Mothers and fathers of America - these are your children.
They come from comfortable suburban cul-de-sacs, liberal arts schools and YouTube - Day-Glo hippies with short attention spans and a thing for Miike Snow. They wear fake neon Raybans, side ponytails and face paint - like the entire festival is an MGMT photo shoot: a generation as apathetic and distracted as its music. It's like the ‘60s fucked the ‘80s, and this is what we've been left with - these are tomorrow's leaders, and they know the score. The only way to cope is through irony. Please excuse them while they update their Facebook statuses and quickly move on to the next big "indie" thing.
Sasquatch! 2010 kicked off yesterday, in case you couldn't tell.
Now in its ninth year, Sasquatch! has become an indie rock institution, the Pacific Northwest's fair-trade-coffee drinking Coachella. After taking a year or two to establish its identity - and ditch String Cheese - creators of Sasquatch! have tapped into something real, undeniable and wealthy enough to buy $11 beers - a strain of culture unfit for mainstream music, though far more mainstream than it'd probably like to admit. A sect of young people and concert goers that just want to load up the hatchback, have a good time, and not worry about much other than crystal clear guitar lines and pop built for computer speakers.
In an atmosphere like this, a band like the Posies - who played yesterday - has an uphill climb. Based on the relatively small, milling crowd in front of the "Honda Bigfoot Solar Stage" for the band's set, this is not a crowd particularly familiar with the Posies' history, or place in it.
And if they are, they just don't really care.
Is this the stage Miike Snow is coming up on? Are you getting cell service?
"Rock and roll was this great music that swept the land," Ken Stringfellow joked with the crowd at one point, perhaps a little oblivious himself to how poignant the words were for this place and time.
After retreating from soundcheck to don identical black hipster jackets, Miike Snow - which for those playing at home is band from Sweden, not simply a dude with a strangely spelled name (it's pronounced Mee-Kay Snow) - emerged from backstage to the warm embrace of an overflowing crowd in front of the Honda Bigfoot Whatever-The-Fuck Stage. The crowd was easily seven times as large as it was for the Posies' set (that's just for comparison sake - I understand the Posies are old), and they were all very happy to see the electro, guitar cool and the bearded, emotional warriors of Miike Snow. The band broke into a building and swelling set - highlighted by the song "Silvia" - and the happiness only multiplied. It left me wondering what it is kids are looking for today in music - what they're searching for. If Miike Snow is any indication, it's soundtrack music, like you should be driving dark, slick, deserted city streets and sitting on leather seats - and maybe that's OK.
Craig Finn of The Hold Steady - who came on after Miike Snow, to an amazingly smaller crowd - is the only man in the history of music, perhaps, with an ability to make air quotes rock 'n' roll. And god bless him for it. In a festival so far filled with edgeless, computer rock - The Hold Steady held its own, even if the partying, townies and druggies references might be getting a little tired, and the attention of the kids may be moving on. Drawing heavily from a catalog comprised of similarly tempoed, literary party rock numbers - the band didn't disappoint those who knew what they were there to see - even if the numbers were not what you might have expected.
Before Pavement, Public Enemy, or even The xx, Freelance Whales or Cymbals Eat Guitars can do their thing today, comedian Rory Scovel will hold court in the "Verizon Rumpus Room" - which is basically a big tent meant for comedians and fire-juggling (no joke).
Scovel says you're never quite sure what you'll get at a scene like Sasquatch!
"It can be scary to do a show semi-outdoors competing with the noise of the bands on the other stages simply because comedy can require so much attention to detail, but it can also be really fun. It forces you to perform in a new way and find something different to connect with the audience," says Scovel. "It's a challenge that I think can be really fun to play with. There is a bit of a battle, especially as someone people haven't heard of before. People will simply be in the tent because they are curious, not because they know what they are getting."
Who is Scovel excited to see?
"I think Patton Oswalt is someone to learn quite a bit from, so I won't miss that set for any bands," says Scovel. "I've never seen Ween live, interested in hearing the new stuff from Band of Horses, Patrick Watson, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, The National, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem, the xx, MGMT, Passion Pit to name a few that I'm excited about. I love hearing new bands."
LINK: Sasquatch! 2010 Day One