First there was Coachella. Then there was Coachella again. This Memorial Day weekend, we grab our Ray-Bans and Redbull and head to the Gorge Ampitheatre in George, Washington (no, that is not a typo), for the 11th annual Sasquatch! Music Festival. Nestled in the hills above the Columbia River, the Gorge is one of the most beautiful settings on the festival circuit. We were there for last year’s 10th anniversary, when acts including Robyn and Bright Eyes drew unparalleled crowds to the extended four-day marathon. Now, we return, all set to brave the sweat, the sleeplessness and–hopefully not–the rain.
With over 120 live bands, this year’s festival boasts more than just a breathtaking view. Sasquatch!’s curators have brought together some of the biggest names in indie and electronic music, including the three B’s of alt–Beck, Bon Iver and Beirut. Other major crowd draws include tUnE-yArDs and former White Stripes frontman Jack White, who takes to the stage solo on Saturday.
There’s plenty of beat candy for the more electronically inclined, with the bill’s heavy-hitters including Girl Talk and Pretty Lights, Friday’s headliner. Performers range from club DJ types like Felix Cartal and Wolfgang Gartner, to Beardyman, the former beatboxer now making dubstep-inspired tunes.
Without further ado, we bring you the ten must-hear acts at Sasquatch! 2012. If you can’t make it there in person, we’ve compiled a full preview playlist after the jump.
Poliça- Lay Your Cards Out (download)
Poliça are the newest darlings of arthouse R&B. The swooning autotuned vocals of frontwoman Channy Leaneagh remind us of Sweish sweethearts jj, while the heavy synths (coordinated by former Gayngs member Ryan Olson) vibe the XX. Full of dramatic drum rolls, their percussive sound comes courtesy of two drummers. They’ve already got several famous fans–Prince turned up to one of their shows, Jay-Z blogged their video “Lay Your Cards Out” and Justin Vernon called them “the best band I’ve ever heard.” We’ll see if they live up to the hype when they perform on Friday.
Santigold- Disparate Youth (download)
Four years and one name change since the release of her critically-acclaimed debut, Santigold returns in 2012 with her sophomore effort, Master of My Make Believe. Full of Santigold’s unique brand of genre-bending pop, we can’t wait to hear this album in full when she takes to the stage on Friday in her trademark multicolored jumpsuits. Santi regularly invites crowd members on stage to join her fierce SG1 dancers–keep your eyes peeled for yours truly.
Kurt Vile and the Violators- Baby’s Arms (download)
Kurt Vile and the Violators does long-haired angst like no other. All aching mumbles and volatile guitar strumming, Kurt Vile’s wistful songwriting makes him a modern day Elliott Smith. See him on Saturday and he’ll worm his way into your heart.
AraabMuzik- Streetz Tonight (download)
Abraham Orellana, better known as AraabMuzik, has been producing tracks for the likes of Cam’ron since 2009. The self-proclaimed “MVP of the MPC” makes beats using an MPC drum machine, hitting the pads with ferocious rapidity. Expect a high energy set full of epic drops when he performs on Saturday.
Purity Ring- Obedear (download)
We’ve long been fans of Purity Ring. The breathy vocals of lead singer Megan James are filtered over offbeat synth jabs and shuffling hi-hats to make beautiful, ghostly, electro-pop. In the lead-up to the July release of their debut album, Shrines, Purity Ring take to the stage on Saturday.
Hospitality- Friends of Friends (download)
Since the release of their first album in January this year, Brooklyn-based trio Hospitality has built up a following with their charming indie pop. In these guitar and synth driven songs, lead singer Amber Papini documents what we think life as a twenty-something in Williamsburg must be like, and boy, the dream has never sounded so sweet. Catch them on Sunday.
Little Dragon- Little Man (download)
We’re unsure whether anyone ever quite catches the indecipherable lyrics crooned by Yukimi Nagano, lead singer of Little Dragon, but it does not seem to matter. The Swedish quartet’s live set oscillates between uptempo hits like “Shuffle a Dream” and slow-burner “Twice,”–in the setting of the Gorge, their Sunday show promises to be one of the most beautiful performances of the weekend.
SBTRKT- Pharoahs (download)
SBTRKT, pronounced “subtract,” is the masked DJ/producer from London who, in conjunction with angel-voiced singer Sampha, put out one of the breakthrough electronic albums of 2011. Molding British two-step and R&B into a ‘postdubstep’ production, SBTRKT’s self-entitled debut included “Wildfire,” a single featuring Little Dragon that grew so popular even Drake remixed it. As a bedroom producer who cut his chops with garage-inspired cuts like 2009’s Soundboy Shift EP, expect SBTRKT to perform a club-ready mix guaranteed to get the crowd moving on Monday.
Awesome Tapes From Africa- Syli National (download)
One of the more unusual acts on the bill is Awesome Tapes from Africa, brainchild of Brooklyn’s Brian Shimkovitz. While in Ghana researching hip-hop, Shimkovitz built a library of rare African music, sharing them through the Awesome Tapes from Africa blog. We’re looking forward to a musical trip through the continent during his DJ set on Monday.
Shabbazz Palaces- Free, Press and Curl (download)
One of the most exciting acts we’ve heard this year are Shabbazz Palaces, a forward-thinking hip-hop collective whose beats change so drastically per track it feels as though they have squashed three songs into one. The jazzy instrumentals and dark flow of enigmatic lead rapper Ishmael Butler warrants comparisons to MF Doom.
You can also listened to a Treeswingers-curated playlist on Spotify with the above artists and some of our other favorite artists below.