Sasquatch vs. Lightning in a Bottle

Well, the Sasquatch Music Festival 2009 website is up, announcing the lineup for this year’s festival. Nine Inch Nails, whom I can never seem to get enough of, are playing. That being the case, no one is seriously wondering if I will be trying to make it there? I should hope not. In fact, I will be at a conference in San Francisco the preceding weekend, which I will drive to, so what’s another 1,000 miles of driving to get to George, Washington? (Yes, you read the name of that quaint burg correctly. Their tagline is George in the Gorge, since it is on the Columbia River Gorge. Oh! Such a beautiful place to see any band, gorgeous scenery surrounding the stage. Current band sucks and don’t want to lose your great picnic spot? Appreciate the sunset or the clouds drifting by or the river flow curving down below.)

Gorge Amphitheater in George, WA

Gorge Amphitheater in George, WA

Sasquatch is a great music festival because there are only three stages, so chances are even if two bands are playing at the same time you want to see, there might be some place to stand where you can catch both. I found the perfect place to sit while waiting for a specific band to take the stage, such that I could still enjoy the other acts while waiting. No, I am not telling you where that is, what, give away my carefully gleaned secrets?

Like many festivals, the main stage caters to the huge mega-bands that are known internationally, and are supposedly the big draws. Bands like Nine Inch Nails. For Coachella, one of the nights it is Paul McCartney. But for me, one of the best draws of music festivals is most have the smallest stage devoted to, if not local regional bands, then at least small, undiscovered bands. These are the gems, I think. I haven’t been doing this long enough to see what the track record of discovery is if they first appear on a small stage at a major festival, but I would suspect that for many bands, it is the exposure they need to build a larger following. And if that isn’t the case, well then at least one person (me) appreciates hearing of musicians I never would have heard otherwise. At Sasquatch, Voodoo and Austin City Limits, I found myself gravitating to this smallest stage, and grateful that I did. Only at ACL is the stage prominently placed such that going from either of the two main stages, one is most likely to pass by the regional stage. It is also conveniently near the food vendors, so even if you weren’t meaning to listen, you do. At Voodoo and Sasquatch, this regional stage is placed away from the other stages. Oh well. My gain, as they frequently are less crowded, and easy to have seating close up front and personal.

Sasquatch is a camping festival. Never heard of George, Washington? That’s because it is tiny. So to accomodate all the thousands of people descending on the tiny town, camping is the way to go. There are the music festivals based in cities (Bumbershoot, Lolla, ACL, Voodoo), and then there are the music festivals based in far distant places, that camping is pretty much the only option (Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Rothbury). Thus my driving there makes it easier, as I just need to pile that camping gear in, pick up some groceries, and I am good to go. Last year (whilst still employed) I had to think hard about the packing, since I flew and then rented a car. So my food selections were limited to things not requiring refrigeration nor cooking. These days I own a propane stove, cookware and will probably buy a french press too. I ended up giving food away before I left, not wanting to take it on the plane. This year too, I have my eye on a cool stand up tent, perfect for privacy needs while changing, and also tall enough to use a solar shower effectively. Sasquatch does have showers, and they are even free (unlike hippie-haven Bonnaroo), but once word got out, the line was several hours long to take one. And Sasquatch has the most efficient and frequently cleaned porta-potties I have ever experienced! I did not find a single one NOT stocked with toilet paper. And almost always the squeeze soap was available too. What a godsend when camping for three days, to know that the very basics are handled. Be ready to walk though, as the campgrounds are up a hill from the festival entrance. Or down a hill. The campgrounds are on one hill, the festival on an adjacent hill. A stream and pond are between the two.

Anyway, Sasquatch is even doable for those with weekday jobs without missing a day of work because instead of being the traditional Friday-Saturday-Sunday festival, it is always on Memorial Day Weekend, so it is Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Just make sure you can get there and back without missing any work, and no one will know you were ever out of town.

The same weekend, traditionally, is Lightning in a Bottle, an eco-green, music festival leaning towards dance music. Another camping extravaganza, with some awesome djs, and held near the scenic Santa Barbara, CA region. I have nothing to say about this festival since I have never attended, but heard it was fun. If you go, expect to dance! That’s the point of it, a weekend long rave in the woods. “A Magical Forest Adventure!” is the tagline for this event. Check out last year’s site to get a feel for it, since the current year’s site is not up yet. Maybe next year I will forego Sasquatch and attend Lightning in a Bottle. Just like one of these years I will go to Bumbershoot on Labor Day Weekend rather than Burning Man.

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2 Responses to “Sasquatch vs. Lightning in a Bottle”

  1. dona Says:

    so. stoked. for. this. which bands are you most excited for?
    erkyah badu?! wow isn’t that alone a reason enough to go?!
    =)

  2. redroomsalon Says:

    NIN, Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Decembrists, Fleet Foxes, Calexico, Explosions in the Sky, DeVotchka… are my reasons for going. Strangely enough, I have seen all of them before, so perhaps I should expand into listening to all the ones I haven’t seen before…. Oh the music festivals I shall see this year!

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