By Steven Graham
2013 is the year Sasquatch! Music Festival alumni came back as conquering heroes. The top of the lineup was comprised mostly of bands that had played this festival in years past, artists who were not nearly as well known as they are today. This year those bands and artists came back to the Gorge as superstars.
In 2010 both Mumford &Sons and The xx performed at Sasquatch on the Bigfoot stage. This year both bands returned to the festival to perform on its main stage, the Sasquatch stage, in front of thousands of fans. Oliver Sim of The xx stopped between songs to point over the hill toward the Bigfoot stage and say “last time we were here we performed up on the Bigfoot stage, this year we get to be down here on this stage. Thank you all so much for having us back.”
London indie rock band Bloc Party played Sasquatch back in 2005 and they also returned to play the main stage this year. During their performance, front man Kele Okereke called the band’s 2005 Sasquatch set the worst performance they ever gave and said it felt great to come back and get it right this time.
Even Seattle’s new guitar hero Reignwolf made his return to Sasquatch this year. Though Reignwolf made his Sasquatch debut just last year, he made it in a big way. The day before his scheduled performance on the Yeti stage last year Jordan Cook (AKA Reignwolf) climbed on top of the Easy Street Records van that was parked near the main stage and performed an unsanctioned three or four song set just prior to Jack White taking the main stage. The crowd went crazy for him and the last year hasn’t been any different. That all earned Reignwolf a spot on the main stage this year and he ended his set on the same Easy Street van as it drove away from the stage with Cook shredding his guitar on top, again.
There are more returning Sasquatch artists who rocked the festival this year who all deserve mention, but this was no doubt the year of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. In 2011 Seattle rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performed on the Bigfoot stage at Sasquatch and last year they surprised the main stage crowd with a pop up show in the middle of the crowd. This year they played the main stage on opening night and The Heist took over Sasquatch.
The show was complete high energy insanity from the moment it started with Macklemore rising up out of a hole in the stage and never slowed. He performed every song the crowd wanted from the wildly popular hits “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” to “Same Love” and “My Oh My” while the biggest stage I have ever seen at the Sasquatch main stage danced and sang every word to every song.
Macklemore stopped every couple of songs to address the crowd and each time it was nothing but gratitude. “Everything I have worked for in my life has been to stand on this stage” Macklemore said and thanked his fans several times for all their support. Artists always thank the crowd and their fans but it’s rare that you really see it on their face like you could see on Macklemore’s Friday night. He seemed truly humbled by the situation he found himself in on that stage in front of what had to be close to 20,000 people and he gave them a performance to remember while wearing a Detlef Schrempf Jersey and eventually a pro Supersonics shirt that said some not so nice things about NBA Commissioner David Stern.
This Sasquatch performance was one of many times that I have seen Macklemore and Ryan Lewis live and it cemented in my mind that these guys are for real. He isn’t just the guy who made that funny video about thrift stores and he isn’t going away anytime soon.