With its sweltering heat, pouring rain, vast views and tons of music, the Sasquatch Music Festival is a three-day slice of Northwest highlife. This past weekend, 60,000-some revelers converged on the sold-out Gorge, a beautiful natural amphitheater carved out of the Grand Canyon-esque Columbia River Gorge in eastern Washington, to check out headlining sets from R.E.M. and the Cure. Both bands mined their catalogs and flaunted their pop-icon status, while the Flaming Lips arrived on Sunday evening with an army of jumpsuited technicians to erect their massive “UFO Show” production, taking over the festival a full 24 hours before their set. Their eye-popping Monday night finale proved that Wayne Coyne is committed to bringing a full-scale party to every Lips experience.
The Gorge’s massive, sloping mainstage lawn is perfect for blanke-spreading, people-watching, sunset-basking, and music-hearing, but much of the action took place at Sasquatch’s smaller stages. The Wookie Stage leaned more towards electro, with the trifecta of Battles, Jamie Lidell and Ghostland Observatory closing out Monday night. The Yeti Stage hosted smaller, mostly Seattle-based acts, suggesting that festival organizers are intent on keeping at least part of Sasquatch local. Then again, it’s easy to stay local when your region is home to Death Cab for Cutie, the New Pornographers, Built to Spill and Modest Mouse.