Sasquatch! Music Festival has a monster lineup spread across its three days, May 24–26, with about a dozen acts that could be considered headliners. Lest you get overwhelmed, we've done the work for you, so you can enjoy the shows.
Anderson .Paak, Thundercat, Grizzly Bear
Maybe you already had these ones on your list, but let's hammer the point home. Out of all the top-of-the-lineup heavyweights, Anderson .Paak may have the most legitimate hype. Watch him drum and unleash his silky fusion of R&B crooning and airtight rapping with his excellent, ever-funky support, the Free Nationals. Plus, Thundercat slaps bass like an extraterrestrial with 80 fingers, and Grizzly Bear, after proving they're still in their prime with last year's Painted Ruins, will play a well-timed mainstage slot around sunset.
You Can Do Better
Modest Mouse, Spoon, Ray Lamontagne, probably even TV on the Radio
You won't likely catch a below-average show here. But the thing about headliners is they're often safe to the point of sterilization—you can afford to miss bands who likely summited the peaks of their careers years ago and regularly cycle through the festival circuit. That's especially true this year: the meat (or the soy-based protein, if that's your thing) of the lineup lies in the middle.
Don't Sleep on It
Big Thief, Pond, Noname, Japanese Breakfast
Having released some of the most vital music to come out in the last two years, these four artists deserve your attention. Big Thief gushes spidery melodies led by the arresting voice of the band's frontwoman, Adrianne Lenker. Pond blasts frenzied, acidic jams. Noname spits rollercoaster rhymes, at once disarming and head-bobbing, on top of jazzy backdrops. And Japanese Breakfast radiates tenacity and charm with bright, shimmering indie.
Leap of Faith
Just because you love the Talking Heads doesn't mean the band's old frontman will play their hits and forgo his patchier, oftentimes incredibly strange, solo repertoire. But his newest, American Utopia, is getting solid reviews, so he very well might kill it. The verdict: play the odds. At worst you just saw a legend. Just don't expect, with any certainty, that he'll Byrne down the house.
There's not a lot going on in the way of hip-hop this year—although Gifted Gab, Lizzo, and Noname make a strong showing for female rappers. Of the big acts, steer toward Vince Staples. He puts on a notoriously wild, ferocious show that should jumpstart your weekend.
Get There Before It's Cool
CCFX, Soccer Mommy
Making it to the first sets of the day poses a challenge, extending an already taxing experience for your body. But these two are worth braving the midday sun for, which isn't always the case. CCFX plays blissed-out, dreamy pop dancey enough to perfectly suit festival season, and Soccer Mommy features superb songwriting from an on-the-rise twenty-year-old, who fans of Courtney Barnett and Doc Martens will love.
Bon Iver vs. NAO
No disrespect to Bon Iver, but on a weekend lacking El Chupacabra tent's usual firepower, this is your chance to opt for one of the better dance sessions available. NAO takes 80s-inspired synths and punchy drums to get your hips feeling gelatinous and your foot tapping. Meanwhile, Bon Iver recently left his cabin-in-the-woods aesthetic for a more interesting electronic sound—albeit still tranquilizingly chill. The odds are skewed in favor of NAO, but really it depends on whether you want to get your night started or bring it to a peaceful close.
Unorthodox Dance Party
Ditch the ease of four-on-the-floor and descend into an underworld of contortionist percussion. With expert mixing, Jlin sets out on a drumline offensive that will drown out any threat of a dull evening.
"I'm not sure what this is but I'm down"
Too Many Zooz, Tune-Yards, Tank and the Bangas
For that healthy festival dose of "I don't know what I just swallowed," Too Many Zooz turns busking into a blatting jam you could probably measure on the Richter Scale; Tune-Yards launch a full-on ear assault with wild rhythms; and Tank and the Bangas seem to do whatever they hell they want. Come for the tunes, stay to watch the heads of music taxonomy nerds explode.
Find Yourself a Sadboy
(Sandy) Alex G
Alex G has a fresh take on that brooding, grungy sound so many people got hooked on in the 90s. Tuning in to something new doesn't mean you have to forsake your darlings.
Pull Up the Roots
Hurray for the Riff Raff, Margo Price
For those nauseated by the idea of Watershed but who enjoy the occasional flirtation with Americana, you've got two prime opportunities for a set of corn-fed, country-ish music that really gets to the heart and soul of the genre sans kitsch.
New this year, DJ sets will squeeze into the downtime between shows, keeping the momentum in the huge tent powering on. Or sweat the weekend's ethanol out by attending guided yoga sessions starting at 12:30pm daily. Something has to replace this year's absence of comedy shows.