Sleater-Kinney played to a sparse crowd.
Sleater-Kinney played to a sparse crowd. Brooklyn Benjestorf

Four days of festival makes for a marathon, but I held up pretty well. (Especially since I'm 100 in festival years.) Follow my journey through the Gorge, as I take you along on the ride that was Sasquatch! Music Festival 2015:


Around 8:30, the clouds found us again at the Gorge, darkening the sky, and pelted the Action Bronson audience with big ol' raindrops for most of the set.

Bronson brought the thunder, bellowing his lines from the stage and the grass, chucking bags of weed to his fans, aggressively dishing out high fives, and yelling random stuff like “I wanna put my fucking head through the wall," and ”This makes me wanna crash the fucking Jeep!”

Bronson, the burly former chef, was the highlight of a decent succession of rap acts that began with the young New York revivalist Bishop Nehru on the Yeti stage, and sandwiched in Virginian oddball GoldLink in the El Chupacabra tent. Although GoldLink has found creative ways to use his voice on record, the "future bounce" production behind him was really more interesting than his rhymes. Nehru was the more captivating of the two undercards; his lyrical style and 18-year-old energy played much better than the action in the tent.

Then I drank a thousand beers and saw Sleater-Kinney rock to a less-than-full crowd.

This could have something to do with the fact that their set overlapped slightly with Australia's immensely popular Flume, whose thumping, sparkly, vocal-tweaked beats have the kind of propulsion to draw late-night fans from all over the grounds.


If somebody had been selling shade on Saturday, they could have made a pretty penny. It was hot as Capitol Hill real estate out there, and Seattle bleak-wave synth-rockers Murder Vibes were powering through their Uranus stage set clad head-to-toe in black. “Perfect for hot weather,” they said. The vocals were up too high, but it only magnified the angst in singer Pete Hanks's breathy vocals. (Hanks gave an especially dramatic performance on a cover of Garbage's “Special.”) The easy-tempo’d show was just what the tired-looking, early afternoon crowd needed.

Later on in the afternoon, I found fellow Seattleite Vox Mod head-banging behind the decks and charging up the El Chupacabra crowd. Weaving heavy melodies through dense bodies of hard techno and blissful digital latticework, Mod's jams were well received by the modest assemblage.

Chromeo--the crowd-friendly hit.
Chromeo—the crowd-friendly hit. Brooklyn Benjestorf

The big guns on Saturday were Chromeo, Perfume Genius, and Father John Misty. Montreal's glammed-out funk duo Chromeo was the fan favorite of the day, giving a full main-stage audience a full helping of joyful, jumbotron butt-wiggles and sexy-hot talk box grooves. Their fine-tuned novelty-funk was made for the big stage.

Words seem to creep out of Perfume Genius’s Mike Hadreas by sheer necessity, relieving the pressure built up by his life experience, while his slithery, loose-bodied dance moves ease the tension. He plays the tracks with utmost sincerity, making them soft to the touch, but heavy to hold.

Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) is able to move between witty folk crooner and spazzed-out Morrison ringer like no one else I can think of. From the subtle hip-shaking as he belted out the gospel-tinged hit "Only Son of the Ladiesman," to wild writhing on his back as he blurted, "Awwww yeeeaahhh motherfucker!" while his band rocked out behind him on the Bigfoot stage, it was the FJM experience at its best.


One of the first acts I saw Sunday was the buzzed-about UK band Temples. Their sound—a sand-swept, vintage psychedelia—is pleasant enough to enjoy in a sunny, carefree environment, but there wasn't much to grab on to. From the vaguely poetic lyrics to the rehashed ’60s songwriting, it didn't stick with me.

I moved over to the bass-drop tent to see Glasgow beat man Rustie, and found myself in the midst of a pretty H.A.M. party. He's proven a rare breed of producer and competent album-format composer who can also play to the sweltering masses on the festival circuit. In many cases, he piles on the bass at rather predictable times (I wonder what's going to happen after this massive synth buildup!), but between those drops Rustie is an innovator who finds creative ways to make people move.

Lana Del Rey was my next big stop. Sound and image-wise, not a lot has changed for LDR. She's still puts off a somber vibe, and still presents herself like a reluctant hometown beauty queen in a fancy white dress. She covered Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Hotel #2," and it became clear that there’s a lucrative country career in her future if she wants it. Even when shifting genres, there's not a lot of unpredictability in LDR's style—slow-paced, sunken-voiced, faux-vintage—but she commanded the stage well.

James Blake spun between a couple different keyboards from his seat on the right side of the Bigfoot stage, singing his trembly ballads late into Sunday night. The bass was insane, like wobbly bass-lava gurgling beneath the drunken jazz piano and dub rhythms.


If you were able to hang in there till Monday, you earned yourself the great lineup. My day started with THEESatisfaction on the Bigfoot stage, pulling off their fabulous, synchronized dance moves. They performed a rad remix of "Bisexual," pulled Porter Ray to the stage for "EarthEE," and sounded great, all with OC Notes cuing tracks. Porter Ray, the fresh-faced Sub Pop signee, put on a pro-level show himself. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's heard his GLD series of EPs, or, more recently, his stellar Fundamentals tape. The Seattle emcee is the real deal and will more than likely earn an upgrade to bigger stages as his music finds wider release.

Between catching snippets of sets by local acts Grynch, DJAO, and HELMS ALEE, I saw ScHoolboy Q tear up the main stage something fierce. Coming out to "Gangsta," Q had the place jumping for real. Some of his rhymes still make me feel dirtier than a row of campground Honey Buckets (See: "What They Want") but regardless, his set was one of the weekend’s highlights.

Ryan Adams was hilariously mocking an audience member when I stopped by the main stage later on. After somebody had (allegedly) yelled out a song request, he went off: "I heard you! 'Summer of '69!' Now everybody around you doesn't have to kick your ass. You're just a prick, that's all you are, a little man." Then he made a small shape with his fingers to represent how insignificant the guy was. He wasn't making a lot of sense, but it was pretty funny.

Run the Jewels worked what's become a predictably great best-buddies act on the Bigfoot stage. The two traded extra-tough bars while El-P notably toted a liter of Tito’s.

Lamar stayed away from To Pimp a Butterfly tracks and stuck to audience-pleasers.
Lamar stayed away from 'To Pimp a Butterfly' tracks and stuck to audience-pleasers. Brooklyn Benjestorf

Then it was time for Compton good kid Kendrick Lamar to close out the whole show. He had the obligatory festival full-band, and played a ton of his hits, even pulling up a pair of audience members to rap a verse of "m.A.A.d city." It was a glitzy, fan-centric show, and went down smooth. Truthfully, though, I would have been even more stoked if he had appeared alone on stage without the backing band. It was still pretty amazing to see him in the flesh, and it put a nice bow on the festival before I made my break for the ocean.