Festival Review and Photos: Sasquatch 2012 – Sunday

On the second full day of the festival things really began to take off. The sun was shining, the wind was brisk, and the crowd was at maximum levels of excitement for each and every show. It was a coming out party of sorts for Washington’s Beat Connection, and a statement of rock ‘n roll for others, as was the case with The Walkmen. Read all about that and more below, along with a full gallery of photos.

Here We Go Magic
This up and coming intramural band from Brooklyn, whose newly minted record A Different Ship was produced by Radiohead’s producer Nigel Godrich, make music that’s just too perfect for a sunny afternoon on the top of a massive cliff. Luke Temple’s brilliantly crafted lyrics, backed by Jen Turner’s soft voice, make for a finely tuned indie-pop machine. And while it maybe never pushes boundaries that it could, their live show on Sunday was greatly orchestrated and full of smiles, both from the artists and the crowd, which is to be expected when they launched into amazing songs like “Collector” or “Alone But Moving.” And no, John Waters didn’t make a guest appearance.

Gardens & Villa
This ragtag group of gifted individuals from Portland, OR have been a staple of the local scene there for quiet some time, so playing a festival the size of Sasquatch is exactly what Gardens & Villa might need to finally break through onto a national stage. The lead singer’s humble wood flute and native american-inspired garb was certainly entertaining, but it was their music that truly stood out on the Yeti stage. Like most of the Pacific Northwest’s rock music, it’s heavily influenced by psychedelic aesthetic and experimental elements. Their high energy set was just what the afternoon, sun-drenched crowd needed, as the band led the patrons in handclaps and sing alongs. These venues are crucial for artists of this popularity, and Gardens & Villa definitely helped their case on Sunday, having fun while making sure everybody else did as well.

Beat Connection
This group of youngsters from the University of Washington put together one of the most impressive and energetic sets in the Banana Shack this weekend, putting their blend of disco and pop on the map in a huge way. Their older material from Surf Noir, like “Theme From Yours Truly” took on a whole new life behind the now four piece band, who were even accompanied by a brass section for some of the songs. The addition of the main singer, who was nothing short of charming on stage, and the live drummer meant that the founding members could have more freedom to experiment and integrate new instruments on stage. Even down to bringing out Chelsey Scheffe on stage for a rendition of their new track “Think/Feel,” Beat Connection showed that they’re a powerful group with the new lineup, moving lightyears away from their bedroom recording days and into a disco-pop genre all to themselves. Keep an eye out for an interview with these guys next week.

Deer Tick
The once DIY outfit of lead man John McCauley, Deer Tick have evolved into one of the headliners of the folk-rock revival taking place over the past few years. And in typical Deer Tick fashion there were covers, highlighted by a full “Fight For Your Right to Party” tribute. When McCauley’s hair began to blow in the wind, it just seemed fitting that the band blasted their brand of wistful but emotionally emphatic jams onto the huge gathering, making a scene more picaresque than I could ever capture

The always expanding project of Scott Hansen, better known on stage as Tycho, have taken on a completely new life thanks to a fully realized band and Hansen’s gorgeous live visuals. Tracks like “Coastal Brake” and “Hours” became even more powerful than they are on record when Hansen and company built them live in the Banana Shack, taking what was usually a rowdy crowd and turning each of them in to head-bobbing dreamers. And even though he might never show it, you can tell that Hansen is having the time of his life orchestrating the entire thing, from the pictures to each pluck of the guitar. Tycho was an act I had been waiting too many years to finally see live, but the wait more than paid off when the image of a sand-filled landscape backdropped Hansen’s hazy keys and meandering guitar. Look for an interview with Tycho on the site next week.

Zola Jesus
Decked out in all white, Zola Jesus, touring last year’s excellent Conatus album, commanded an energy on the Yeti stage that few other artists this weekend could match. Her long hair, her nimble fingers moving with the music, Zola Jesus drew the largest gathering at the stage all weekend, which shouldn’t surprise many people. On record she sounds, at times, introverted and reclusive, but on stage Sunday she was powerful and poignant, making everyone pine for new material from the songstress.

The Walkmen
Hitting a stride in their career after their third straight critically revered album, The Walkmen put on an impressive performance just as the sun began to set on Sunday evening. As if it wasn’t impressive enough on record, “We Can’t be Beat” took on a whole new meaning as the band belted it out to each and every fan there. And that’s essentially what this jam packed set was all about, showing just how hard these guys have worked and how they’re putting their own spin on modern indie rock. “In The New Year,” “Angela Surf City,” “On the Water,” The Walkmen hit all of sweet spots during their set, even getting through a lot of their new material from Heaven as well. It was a study in efficiency and maturity, proving once again The Walkmen can’t be beat. Keep an eye out for an interview with the band on the site next week.

Little Dragon
Even though she stands for everything I like about music, I’ve never managed to fully appreciate Little Dragon. Her high energy on stage, her multi-instrumental ensemble, her totally unique voice are all things that made her dominate the Bigfoot stage on Sunday, and thanks to her recent collaborations with the likes of SBTRKT, she drew quiet the gathering. Maybe it takes seeing her live to get what’s she all about, because I couldn’t get her music music out of head all night, but it’s obvious that Little Dragon has launched beyond even her wildest expectations.

James Murphy
The passing of LCD Soundsystem has been well documented, especially by myself, but there’s been no stopping LCD frontman James Murphy since breaking up his band. As he lugged his carton of records onto the stage Sunday night, standing between two monolithic monitors and a long table, it was easy to see he’d been doing this for decades. Maybe it’s for the best that I didn’t recognize a single track he spun, which seems to be his signature, but the seminal artist had the entire tent boogying like no other DJ could. Murphy is always a must see, as it’s hard to tell when he’s going to call it quits for real, making the audience hang on every break and filter pass.