This year’s Sasqautch! Music Festival has had a promising start with high energy performances and beautiful weather at the Gorge Amphitheatre. The Memorial Day Weekend festival has been criticized for its measly lineups in recent years, but 2018’s has seemed more robust — featuring soaring indie-rock acts like Japandroids and Alex Lahey to EDM to art-rock veteran and former Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne.
Here are the Emerald’s highlights from day one of Sasquatch! Music Festival 2018. Check out photos by Sarah Northrop and Dana Sparks below.
Gang of Youths, an Australian indie rock band, opened on the Yeti Stage in the late afternoon heat with a high energy set drawing from their sophomore album “Go Farther in Lightness.” Lead singer David Le’aupepe lead the crowd through “The Heart is a Muscle” with a fist beating on his chest and intermittent humble thanks.
Wolf Parade came to a passionate close right at the end of their set with the band members clustered closely together, despite being on the massive main Sasquatch Stage.
Vince Staples filled the hillside overlooking the Sasquatch Stage with his opening song, “Get the F*ck Off My Dick,” from his 2017 album “Big Fish Theory.” Shortly into his set, he told the crowd to sing along “if they felt comfortable”. The N-word woven in and out of the chorus proved for a silent crowd, which Staples then commented on: “See how quiet you all were?”
Lemaitre on El Chupacabra Stage hyped up the crowd with their new release “Rocket Girl”. This performance drew in costumed-folk and gave off the air of a rave.
Former Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne took to the Sasquatch Stage barefoot with a bead-like curtain falling like rain around him as the sun set in the gorge. He and his band all wore simple gray suits — musicians’ eyeshadow and the colored stage lights filtering through Byrne’s white hair were the only colors. Byrne performed “Who”, a song that he wrote with St. Vincent in 2012. He also took advantage of his platform on the main stage to announce Head Count’s presence at the festival and talked about the power of turning out to local elections. He said it’s a way to more effectively evoke change rather than waiting for “the fools at the top.” In addition to a few covers and his newer music, he played Talking Heads classics like ‘This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” and “Burning Down the House.” Byrne closed with “Hell You Talmbout,” a protest song written by Janelle Monae in 2015, but amended it with more names of Black people lost to police brutality.
Walking down to the Sasquatch Stage toward Bon Iver felt as if the festival was ending. But upon arriving, concertgoers packed around the main stage as Justin Vernon dove into “22, A Million,” the band’s third album released in 2016. Even the audience’s dancing and light shows slowed their tempos to match the slow, moody vocals. Vernon stopped to talk about what a blessing this place, the gorge, is and what a blessing music and all of the musicians here are. The chaos of Sasquatch! Music Festival day one settled on the hillside for Bon Iver.