Sasquatch 2015 Launch Party
Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
The tickets were free, the posters were free, even host Chris Gethard was passing out free stuff. Albeit, the crumpled coffee filter and packet of tea were a jab about how everyone just wants free stuff, regardless of quality. Despite the fact that Sasquatch! Music Festival tickets are anything but free, Tuesday night’s crowd at the Neptune Theatre waited with baited breath for the festival lineup presentation, all while enjoying the completely free performances of three idyllic indie bands.
The night opened with The Young Evils, a band with serious local rock cred just now turning around some classic record label drama. In November, their intentionally titled False Starts EP was released, comprised of songs from the course of two years of recording, which thankfully they were able to retain the rights to. Fronted by singer Mackenzie Mercer, with her signature pink mic stand and torn Macklemore tank, they started the show a serious jolt. Bandleader/songwriter Troy Nelson plays a second lead role on guitar and vocals, their two voices making 80’s-influenced, dark pop rock sound just as dirty as it should. They kept the banter to a minimum – until they faked out the audience about the lineup announcement – and left us with some immensely listenable, do-woppy nuggets in preparation of a full-length release which it sounds like they’re working on now.
Following the opening performance the crowd was teased by a two minute video compilation – festival-goers of yore cavorting at the gorgeously shot Gorge Amphitheater – reminding everyone what was in store.
Then on came Tacocat, cans of beer in hand, set list scribbled on a torn case of Rainier. This self-described band of “post post punk pop pop” is nothing if not thoroughly enjoyable. They are fun, they are colorful, they write songs, and tell stories about cats. Obviously smarter than it might seem at first listen, their 90’s influenced surf-pop is laced with feminist lyrics and irony. Songs like “Hey Girl,” about epidemical street harassment, or the period-positive “Crimson Wave,” which tonight was giddily accompanied by a dancing human crab prove their prowess. Band members Emily Nokes, Lelah Maupin, Bree McKenna and Eric Randall have been cranking out gems like this since 2007 and touring for the past year in support of their 2014 full length NVM. Though Tuesday’s set was riddled with electronic crackling from a misbehaving amp – which they blamed on the venue being haunted – they pushed through with characteristic aplomb.
After what then seemed like an interminable wait and plenty of begging from the audience, the giant projection screen above the stage finally erupted to life. Starting with the headliners and ending with the comedians, at my count there are over 100 artists thus far. Kendrick Lamar, Robert Plant, Modest Mouse, Lana Del Rey, the list goes on. There’s something for just about everyone here, and if I had a nickel for each time I heard “Oh my god – so and so is playing, I’m so excited” from the crowd, I wouldn’t have to worry about the festival’s ticket price.
After the lineup announcement the antithesis of bubblegum culture, Ty Segall, took to the stage with an acoustic guitar. The set had him saying that he hoped it was okay he didn’t have his electric tonight, and I don’t think anyone was disappointed. Though the crowd might have been expecting something more in line with his abrasive garage/surf/psych rock, the unique quality of his voice and the vulnerability of his solo stage presence were impressive. It left me wishing they had saved the Sasquatch! announcement for the end so the crowd would have been less distracting from Segall’s gift.
Overall, the night was a success, accomplishing both the intended Sasquatch! lineup excitement as well as putting on a great set of live performances. And if there was any question about whether that aforementioned ticket price was actually worth it – scratch that thought. I’m stoked for at least three quarters of the artists set to play this year’s festival, and that’s a hard percentage to hit. Go check out the full lineup for yourself and prepare for the onslaught of browser-refreshing as tickets go on sale Saturday.
Everything you need to know is right here www.sasquatchfestival.com. Good Luck!
Review by Stephanie Dore
Photos by Sunny Martini
The Young Evils