As an alleged arbiter of taste, we at Seattle Met are required to provide our picks for the upcoming four days of Sasquatch! Music Festival. The law is hidden deep in the the Washington legal code, but it’s there. Probably. Before we do, a few thoughts:
1. What’s the point of suggesting each day’s headliners? Yeah, go see Beck. He’ll probably be pretty good; that’s why his names is at the top of the bill.
2. Yes, there’s a noticeable lack of Seattle acts on this list. Because they live here. There are so many chances to see them perform around town, it always seemed silly to drive halfway across the state specifically to check them out.
That said, here are 10 sets you shouldn’t miss:
Friday, May 25
Explosions in the Sky (9:15 at Bigfoot Stage) – The best bet for those seeking a borderline transcendent experience at this year’s fest is Austin’s kings of instrumental rock. Getting lost in the Gorge’s open night sky with the cascading array of guitar notes is the perfect way to cap off the first night of the festival.
Saturday, May 26
Said the Whale (1:20 at Yeti Stage) – If it wasn’t for Tegan and Sara, Said the Whale would probably be Canada’s premier importer of pop rock (emphasis on the pop). The band’s upbeat demeanor and fitting tunes about hiking and orienteering will provide a delightful early afternoon breeze.
Portlandia (3:10 at Banana Shack) – Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein built a cult following with their sketch show by skewering exactly the type of people who attend Sasquatch. Now they get to make fun of them to their faces in a live show. That’s some meta comedy right there.
Childish Gambino (5:25 at Sasquatch Stage) – After a slew of underground releases, Childish Gambino (aka Community star Donald Glover) found commercial success when his first studio album Camp debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard Charts. His lyrics swing between cartoonish quips and angry diatribes against racial pigeonholing. He might have some extra rage to vent on stage in the wake of NBC getting rid of Community creator Dan Harmon. #sixseasonandamovieRIP
The Helio Sequence (6:30 at Bigfoot Stage) – Blues rock duos are a dime a dozen, but the atmospheric looping landscape that the Helio Sequence makes with just two dudes? That’s special. It’s been more than four years since the band released the terrific Keep Your Eyes Ahead and the pair is finally prepping to release a new album, so expect some new tunes at Sasquatch.
The Roots (11:30 at Bigfoot Stage) – Before taking the gig as Jimmy Fallon’s house band on Late Night, the Roots had built a reputation as hip hop’s best live band. The key is the authentic sound of the live instrumentals that ?estlove and co. bring every night. In this increasingly digital age of music, savor the Roots.
Sunday, May 27
Beirut (8:10 at Sasquatch Stage) – While it’s often prescribed that bands need a huge horn sound to carry a festival mainstage, Beirut mastermind Zach Condon has proven his group’s horn-based Balkan indie folk translates brilliantly at the Gorge (see: the band’s 2008 afternoon set). There’s nothing else quite like Beirut on the bill.
Monday, May 28
John Mulaney (2:40 at Banana Shack) – The SNL writer responsible for the show’s most popular character of late—Stefon—is also one of the best stand-ups who hasn’t broken it big yet. His friendly comedic tone makes every joke go down easy, whether it be about being accosted by a homeless man or "What’s New Pussycat?".
The Joy Formidable (4:20 at Sasquatch Stage) – Led by the frenetic ball of energy that is Ritzy Bryan, these Welsh rockers had a breakout year in 2011. The group’s strength comes from the interplay between the tight rhythm section and Bryan’s effects-heavy guitar blitz.
Tenacious D (8:30 at Sasquatch Stage) – The greatest band in the world has reemerged from the ashes with its new album Rize of the Fenix. That’s what they say, so I believe it. Plus, they don’t get out on the road a lot. Apparently their lead singer has another gig as an aspiring actor. Yeah, good luck breaking into Holly-weird.
Sasquatch Music Festival
May 25–28, sold out, the Gorge, George, WA