual fun was on display — the hamster ball, balloons, confetti and plenty of extras in costumes. This time out, Wayne Coyne & co. were performing The Soft Bulletin in its entirety, so the audience was also treated (or tortured, depending on perspective) to a sort of VH1 Storytellers episode. After the first few songs, Coyne spoke at length about each song and how it came to be, which, after euphoria of all the aforementioned fun, started to feel like a bit of a drag, so I moved on to Yeasayer.
The Brooklyn 6-piece played in their typically darkly lit setting (take that photographers!) with a bass-heavy (brown notes abound) all in front of a throng of adoring, dancing fans at the Bigfoot Stage. The drugs were working for everyone, by the looks of things, but after their set, I really had to call it a night.
So after one last stop by the mainstage to photograph Death Cab For Cutie from a long-ass distance and a peek at MSTRKRFT on my way out, it was time to head home one last time. I thought I might be able to catch a bit of Chromeo and Guided by Voices for Day 4, but having the kids with me for the day made it impossible, thanks to Sasquatch! charging for kids over 2(!). So the three of us spent 5+ hours heading back home instead, with a broken CD player and a bag of gummy worms. Next year, Sasquatch! [Mmmm, gummy worms -ed.]
Lots more photos from Day 3 of Sasquatch 2011 after the jump. Thanks Drake!
Archers of Loaf
Black Joe Lewis
Fitz and the Tantrums
The Flaming Lips
Sam Roberts Band