Sasquatch at the Gorge

A first-time Sasquatch attendee, I made the mistake of reserving two nights at the adjacent Gorge campground, which proved a scene not unlike the kegger in Dazed and Confused. On Saturday, May 28, my crew and I awoke to blazing sunlight and the cracking open of High Life cans, which we escaped in time to catch the second half of opener U.S.E.'s performance. The buzz-builders made the most of their cursed noon time slot and the absence of singer Carly Nicklaus with dancers and loads of enthusiasm. A sizable crowd pumped their fists to closer "IT IS ON!," spraying water all around.

Bloc Party elicited cheers before the opening chord faded, and rounds of "Take it off!" for singer Kele Okereke. As he sang, "Something glorious is about to happen," during "Positive Tension," I thought, "You're right, I'm about to get tan," and the morning seemed full of hope. Snooze-inducing double-whammy Jem and Ray Lamontagne found our camp splitting between the luscious soundscapes of Canada's Dears and hip-hop favorites Blue Scholars.

A.C. Newman entertained the Wookie stage during lunch, pleased to announce, "There's more people here than when New Pornographers played the mainstage last year!" Eye-catching fashion included various Greek-week T-shirts ("Glad to Be Alive '05"), barely there bathing suits, and the requisite tattoo parade.

Around 4 p.m., the Arcade Fire took the mainstage, announcing they had flown in from Barcelona and this would be their last show for some time. The Gorge's grandeur enhanced the AF's orchestral fervor, the only set I saw that incited sing-alongs and shameless dancing. During "Power Out," Richard Reed Parry climbed atop the equipment, pummeling everything in sight with his drumsticks and looking as if he were teetering on the edge of the world.

Wilco have always bored me live, so I joined hundreds of the nearly sunstroked in napping on the grass, after which Kanye West woke the dazed masses. Although a great restorative, his Grammy-winner status puzzles me and I left during "Workout Plan." Finishing the hour with equally confounding harpist Joanna Newsom, a loud whoop went up for the sun's long-awaited descent over the rocks.

While no Sasquatch, Yeti, or Wookie was sighted at the gathering, the Gorge was overrun by mice. Blaring from cars and monitors between acts, it was all Modest Mouse all the time. Couldn't someone have hired a DJ? The arrival of many smart day-trippers heralded MM's in-the-flesh set, which blended old gems and Good News over 90 minutes. Matisyahu's reggae wail echoed over us while awaiting the headlining Pixies, who were better at last year's Bumbershoot. Opening with "Wave of Mutilation," Frank Black warbled through "Where Is My Mind" before commencing a string of lesser-known tunes. Herding back to the campground, "Monkey Gone to Heaven" was the last sweet sound of our day, soon drowned by the crackling of high-grade fireworks and booty-bass dance parties.

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