“Where are your friends tonight?”
LCD Soundsystem concluded the first day of Sasquatch! Music Festival with its resounding chorus celebrating togetherness — “All My Friends.” And if I were to posit one theme that permeates music festivals, it’s a yearning to be part of something special with friends – the ones you brought and the ones you just met in the campground or next to you at the Bigfoot stage.
When visiting with the crew of Snohomish County folks I tagged along with, talk about the festival often revolves around recalling past performances, or the time it rained, or the time hail pelted people, or the time the wind was so strong it blew a tent with plenty of weight in it across the yard and nearly into the street. So, luckily, my friends were nearby to enjoy such a moment.
After a five-year hiatus, the New York-based LCD Soundsystem has reformed. According to frontman James Murphy, the band just slayed its “white whale” in finishing a new album two days prior. With that burden off their shoulder, LCD Soundsystem strung together a series of hits from its repertoire, peppered with a handful of new tracks like “American Dream,” debuted on Saturday Night Live a couple weeks ago. They are LCD Soundsystem through and through — expertly arranged, produced, and long, feeling like a rebuttal to the three-minute pop tracks that permeate the airwaves (I mean, they literally have a track titled “You Wanted A Hit”).
Brought in as a last-minute replacement for Frank Ocean, LCD Soundsystem more than filled in as Friday’s headlining act. They brought a vigor and energy to launch the festival into its next two days and created a cathartic moment for everyone to just dance themselves clean.
Leading into that was another band, Seattle’s The Head and The Heart, giving concert-goers that “togetherness” moment. Opening with songs from their latest album, then hearkening back to their debut album, their songs of love and friendship, feeling the strain of life coming at you and moving by you, The Head and The Heart set the stage for a beautiful weekend.
It’s worth noting how much the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Wash., plays into the aesthetic of the festival. When the sun dropped behind The Head and The Heart on the main stage, it was a pleasant visual cue that matched the tone of their songs like, “Let’s Be Still,” “Winter Song,” and “Rivers & Roads.”
Upon the recommendation of Herald music blogger and 107.7. The End Locals Only host Steven Graham, his wife, and an old friend’s out-of-the-blue text about how at the airport he met some band set to perform at the festival, I caught Rainbow Kitten Surprise. The band had a strong soul-rock tinge to its songs, which the swelling crowd at the Yeti stage were raring to dance and sing along to.
Nearby, however, Big Freedia and a thundering bass system were a siren’s song of sorts for me. First lured by her introduction music, Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” off his latest album DAMN., I was sold on checking out at least some of her set. Plenty of other people were, too, as the “I got, I got, I got” of that track was echoed by people wandering the pathways to her on the Bigfoot stage. With a few dancers nearby, she had the crowd jumping, bumping and thumping along with her rhymes and beats.