Dozens of America’s hippest bands and comedians are headed to Grant County’s Gorge Amphi-theatre, one of the country’s most majestic musical settings. And that can mean only one thing.
It’s time for the Sasquatch music festival, hands down one of my favorite concert experiences every year – even that year when Neko Case got run offstage by an apocalyptic deluge of hail and lightning.
Hey, nothing makes a memory stick like a harrowing experience, right? And did I mention you should think like Bear Gryls when you pack?
Hopefully the weather will cooperate for main stage headliners Kings of Leon (Saturday), the reunited Jane’s Addiction (Sunday) and Ben Harper’s new unit, the Restless 7 (Monday). You can find a full schedule at www.sasquatchfestival.com.
And with this week’s column, I thought I’d break down the top 10 acts I plan to catch at the Gorge this weekend:
1. Nine Inch Nails (8 p.m. Sunday): Awhile back, Trent Reznor announced that his band’s tour with Jane’s Addiction would be its last “for the foreseeable future.” And as much of a bummer as that is, it’s probably a smart move: Seeing a Rolling Stones-aged Reznor freaking out to “March of the Pigs” would just look silly.
If Nails’ last stop at the Gorge in 2006 is any indication, expect a stripped-down version of the jaw-dropping, high-tech setup NIN brought to KeyArena last year. And try not to get crushed down in the pit while you’re at it.
2. TV on the Radio (6:35 p.m. Sunday): This wildly inventive Brooklyn band’s last disc, “Dear Science,” topped the best album lists of Spin, Rolling Stone and a gang of others last year. Multi-instrumentalist David Sitek’s lush production is largely stripped away live, allowing some of my favorite cuts to take on new life, la the punk-gospel vibe of “The Wrong Way” and the whistle-infused performance of “Young Liars.”
3. Erykah Badu (7:30 p.m. Monday): Badu (born Erica Wright) has been one of urban music’s edgiest voices since 1997, the year her debut “Baduizm” ushered in the “neo-soul” movement. On last year’s arty hip-hop opus “New Amerykah, Pt. 1: 4th World War” she manages to channel Funkadelic, Run DMC and Billie Holiday. That’s why we love you, Erykah.
4. The Murder City Devils (5:20 p.m. Sunday): Seattle’s hardest rocking band of a decade ago has reunited to reclaim Jet City from all the indie pop and alt-country that took over while they were gone. Frontman Spencer Moody spews blood and guts on unsung punk classics “I Want a Lot Now (So Come On),” “Cradle to the Grave” and “Another Round On You.”
5. M. Ward (3:25 p.m. Saturday): This Portland troubadour is probably better known for She & Him, his duo with actress Zooey Deschanel, than his own, dreamy solo work. Ward’s bluesy rocker “Requiem” reminds me of my dad and touches me every time I hear it. Can’t wait to finally see Ward play it live (and he better).
6. Street Sweeper Social Club (1:10 p.m. Monday): I’ve been looking forward to checking out this supergroup – featuring Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave shredder Tom Morello and rapper Boots Riley of the Coup – since Boots mentioned it to me in an interview back in 2006. And I want to kick myself for missing these guys when they unveiled new songs at Seattle’s Crocodile Café in March, not to mention that unannounced set that three-quarters of Soundgarden did that night with Tad’s Tad Doyle.
7. Girl Talk (7:15 p.m. Monday): Girl Talk is the stage name for Pittsburgh DJ/producers Gregg Gillis, whose 2008 mash-up masterpiece “Feed the Animals” answers the question, “What would it sound like if Metallica laid down a track with Lil Mama?” Not that anyone was asking that question. But seriously, he has a reputation for epic live sets.
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (8:30 p.m. Saturday): The band turned down the guitars, cranked the synthesizers way up and threw a new wave dance party with this year’s “It’s Blitz!” album. I’m already thinking this critical fave will wind up being this year’s “Dear Science,” fitting since Karen O and company are friends with the TV on the Radio guys.
9. Santogold (2:50 p.m. Monday): Namesake Santi White’s blend of hip-hop, new wave and dub reggae has drawn comparisons to M.I.A. She threw in an echoey cover of the Clash’s “The Guns of Brixton” on the set list last year at Seattle’s Showbox SoDo just for fun.
10. Fleet Foxes (4:55 p.m. Monday): The Seattle alt-country band was clearly the breakout hit of last year’s festival when it played an extra set after the National got stuck at the Canadian border. Expect more reverb-drenched goodness.
Ernest A. Jasmin: 253-274-7389