Last weekend, I waited in line for two hours – playing guitar, drawing with strangers, and even taking a picture with “sasquatch”:
Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of using one of my (two!) free tickets to see a collection of chaotic, clever, and comedic acts. This was the Sasquatch Launch party – a random pageant of madness and fun that resulted in the release of the all-anticipated line-up!
Comedian, Chris Gethard, opened the show with an enthusiastic display of his tattoos and mental health issues. We laughed and he smiled, and we waited – through the sounds of Star Wars cantina music – for The Young Evils to perform.
Adorned in a Macklemore “My City’s Filthy” shirt, The Young Evils’ Mackenzie Mercer entered the stage, followed by Troy Nelson, Michael Lee, and Scott and Brendon Helgason. Slow at first, Lee’s guitar put us all into a trance – the band’s Black Sabbath-like breakdowns providing an outlet for us to rock out!
The Young Evils start off the show with a bang!
Their next few songs sounded like a surfer-pop weekend playlist with some Ramones thrown in. Mercer and Nelson stared at each other occasionally before turning to their mics to sing their teenage indie-gaze pop songs. “We keep running in circles,” they wailed over the wavy bass line.
Throughout their performance, The Young Evils maintained this surfer rock vibe. Mercer’s hands clapped to the innocuous rhythm. Buzzy and popping, Brendon’s bass led the rhythm – Scott’s drums keeping up with its dramatic kicks and snares. All the while, Mackenzie Mercer and Michael Lee enticed us with their solos as they sang and danced around the stage.
They played a brand new song to the audience’s enjoyment. Mercer came closer to the edge of the stage, the front row girls bobbing their heads to the rhythm. As the song continued to build, it would quickly move into The Young Evil’s characteristic breakdowns – hard and heavy chords breaking through deadly drums with electric guitar riffs thrown in haphazardly.
After thanking us, the band began a duet between the two frontmen. "Dearly beloved,“ Nelson announced, "we are gathered here today to see the Tacocat, Ty Segall, and to see the rise of the scorch”
As we cheered in slight confusion, we picked up right back to where we left off. Bass shaking the floor, the frontmen sang in unison above crowd while short and sweet solos weaved in and out of the fluid verses.
Taking the maraca from the drummer, Mercer strutted to the front of the stage. She danced to the rhythm and her right hand joined in. While Michael Lee ooh-ed and aah-ed in the distance, the band sang in chorus until a quick switch sent the guitarist shredding as the song faded away.
Warped guitar and a reminiscent summer-time vibe filled the rest of the performance. After a quick announcement about what was coming up in the show, a melancholy guitar entered the mix. Despite lyrics like, “dead animals is what we’ll become,” the music brought us to life – the crowd moving their bodies with the tide of the music.
After a final song and a bit of cantina music (again), a Sasquatch montage video appeared before us. A distorted voice announced how amazing the festival was going to be before advertising ziibra.com/sasquatch – a media subscription that gives people a behind-the-scenes look at the building of Sasquatch!
Chris returned to the stage for another comedic break. He was astounded by how excited we get about free things. So, he “gave away free shit!” In response, one member of the audience screamed, “free stuff rules!”
Cue more cantina music (seriously, the same song), then along came Tacocat! Struggling to find their things in the dark, the band began to mic check and drink their beers. After the band tuned their instruments, bassist Bree McKenna described their first song to the applause of the audience.
The foursome did nothing but enthuse as they danced and sang in tandem
We all swung our hips and moved our lips in unison – oohs and ahhs echoing throughout the room. In a t-shirt and jeans, guitarist Eric Randall casually played until technical difficulties stopped him from doing so.
“We think the Neptune is haunted,” frontman Emily Nokes explained as Randall attempted to fix his amplifier. The awkward empty air provided a great time for stage banter as drummer Lelah Maupin recalled her favorite story about a cat that didn’t die. “The only lesson we have to learn from Bartok the Miracle Cat,” she concluded, “is that it proves that pet cemetery is real!”
Magically, the technical difficulties were resolved! “Fuck you Neptune…” Nokes yelled, “-ghost!” she quickly added with a smile. As the band played their breakout single, “Bridge to Hawaii”, orange lights reflected off of Emily’s watermelon dress and Bree’s bright white and studded guitar. Lelah danced in the rhythm, her head leading her body in waves of intensity.
After a quick break for a drink of beer, Tacocat started to play a more intense set as the song “sk8 or die” caused the audience to start to mosh. Lelah’s commentary broke up the intensity. “The only thing I remember seeing here was Juno…” she said. “Twice!” the Emily quickly added. “Twice,” Lelah responded.
“She has the soundtrack on vinyl,” Eric remembers to announce. With a turn and a smile, Lelah responded with a gleeful, “That’s true!”
With a laugh, the band started playing their next song like before – Bree’s bass moving our muscles and Eric’s guitar blowing our minds. All the while, simple riffs flew right by Emily’s voice as she danced in a ska-like jig.
“Psychedelic Quincerniera,” was announced by Bree through a smile. The whole time, Maupin kicked ass! Throughout the song, she never stopped moving, despite the infrequent discourse of the crackling guitar. Even through the continual technical difficulties, the song ended with with a big, trippy Mexican guitar riff.
Reveling in the awkwardness, The band made a series of jokes including “that signature tacocat sound… Crunch!” said through a Noke’s ear-to-ear smile.
“I have a joke!” Lelah announced, “The busty crustacean joke!” Those who had previously attended the band’s shows cheered – a member of the audience even giving the answer to the drummer’s innocuous riddle.
The set continued and crowd favorite after favorite caused us to reminisce and cheer. Occasionally a crackled guitar would scream out above the mix and we would smile with the lead singer as she commented on “how beautiful the Neptune was.”
Throughout the set, the guitar continued to crackle but Randall played through it, never ceasing his harmonies for Noke’s catchy melodies. Meanwhile, I found myself wondering how Maupin could be so cute yet so menacing! Her sparkles shaking off with every bead of sweat, she smiled maliciously as she sang, “this is anarchy” and other clever one-liners.
For their last song, a man-sized lobster joined the band on stage as he began to dance alongside Emily. The crowd went wild with energy, once again moshing in the center of the floor.
In a surge of energy, the band left the stage and the lineup announcement began. We cheered as familiar names scrolled across the screen and was met with the same enthusiasm as Chris, the comedian, re-entered the stage. In case you missed it yesterday, check out nilorap’s full coverage of the lineup in our Rainy Blawg article.
Chris Gethard presents us with more free stuff!
Ty Segall entered the stage with nothing but a hard-shell acoustic guitar case in his hand. Adjusting the mic to his guitar, he lets us know that he’d be playing an acoustic set. The guitar propped up on his knee, Segall kept his impeccable instrumental skill as he sang along so fluidly. Quieter than the other performers, Segall kept us interested with his unorthodox lyricism and devilishly detailed guitar parts.
Segall commanded the stage with nothing but a guitar and a notebook
He played us a bunch of songs, both new and old. From some that were untitled to favorites like “Crazy,” Segall never let down his Led Zeppelin demeanor and face that might as well be Kurt Cobain’s during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set.
“This song is about my girlfriend” he said, before forgetting the chords and starting over. We laughed as he continued to sing the song, “Sleeper.” He moved his capo around his guitar as he decided which songs to play. He played us stories on his guitar, his lyrics bringing us into his universe – where every moment is precious and every person has their own world of importance.
He stopped playing to continue his story, connecting it with yet another song. “she said she wants to buy a couch” he sings. We laugh at his humor which remained interspersed throughout his lyrics.
“I’m gonna keep going with this theme of consumption,” he finally states, “this one is called Manipulators.” We ooed with him between verses and reveled in his relaxed demeanor. At one point, a man in the front row – later to be known as Sean – requested his favorite song and Ty obliged, his casual niceness and cheer flowing out until the end of the event.
When I left the show, I felt like I had just been to a friend’s house. It was strange since the event was free and there was nothing keeping us there except our love of the music. These artists felt the same vibe and rocked with us throughout the night! If anything, this sort of approach to music performance gives me hope for the beautiful time that will be Sasquatch! 2015.