Sasquatch! Music Festival ’11 | Top 10 Most Eagerly Anticipated

In honor of its 10th year, here are the 10 performers I am most excited about seeing at this year’s Sasquatch! Music Festival.



“Destination” music festivals (multi-day festivals that require an overnight stay) have become a summer touring standard for many musicians. This is a trend I can totally get behind and understand. For a couple hundred dollars you get to sample the live shows of dozens of bands, all while experiencing the joy of immersing yourself in communal concertland. Previously, this kind musical immersion was only available to hippies following their favorite jammers while comparing obscure setlists and arguing the merits of PB&J vs. grilled cheese. Now there are festivals for almost every genre, and they can be found in pretty much every corner of the country.

My most frequented destination festival is coming up on Memorial Day weekend; the Sasquatch! Music Festival is held in George, Washington (in Eastern Washington state a couple hours from Portland and Seattle) at the Gorge Amphitheater. This incredible venue overlooks the Columbia River Gorge, one of the United States’ hidden natural treasures (well, I had never heard of it until I moved to the Northwest).

In honor of its 10th year, here are the 10 performers I am most excited about seeing at this year’s Sasquatch! Music Festival (in no particular order):

1) Bob Mould – Former Husker Dü / Sugar frontman has only gotten better with age. In the past six years he has released three solo albums, written an autobiography (to be released in June 2011), and performed at tons of events as a DJ. This guy still has a fire in his belly.

2) The Head and the Heart – this Seattle-based band of transplants has been getting heaps of attention in the past couple months. Most critics seem to be lukewarm or downright hostile, but fans love them and tout their live shows as smile-inducing feel-good fests. It’ll be interesting to see for myself what they can do.

3) Local Natives – Their 2010 album, Gorilla Manor, was one of my favorites of last year. With multipart harmonies and interesting rhythms, they should provide an excellent soundtrack for enjoying the expansive scenery of the Columbia River Gorge.

4) Modest Mouse – Like any good Pacific Nortwestern indie music geek, I have seen this band play several times. Every time I am reminded just how much energy they put into their shows and how many great songs they have that can make you both rock out and dance.

5) Sleigh Bells – Last year I saw them open for Yeasayer, and I was blown away. My friend who saw that show with me just saw them again at Coachella and said they are even better now. Sweet.

6) Fitz and the Tantrums – A seven-piece, self-described, “soul influenced indie pop” band that doesn’t use any guitars? That’s the kind of thing you HAVE to see live.

7) Sharon Van Etten – You don’t often hear about intense live shows by acoustic singer-songwriters, but when you do, the reputation is always deserved.

8) Matt & Kim – I was not into this band at all until I saw them at the Bumbershoot Music Festival in Seattle in 2009. Since then, my family and I have been huge fans of the drums/keyboard duo. If I didn’t see these guys play “Lessons Learned” (known as the “Da Da” song in our house by our 3-year-old), my kids would be ashamed of me.

9) Rodrigo y Gabriella – I have watched clips of this Mexican guitar duo on YouTube many times and wished that I was able to see them live at a festival. Using just two acoustic guitars, they play REALLY fast and they are great entertainers. Later this month they will begin to get the wider attention they deserve, since they are providing much of the score for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie (I will try not to hold that against them).    

10) Chromeo – I had never heard of Chromeo until a friend recommended them and I caught their performance on the recent Coachella webcast. Apparently they are a big deal in Canada. Also apparently, they party like it’s 1985. Everybody needs a good ‘80s dance party now and again. | Tony Van Zeyl 

More festival coverage from the Pacific Northwest to come.


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