Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Sasquatch-Alypse 2014: A Festival Virgin’s Take on a Post-Apocalyptic Weekend

    It was day three of the 13th annual Sasquatch! Music Festival. My friends and I plopped ourselves down on the withered grass beneath the Bigfoot stage to wait for Major Lazer’s set, one of the final performances of the weekend. The people around us sat in quiet circles, heads bent, pulling grass out of the ground with eyes as fixated, dilated and bloodshot as the Children of the Corn. My friend prodded a crushed beer can that had been squashed into the dirt.

    “I feel like I’m sitting in a landfill,” he said.

    By Sunday, the grounds of the Gorge were covered in the carnage of the weekend. Trash of all kinds littered the hills, blue and ominous in the moonlight. Loud crunching sounds greeted almost every step and the Porta-Potties were veritable hellholes, with used toilet paper draped over the seats like snakes writhing out of their underground dens, and mysterious dark fluids lining the walls.

    Festivalgoers had fallen into a state of delirium and milled around the park like tired zombies lumbering in search of brains. The strobe and spotlights emanating from the various stages coated the Gorge with a surreal haze and the bass thudded like bombs exploding in the distance.

    In three days, I felt as though Sasquatch! had devolved into a surreal, post-apocalyptic world. And I, a music festival virgin, had somehow survived the end of the world.

    Day One

    Friday was a day of mental and physical preparation for the debauchery ahead.

    Waking up at the Gorge is a lot like waking up in a frat house. We washed our faces, got dressed, and then double fisted cups of coffee and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Instead of reading the paper or watching the morning news, we played beer pong and flip cup. I saw few people without a beer in hand when campers left en masse for the venue, and the beers chugged on the walk over were fondly called “roadies.”

    But time would prove that the drinkers among us would be the first to fall.

    On Friday, groggy drunkards were passed out in the grass by 3 p.m., and by 4 p.m. there were sleeping bodies strewn across the hill above the main stage. These were the first victims. Others passed out in the middle of the pit and had to be crowdsurfed into the arms of security guards so no one would stomp on them. By the end of the festival, the unconscious bodies floating out of the pit were as unremarkable as the beach balls and inflatable dinosaurs that were tossed around the throng.

    I suspect that, at the onset of the apocalypse, people will dress a lot like they did on day one of Sasquatch!. They’ll look like maniacs in absurd costumes, flower crowns or even walk around naked. They’ll don headdresses in the misguided hope that, because the world is ending anyway, cultural appropriation is now somehow okay. Others will zip up their fur suits in a last-ditch effort to look cuddly and cute. The fashion extremists will cover their faces with animal masks and assume the guises of minotaurs, wolves and unicorns.

    On Friday, once the beers were consumed and these animal heads were on, the apocalyptic rituals began, the musicians took the stage, and I was thrown into an emotional rollercoaster that left me feeling like I’d been hit by a car.

    Being surrounded by hundreds of people trying to make the most of their depleting time made me feel at times elated, like I was part of a larger purpose, and at other times painfully lonely—I was hyperconscious of the fact that I mean little and make little difference in the grand scheme of the universe.

    In the beginning, I jumped like a giddy maniac throughout Kithkin’s energetic performance, eager to live in the moment and enjoy the coming days, but by the time we sat down for Foals a few hours later, I felt lethargic and melancholy, like the heaviness of the world rested on my shoulders. The band’s evocative sound forced me to dwell on the past and question my place in the world. When OutKast played “Hey Ya,” childhood memories flooded back to me like my life was flashing before my eyes and I relished the nostalgia. But when they were done and I rushed to Die Antwoord as the last set of the night, I was overcome with exhaustion and a feeling of impending doom. As Yo-Landi Vi$$er shrieked onstage and the screen behind the duo projected obscene sexual imagery, I watched the crowd banging their heads around me—one spectator held a large plastic sword in the air throughout the entire performance—and felt as though we were preparing for a vicious battle, rallying for the slaughter to come.

    I was all too aware that the end was near.

    Day Two

    While my friends walked back to the campsite early Saturday morning, a wide-eyed guy flew past them with his hands clasped in front of him like he was about to leap off a diving board. He ran manically in zig zags, chasing after something invisible, his face strained with determination and eyes blank. He wound through the pockets of people like a defunct remote control car that can no longer drive straight. My friends watched him for about five minutes before a nearby stranger finally stated the obvious: “He’s really f***ed up.”

    The apocalypse had come, and half of us had been reduced to zombies.

    The stoners and drunkards swayed placidly along to the gentle tones of First Aid Kit, their minds turned to mush, and Neko Case took the stage in skeleton pants, a telltale symbol of death and destruction. People on uppers and acid roamed the park in droves, their pupils dilated and empty like anime characters. During the day, the sight was unobtrusive, but at night, I felt like I was trapped inside a crack house I hadn’t meant to enter. People tripping on way too much acid wiggled around like dogs chasing their own tails, and festival girls on ecstasy swarmed the El Chupacabra tent for Boys Noize, their lucid arms flailing beneath a blinding strobe light. Once the sun set, I spent most of my travel time dodging high people with dead eyes, afraid that they would eat me like that bath salt guy in Miami.

    That night, Tyler, the Creator’s angry lyrics felt like harbingers of doom and fans of M.I.A. yelled along with her lyrics as if they would never yell again. We danced like Neanderthals, trying to live fast before we died young.

    When the park finally cleared out that night, a golf cart combed the festival grounds in search of bodies strewn amid the trash of the day. Security loaded unconscious attendees onto the golf cart like the dead collectors of the Middle Ages.

    Day Three

    Before we headed into the park on Day Three, my friend stored his last cigarette in his shirt pocket.

    “I’m going to save it,” he said.

    “For closure.”

    The Gorge on the final day of Sasquatch! looked like a battlefield covered in rubble. Those of us who had survived the night were covered in dirt and our fight or flight instincts had kicked into high gear. Suddenly, the Gorge felt like a Hunger Games arena.

    Hungry and tired, we fought our way to the front of the pit for Haim, determined to assert our dominance as fans. The Haim sisters drummed like a group of animalistic warriors and, watching them, I felt a new sense of empowerment that would push me through the final leg of Sasquatch!—I knew I could survive and thrive in this post-apocalyptic world.

    And I did. I danced in solitude to Big Freedia. I navigated my way through hordes of zombies in search of clean Porta Potties. I savored a serving of Tater Nachos smothered in jalapenos and ground beef, and I wisely steered clear of the Queens of the Stone Age mosh pit.

    Major Lazer was my final show and, as I danced to Diplo’s beats in the “landfill” with my friends, I knew it was time to say goodbye to the Gorge.

    My friends and I linked arms and began to wind our way through the pulsing crowd. As we pushed through the gaggle of rolling festival girls, shirtless bros and weirdos in unicorn heads, I locked eyes with each of the people I brushed past. Their eyes looked emptier and emptier the farther we got from the stage—some were sleepy, dazed and unengaged, as if they had accepted defeat, and others were alert, pupils dilated in a drug-induced state, and all too aware of how little time was left. I stared into their eyes and we connected in the purest way possible: we recognized that we share a common condition. We are both humans. We are humans with individual lives and perceptions of those lives, unwilling to let go of a moment. And one day, we will both cease to exist, and Major Lazer will cease to exist, and no one else will know this moment as it really happened. No one else will know we were even here.

    When my friend went to smoke his last cigarette on our walk back to the campsite, he realized it had broken in half. We traipsed on, feeling robbed of the closure a single cigarette could bring, and tried to accept that the beautiful, post-apocalyptic weekend had come to an end. My friend held onto his broken cigarette until we got to the car, unwilling to let it go.

    Then we climbed in and drove abruptly back to our very real, very stagnant and very safe lives 150 miles away.

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    Kellie Cox, Author

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