Sasquatch! Music Festival returns this weekend with a stacked lineup pulling from some of the classic acts who’ve played The Gorge in years past as well as up-and-comers that are sure to be future classics themselves. Looking at the lineup can be daunting – what do you prioritize with so many great acts to see? If I could duplicate myself like Tien Shinhan, I’d see them all. But given the constraints of our mortal bodies, KEXP is humbly offering up just 20 of the acts you won’t want to miss this year.
Friday @ 1:45 p.m., Yeti Stage
The former Bomb The Music Industry frontman has had an astounding reincarnation with his solo career. After releasing his latest album POST- on New Year’s Day this year without promotion, Jeff Rosenstock has been wowing audiences across the country with his life-affirming, jubilant punk rock shows. His shows are made from dancing, screaming at the top of your lungs, and leaving all the shit taking up space in your head trampled into the grass at the bottom of the mosh pit.
Friday @ 2:15 p.m., Sasquatch Main Stage
Seeing Julien Baker outside in the middle of a (presumably) sunny afternoon doesn’t quite seem like the ideal setting for the soul bearing, aching of her last record Turn Out The Lights, at least maybe not on first instinct. Before embarking on three days of endless music, camping, and fried food – Baker’s music might be the preemptive soul cleansing necessary to kick off the weekend.
Friday @ 8:15 p.m., Sasquatch Main Stage
I mean, do I really have to say much more other than “David Byrne” to sell you on this? This is the guy who gave us Talking Heads and Stop Making Sense. Speaking of which, Byrne has called his current tour behind his latest album American Utopia, his “most ambitious show” since making the concerts filmed for the Stop Making Sense documentary. So yeah, do the right thing here.
Friday @ 9:30 p.m., Bigfoot Stage
Thundercat doesn’t play bass like his human peers. He’s plays with super saiyan dexterity, constantly surpassing his own limits with seemingly impossible riffs that have caught the ears of Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, and Kamasi Washington. And it’s not just that he can play well either – Thundercat can write a damn song. His last album, Drunk, was full of wondrous compositions about wandering through Tokyo, collaborations with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins (on the same song even!), undeniable hooks, and post-humor jokes and quips. Thundercat’s a legend in the making and seeing him shred on his bass is something you really have to see for yourself.
Friday @ 10:30 p.m., Sasquatch Stage
The last time Bon Iver came through to the Pacific Northwest was during Sasquatch! 2012, which is roughly “00000 Million” years in songwriter Justin Vernon’s world (nyuck, nyuck, nyuck). But seriously, there’s a lifetime felt between the heavenly indie rock music Vernon was making back then and the experimental, outlandish, and deeply moving work he crafted on his 2016 album 22, A Million. Reports from the shows Bon Iver have performed in the last couple years – however sparse they’ve happened – promise a transcendent experience highlighting Vernon’s affection for spacious arrangements and cosmic searching. There might not be a better set all weekend for taking it all in under the stars.
Tyler, the Creator
Friday @ 12 a.m., Bigfoot Stage
Tyler, The Creator first came into the public conscious for many when he ate a cockroach and then hung himself in the “Yonkers” video back in 2011. It’s amazing to see how much his career has shaped and changed over the years for the Odd Future rapper. After Adult Swim prank shows, multiple albums, and more than a few controversies later, Tyler came through with one of his most self-realized records yet with Flower Boy. Along with being an exceptional rapper, Tyler’s affinity for film and design have been a major asset throughout his career and no doubt will be on display during his closing set on Friday night.
Saturday @ 2:45 p.m., Bigfoot Stage
Curtis Harding feels like a soul star from a bygone era. His last album, 2017’s Face Your Fear, is full of the classic grooves you’d find in a stack of dusty 45s next to an old jukebox. His voice floats and boasts around the meticulous arrangements with remarkable ease. With a band behind him, this set is sure to be a splash of water to the face to get you moving on day two of Sasquatch.
Saturday @ 3:30 p.m., Sasquatch Main Stage
Minneapolis rapper Lizzo exudes charisma no matter what style she’s projecting. Whether it’s the trap influenced beats of “Fitness” or the gospel tones of “Good As Hell,” she commands the mic with undeniable authority. As the day gets going, Lizzo will be serving up adrenaline boosts to whoever wants them at the main stage. Fresh off a tour opening for HAIM, Lizzo is poised to be a joyous highlight at the midway part through the festival.
Saturday @ 4 p.m., Bigfoot Stage
Girlpool’s 2017 album Powerplant just feels like the type of record that will find its way into your life when you need it most. The teen duo harnesses the timelessness of pain, healing, and aimless searching with maturity that artists decades their senior still struggle to attain. Sounding more realized and electric than ever, this set promises to be something really special for those who are willing to let the music into their aching teenage hearts (regardless of how old you really are).
Saturday @ 5 p.m., Sasquatch Main Stage
Before you see Japandroids live, you need to practice yelling these three things: “OH YEAH!”, “ALRIGHT!”, and “WOOOOOAAAAAHHHHH!”. If you want extra credit, throw in your own variation of “this is the best night of my life and I hope it never ends!” Japandroids’ music was made for sweaty crowds ready to give all the energy left in their bodies. And isn’t that what music festivals are all about? Come for the loud as hell rock riffs, stay for transcendent feeling that you can do anything.
Pedro The Lion
Saturday @ 9 p.m., Yeti Stage
Pedro The Lion is back! Well, David Bazan’s been around Seattle this whole time – even playing many Pedro The Lion songs in his solo sets – but there’s really something special about seeing the full band live. After watching three nights of the Pedro reunion last year, there’s no doubt that this set will be a highlight for the fest (especially if they’re bringing their surprisingly killer light show).
Saturday @ 10:30 p.m., Sasquatch Main Stage
If you’re going to Sasquatch!, there’s a high chance you’re from the Pacific Northwest. If you’re from the Pacific Northwest, there’s a very high chance you’re already planning on catching these local legends take their rightful spot as festival headliners (as they’ve done numerous times at Sasquatch in the past). So, it feels redundant to even mention them in this list other than to say, “Yeah, I know, of course we’re gonna be there.”
Sunday, 1 p.m., Sasquatch Main Stage
If you’re like me, you’ve had Soccer Mommy’s “Your Dog” stuck in your head for the majority of 2018. If you haven’t heard it, get prepared to let the melody sink into your mind and consumer your everyday life. Soccer Mommy’s debut album Clean is full of songs like this. Catchy, candid earworms that will have you spellbound and putting the record on repeat. Starts your Sunday with this indie pop bliss.
Sunday, 1:30 p.m., Bigfoot Stage
Seattle rapper Gifted Gab continues to establish herself as a force to be reckoned with. The music video for her single “Come Correct” has breezily garnered over 800,000 views and counting, no doubt in part to her magnetic flow. She raps with authority, but she can also flip to an R&B croon on a dime. Catch her now before she comes back one day in a headlining spot.
Sunday, 5:30 p.m., Bigfoot Stage
Chicago rapper Noname doesn’t need a name to leave an impression. Her 2016 album Telefone is transfixing in its jazz-laden, sentimental aura. Listening to her rap sounds like someone spitting directly from their diary, reflecting on cherished childhood memories and reflections on trying to get by in the here and now.
Sunday, 6 p.m., Yeti Stage
Japanese Breakfast has come through Seattle numerous times since the release of 2016’s Psychopomp and each time lead vocalist Michelle Zauner returns bolder and more enigmatic than the last. After releasing last year’s exceptional Soft Sounds from Another Planet, the band has (appropriately enough) left this stratosphere and ascended into the cosmic divinity they’ve always alluded to. The Yeti stage might not be enough to contain their brilliant energy,
Sunday, 9:30 p.m., Bigfoot Stage
When Slowdive made their long awaited return last year, they did so with one of the most meticulous and lovely records of 2017. But that shouldn’t really be a surprise, this is the same band that gave us Souvlaki after all. More than just a legacy act, Slowdive still stands toe-to-toe with their new peers on the Sasquatch lineup. As the weekend winds down, take some time to gaze at your shoes and let the divine soundrays of the band’s guitars wash over you.
Sunday, 10:15 p.m., El Chupacabra
After an intense battle with Moyamoya disease that left momentarily stripped her of comprehension skills – particularly with music – TOKiMONSTA (aka electronic producer Jennifer Lee) released a profound record of searching and healing last year with Lune Rouge. Lee has always delivered on decadent dance sets, even bringing it to Sasquatch in year’s past, but this feels like a victory lap of sorts.
Sunday, 10:30 p.m., Sasquatch Main Stage
If you’ve ever wanted to see what “wine drunk” looks like personified in music, catch this set from The National. The band of Ohio brooders have a wealth of astounding material in their catalog, but fans will be quick to tell you that it’s their live set that you really need to concern yourself with. The band has been a favorite of Sasquatch and in a year that feel like a “greatest hits” of past lineups, it’d be a disservice to yourself to miss this one.
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
Sunday, 12 a.m., Bigfoot Stage
Closing out the festival in what’s sure to be a burst of life-affirming energy is Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals. Paak is on top of the world right now and has supposedly has two albums still on the way this year. If his latest single “Bubblin” is any indication, he’s going to be dominating all of your summer playlists so get your head start now before heading back home after the holiday weekend.
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