News Column

On Magazine Sasquatch! Bands to See: 2013 Edition

May 23, 2013


May 23--By Pat Muir

Yakima Herald-Republic


You can't just up and go to the Sasquatch! Music Festival.

Four days at the Gorge Amphitheatre is something for which you must prepare. You'll need sandwiches. You'll need beer (if you drink beer). You'll need water and sunblock and probably a Frisbee or something. You'll need a lot of stuff.

But most of all, you'll need a plan. There are about 20 million bands playing this year's festival (not a real number), and you're not going to be able to see them all. It's going to take careful scheduling. I'm not here to do that for you. But I am here to at least point you in what I think might be the best direction.

I'm going to hip you to some bands, is what I'm saying. Now, you and I may not like the same stuff. That's fine; Sasquatch! is a big tent. The important thing is that you make a plan. If my recommendations help you with that, all the better. So without further ado, I present the On Magazine Sasquatch! Bands to See: 2013 Edition.

Related Information

If you go

What: The Sasquatch! Music Festival

When: Friday through Monday

Where: The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Wash.


Tickets: Are you kidding? Way sold out.


--Jherek Bischoff: The Seattle indie composer is as stylistically opposed to my taste as anyone this side of Sufjan Stevens. His stuff is epic and overwrought and complex, with layers of artifice obscuring its core. But you know what? Actual genius trumps mere aesthetic taste, and the more I listen to Bischoff's weird, beautiful compositions, the more I think he might have actual genius on his side. Yeti stage, 5:05 to 5:50 p.m.

--Japandroids: This Vancouver, British Columbia, duo, which last year wrested the mantle of world's best anthem-rock band from The Hold Steady (at least temporarily, while the latter remained largely mum), is my No. 1 must-see Sasquatch! act. These guys are everything that is right and good about rock 'n' roll music. They risk cliche -- occasionally, they embrace it -- but it has rarely sounded so good. This is fist-pumping music with smart lyrics. Honda Bigfoot Stage, 6:05 to 7:05 p.m.

--Built To Spill: I know these guys are elder statesmen nowadays. And they haven't released an album since 2009. But still, man, it's Built To Spill, the flagship band in the whole Northwest indie movement, born alongside grunge but destined to outlive it, both in real terms and by any measure of influence. They released "Keep it Like a Secret" in 1999 -- nearly a decade and a half ago -- and it still holds up against anything you'll hear this year. Sasquatch Stage, 7:10 to 7:55 p.m.

Also: Red Fang, fuzzed-out hipster metal, Bigfoot Stage, 5 to 5:45 p.m.; ZZ Ward, pastiche of well-produced pop-soul with some blues, Sasquatch Stage, 4 to 4:40 p.m.; Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, mainstream Seattle hip-hop, Sasquatch Stage, 10:30 p.m. to midnight.

But definitely not: Telekinesis, which is basically Death Cab light, the perfect soundtrack for your first kiss as a late-blooming college sophomore, Yeti Stage, 7:15 to 8 p.m.


--Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: These guys are a neo-garage band who took their name from Brando's motorcycle gang in "The Wild One." That's really all you need to know. But I'll also tell you that, in addition to the raw garage fuzz, BRMC has a lot of groove to them, a lot of soul. You might find yourself stomping around, looking for a fight. But you might find yourself dancing. Sasquatch Stage, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

--Nick Offerman: The comedy lineup at this year's Sasquatch! is typically strong, with On magazine favorites like James Adomian, Tig Notaro and Jon Daly. But the big name, rightfully so, is Nick Offerman. You probably know him better as Ron Swanson, the breakout character among all the other great characters on NBC's "Parks and Recreation." I don't know exactly what Offerman will do on stage at Sasquatch! But even if it's just a wood-carving demonstration, it'll be funny. El Chupacabra Stage, 6:10 to 6:55 p.m.

--The XX: The dreamy, trippy sound of this band is going to be perfect for its evening time slot. I wanted not to like The XX; it's wan and a little precious-sounding at first but it comes on sly and sultry and cool. The pleading vocals and the spare instrumentation of a song like "Angels" will win you over, too. Sasquatch Stage, 9 to 10:15 p.m.

Also: Bloc Party, the best '80s band of the 21st century, Sasquatch Stage, 7:25 to 8:25 p.m.; Divine Fits, maximimalist rock, Bigfoot Stage, 8:15 to 9:15 p.m.

But definitely not: Sigur Ros, Iceland's answer to Radiohead only even worse than Radiohead, Sasquatch Stage, 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.


--Tallest Man on Earth: It's an odd thing that, among all of the Americana acts trading on the old folk tradition, the one that sounds the most like the heir to the Guthrie-Dylan-Springsteen-Earle throne is a Swede named Kristian Matsson, who plays under the name Tallest Man on Earth. He sounds like Oklahoma or Kansas by way of Greenwich Village. And he's better than a hundred Bon Ivers. Sasquatch Stage, 4:20 to 5:20 p.m.

--Elvis Costello and The Imposters: If you need me to tell you why you should see Elvis Costello, then you probably shouldn't even be going to Sasquatch!, because you don't care at all about rock music. This is the man who bridged the gap between London punk and post-punk. He is responsible for roughly half of the good music from the entire decade of the 1980s, which is really saying something considering some of his best work was in the 1970s and 1990s. Sasquatch Stage, 8:45 to 10 p.m.

--Grimes: The musical project of Claire Boucher is beyond my explanation. I will quote On magazine music guy Simon Sizer, who wrote last year that "Grimes is a wholly post-networks, post-Internet (a term I think she may have coined), post-just-about-everything band. She's one of the vanguards of not a movement exactly but let's say a generational cohort; bands made up of kids for whom all this new media isn't just old hat, but, like, ancient hat." So she's got that going for her. Bigfoot Stage, 10 to 11 p.m.

Also: Brett Gelman, madman and comedian, El Chupacabra Stage, 6:25 to 7:10 p.m.; Shout Out Louds, polished, melodic pop, Bigfoot Stage, 6:50 to 7:50 p.m.; Fang Island, happy fun-time rock but with an edge, Bigfoot Stage, 4:10 to 5:10 p.m.

But definitely not: Mumford and Sons, a band I recommended a couple of years ago but have had more than enough of (sorry for steering you wrong back then), Sasquatch Stage, 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.


--Cake: Another elder-statesman type of act, Cake has been around now for two full decades plus. But, you know what? They're still really good. Incorporating rap into rock (but in a good way) alongside funk, jazzy horns and clever deadpan lyrics, Cake has been a mainstay of the almost-mainstream music scene long enough that it's easy to take them for granted. Don't. Sasquatch Stage, 7 to 8 p.m.

--Dirty Projectors: I don't know how to explain Dirty Projectors. They're weird. They combine things at odd angles. But for some reason it mostly works. And when it doesn't, it's maybe even more interesting for the ambitious way in which it fails. What I'm saying, I guess, is that Dirty Projectors is one of those bands that demands attention and rewards it. Bigfoot Stage, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

--Cody Chesnutt: As he says in "Look Good in Leather" from his 2002 landmark neo-soul album "The Headphone Masterpiece," Cody Chesnutt is "cool, with attitude and ego to spare." And, while his only other full-length release, 2012's "Landing On a Hundred," displays a more mature Chesnutt, he remains all of that. With attitude to spare. Bigfoot Stage, 3:25 to 4:10 p.m.

Also: The Wild Feathers, throwback rock, Yeti Stage, 12:30 to 1 p.m.; James Adomian, knowingly irreverent standup comedy, El Chupacabra Stage, 1:45 to 2:30 p.m.; Ryan Bingham, the guy who wrote that song from that movie ("The Weary Kind" from "Crazy Heart"), Sasquatch Stage, 2:45 to 3:45 p.m.

But definitely not: The Postal Service, because they're the reason so many bands have chosen "limp and ineffectual" as their guiding premise for the past 10 years, Sasquatch Stage, 10 to 11:30 p.m.


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