A.K.A., Operation Desert Steppe
Heads-up: Photo-heavy post. A four-day weekend in the middle of nowhere results in a lot of capture-worthy moments.
It began months ago when the line-up was announced. A bunch of us sprung for tickets, and many of us hadn’t been to Sasquatch in years and years.
After several weeks of planning and several spreadsheets which made our eyes bleed from the absolute lack of any sort of order, too many categories, and so many simultaneous editors, the weekend finally arrived. With walky talkies–er, sorry, radios–in-hand, Operation Desert Steppe was in full-swing.
I drove up from Portland the evening prior and convened with several members of the Operation Desert Steppe party. Scary moment of the night: our Brown Bird hit a detour near Mount Vernon, WA on her way down from Bellingham due to a bridge collapse on I-5. She was about half an hour behind the collapse; her decision to wash her hair may have saved her from going into the river.
With everyone safe and sound, we set our alarms for “way too early” on Friday morning with a planned departure of 6AM out of Issaquah. We got set back a bit when one of the cars in our caravan realized a ticket was missing. They had to turn around from Issaquah and drive half an hour back into Seattle. This at least gave us some time to go to QFC and stock up on protein bars and cheap camping chairs. I chose magenta.
We got coffee and our missing car met us. We dispensed the third and final radio handset to that car, and we hopped onto I-90 and headed east.
The radio conversations kept us entertained and awake for a good portion of the trip. They also saved us when one car missed the exit to the Gorge Ampitheatre and we had to pull off to the side of the highway and wait. Luckily, this gave us the chance to line up and get ready to enter the campground. Our arrival time of 10AM was early enough that there were no lines, so we got in and immediately set up camp.
With shelter from the rain complete, we played around until it was time to head into the concert venue. Keep in mind, the first bands weren’t scheduled to go for several hours.
After a few hours, the sun finally started to come out. We continued to play. When else were we supposed to get all “sun’s out; guns out”?
When the time came, we trekked to the venue to catch several groups: Japandroids and Father John Misty, primarily. I tried to watch Youth Lagoon, but between the 30-minute (+/-) sound check and my short attention span, I lost interest and ran off to another set.
I should also mention that we got horribly lost on the way back to our campsite after we decided to call it a night. It literally took us 45 minutes to find our way back. I kept insisting that “No, guys! That’s the teepee with the American flag by our site!” every time I saw a flag flying. Eventually I was right, but only after I spotted the American flag by a teepee in close proximity to Kansas, Montana, and Colorado flags other sites were flying.
As B said, “I was weighing the cost benefit of just lying down and sleeping in the middle of the field.”
Luckily, we survived the first night and lived to see a sunny day. Our friend, Robbie, was scheduled to play somewhat early on Saturday, so we headed down to catch his set.
It was bright and early for a dance party, but there was no way we were going to miss RCED’s set.
Robbie (a.k.a., Robert DeLong) never fails to put on a good show. He’s incredibly talented, but beyond that, he’s also one of the funniest and kindest people you’ll meet in this life. While we were briefly catching up with him, a fan came up to ask if Robbie could throw up the University of Oregon “O” symbol for a photo. Robbie said, “Sure, but I don’t think OSU over here is going to be real happy about that,” and gestured at me. (Go Beavs!) Regardless of his compliance with the UO fan’s request, the afternoon set was a hit. (Additionally, it seems that Bear Mountain played ahead of Robbie, and they were pretty awesome, too.)
We killed time at the campsite before the later bands. We may have climbed through the sunroof of the Jeep our friend lent to the group. We may have danced on it a lot. No one can be quite sure! (That’s a lie; it’s on Facebook and Instagram.)
The big draws (at least for me) for the night were The xx and Sigur Ros. It was so wonderful just to lie on the hill and just be. The Sigur Ros set was complex and beautiful, and it reminded me of all the times in college where I would put on a Sigur Ros playlist and essentially meditate. They have a way with sound that gets right down into my soul.
Day Two concluded with a visit to the Dumpling Tzar. It was too bad that the other vendors had longer lines because Pel Meni is outstanding, but I wasn’t going to complain about not waiting. Those dumplings are serious good, y’all.
Recap of Sasquatch Festival 2013: Days Three and Four to follow.