QUINCY — If the first day of Sasquatch was notable for its semblance of a genre-specific theme, then the festival’s second day will be remembered for a complete lack of one. All music from indie to hip-hop, screamo and rock were well represented Saturday up and down the lineup.
A couple of Pacific Northwest acts stood out amongst the most memorable during the early portion of the day. On the smaller Narwhal stage, rock duo Hobosexual brought the hammer down and drew a sizeable crowd eager for high-tempo energy. From nearly the first note, the crowd flipped into a full on flailing mosh pit and stayed that way for almost all 45-minutes of the performance.
The rock act was followed by rapper Sol on the Bigfoot stage. Well aware of his regional bonafides, the native Seattleite thanked all those who had gathered for checking him out and proceeded to tear into his material like his future career depended on it. Hands were raised; lyrics were shouted back and forth as the crowd turned from unknowing curiosity-seekers into full on supporters. As a surprise treat, the rapper utilized his time in the Sasquatch limelight to debut a brand new track, the soulful sounding “People.”
The 25,000-plus gathered at the Gorge remained as ebullient as they had been the previous day. It almost became a challenge to walk more than 100 feet without sharing a random high-five or fist bump with a complete stranger. Costumes abound, paint was applied liberally across numerous faces and many wore state and national flags like capes to denote their region of origin. There were a number of Montanan and South American representatives, but by far, the largest contingent was the red-and-white-clad Canadians.
As the afternoon waned, the gorge turned into a large-scale game of ping-pong with concert goers rushing back and forth between the Bigfoot and main stages to catch a personal “can’t miss artists.” The Violent Femmes were a big winner in this mass tug of war when they opened with their hit, “Blister in the Sun,” before segueing into “Kiss Off.”
Neko Case drew a sizeable audience for her record smashing eighth appearance at Sasquatch. Another winner was Panda Bear who kept the Bigfoot area crowd rapt with his unique brand of psych-pop.
The game was effectively ended when British/Sri Lankan hip-hop artist M.I.A. took to the main stage and turned the entire gorge into one big rave. Sporting shimmering gold pants with matching top, the rapper took the energy at the festival up several notches with her dance heavy mix of tunes.
Somewhat interestingly, she shimmied and sung the chorus’ to a version of the Lorde hit “Royals,” before segueing into her own, “Paper Airplanes.” The similarity between the two pieces was striking, but the eyebrow rising moment quickly passed as the crowd engaged with the rapper for one mass sing-along.
Cincinniti/Brooklyn rockers the National assumed the role of second night headliners and in their duties as closers they did more than an admirable job. While immensely popular, the group hasn’t reached the level of recognition as the first night’s final group, OutKast. In an odd twist, however, that lack of overwhelming anticipation for the grand finale made the rest of the day feel less rushed. One felt freer to explore the Gorge without fearing that they might not get a great spot for Sasquatch’s one really can’t-miss performance.
The group kicked off their set with the song “Sea of Love” from which the name of their newest record, Trouble Will Find Me is drawn. Indeed, much of the set list was dominated by newer material, with classic standbys tossed in throughout, including a necessary performance of “Mr. November.”
The National have long been critical darlings and are just now transitioning into the role of highly visible rock act. In six years they’ve played Sasquatch three times, starting out on closing down the Yeti stage in 2008 and graduating to mid-day main-stagers in 2010. With their second day closing set this year, they went a long way to solidifying their role as one of the premier acts in the music industry.