The Sasquatch Music Festival: Where Their History Merges With Our History

By all accounts, the Sasquatch Music Festival started back in 2002 as a one day neo-hippie fest.  The original headliners were The String Cheese Incident, for chrissakes.  The rest of the acts consisted of Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Galactic, Soulive, Blackalicious, and Maktub.  Over the years, Sasquatch has grown and grown, while the lineup has become substantially better and more varied.  More stages were added and, in 2006, the festival expanded to 3 days.  A lot has changed for the festival since that debut year.  A lot has even changed in my personal life and in the world as a whole.  Sasquatch has become a huge nationwide event that people travel cross-country to attend annually.  I’ve switched from a manual SLR camera to using digital.  We have a black president.  A lot of things haven’t changed.  Sasquatch is still held on Memorial Day weekend every year.  Endless lives, countless dollars, and numerous buildings are still being sacrificed and/or destroyed in response to the 2 buildings and thousands of lives lost 9 years ago.  I’m still handling shit on my end by doing everything budget and ghetto as fuck.

For some, Sasquatch marks the beginning of Summer and is something to be attended every year, regardless of who is on the bill.  It’s an event that’s bigger than the sum of it’s parts for them and an opportunity to get piss drunk in a field, meet strangers, and dance in ridiculous hats.  It’s a break from their lives, jobs and responsibilities.  My life, as many of yours, is much different, and so, the symbolism that the festival holds for me is also something much different.  I attended the jump off back in 2002, but haven’t returned since.  I don’t have a deep yearning for mass comradery and I’m not big on giant parties.  So, what made someone like myself enter back into a chaotic situation with a bunch of folks who may be very different than myself and who, very well, have different reasons and intentions for going altogether?.  The simple answer could be explained by bands like Pavement and WEEN being on the bill.  An even simpler answer would be that I got in for free.  The lineup became just good enough that I couldn’t ignore it anymore.  Plus, there was a curiosity factor within myself to experience first hand how much things have or have not changed, both with Sasquatch and myself over the last 8 years.  The first year marked something much different for me than most in attendance.  It was a huge turning point in my life.  From then on I would become a very different person.  Ideals were strengthened, while other parts would die.  It was also the first event that I would actually arrange to attend as a “music reporter”.

House Of Blues Presents ran Sasquatch the first year, but was later acquired, along with the festival, by Live Nation in 2006.  I have probably referenced this before, but I was attending The Evergreen State College at the time and the school paper had refused to print my comic strips.  They claimed that it was due to me using an alias (“Genius Christ”), but other more hipstered out motherfuckers were allowed to use them, so the real reason clearly just revolved around favoritism and bullshit.  They could have just as easily said something like, “It’s not that you’re using an alias, but the name that you’re using that may be a problem” or, “The subject matter that you’re focusing on is a bit too intense for us to post this in this format” but they didn’t.  They didn’t even say anything until I realized that it was bumped and hadn’t been printed all by myself.  Shit, I hadn’t even submitted the “hardcore” stuff yet; the comics with people shooting smack into their cocks and of my characters like “Racist Grampa”.  I didn’t really care all that much, but I felt like other people who were less likely to stir things up were having their voices stifled in a forum that everyone should have access to.  I came at them pretty hard at first and then just decided to flip the script and use them for my own benefit.  I contacted H.O.B. and requested reviewer passes to the newly announced Sasquatch Festival under the guise of a writer for the Evergreen paper.  They told me that I could have a pair of passes and a photo pass, without much effort.  I had a couple of terrorist-looking passport photos taken and then went over to my friend Lars‘ home/work/gas station (yep, all one and the same) and used his laminating machine to fashion myself a “press pass”.  The card itself was something that I had obtained from the same organization that I had received my minister’s license from in 1997.  My ex-girlfriend had decided not to go with me, so I offered my other pass to someone and caught a ride to the festival.  When we got there, we checked in and received our passes.  I was asked for my identification and handed over my homemade credentials.  Everything worked out super legit, except for the fact that I had forgotten my camera and, with the rush and fear of my ride leaving, never went back to get it.  If I had, I would have been provided with a photo pass and, consequently, access to a whole other environment.  This is one thing that I had planned to remedy this year.

I camped off the official grounds that night and, when I returned home, everything it my life had taken a sharp turn and crashed into a brick wall.  I later discovered that, while I was off tripping, being hit with glitter, and borrowing cell phones to call home and tell my girlfriend how much I was missing her, there was another dude sleeping in my house.  Later in the week, I would be forced to break in through the window of my own home to discover that everything that she owned was missing, as well as some of my own stuff.  It was the beginning of a 4+ year issue, which would includ the police, mental illness, obsession, court cases, anxiety attacks, psychics, mind control, and even an eventual suicide attempt on my part.  The “man” sleeping in my home that night had been stalking us as a couple and was a paranoid schizophrenic who lived in a blue Volkswagon bus.  He was also a convicted felon, with a record for “luring” little boys into his van and for an attempted strangling of his own grandmother.  Somehow, this girl, whom I had already lived with for 2 years, allowed him into our lives.  There were situations where they would sleep right across the street from our duplex in “our” van.  She had lost her fucking mind and took mine right along with her.  Professionals felt that she had been brainwashed with the help of that wingnut secretly sedating her with his own psychotropic medications, but she refused to get tested.  He controlled what she ate and even brushed her hair and washed her hands for her.  He shaved all of the hair off of his body and painted over the windows of his vehicle.  It was a back and forth case where I eventually had to move out of my home, due to the police constantly showing up to remove the “stalker”, and with crazy surreal situations, where she would whisper secrets and information to me, for fear that he could hear her and control her from across town.  I was, eventually, issued a lifetime restraining order against that douchebag maniac, less for my own safety and more to prevent the inevitable repercussions that would have stemmed from me taking the law into my own hands.  I  know… pretty intense for a concert review.  It probably even seems irrelevant, but it’s something that definitely shaped my life forever.  At the time, I became a public asshole that “couldn’t move on” from a “simple” breakup.  Behind closed doors, I was thanked for “pulling” someone “out of the grave” and lived a life responding to S.O.S. calls (and letters, second hand messages… and emails), while devoting any resource that I had to someone else’s well being over my own.  For years, I fought to regain an identity beyond just someone that something happened to.  A human being rather than a situation.  I think that writing may have helped that, but I also think that everything that I post is ingrained with certain principles such as, “All the matters is the truth, regardless of sponsorship or lack of popularity” and that even freedom of the press shouldn’t only pertain to a handpicked exclusive group, but also the actual people that should have access provided to them to voice their views and opinions.  It’s an idea of anti-control and anti-oppression.  May 25, 2002 was more than the date of the original Sasquatch festival, it was a seriously heavy fucking day for me.  It was last day before the idea of trust was finally severed between it’s two polarizing principles: “Logic” & “Faith”.  I think know that played a part in why I’ve never bothered to return to something so unassuming as this simple festival, but I hope that it’s also allowed me enough distance to actually report on it from an moderately interesting perspective.  Like I said, that was, in a few ways, what spring-boarded me into writing altogether and, without that event, I doubt that this site would be here.  Without finding outlets like these, there’s even a good chance that I wouldn’t be here, because I almost wasn’t.  In fact… I wasn’t for a really long time.

After Sasquatch, I continued to cover a few more shows and get in for free but, eventually, someone wanted evidence that I wasn’t completely full of shit.  This wasn’t evidence that I actually had, so I wrote an article for the paper and sent it in.  I wasn’t on staff, but I was a student contributing, as I believe most colleges encourage to some degree.  I was the only one ballsy enough to set up interviews and get free passes, anyway.  That and the fact that a local survey proved my articles were among the top, if not the top, that people were reading and enjoying, helped me shake their newspaper staff drama off me for a while.  In my head it was always a scam and still is.  In reality, everything is actually really legit around here now and it’s much more of a “hustle”.  I still feel like there are elaborate rackets involved and that, if people realized how capable they are and didn’t allow corporations, artists, and the idea of “celebrity” to feel so daunting to them, then more people would realize that their voices were also valid.  They would start more original bands, realize what they were capable of, and have a completely different experience than one of reactivity and following a piper in a day-glo Trapper Keeper print hoodie.  Most of you who are familiar with this site, have probably picked up on the fact that I’ve tried to continue with those ideals.  For the others… welcome.  Whether all of that comes through or not, these situations are what helped spawn the whole idea of covering events, film and art in the first place, and, indirectly or otherwise, it all started with this festival.

By the second year of Sasquatch, things had already changed.  H.O.B. pretty much told me to go fuck myself, after I requested passes.  They didn’t need my help.  By applying now, this current year’s application would also help to gauge how far my little project has grown over the last 3 years.  I went large, requesting 2 photo passes and 3 reviewer passes.  I was only approved for one pass for review.  I understand why someone like Rolling Stone holds priority; demand for coverage has grown high.  Still, this meant that all photography and all around coverage would fall on my shoulders and my shoulders alone… again.  One thing that’s important to remember is that, even in a huge corporate environment, individuals are still the ones who man the positions and those individuals are the ones that you will be contacting and be in contact with.  My coverage of this year’s events are not geared to please anyone except for those who want to honestly get a feeling of the concert’s environment, an idea of the particular experience, and/or information and images of the bands that performed.  I may say some things that make me a liability and result in me not receiving media approval for the event next year, but that’s not really important.  I couldn’t give a fuck either way about Live Nation as an entity/corporation, but I still have respect for the people that allowed us entry and the individuals whom I have had direct contact with that work for that organization.  Blindly rejecting an organization because of it’s size and power is just as ignorant as blindly accepting it and there were individuals who were very helpful to our needs and I thank them for it.  We were denied a photo pass to the mainstage, as were many others, but it was due to a capacity issue, which is also understandable.  Thanks to our amazing contact at Live Nation, as well as some gracious help from WEEN‘s management, a huge exception was made to allow me to shoot WEEN‘s set that closed out the festival.  [check out those WEEN images now by clicking HERE]

By this point, it’s probably pretty clear that this post is little more than an introduction to the real coverage of the festival.  I feel that it’s also a good introduction to the site for those who have never visited and even a quick backstory/wrap-up for anyone who’s been reading it since its inception 3 years ago.  It’s also a prime opportunity to get a solid amount of this info out of the way and limit the amount of it which will seep into the day by day reviews being posted shortly.   The minute that we were approved for a media pass, emails began flowing in asking if we wanted to interview acts from Neon Indian, OK GO, and Booka Shade to WHY?, Local Natives, and Boys Noize.  I opted not to conduct any of them, due to my lack of man-power on hand and partially due to time restraints and trying to attend the festival from the perspective as a “concert goer”.  I also wanted to feel everything out this year and peep out the operations to better plan for the future, if there is one.  My hopes are that I will be able to provide a solid overview, both as a normal attendee as well as from the perspective of someone reporting on the festival.  One thing that I can definitely guarantee is that I will be talking a good amount of shit, while showcasing the highlights of what made the festival an, ultimately, really solid experience.  Like I stated, due to handling the entire 3-Day festival myself, the coverage will be pouring out slow and chunky, like Heinz and its 57 ingredients.

Thanks again for reading Monster Fresh.  We know that you have many options for crass musical commentary, and we appreciate your decision in choosing us.  Now that I got all of that off of my chest, let’s try and get this shit rolling.

Dead C

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

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