[FEST NEWS] Sasquatch! Festival Is A Beautiful Weekend; Is LiveNation Hell-bent On Ruining it?
It was winter of 2013, a particularly cold and brutal time to be in Minnesota; I was in a serious rut. Tired of my job, and rapidly losing interest in my political science degree, I reached out to the social media hive mind for an escape from the monotony (and the freezing temperatures) of St. Paul. An old family friend chimed in with the possibility of a summer job at the restaurant where she baked. I had never heard of the place, or the small town on the Oregon Coast that it was in, but I had only heard great things about the Pacific Northwest from friends, and anything seemed better than where I was at the time, so I jumped on board. So began the serendipitous chain of events that led me to my first festival: Sasquatch!.
Within months, I was packing what I could fit into my tiny car, saying my goodbyes, and preparing to visit friends along the 1,500 mile trek to Yachats, Oregon. One of those friends, an old pal from High School, was supposed to host me over Memorial Day Weekend at his place in Seattle. I got a call from him about a week before departure where he told me about a festival called Sasquatch! that happened to be taking place the same weekend. I wasn’t sure that I could afford it, or that a long camping festival (my idea of camping is a hotel without a pool) would be my style, but he REALLY wanted to go, so I figured it out (Did I mention I’m a good friend?). We hopped in the car and set out to the vast unknown, ready to experience something new.
It was totally worth it.
Within a day of arrival, I had made friends at Sasquatch! who I keep in close contact with to this day. These friends have become my crew for Sasquatch! and other festivals around the country. The venue, if you haven’t been lucky to attend, is among the nations finest, if not the best. From a lush green hill overlooking the majestic Columbia River Gorge, I saw acts like Outkast, MIA, and Haim tear it up to crowds of some of the most warm, adventurous, and hilarious people I have been lucky enough to meet. This one weekend catapulted me into a completely different lifestyle – I once had a somewhat snobby attitude towards festivals and the culture that surrounds it – and while I still find many aspects of the scene to be a bit contrived, I now completely understand the draw of the festival circuit.
Having now explored many festivals around the country, I know that Sasquatch!, despite the fond memories and bonds that I have built because of it, is not a perfect festival (if that even exists). The food situation is dismal and the beer is shitty and astronomically priced. Besides the intrinsic benefits of a natural amphitheater of its caliber, there are some issues with sound at a few of its stages. In a rapidly evolving festival market, Sasquatch! offers little besides the lineup, the venue, and the people who buy into it year after year. Still, as long as LiveNation managed to put out a decent lineup every year, Sasquatch! has been worth the time and money, and then some.
(Sasquatch! lineups, 2014-16)
This year, they just didn’t deliver.
It’s no secret that attendance has dwindled in the past couple of years and there is no doubt that a big part of Sasquatches troubles are also tied to the struggling Canadian dollar. A fair share of Sasquatches market is Canadian, and the exchange rate means that what would be a $400 ticket for us is more like $530 for them. That’s a steep rate even compared to festivals twice its size, and with events in B.C like Pemberton delivering impressive lineups, it’s hard to imagine justifying that kind of splurge, especially when the lineup seems to decline year by year.
I was optimistic when I saw that LiveNation announced that this years festival would be three days instead of the usual four. I thought that would mean that they would beef up the lineup and concentrate on making the three days really solid; or that they would make the festival more affordable, or, even better, a combination of both. I am truly sad to say that I was wrong. This years lineup shares headliners with just about every other festival lineup I’ve seen this season so far. So much for the originality that drew me to this festival in the first place. On top of that, the undercard seems particularly weak compared to years past – which is particularly upsetting because that’s usually what draws me to Sasquatch. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some acts on this lineup that I would love to catch, but unfortunately most of those acts have been touring festivals extensively in the recent past, and more than a few of them have actually played Sasquatch! within the last three years. There’s nothing wrong with repeats, but relying on them is a problem – and the fact that the price remains the same just adds insult to injury.
If you’ve never been to Sasquatch!, and the lineup appeals to you, by all means, go – for the past three years it has truly been the highlight of my year. Part of me still wants to go this year, just to help ensure its survival; but I don’t think I can justify enabling LiveNation to continue to turn Sasquatch into the blatant money grab that it’s becoming.
What do you think? Check out the lineup underneath and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!