Sasquatch! 2018 returns to its roots

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The Gorge Amphitheater in Quincy, Wash. was full of blue skies and stellar performances this past Memorial Weekend. The Gorge has been home to the Sasquatch! Music Festival since 2002 and has featured a variety of artists in its past 17 years. This lineup was one of the best to date with Bon Iver, Modest Mouse and the National leading this year’s slate of performers.

Overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, the main stage saw the likes of Sasquatch! veterans and newcomers. Margo Price was the third to take the stage on Friday, May 25. Price commented on the lack of women headliners, which has been a controversial issue as 2018 festival lineups have been announced.

Even though the majority of the headliners were men, the women performers proved to be a highlight of the weekend. Tash Sultana captivated the Bigfoot stage, executing a rendition of Darude’s “Sandstorm” on the pan flute before transitioning into her own song.

Before Talking Heads’ lead singer David Byrne took the main stage, Vince Staples got the crowd moving. Staples started out with his 2017 album “Big Fish Theory” and erupted familiar cheers as he played “Bagbak”—which was featured in “Black Panther.”

Byrne and his band performed without amps and cords, incorporating some Talking Heads classics into the set. His performance was powerful, ending with a cover of the protest song “Hell you Talmbout” by Janelle Monae, but incorporating recent names of Black lives lost to police brutality.

Incorporating more EDM artists this year, Snakehips closed out the El Chupacabra tent. They were the second-to-last performers of the night, as Tyler the Creator finished his set on Bigfoot at 1:30 in the morning.

As fans made the long walk back to the campsites, others stood nearby waiting for the shuttle to take them home. Sasquatch! offers four different kinds of camping options: general, premier, gold and terrace. I opted for premier myself in hopes of saving my exhausted feet (those in general camping do not have access to the shuttle). General campers also have more limited access to showers and must pay to use them.

You can’t go wrong in wherever you choose to stay as the atmosphere of the festival is welcoming and kind. You’re more than likely to befriend your neighbors—you will be sleeping about 10 feet from them after all—and get less sleep than you’d hope.

Saturday was full of well-known indie-rock artists, many who have taken the Sasquatch! stage more than once. Grizzly Bear, Spoon and TV on the Radio each performed their third set. Modest Mouse closed out the main stage, making it their sixth time playing at Sasquatch!.

Amid a starry sky and cool nighttime breeze, Modest Mouse finished their electrifying set with some good festival advice: don’t get too drunk and crash into your neighbor’s tent. Their encore of “The World at Large” was interspersed with fireworks.

Before Explosions in the Sky ended the night, Jai Wolf’s performance in the El Chupacabra tent thrilled the crowd, scattered with a stellar light show and captivating visuals.

By Sunday morning, most of the food I bought had run out. While the food trucks that line the campgrounds are delicious, they’re also very expensive. A smoothie can cost you $7 and it’s difficult finding anything to eat that’s cheaper than $10. The festival rules allow you to take in a gallon bag of snacks, which I would highly recommend to avoid the expensive meals offered inside.

The last day of the festival dawned and tired fans scattered the hillside to watch Neko Case play the main stage. She’s played Sasquatch! nine times—more than any other artist. As the sun set towards the end of Neko Case’s set, the crowd was reminded just how beautiful the Gorge is. A picturesque sunset that could’ve been right out of a painting colored the sky, prompting everyone to savor it as it was the last one of the weekend.

The National, Anderson.Paak & the Free Nationals and What So Not closed out the festival. Our exhausted feet trekked back to the campground for the last time, singing the traditional “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie while passing through the tunnel on the walk home.

Coming back from what many considered a sub-par 2017 lineup, this year reminded everyone of Sasquatch!’s true roots. While the proximity of stages was good for bouncing around, sound bleeding was noticeable during louder sets. Overall, Sasquatch! 2018 was a remarkable weekend, and a highly recommended activity for any future memorial weekend plans.

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