Big Freedia, Sleigh Bells, Thee Oh Sees, The Strumbellas, Corey Harper, Mondo Cozmo and others brought in day 1 of Sasquatch! Music Festival, underway today through Sunday, May 29. This is the day during which Frank Ocean, who was the first performance announced for this year, would have played, but LCD Soundsystem went in his place.
Here are some of the day’s highlights. Check out photos by Philip Quinn.
- The day began with some stately Americana folk from Corey Harper with covers of Nico’s “These Days” and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire.”
- Los Colognes played a leisurely blues-rock set in the balmy afternoon on the Yeti stage. Frontman Jay Rutherford remarked that they hail from east Nashville: “home of the most overrated tacos.”
- The Strumbellas played an early afternoon set on the main Sasquatch stage; the group self-introduced as “a rock-and-roll musical organization from Canada.” None seemed more ecstatic about this than vocalist and keyboardist Dave Ritter — he wore a cap embroidered with his first name — who bounced around and pumped his fists tirelessly.
- Thee Oh Sees took the Bigfoot Stage at the most punishing hour of afternoon sun. The San Francisco-based four-piece has two drummers. Literally half the band is drummers. They played an entire hour of teeth-clenching cuts. Frontman John Dwyer transforms into an animal, stretches his torso into uncomfortable poses and constantly spits onto the stage.
- Today marked the third time the Emerald has seen Thee Oh Sees, who are consistently one of the most exceptional live shows to catch. Read more about their shows from Project Pabst 2015 and Pickathon 2016 here.
- Sleigh Bells took the main stage and demolished it. In the El Chupacabra tent, reserved for EDM and comedy sets, Sasheer Zamata had a headlining set. Zamata quit “Saturday Night Live” last week, where she was a regular since January 18, 2014. She opened, “I’m not ready to talk about it, so here are some jokes about airplanes.” Zamata surveyed the largely Washingtonian crowd and asked what there is to do in Seattle. Someone shouted at Zamata, who asked, “What? Did you say ‘I look gorgeous’?” The attendee shouted back: “No! You can get a drink of Unicorn Jizz.” “Does it look like unicorn jizz?” Zamata asked back.
- Big Freedia had an epic set of bounce hop (the booty-heavy New Orleans spin on hip hop) at Bigfoot Stage. The show was about 60 percent twerking (not just the booty dancers, but Freedia as well). Freedia is perhaps best known for her addition in Beyoncé’s “Formation” music video. Freedia is the one who yells: “I did not come to play with you hoes, ha ha. I came to slay bitch! I like cornbread and collard greens, bitch! Oh yas, you besta believe it.” That’s how you become “the Queen Diva of the New Orleans Bounce.”
- The evening brought a radiant, exuberant show from Foxygen, one of the ecstatic highlights of the music festival’s first day. The band, the psych-rock minds-on-fire duo Jonathan Rado and Sam France, is touring in support of January’s album “Hang.” (In the crowd before the show began, rumors circulated that they’d bring out Lil Yachty; this did not happen.) A ghost-pale France, gorgeously drunk on star power, came out in aviator shades, a shirt tied around his belly and a Stetson hat. His stage banter began with thanking everyone for coming, but veered seamlessly into chatter about astral projection, hypnosis, and having an orgy at a music festival. The group was backed by at least five other musicians, including a three-piece horn accompaniment, which traded the wobble bass fills of “Shuggie” with a sexy trombone fill. France finished “America,” an existential treatise about nationalist woes, with a luxuriated “Americaaaaa, fuuuuuck yeah.” He paused. “That’s the first thing people say,” France said, nodded to himself, turned to Rado and repeated: “That’s the first thing that people say.”
- LCD Soundsystem finished its album two days ago, as announced by sleepy-eyed frontman James Murphy, who regularly waved to the crowd on Friday night. “The fuckin’ album is done,” he said. “I feel like we’ve killed the white whale.” The dance-rock ensemble, who announced a break-up six years ago before subsequently announcing a just-kidding reunion in January 2016, played the night’s headlining set on the Sasquatch! stage, a slot initially reserved for Frank Ocean. “We originally weren’t invited to play,” Murphy said. “We cried and we hugged it out.” The show was an ecstatic mix of songs from their three albums and exemplary display from Nancy Whang on keyboards and synths and Pat Mahoney on drums. Murphy, apart from clutching his microphone, meandered around the stage, hovered around other band members, and often added a layer of percussion by smacking cymbals and clacking an agogô, a two-tone cowbell.
Check back for our daily recaps.