Sasquatch Day 3

Blitzen Trapper Saves the Day

May 29, 2009

Admit it. When you watch a show like Survivorman or Man vs. Wild, there’s a small flicker in the back of your mind that says, "You know what? I think I could do that. I think that, if it came down to it, I could survive under extreme circumstances. I would drink my pee. I would eat a bug. I could curl up in the carcass of a tauntaun to survive bitter cold."

I sometimes think the same thing. Or at least I did until Day 3 of Sasquatch. Morning came like a steel-toed boot to the head. The taste of stale beer and cigarettes was wrapped around my tongue like a dirty sock. Even injecting coffee into my eyeballs didn’t seem to work. But this was it. This was the last day of our Sasquatch excursion. We had to rally. Again eschewing showers for hooker baths, the ladyfriend and I put on our game faces, found our friends, and joined the tens of thousands of peeling and hungover zombies trudging toward the sound of music.

It’s a long walk from the campground to the venue. There is no shade. And as the sun beat down on us mercilessly, it made every movement painful. If this were a bad teenage horror flick, this would be the point where I sit down in the middle of the dirt road and say, "It’s OK. You go on without me."

But the ladyfriend’s favorite Portland band, Blitzen Trapper, was playing this day. So we fought on.

As usual, it was worth it. We watched Deerhoof and Black Moth Super Rainbow and a little bit of Horse Feathers… but all we really wanted to see was BT. They were playing the secondary Wookie Stage and after a laborious sound check, they showed once again why popular opinions are a confusing thing.

Let me take a step back… A year and a half or so ago, I went to see Blitzen Trapper play a headlining gig here in town. Opening for them was this little hairy band of harmonizers called the Fleet Foxes. I liked their CD, so I was interested to see how they would bring it live. They were pretty, interesting, and a great time. And then BT came out and destroyed them. Only a few months later, however, thanks to all the cool kids suddenly thinking that bands that sound like Dan Fogelberg and Crosby, Stills, and Nash are all the rage, the Fleet Foxes were everywhere. Opening for Wilco, headlining shows with Blitzen Trapper as their opening act.

And here at Sasquatch, the Foxes Fleet were playing the main stage. BT was on the Wookie.

I still don’t get it. Stack their albums up side by side and what you get is one very good, very pretty one-trick album by the Foxes, and another by Blitzen Trapper that is a panorama of sound: rock, psych, folk, pop. And each style is done perfectly. Live, the difference is even more pronounced. The Fleets harmonize and smile and flick their hair out of their eyes, while Blitzen rocks faces off while also taking the time to bust out ballads that get the ladies in the mood.

I like both bands. I love Blitzen Trapper. They should be huge.

Sorry. I will now get off my soapbox. And I will conclude by saying that Blitzen Trapper was great. They stomped through "Wild Mountain Nation," got everyone high off the secondhand stoner rock of "Love U," kept heads bobbing with "Saturday Nite," and showed that they write some of the best rustic rockers with "Black River Killer" and "Furr"… still one of the best songs to come out of Portland in the last few years.

After their set, the ladyfriend and I checked our watches. It was nearly 5 p.m. We had a four-hour drive in front of us. And there was no more we needed to see. We’d survived Sasquatch… the public sex, the swimming pools of sewage, the angry mobs, the passed-out druggies, a fleeting brush with fame, and (most especially) we’d seen a ton of great music. All with the beauty of the Gorge smiling back at us.

We rambled back to our car, kicking up dust clouds in our wake.

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