Memorial Day weekend, the wife and I decided to pretend we were still young, and made the trek over to Eastern Washington for Sasquatch, a rock festival focusing on what used to be called indie rock, although most of the bands are now on major labels. This reviewer is right, the highlight of the day was Arcade Fire, a band from Montreal that plays epic soundscape rock with hyperemotional lyrics and lots of weird instrumentation. More punk than I expected, given their tight arrangements and the violin and French horn on stage–two of the guys were banging on everything they could find with drumsticks, including railings, each other, and a motorcycle helmet (which one of them put on his head). If emo had balls, it’d sound like them. Their album keeps growing on me. Plus, self-recorded and released by indie label Merge although the major label sharks are circling.
Other highlights included Wilco, who are aiming to be the Grateful Dead of 2020 with Jeff Tweedy’s extended fragmented solos and on-again off-again heroin addiction (the song “A Shot in the Arm” is the best paean to smack since Lou Reed) and The Dears, another Montreal band who I’ve written about before, and who were even bigger and more dramatic. Smoosh were good, considering that they’re not even teenagers, Modest Mouse is getting more polished on stage (although their show still can’t compare with their albums), and The Pixies…well, let’s just say that Charles/Frank/Francis (or whatever he’s calling himself these days) had a bit of a sore throat and leave it at that. The rest of the band sounded great, though.
Overall a great day of music, although the venue gets away with a lot of bullshit sheerly by virtue of being in such a beautiful location. Endless lines for beer, food, and water. Almost no shade in the 95-degree heat. Chain link fences separating the seating areas. Concrete floor with no seats. Crowd control that does its best to quickly squash any fun: no standing in the shade, no drinking in public without a wristband, no taking beer out of the bar even though if you buy it elsewhere you can drink it outside the bar, no drinking outside the food area after a certain time of day, and so on. Basically, concert attendees are cattle. Which is why I don’t go to big shows, and why the concert industry has been suffering. Why pay to be treated like dirt?