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The cure for Portland music fever

Worthy Sasquatch! Festival is loaded with talent including contingent from the Rose City

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As I’ve mentioned in this column several times now, my wife and I are expecting a baby in early June. It’s a little girl, and she’s due June 10.

Her name is Lily Judith Driscoll.  She has big feet. I’ve seen them on the ultrasound, and I’ve seen at least one of them protruding from my wife’s ever-growing baby gut.

June 10 isn’t far away.

As anyone who knows a lick about due dates can tell you, they’re guesses at best. Lily could arrive into this world anywhere from two weeks before June 10 to two weeks after June 10. This means my wife and I need to be prepared for it all to go down starting this Sunday, May 27, though Lily could decide to wait until June 24 to grace us with her presence.

And, of course, that’s if everything goes “normally.” Babies have been known to show up early.

While you likely don’t have Lily’s due date marked on your calendar, you probably do have the Sasquatch! Festival penned in for this weekend at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George. I don’t blame you. Lily’s not your child, after all, and Sasquatch! is far and away the marquee event of this year’s summer concert calendar. I’d be salivating with tickets in hand, too, if the Gorge wasn’t hundreds of miles away from our team of highly trained midwives, and the thought of my wife going into labor without me, or worse yet, going into labor perched in front of the Wookie Stage, didn’t scare the living shit out of me.

The timing of it all couldn’t be more appropriate.

For those who haven’t experienced it, there’s a look your childless friends give you when you tell them you’re having a kid. They verbally say things like “congratulations,” and “Oh my god, I’m so happy for you,” and “Parenthood is such a blessing,” but their eyes reveal what’s truly running through their minds.

“You dumb bastard. Your life is over. You’ll never do anything fun again for the rest of your mini-van driving, BabyBjorn wearing life. You’re through.”

They’re wrong, of course, but given the fact this year’s Sasquatch! Festival and the expected birth of my daughter happen at roughly the same time, and I’ll be at home waiting hand and foot on my ballooning wife instead of taking in two days of amazing indie music, at least this Memorial Day weekend they may be right.

It’s cool, though. Don’t feel sorry for me. You go to Sasquatch! and have the time of your life, and I’ll stay here and wait for the time of mine.

But if I was going to Sasquatch!, here’s what I’d want to make sure and catch:

The Beastie Boys — I know it kind of goes without saying, but when the Beastie Boys kick it at Sasquatch! (twice), can it really be anything but off da hook? No. Of course not. The Beasties will throw down on the Wookie Stage on Saturday for a much anticipated all-instrumental set, surely heavy on material from their forthcoming all-instrumental album, The Mix Up, due out on June 26. And then on Sunday, Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA will pick up their mics for a closing set on the main stage. Missing the Beastie Boys should be a punishable offense because, who knows, one of them could die at any time.

The Blow, the Dandy Warhols, Viva Voce, Blitzen Trapper, Stars of Track and Field — There’s a reason the entire indie music world is going gaga over Portland, and trust me, it’s not because Everclear is touring again. Whoever was in charge of putting together this year’s Sasquatch! lineup has obviously been paying attention. All of the bands I listed call PDX home, and they’re all incredible. (Check that — the Dandy Warhols probably moved to LA, I think, to rock on horse-sized pills.) Anyway, make sure you catch Viva Voce — the wife/husband duo who will play the Yeti Stage on Saturday, and the Blow — whose Paper Television is still blowing my mind.  

The Hold Steady — If you haven’t heard by now, 2006’s Boys and Girls in America was a pretty fucking solid record. Or at least Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, the Onion, and everyone else in the world of musical critique seemed to think so. For once, they were all right, but then again, it was kind of a no brainer. I’ve heard the Hold Steady’s blue collar ethics compared to Springsteen’s, but Springsteen comparisons are tired. The Hold Steady has nothing to do with the Boss. It has everything to do with kicking ass, which is why the surely frantic set on the main stage Saturday should be seen at all costs.

Bad Brains — Do I even need to tell you? Bad Brains is seminal. And they’re releasing a record, believe it or not, on June 26. It’ll be called Build a Nation, but something tells me it won’t be as good as seeing the band live, Sunday, on the main stage. Just a guess.

Neko Case — She can get as famous and acclaimed as she wants, but Neko Case will always be from Tacoma. Luckily, she doesn’t seem embarrassed by it, and we’re certainly not embarrassed by her. At last year’s Sasquatch!, Case was forced off the stage by hail the size of Shaq’s cajones. This year, hopefully her set on the main stage Saturday goes a little smoother — but not as smooth as Shaq’s cajones.

The challenge is now in front of you. Besides the bands I listed, Bjork, the Black Angels, Tokyo Police Club, Electrelane, Common Market, Smoosh, Aqueduct, and about every other indie band worth its weight in ‘buzz’ will be in Eastern Washington this weekend. Besides waiting for a baby to be pushed out of your wife’s vagina, you really don’t have a good excuse for missing this year’s Sasquatch! — or at least I can’t think of one. Do yourself a favor. Make the drive, and see the Squatch. It really doesn’t get much better.  

[Gorge Amphitheatre, May 26-27, noon, $50-$70, George, Ticketmaster]

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