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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sasquatch Review: Day Two

If you missed my review of day one, you can check it out by clicking here. Otherwise, onto day two!

We kicked off Saturday by checking out Reptar, whose album I previously mentioned really enjoying. Their music, which just seems perfect for careless summer fun, was a great way to kick off the second day of the festival. After that, we headed over to the main stage to see Charles Bradley perform. Charles Bradley is a 60+ year old soul/r&b singer who released his debut album last year. It was one of my favorite albums of the year for all of the soul and emotion that he can squeeze out when he sings. His live set was a real joy too as he danced around the stage and routinely told the crowd how happy he was to be performing and how much he loved everyone there. It may have been a bit sappy, but after how far he had come to finally achieve his dream, sappy fit.

After sticking around to see Blitzen Trapper, I headed over to one of the smaller stages to see Alabama Shakes, one of the bands I was most looking forward to this festival. Their debut full length, which came out in April, is one of those albums that has a mysterious power of making the volume dial on my car stereo or headphones just creep further and further up while it plays. I'm not sure I can listen to the song "Hold On" at anything approaching a normal volume. I had heard plenty of people say that they put on a rockin' show, and their set at Sasquatch did not disappoint in the least. Lead singer Brittany Howard has a great voice, which I knew from the album, but she does a great job commanding the stage as well, and the whole band feeds off that. I was really hoping their set wouldn't have to end, but everyone watching got to enjoy plenty of rocking out while they were on stage.

After Alabama Shakes, I returned to the main stage and watched as country singer Jamey Johnson managed to show as close to no emotion as seems humanly possible. That said, he was still entertaining, but really I was waiting to see Childish Gambino (aka Community actor Donald Glover's hip-hop alter ego). My big takeaway from his set is that Donald Glover must be in ridiculously good shape. The whole time, he was running back and forth around the stage furiously spitting out his lines, barely taking time to breath it seemed. Despite not listening to much hip-hop, I really enjoyed his album "Camp" last year, and he brought a lot of energy to the stage and put on a really good live show as well.

After Childish Gambino, we saw The Helio Sequence on a smaller stage and then the end of Metric's set back on the main stage. The Helio Sequence were one of the first bands that I discovered by just listening to Sasquatch artists I have never heard before. They put on a good set, and I'm looking forward to their new album later this year. I absolutely loved Metric's "Fantasies" album from 2009. Despite that, I've still never managed to spend the time to get into their older stuff. Their newest album will be released on Tuesday, so I'm sure I'll at least spend a good chunk of time with that. They closed their set with lead singer Emily Haines performing an acoustic version of "Gimme Sympathy," which was one of my favorite tracks of 2009.

After Metric, we headed over to see tUnE-yArDs on a side stage. I still know very little about the band, but they put on one of the more unique shows you are going to see. A lot of the sound the band creates comes from layered drum and vocal loops created by the lead singer. I'd love to see how she goes about creating new music because it seems like a complex but fun process. Also on stage were two saxophone players, which for a former horn player in a ska band in high school, is always a plus. I was actually surprised by how many bands over the course of the weekend incorporated horns in some form.

After tUnE-yArDs, we returned to the main stage for The Shins. I was a big fan of The Shins albums "Oh, Inverted World" and "Chutes Too Narrow" in late high school and early college, but I've sort of drifted from the band since then. I enjoyed hearing some of the older songs, but their set wasn't grabbing me. I feel like this was the start of a longer weekend-long trend though. The weekend was a ton of fun, but being outside and being generally short on sleep most of the time meant I was routinely sort of exhausted, so some bands that I'm sure I otherwise would have enjoyed more just sort of blew by without making much of an impression. Also, while the huge stage and the giant gorge behind it did wonders for some sets, other artists just seemed to get lost in it. I'm sure a lot of this was just me and that many, many other people really enjoyed the sets though, so I wouldn't put too much stock in any artist that I wasn't enamored with.

After The Shins, Jack White played, and it had gotten dark, and I experienced just how cold it can get when the sun goes down and you haven't planned appropriately. I haven't listened to much of Jack White's music, and I'm not entirely sure most of it is my cup of tea. That being said, he put on a pretty fun show, and it's pretty clear that he's a really good musician. His newest album has started to grow on me as I listen to it more, and after seeing him live, I think I'll have to make sure to give it several listens.

The last performer of the night was The Roots. They've been a band for a while that I've admired (I love what they're doing on Jimmy Fallon's show) but that I've never been able to get into (like I said, I don't listen to much hip-hop). Now that that's out of the way though, their live set was FANTASTIC! It was absolutely one of the highlights of the weekend. We planned to just swing by for a song or two and then head back to sleep (because lack of sleep was already catching up with us), but I found I was having a really hard time tearing myself away. They started out by paying tribute to MCA (the Beastie Boys rapper who passed away recently) by performing "Paul Revere." A good chunk of Saturday was a lot more low-key than Friday because I think a lot of people burned themselves out too quickly, but while The Roots were playing, everybody's energy seemed to come back and then some. I would absolutely go see them perform again and recommend anybody else who gets a chance do the same. I think I may have to dig into their recorded stuff a bit more too. Any suggestions on where to start from anyone who listens to them?


Artists I saw: Reptar, Charles Bradley, Blitzen Trapper, Alabama Shakes, Jamey Johnson, Childish Gambino, The Helio Sequence, Metric, tUnE-yArDs, The Shins, Jack White, The Roots

Favorite sets: Alabama Shakes and The Roots

I can't believe I haven't posted about Alabama Shakes yet (although they'll definitely be on my top albums of April-June). Since that's the case though, here is "Hold On," which is one of my absolute favorite songs of the year. It looks like the widget below will actually play the full album if you so choose after hearing "Hold On."

You can download "Hold On" for free along with several tracks by other bands on their label for the price of an email address here.

Like I said before, I don't know much about The Roots, so I can't really draw on a wide body of music to pick a song for them. However, I do know that one of the singles from their 2010 album was a remake of the Monsters of Folk song "Dear God," so enjoy the music video for "Dear God 2.0" below featuring Jim James himself:


  1. I have tickets for Alabama Shakes in the Twin Cities in August. Pretty pumped about that.

    I saw the Roots live at 80-35 festival and again in Iowa City at the IMU. Their 80-35 show was in my top 10 all-time, but their IMU performance was 'meh'. But, I think the IMU sucks as a venue, because I've never seen a good show there. (low ceilings, maybe? Can't figure it out.) Even the Black Keys show there wasn't amazing. But yeah, the Roots are amazing live, but I can't get into their albums.

    1. I enjoyed Wilco and The Decemberists at IMU, but I could definitely see how it wouldn't be a great venue for most bands / shows.

      Also, I need to find that Dylan cover because I'm super intrigued now. And you should definitely look into The Roots' availability for your wedding. I've heard some Jimmy guy kinda hogs their bookings, but maybe you could work something out.

  2. Oh, the song that stuck out from that 80-35 Roots show was an amazing cover of Dylan's Masters of War. Could it be that the Roots are the world's greatest cover band? I wonder if it's not too late to book them for my wedding reception.