The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
Published 5/29/13 | Log In
Annie Clark of St. Vincent performs Saturday night at Sasquatch, playing lead guitar and singing vocals, Clark utilized most of the stage, strutting around quickly and sporadically.
Photo credit: ALEX HERBIG/The Falcon.
Festival at the Gorge is more than just a party
By GABRIEL MUCH, Features Writer
Published: May 30, 2012
You wake up around 9 a.m. because your tent is beginning to heat up. Exiting your tent, you enter into the distant sound of techno thumps and see a dozen grazing cows just beyond the fence at the edge of the campgrounds. It’s an average day at Sasquatch.
As you wonder, through a mild headache, who in their right mind would be playing dance beats at that hour, you see your neighbors are beginning to start their day, too, and you invite them over for breakfast. You pleasantly talk about music.
A scruffy-looking 20-something hippie is making his rounds selling hallucinogens and marijuana; your neighbors casually buy some mushrooms for the Jack White concert under the premise, “It’s a special occasion.”
No one has any problems with it. There are no problems in this lawless land.
As you finish your breakfast, you embark on the two-mile journey to the main entrance.
All the tents and cars are packed sardine-tight on the fields, and it looks more like a post-apocalyptic refugee camp.
Only cars at the ends of the rows even have the convenience of leaving; everyone is parked-in permanently until Monday night.
Every few hundred yards to your left is a horseshoe-shaped group of 22 portable toilets, and they are starting to get dank.
But no one seems to mind.
About half a mile down the road, there’s a bearded, dreadlocked man selling hand-blown glass pipes.
The number of pilgrims increases as you get farther down the road and so does the concentration of empty beer cans littering the ground.
Now there are swarms of happy people around you — some shouting, many giving out high-fives to strangers, and all are ready for the day.
As you approach the gate, you hear a distant roar of cheers from behind you at the campgrounds. The roar quickly gets closer and closer.
Suddenly it’s upon you, and you are cheering with everyone else. Then it passes and moves ahead down into the festival grounds. The cheers happen for no reason.
Security searches your bag as you go in and stops you because of a pocketknife. You hide it better in your bag and enter through a different line — made it.
People spread out inside, and there’s time to appreciate everyone around you: the Captain America suit, the Super Mario outfit, the many fake and real mustaches, the leopard-print things and the flower-child headbands. There are also a lot of bro-tanks and short shorts, as well as many pairs of Birkenstocks. It’s an odd mix.
But these are the folks you will spend your weekend with, and they all have something in common: they really want to be at Sasquatch.
That’s where Sasquatch gains its biggest advantage over the other Washington music festivals.
At Bumbershoot, Folklife, and the Capitol Hill block party, the average urbanite or suburbanite can hop over on a whim.
Nothing is at stake in going, and the audience ends up being full of partially invested ninnies who are only there because a friend invited them.
Not at Sasquatch.
The act of driving the couple hundred miles or more to get to the Gorge Amphitheatre serves as a right of passage, and once you’ve made the trek, you are initiated into something much bigger than yourself.
Instead of finding yourself at odds with your fellow crowd members, you’ll find yourself among friends. The camaraderie extends beyond the festival grounds and into the camp, and it embodies what music has always sought to bring the world: community.
And the Sasquatch community works best because it functions without the inhibitors of the city, things like technology, apathy and, at times, sobriety.
As participants know, the real thing cannot be described; it must be experienced firsthand.
In one year’s time, be sure to have your schoolwork taken care of — and $400 saved up — so you can take the plunge.