Editor's note: In addition to sending out Seattle Weekly photographer Morgen Schuler to cover Sasquatch! this weekend, we dispatched SW editorial intern Diana M. Le in return for a review. Here's her full report.
We've got a full tank of gas and finals are looming. It’s 5 a.m. and 153 miles to Quincy. Hit it.
This is my first trip to Sasquatch! and I'm tagging along with a co-worker and six of her friends, none of whom I know. We all immediately begin to vibe after setting up our campsite, and sat around in a circle doing makeup, sharing mirrors, secrets, and painting each other’s nails. On two separate occasions, we were approached by strangers wondering if we’d like to purchase marijuana.
We splurged and opted for premier camping, which gave us access to more restrooms (which were porta potties), free showers, a shuttle, and express access into the amphitheater. Our neighbors included some people playing beer pong, a karaoke emcee (who brought his own machine), and a group who brought along instruments and jammed out covers of Green Day, Weezer, and Say Anything. All the people and all the tents made it feel like being at the Quidditch World Cup in Harry Potter.
It’s a weekend of many firsts for me: my first festival, my first time “camping,” my first time with media access. I had no idea what to expect but came to learn that Sasquatch! is a gold mine for people watching if you experience it sober, like I did. The premier camping shuttle that took us to and from the amphitheater was always good for interesting encounters with attendees (though it must have been hell for the bus driver). One time, two extremely inebriated girls pondered questions like, “Why can’t we live like this forever?" and concluded, “because society wouldn’t exist.” (The next night three dudes on acid had a similiar same conversation.)
After the initial awe of seeing so many people in unicorn costumes, metallic rainbow jumpsuits, and glowing leopard capes, I became unsettled by the corporate countercultural feel of it all. The overwhelming trend for guys seemed to be bucket hats and Hawaiian shirts, and flower head-crowns and bralettes for girls. It felt a lot like people wore what they thought they should wear. The U-District Urban Outfitters even had a huge sale the day before Sasquatch! for that express purpose.
The most mind-blowing thing about Sasquatch! and the natural beauty of the Gorge is that it’s right in our backyard. Yet juxtaposed against rows and rows of porta potties, concessions vendors, riffraff, and a blanket of trash covering the hill all the way down to the main stage, I couldn’t help but wonder if bringing civilization out here is good, allowing more people to experience the miracle of nature, or if the festival is just an excuse to get wasted in a different place, and an expression of man's will to overcome the environment. Maybe I was just thinking too much.
My deep thoughts were transformed as I sang along to every word of the Violent Femmes, looked up at the clouds as Chastity Belt played “Seattle Party,” witnessed the most earnest and inspired dancing during Pollens’ set, caught the Lonely Forest’s third-to-last show, and moshed to Parquet Courts.
I overheard someone say that each stage had its own personality. It’s definitely true. The main stage was about celebrity, and loving people from far away. In contrast, the Narwhal stage (my fave), was a much smaller platform for the local Seattle bands. That’s where I felt a sense of community and a genuine exchange between the artists and the crowd.
It’s easy to get caught up in the cynicism and grossness of it all. But looking up and out at the view of the Gorge becomes an instant cure. It reminds you that you’re not invincible. It makes you feel small and finite. During OutKast’s set, Andre 3000 wore a jumpsuit that said it best: "Everything is Temporary."
I wonder how many attendess return year after year. I don’t know that I would do it again, but I do think people should experience it at least once. It’s a strange and wonderful experience of making friends, listening to good music, and falling in limerence.