It’s safe to say that most of the 20,000 or so folks heading to the Gorge this holiday weekend already know the deal on U.K. trip-hop lords Massive Attack, Kentucky rock titans My Morning Jacket, the virtuosic Ween and the eccentric Vampire Weekend.
But with nearly 100 acts appearing over three days, the Sasquatch Music Festival promises an inevitable epiphanic aural ambush by one of the lesser-knowns that play earlier in the day or on the smaller stages, when all of sudden, booyah! You’ve discovered your new favorite band.
Here’s an underdog’s dozen to consider at Sasquatch 2010:
OK Go, Sasquatch stage, 4:25 p.m. –Yes, the band from that “treadmill video” that was parodied on “The Simpsons.” That band you saw on YouTube with the album accompanied only by trombones. That band, that Internet phenomenon that took its music to the chamber of the U.S. Senate.
That band with a bigness and singularity that brings to mind a psyched-out pre-“Kid A” Radiohead, the lovable weirdness of Flaming Lips and a good measure of Weezer wit.
The Lonely Forest, Yeti stage, 5:40 p.m. – Since winning Seattle’s local Soundoff battle of the bands, Anacortes’ The Lonely Forest recorded an album with Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden), was a hit at Bumbershoot and got name-dropped by Death Cab For Cutie, on CNN nonetheless.
They’ve shared bills with Seattle-by-way-of-Spokane faves The Globes so The Lonely Forest will likely ring a bell with local indie die-hards, especially fans of Guided By Voices, The Hold Steady and Built to Spill.
WHY?, Yeti stage, 6:45 p.m. – Lush Americana and poppy psych-folk might be the least expected fruit to stem from the founders of avant-rap label Anticon Records. Somewhere in the middle of making the last two records, hip-hop lyrics were eclipsed by sung vocals and the “alt” in the band was simplified in a way that puts Aesop Rock and Bill Callahan on the same playlist.
Deadmau5, Bigfoot stage, 11:30 p.m. – Stick around late at the Bigfoot stage after Nada Surf for the electronic laptop music wizardry of Joel Zimmerman’s alter ego, Deadmau5. It will be the perfect warmup for LCD Soundsystem’s Sunday night dance party.
It can be a tough genre to pull off in a live show, but dude spices things up by wearing a giant mouse head on stage.
Caribou, Sasquatch stage, 12:05 p.m. – Also known as Manitoba – before he was threatened with a lawsuit from a similarly named artist – Dan Snaith produces sweetly psychedelic electronica that borders on quasi-transcendent pop chaos. With elements of Krautrock that set him slightly apart, Caribou’s digital music is undeniably human, in the same company as DJ Shadow or the friendlier sides of Aphex Twin.
The Long Winters, Sasquatch stage, 2 p.m. – Longtime buddies with Death Cab for Cutie, The Long Winters shared studio space with Bellingham’s finest back when Death Cab was truly an indie band. Death Cabby and producer Chris Walla was known to grab the nearest cowbell and tinker around in the middle of tracking records with them.
There are similar pop elements, with the addition of an upbeat, ska-free brass section.
The xx, Bigfoot stage, 5:50 p.m. – This London quartet’s subversive mix of male-female vocals and groovy chill is a lighter companion along the same travels as Massive Attack. In fact, The xx’s cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrops” landed some love on BBC’s “EastEnders” spin-off “E20.” Massive Attack pre-funk over here.
Simian Mobile Disco, Rumpus Room, 10 p.m. – To make sure you get your fill of U.K.-based electronica, hit up the old dance tent to hear a set that is sure to be peppered with classic mashups, remixes and collaborations with the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Peaches, Klaxons and Florence & the Machine.
The Heavy, Sasquatch stage, noon: With Noid, England’s The Heavy, old school becomes new. Even before releasing last year’s LP of Johnny Cash remixes, the band has been brazenly unapologetic in its pursuit to channel Bo Diddley, James Brown, Bob Marley and Curtis Mayfield.
Mayer Hawthorne and the County, Sasquatch stage, 12:55 p.m. – Fans of James Pants are likely familiar with Stones Throw Records labelmate Hawthorne, who spent the night in a Baltimore jail with the drummer from Spokane’s Belt of Vapor while on tour with Pants.
Hawthorne’s stock went through the roof when his throwback R&B/soul and doo-wop style was praised by the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah in an interview with the New York Times.
Neon Indian, Rumpus Room at 8:40 p.m. – Composer Alan Palomo splices together nostalgic dreampop with crunchy guitars and bizarre-sounding synth haziness. It’s the same lo-fi charm and irony that gave rise to yacht rock with a surreality that is screaming cassette. But don’t panic, it’s more Chemical Brothers than Doobie Brothers.
Boys Noize, Rumpus Room, 10 p.m. – Boys Noize maker Alex Ridha has DJed alongside Felix Da Housecat and DJ Hell before stringing high-profile remixes for Snoop Dogg, Marilyn Manson and Depeche Mode. These days he’s fusing electronic-disco-tech with Kelis, Black Eyed Peas and Gonzales.