Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sasquatch v. EndFest

Survival of the Illest
Gorge Amphitheater, George, WA
White River Amphitheater, Auburn, WA

Two gigantic music festivals took place recently in Washington: Sasquatch, sponsored by House of Blues, and EndFest, sponsored by local radio station 107.7 The End. The lineup consisted of the indie illuminati, with a couple of acts doing both shows.

Most of the differences between these two events stemmed from location and climate. Sasquatch took place at the Gorge - a beautiful valley in Eastern Washington that looks and feels like the desert. It was BLAZING HOT that day, sunny, and the venue offered almost no shade. It's also located about 2 hours from Seattle, so staying overnight in one of the adjacent campgrounds is popular. There were probably 10,000 people in attendance.

EndFest was at the White River Amphitheater - a fairly new venue erected by the Muckleshoot Indian tribe. It's in a suburb of Seattle, and you can get there by taking a shuttle from the Super Mall. Concert day was weirdly sunny-overcast-sunny, but the temperature was fine. White River offers lots of asphalt, beer gardens, and covered seating. 8500 seats were sold, but my guess is 5000 in attendance at any one time.

Even though the lineups were remarkably similar in style, the demographics were noticeably different. Sasquatch's crowd was a bit older, quite a bit drunker, and less clothed. In general, Sasquatch had more grass, flip-flops, sun hats, fascinating sunburns, heat exhaustion, and dancing (which is incredible given the heat. Chip says this points to the dedication of the fans who are willing to smash themselves up to the front of the stage and dance; I think they are probably drunk).

EndFest had more teenagers (including several cool dad/teen combos), colored hair, faux- and mohawks, corporate sponsors (these kids don't blink at corporate sponsorships - they rush to the booth to see what they can get for free. Interestingly the most popular one was the Poker Tent, where you could learn to be a casino dealer. Of course, we're pretty much next door to the Muckleshoot casino.), black clothing, chunky shoes, and one girl in a satin evening gown. They also had a half-pipe set up for razor scooters and bikes. A one-footed invert, I now know, is sick. The music here seemed almost like an aside.

A couple of bands at each show made both events worth attending for me. At Sasquatch, The Frames tore it up mainly due to their joy about being at the venue and the presence of The Pixies. Arcade Fire killed, though would have killed more were it dark outside while they were playing (seeing Noah from USE dancing at the back of the stage made the set all that much better).

At EndFest Hot Hot Heat was adorable as usual, and Kaiser Chiefs endeared themselves to the crowd when the lead singer stage-dove and continued singing, then tossed the mic to the crowd so they could sing the chorus of one song. HUGE rockstar brownie points here. The Bravery followed Kaiser Chiefs, and it took them a long time to get the crowd on their side. Chip called The Bravery "the Project Greenlight version of Kaiser Chiefs."

You can try to swear off summer festivals entirely, but the lineups are usually too enticing. If you go, heed my advice: bring sunscreen, leave your ironic throwback t-shirt at home, buy the most expensive ticket you can afford, and try not to compare this performance with the time you saw the band at The Crocodile. It just isn't the same. See you at Bumbershoot!

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