Pound for pound, Sasquatch! is among the most breathtaking music festivals in the world. It is a fraction of the size of the heavy hitters, but always manages to attract big acts, and offers a gorgeous natural backdrop that none of the juggernauts can match. Full stop. Its small size offers additional benefits, like the ability to wander between stages and always be within earshot of something good.
The festival turns fourteen this year, and features a terrific mix of established talent and rapidly ascending acts, with plenty of hidden gems in between. Indie rock has historically been the festival’s focus. This year they’re going for breadth. Headliners (who need no introduction) notwithstanding, here are 22 acts that we won’t miss this weekend.
Grace and the True Loves – 4:45 @ Sasquatch Stage
A butter-smooth blend of world influences and Motown soul, Grace and the True Loves dropped their debut LP late last year in understated fashion. Grace herself is the big draw, with a set of pipes that should fill the Gorge no sweat.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – 6:45 @ Bigfoot Stage
If you have any interest in witnessing modern musicianship at its finest, catching Unknown Mortal Orchestra is non-negotiable. They still touring on the strength last year’s Multi-Love (one of our favourite albums of last year), and once you see them in action it’s easy to understand why.
Vince Staples – 8:15 @ Bigfoot Stage
A$AP Rocky starts on the Sasquatch Stage at 9pm, so if you’re keen on both of these hip-hop fledglings then be sure to catch the front end of Mr. Staples’ set. He dropped one of the best hip-hop debuts in recent memory last year. Getting at least a glimpse is a no brainer.
Todd Terje – 10:10 @ El Chupacabra
Overlap with Disclosure (who absolutely stole the show here back in 2013) makes for a bit of a dilemma. Given the mellower tone of Disclosure’s sophomore effort Caracal, Todd Terje’s gleefully unironic disco mind melds may be the more spirited affair. Let your energy level be your guide.
Hibou – 1:20 @ Bigfoot
Hibou is the project of Peter Michel, whose bedroom pop confections bring to mind Wild Nothing. Their appearance here – a hometown show no, less – kicks off a run of tour dates along the West Coast, so they’ll be highly motivated to leave an impression.
Matt Corby – 3:10 @ Sasquatch
Aussie singer-songwriter Matt Corby is a household name back home, but hasn’t quite broken through this side of the Pacific. He’ll likely show up with a band to capture the fuller, uplifting sound of his debut LP Telluride.
Ty Segall and the Muggers – 4:50 @ Bigfoot
Uber-prolific garage rocker Ty Segall is on the road yet again in support of his latest album Emotional Mugger – which is the 12 album he’s recorded or had a hand in since 2008. He’s a tireless showman. Raucousness will ensue.
Hop Along – 6:25 @ Yeti
The music world completely ignored Hop Along’s stellar debut Get Disowned back in 2012, and absolutely loved their stellar 2015 follow-up Painted Shut. Go figure. The Philly indie outfit’s emotionally-charged sound is sure to rouse something in you. If not, lead singer Frances Quinlan sure will.
Preoccupations – 9:00 @ Sasquatch
The artists formerly known as Viet Cong are in tough for brand recognition at the moment but are very much worth checking out. As late addition to the festival, their charred post-punk tunes take on a different, more plaintive tone in a live setting.
Autolux – 2:25 @ Bigfoot
Intermittently active act Autolux just dropped their first album in 6 years, so this is a rare opportunity to catch them live. Their experimental sound takes weird twists and turns on record; what they’ll do with it here is anyone’s guess.
Savages – 4:45 @ Bigfoot
Savages’ music is very loud and very political. Adore Life is was one of 2016's earliest quality records. Beyond the breakneck tunes, you can be sure they’ll have some commentary to offer. Brace yourself for the sound and fury, just don’t take your phone out.
Yo La Tengo – 6:15 @ Bigfoot
If you’re reading this, odds are Yo La Tengo have been making music longer than you’ve been alive. They have one of the deepest catalogs of any active band, and you can bet they’ll be pulling from every era of their 33-year lifespan.
Mac DeMarco – 8:00 @ Bigfoot
If you have to ask why, well… go and see for yourself.
Alabama Shakes – 9:00 @ Sasquatch
Even an avalanche of Grammys hasn’t slowed down Alabama Shakes. They continue to inch their way up the festival bills with their unique blend of rock, blues and pop. Indie purists Speedy Ortiz – who hit the Yeti Stage at 9:15 – are a quality choice as well. So is Shamir at El Chupacabra. This is actually one of the tougher decisions of the weekend.
Julia Holter – 3:30 @ Bigfoot
The endlessly offbeat singer-songwriter makes all sorts of eccentric choice with her live setup. A string section has been following her around as of late in support of her stately new album Have You in My Wilderness.
Titus Andronicus – 6:15 @ Bigfoot
This Jersey act dropped a triumphant, sprawling double-album last year after the first critical lull of their career. In a day packed with heavy hitters from the world of rock and roll, Titus Andronicus will kick things off in style.
Grimes – 7:15 @ Sasquatch
The genesis of Claire Boucher’s latest album Art Angels was well documented, from scrapped sessions to standalone releases with heavy backlash. It’s hard to argue against the final product. She’ll likely go heavy on the new tunes, and her stage presence is so wild and unique it’d be worth watching on mute.
King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard – 7:45 @ Yeti
The last month-and-a-half has seen a steady stream of quality releases, and the latest record of spiky psych-rock from this brilliantly named collective seems to have slipped through the cracks. If you’re not up for moshing you may be better off keeping your distance.
Sufjan Stevens – 9:00 @ Sasquatch
Another well-seasoned vet, Sufjan Stevens’ deeply intimate music and gossamer voice are must-see stuff. But be prepared to be wracked. 2015’s Carrie & Lowell is easily one of the most devastating releases in years.
Kurt Vile and the Violators – 10:00 @ Bigfoot
Spoonful after spoonful, Kurt Vile’s languid Americana is a sweet, sweet tonic. His latest record b’lieve i’m goin down, is infinitely agreeable. This should be a looser, laxer set than the likes of King Gizzard or Titus Andronicus. If you’ve rocked yourself out, Four Tet’s ornate house beats can be found at El Chupacabra.
Jamie xx – 12:00am @ Bigfoot
Here we have it: the ultimate endurance test. If you have the stamina to catch the London producer at midnight on the final day, his vibrant, downtempo dance music is a great way to cap off the festivities. Caribou, who offer similarly danceable tunes with a full band, hit El Chupacabra half an hour earlier.