Behind the Scenes at Sasquatch! 2015

By: AJ Dent
Photo by Victoria Holt
Photo by Victoria Holt
  TAGS:   Article, Exclusive, Festival

An infinite sky, five stages, and countless smiles: Yes, the Sasquatch! Music Festival takes place in the desert, but this is no mirage. You’ve simply discovered one of the most beautiful events on earth.

Over a stunning Memorial Day weekend, Sasquatch! brought over 120 musical acts to the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington (that’s right, it’s “The Gorge in George”!). From indie rock legends like Sleater-Kinney, Ryan Adams and Modest Mouse to rap gods like Kendrick Lamar, and pop royalty such as Lana Del Rey, there were options to please every audio palette. To top it all off, the Slurpee® truck stood near the entrance gates, greeting attendees like the world’s best Welcome Wagon. As dancers, prancers, and romancers picked up their wristbands for the weekend, Slurpee gave them their first taste of all the fun to come—for free, no less!

Photo by Victoria Holt

Photo by Victoria Holt

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Slurpee’s All Access Chill Lounge, the Uranus Stage beamed even brighter than the planet it’s named after. Nestled on the side of a grassy hill, the stage offers 365-degree views of the groups gracing it. Pacific Northwest favorites such as the moody Smokey Brights and buoyant pop duo Sisters delivered standout sets, sending summery vibes out to everyone near.

Marking their inaugural Sasquatch! performance, Seattle-based band Acapulco Lips started a dance party around the Uranus Stage with their boppy surfer rock. “Playing here ruled!” said lead singer Maria-Elena Juarez. “It was great to see so many people out in the grass dancing. It’s also nice we were able to play early in the day when the sun was out, and then got to go out and explore the festival.”

Across the central walkway from Uranus you’ll find the Bigfoot Stage. Here, sets by artists like Real Estate and Run the Jewels made the ground rumble from the front row to the campgrounds. In view of it all was the Slurpee station, a sunshine-laden oasis. With a simple scan of the 7-Eleven® app, festivalgoers enjoyed a free Slurpee, and were automatically entered into giveaways galore.

Photo by Victoria Holt

Photo by Victoria Holt

As dance-offs, flash mobs, and poses with the Slurpee mannequins took place, prizes were given out left and right. Shawn Riney and Hope Olivia of Seattle played Spin to Win and did just that, snagging two VIP wristband upgrades just for having their 7-Eleven app on deck.

“I just walked into the festival for the first time! I can’t believe this happened!” Shawn laughed, elated after winning. Hope said she was most looking forward to catching the singer Kiesza that night, and they were both excited to explore the festival’s VIP areas.

Closer to the spectacular Columbia River, the Yeti Stage was versatile as could be. By day, you could often join hundreds of attendees lounging in the grass, basking in upbeat folk acts. Kate Tempest enraptured the lawn with whip-quick rapping and slam poetry, delivered with her signature South East London accent. At night, rock bands such as King Tuff and Fuzz took over, shredding guitars and headbanging in the glow of spinning spotlights.

Photo by Victoria Holt

Photo by Victoria Holt

Fans of entrancing visuals were especially drawn to El Chupacabra, an enormous tented area with three screens around its stage. Comedians, DJs, and soul singers appeared here, making it one of the fest’s hottest spots. On Sunday, electronic artist VOX MOD filled the structure with irresistible beats and dancing feet. The brainchild of musician Scot Porter, VOX MOD has become synonymous with entrancing visuals and creative grooves.

“This is my first time performing as my solo project at Sasquatch,” said Porter. “It’s exciting to be here with so many artists I’m digging.” Raised in the Pacific Northwest, he said seeing vibrant sets by Spoon and Odesza were highlights, as well as the weekend’s weather.

Sunny and in the ‘70s for most of the fest’s four days, that weather kept people returning to the Slurpee station for more flavors and fun. While everyone who gets to enjoy Sasquatch! wins, there were two people there in particular who had hit the jackpot. Katie Amerine of Kansas state won tickets and roundtrip airfare to the festival.

Photo by Victoria Holt

Photo by Victoria Holt

“I honestly drink a Slurpee every single day!” Katie laughed. “A while back, I was at my usual 7-Eleven when the owner there told me about the app, where I could get every seventh Slurpee for free. I thought, ‘Why not? I get one every day!’” Not only did downloading the app earn her more of her beloved treat, each purchase entered her into the contest to win free tickets to Sasquatch! and other music festivals around the country.

Along with winning over $1,000 in spending money for the weekend, Katie was also given the chance to bring a companion along for the ride. She and her best friend, Dianna Jones, traveled to the Gorge together—their very first time visiting Washington State. “The view of the Gorge is definitely my favorite part,” said Katie about the experience. “It’s been an amazing trip.”

The view definitely can’t be overstated. The Sasquatch! Main Stage faces a towering, grassy hill, where attendees can take in the show of a lifetime. As each day of the festival progressed, one could see dreamy clouds, full color-spectrum sunsets, and brilliant stars. On this inimitable stage, St. Vincent held onlookers captive with her robotic antics and flawless guitar solos. Thanks to unique storytelling and folky vocals, crowd-pleasers The Decemberists also left an indelible mark on the fest, and rock god Robert Plant made the dreams of fans young and old come true as his world-famous voice rippled across the entire Gorge.

Though the 14th annual Sasquatch! festival is a wrap, memories of its magic and music are sure to have attendees and artists alike counting down the days to next year.