On a day lacking mega-wattage star power, the depth of the Sasquatch lineup was its virtue on Saturday. The distorted tones from English rock group Band of Skulls pleasantly washed over the large late afternoon crowd, while the audience for comedian Nick Swardson spilled out of the large tent housing the stage. Deafheaven, the only overtly metal band on the festival, played at the same time as the delightful Neko Case and indie electronica act Washed Out, offering a wide range of diversity on the sunny, breezy day. After an exhausting and upbeat Friday, the overt glee factor of the crowd felt a bit toned down Saturday, mostly indicated by a comparative lack of face paint versus the day before. Festivals can be like professional wrestling matches: when the face paint starts to flake and rub off and the outfits grow tattered, you know things are starting to wind down.
This incarnation of the Sasquatch festival feels like it's skewing to a younger demographic: there isn't a hint of classic rock on the bill, when many festivals will throw in an obligatory Tom Petty, Neil Young or John Fogerty to add a sense of history. The farthest back this year's fest digs is to alt-rock stalwarts like Bob Mould and the Violent Femmes, and '70s songwriter Rodriguez, plucked from obscurity by the 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man. The Violent Femmes delivered a vibrant set on Saturday, raising some young eyebrows with high-energy performances of songs like "Confessions," from the band's 1983 self-titled debut. The juxtaposition of electric guitar and amplified acoustic bass made for a unique sound, and the lineup was rounded out by five wind instruments and a handful of percussionists playing stand-up kits and wooden boxes. Neko Case followed with a strong set, closed out by a performance of "Ragtime," from last year's The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, backed on vocals by her current tourmates, the Dodos.
Super Bowl agitator M.I.A. took the main stage to a variation on the Rocky theme, clad in an all-gold outfit, on a mostly empty stage with a DJ off to the side and a few dancers in tow. Her last time at Sasquatch was in 2008, when she was riding high off of the left field success of Kala, but by incorporating a take on Lorde's "Royals" alongside her own hits and new songs, she showed she isn't just coasting off of past glories. The only real danger of the day came in the form of famed troublemaker Tyler, the Creator, with his overt encouragement of ignorance, which brought a welcome feeling of exuberant nihilism to an otherwise mellow day.
Sunday closes out the fest with heavy hitters Queens of the Stone Age, Kid Cudi and Major Lazer, who hopefully leave everyone hung over enough that the highway stays clear so we don't miss our flights home.