Torche started the day off strong with a good dose of sludge-metal. They play with an intensity that will jump-start any festival-goer’s experience. One of the things that separates Torche from other metal acts is the fact that they sing more than they scream. They brought all of their power and super chords and hold it together with a holistic energy.
Diiv played a casual set in the early afternoon on the Bigfoot stage. Their record, Oshin, is full of open-air, chilled-out rock, yet when performing the band adds energy. By upping the tempo and the extension of jams they are able to further explore their psychedelic roots. This, their youthful stage presence and casual skip-around-stage style brought out more than pleasant early day vibing.
Danny Brown was a mess on the main stage. Towards the beginning he exclaimed, “What time is it, three? I’m not supposed to be this drunk this early.” He proceeded to fumble over lines and get off-beat, leading to him starting songs over and ending them early. He tried to get a few chants going but his voice had turned into a drunken slur and the audience had no idea what he wanted them to chant. Brown can be appreciated for his unique mossy voice but his whole attitude seemed out of place at Sasquatch!.
Fang Island attempted to liven up the Bigfoot crowd with their unique style of math-rock meets pop-punk. Unfortunately, their set was hindered by some sound problems, as it seemed like their guitars couldn’t quite get loud enough. When they would come to a cumulative moment, the eruption wasn’t as big a moment as it should have been. Still, they are always going to be a fun band to listen to in the sun because they have some of the most positive and life-affirming vibes, especially on hits like “Sidewinder” and the precise fast-picking “Welcome Wagon.”
Hailing from Brooklyn, rapper El-P brought a passionate and meaningful performance. His songs are critical of the world and he clearly articulates the fractures of our culture. He delivered a political rant against corruption before ripping into “Fractured Nucleus.” The crowd completely popped when he played “EMG,” as he jumped and chanted, “Yes you can!” El-P is such a skilled producer he knew exactly the sound level and style to get the crowd to eat out of his hand.
Shout Out Louds played an energetic set, keeping in the theme of friendly indie rock. Their sound was precise and the crowd ate up their positive vibes. Their problem was there were so many Indie rock acts over the whole weekend that Shout Out Louds didn’t bring anything to make them stand out.
The crowd flocked fast and hard to Bigfoot for the hyped performance of Earl Sweatshirt. The youngest Odd Future member came out with a don’t-give-a-shit silly attitude. The first thing he said to the crowd was, “Hello Coachella!” clearly messing around and playing into the everlasting hipster joke. Earl is only 19, and while the man has seemingly unlimited potential, his music needs more fine-tuning and maturing. Most of his songs are in the two-minute range and end abruptly without any sign of noticeable song structure. He played a bunch of songs from his upcoming album, including singles “Whoa” and “Chum.” Fellow Odd Future member Syd Tha Kid was mixing, essentially setting the vibe for Earl’s erratic style. Say what you will about OFWGKTA but they bring something new and unique to the table. Earl has the talent and the time to mature; right now the people love him for what he can do, like getting the crowd to chant “I fuck the freckles off your face, bitch” while he runs around the stage with a fake horse head on.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters performed as you would expect, with years of experience and talent on their side. Costello has probably played songs like “Everyday I Write The Book” and “Cry Cry Cry” 100 times and they still sounds as authentic as ever. Elvis Costello is the originator of nerd-rock. The man wears a fedora like he is the first person to ever do it. One of The Imposters even rocked the melodica. It is always amazing how Sasquatch! finds ways to bring in such legendary musicians as Costello.
Killer Mike straight-up dropped Southern culture on the Yeti Stage. The man was unafraid to get real, proclaiming that playing at the Gorge reaffirms his beliefs not in a religion, but in his personal God. He preached the church of R.A.P declaring, “What my people need is the opposite of bullshit.” Mike’s songs are brutal in the best way possible. He performed Big Boi’s “Thom Pettie” to the delight of the crowd and brought out his best friend El-P to play a couple songs from their upcoming collaboration album. The highlight was “Ric Flair,” Mike’s smooth hit about the greatest professional wrestler of all time– even though many of the people out in Washington state don’t know who Ric Flair is. You have to wonder what kind of reaction Killer Mike has in other parts of the country.
Everything they say about Primus is true. Les Claypool is a master musician. He has the most outrageous style and can kick the bass harder than anyone else. The music he writes balances absurd and magical, often leaving an impression of deeper meaning bordering absolute silliness. “My Name Is Mud” encapsulates this as a hard rocking, groovy number, yet it revolves around a “What does it all mean?” concept. On top of everything, this was not your typical Primus show: this was Primus 3-D! 3-D glasses were passed out amongst the crowd and state of the art technology was used to create visuals unlike anything else. The technology was originally created for Michael Jackson’s final tour and since that time it has been tweaked and mastered specifically for Primus. Intense psychedelic visuals were created to fly directly into the audiences’ faces. The crowd gasped and roared with approval as they were sucked into three-dimensional vortexes while riding waves of mind-blowing grooves. What was seen and heard cannot be fully described. It was an all-encompassing mind-body performance: a completely one-of-a-kind absurd experience.