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The Infernal Debate of Weed:

Assume for a moment that all the negative ‘side-effects’ of habitual marijuana usage don’t apply to you. You aren’t forgetful, socially awkward, you don’t pig out on junk food and you manage to keep your friends, your sleep, your motivation, and your boners.

This is the life I lead. I’ve been a habitual weed smoker for six years. There have been brief periods (usually vacations) where I’ve been separated from my medicine of choice for a week or so, but other than these annual soirees, I’ve been smoking weed every single day. What are the consequences of my habit?

Admittedly my memory is somewhat shittier than it used to be, but it’s infinitely difficult to discern whether this is a part of aging or marijuana usage. Either way, it’s immeasurable and inconsequential. My lungs have taken a minor beating, but I don’t smoke cigarettes, and to this date there has never been a single recorded instance of lung cancer and emphysema from marijuana usage. So my health is not in question. However, there are certainly tradeoffs. For every five times I find myself creatively inspired from getting high (ahem), I have on average, one panic attack. But in reality, I have far less instances of both. What else has suffered? Well, in short, real life suffers.

And this is the infernal debate of weed: if everything is more fun when you’re high, why not be high all the time? And the most logically sound response, ignoring all potential minor side-effects, is such: Being high all the time is dishonest.

Imagine this construct: You have a magic button you can press, at any time, that almost instantaneously makes everything more fun, and everything less boring. Is this a button you would want to have?

Because that’s what marijuana is, basically. It makes everything I do almost immediately more enjoyable, and not only that, it makes things that are usually NOT enjoyable a real ball of a time. So what’s the problem?

The issue is this deep yearning desire for honesty in life. This genuine pull we have towards being sincere and true, as if inebriation of any sort implies a loss of all integrity. And honestly, fuck that bullshit. Life is short, fast, and temporary. Have you ever sat and truly attempted to understand death? How deep of an emptiness that is? Complete silence, the mind and body. For eternity.

And if it takes a few harmless pulls to tap into a deeper well of pleasure for the brief period of time that we’re gifted to experience feeling and color, why not?

Yet for some reason, I still feel dirty. Like I’ve done something wrong. Like I’m a coward.

The infernal debate.

(Cyril Hahn is the next big thing, great tune for faded followers)


  • Artist: Cyril Hahn
  • Track: Open ft. Ryan Ashley

  • Chilled People: 6

Busy day busy day! I managed to score myself a sweet job at one of the trendiest restaurants in the city, and then I had the pleasure of dropping my best friend’s new single, ‘Sam’, over the magic of the interwebs. ‘Sam’ plays as the intro to alternative hip-hop artist Amarachi’s upcoming EP. It would mean a lot to us both if you could give it a listen, and if you’ve got any thoughts or feedback feel free to hit me up at beachfuzzmusic@gmail.com

Oh, and a <3 on Hype Machine would just make my day :)

"I’ve always had mad respect for artists who are unabashedly themselves through music, and Jez Dior has been the epitome of genuine. I first heard Jez over a year ago on mdnt’s track ‘Dreamcatcher’, and I was immediately struck by his heart-on-my-sleeve lyricism. Lately, Jez has been teaming up with the seamless production of Danny Score, and the results have been absolutely phenomenal. Somewhere in the grungy underground of alternative R&B and the road paved by rock-rap pioneers Linkin Park (amongst many others), Jez Dior has found his niche.. and he’s been slaying it. His soul bleeds into everything he writes; often a rollercoaster of mixed emotions, the struggles of a hopeless romantic navigating the shape-shifting landscape of the modern music industry. It’s real shit, and it’s done to perfection. Jez Dior’s latest single ‘Starts Again’ is sharp, passionate, and absolutely filthy. Yet despite the rough edges, Jez shimmers like onyx, a depth in darkness. ‘Starts Again’ is a stone-studded diamond, and another shining example of Jez Dior’s musical and emotional luminescence.”

June 3rd, 2011. I had found new love. Songs can strike you at the most poignant times. The memory is still fresh, I remember the street I was driving on, the angle of the sun as it set, and the smell of lilacs riding the breeze from my open window. A streetsign whizzes by on the passenger’s side. I’m listening to ‘County Line’ for the first time, and it hit me. The ingredients were all present, I found my mind drifting along with Cass and his lackadaisical travels. A wonderful concoction began to brew, a full sensory experience and I was bewitched; the effects certainly amplified by the mid-sunset journey I was taking out into the country. I was falling in love with a girl, and there was such a beautiful connection between my wandering emotions and the nomadic roaming of McCombs’ ramblings.

I memorized every note. I began to sing every lyric. ‘County Line’, over three years later, remains one of my favorite songs of all time. Since 2011 on average, I have played ‘County Line’ once every four days. And it all traces back to a singular moment, that floral plethora of emotion, the scent of lilacs. New love.

Time, without much regard, passes. A few days ago I set out for a walk. Stricken by the loss of the love I held for three long years, I found myself wandering the neighborhood at sunset. Evening after evening I would dive into my headphones and stroll down a new path. Songs can strike you at the most poignant times. It had been a long time. ‘County Line’.

On my way to you old county // Hoping nothing’s changed
That your, pain is never-ending // That is it still the same

The song took on a new meaning. My love had changed; it wasn’t gone, but rather fading away. The ‘County Line’ McCombs crooned about was no longer a geographical marker, but rather a metaphor for my emotions. The whimsical, carefree tone was replaced by a depth of sorrow, a mourning loss, yet an acceptance of reality. Time had caught up. “You never even tried to love me // What did I have to do, to make you want me“. The world seemed to melt away, and it was as if I was hearing the song for the very first time. I was once again struck with the complexity of McCombs’ story-telling, and the very palpable realization that ‘County Line’ had become an allegorical representation of a failed relationship. The lilacs..

“I can smell the Columbine”

Cass McCombs, in my opinion, remains one of the greatest song-writers of our generation. His art is completely indescribable, a true Van Gogh. What appears to be a minimalist effort is in fact an acutely articulated story. With each singular stroke, Cass paints a picture, and sometimes true appreciation of his craft comes with a few years of age. His latest single in true Cass fashion sounds nothing quite like what we’ve heard before. Comparisons can be drawn to rock icons from all generations, but the truth is that there’s no one quite like him. Cass has rather consistently penned new stories, and he will be touring all over the States into December. So if you’re feeling up for a genuine life experience, I suggest checking these cities and snagging a pair of tickets. Bring someone you might love, and write a story of your own.

Here’s Cass McComb’s latest single, ‘Night of the World’. Is there a more appropriate song for an introspective walk at sunset? What picture do you see?

“The night is a place of real politics // My mind is up to it’s old tricks // Just can’t wait to get its fix // You’re no ordinary girl.”

"Moist mulch stuck to my pants, I shook Adam Thompson’s hand and told him how I had been a fan of his band for nearly five years. ‘These Four Walls’ was one of my favorite albums to this day, and We Were Promised Jetpacks was the only band I ended up seeing multiple times at SXSW. Unlike the first set I witnessed, the tone of the venue was far more relaxed, and I also had 360º access to the stage. It was at this point I noticed there were five members to the band, not four. I kneeled stage left beside this mysterious gentleman as he set the tone on the keys.

Stuart Michael McGachan, listed on the band’s Facebook page as responsible for “(Guitar/Keyboard/Hair)” is the most recent addition to the Scottish four-piece, and the result is a natural evolution of their sound. Where ‘In The Pit of the Stomach’ took a darker tone from their previous garage-like simplicity, their latest singles ‘Safety in Numbers’ and ‘I Keep It Composed’ take the band to new atmospheric depths. McGachan is the much-needed multi-instrumental magician, adding a layer of complexity that seems to have rubbed off on the entire band. Thompson’s lyrics are sharper, more introspective, and the delivery more certain. With their third album “Unravelling” due out in October via Fat Cat Records, we may see WWPJ’s most complete effort to date. It’s not often that indie rock bands manage to surpass the raw sound of their first album, but WWPJ may have found the missing ingredient that will see them drop the ‘indie’ label all-together.”

(taken from The New LoFi)

Absolute bum-shaker of a slow-burner from perennial YouTuber Shannon Saunders. It’s a bit disheartening to learn someone born in 1994 is far more talented than you’ll ever be, but we’re more than willing to fly that flag of support for this soon-to-be starlet.

Call me a hipster, but I guarantee that this girl is going to be huge in 2015. And when she is, you can say that you heard her ‘before she was famous’, and then we can all argue about how her music ‘used to be so genuine’ or whatever.

OR, she’ll just smash the shit out of her first album and never look back. I’m betting on the latter

  • Artist: Shannon Saunders
  • Track: Sheets

  • Chilled People: 50

I’m alive!

I recently decided that I don’t want to bartend and go to school for the rest of my fucking life, and as such I’ve rededicated myself to the wonders of musical journalism! Woah! I’m also single now for the first time in over three years, so needless to say I have a lot of free time… A lot.

But I’ve managed to fill the gaping hole in my heart with the joys of music! Hurrah! Here’s an absolute gem of a tune from NYC’s Mainland. It’s a cover of Jason Schwartzman’s time as Coconut Records, and I dare say this song absolutely transcends his work. It’s been getting a lot of hype this past month with nearly 100,000 listens, and you could very well be one of those lucky ducks with one click of the mouse!

P.S I miss you

  • Artist: Mainland
  • Track: West Coast

  • Chilled People: 16

Chapter Two

She’s going to fall back into him. It’s inevitable, I think. Loneliness is a powerful motivator, especially when the puppeteer is pulling on heartstrings. Call it my natural pessimism, or maybe my eerie ability to over analyze until I unearth the most logical truth; She will run back to him. She’s loved him in a particular way for too long; she’s yearned for him. He was not yet obtained. This is an incomplete cycle. It is difficult for the individual to separate themselves from the crushing weight of dissatisfaction. To leave things unfinished. To move on without certainty. I will be very surprised and impressed if she can overcome this daunting obstacle.

I am faced with a dilemma. Two roads. The first is straightforward, honest, and undesirable because the end is in sight. I could be forward about my intentions, make a move, and find my answer. But I know the throes of old love. The chains of untapped temptation. I stand no chance in my current place in her heart, with the likes of this individual and the pedestal to which he is kept.

The other path is fraught with pitfalls, a lengthy winding road sheathed in uncertainty. The destination is unclear. But perhaps losing sight of the end is the best way to start?

This path involves sticking around. Playing it by cool ear, keeping a level head and staying on my toes. Adversity: and all cliches about it. If I stick around, if I continue to be myself and continue to become a big part of her social life, my chances of success increase. If I truly believe the two of them are destined for failure (and by all accounts they strike my palette like sour grapes), then my success seems only a matter of time.

But feelings are not a game, and this is not a quest to be conquered. She’s a charming, beautiful girl, and really, the point is that she deserves someone who will treat her like number one instead of a silver medal.

And so what do I do in this predicament? Which road do I take? The real question is; is she worth it? Is she my next great romance?

The answer?

—————-

Check out this song by newcomer Leland, the entire internet is having a collective orgasm and you ought to join in.

A chance?

I dare not overthink things, but it’s already too late. Every microscopic event of the evening is already under intense investigation, and many conclusions have been reached and debunked, all simultaneously.

“Or either of you on a date?”

A long pause. His fluorescent bow tie shimmering in the spotlight from the stage, microphone pointed between us. I hesitate, scratching the back of my neck. The whole bar listens. We both answer, my voice rings louder

“Ahh No.” Emphatic.
“.. Maybe” she shrugs.

I’ve never concentrated so hard in my life. With every molecule of my existence I resist the urge to smack myself square in the face. What did I miss? Clearly a case of ‘when keeping it real goes wrong’.

“So what’s your deal is this a second date orr..?” They lean in. Total strangers only twenty minutes prior, but already acutely aware of the situation unfolding before them. We were urged by the QuizMasters to ‘join forces’ with another male-female pairing sitting across from us, in order to combine our knowledge and better our chances. My partner ducked out for a cigarette, and within a moment they were eyes wide.

“Well, here’s the thing…”

I briefly explained the situation, how I had just gotten out of a long relationship, how much I enjoyed hanging out with someone fun, how I wanted to play it cool… But also how she was falling for another guy. How she had her heart seemingly set. How I might not have a chance.

Sometimes the eyes of strangers see better than our own. They recanted the tale of our awkward encounter with the QuizMaster, how she had said “maybe”. How I obviously wasn’t out of the game. My phone lights up with a text from my ex, I immediately delete it without reading.

“I think, I really need to jump in…” Deadpan. It was the right moment. We had broken into an apartment complex I had lived in two years ago. The pool was shimmering a magnificent shade of turquoise. “I only have my underwear..” She murmured, but I was already undressing, and she quickly followed suit. I shot her a few curt passing glances, desperate not to offend but still eager to look. We stood on the brink.

“One.. Two-“

Fuck it. I jumped early. And for an eternity that ‘Two’ seemed to hang stagnant in the air. I captured the moment. I felt free.

I can feel my body tensing up. Nerves. We trudged back to my house in wet clothes. I handed her a dry T-shirt. The curse of Netflix; endlessly trapped in the loop of searching for something to watch, inevitably forced to settle on a movie and immediately regretting the decision.

Do I make a move? Is my timing right? She said “maybe” at the bar… I second guess every micro-movement. The movie is halfway over and I barely caught a word. I am frozen in thought. Inching closer yet careful not to push my luck. I lean over, and she’s asleep. I grin, and a quiet chuckle escapes.

She woke up for the end, and I told her I would drive her home. I counted the streetlights on the way to her house, hoping they’d never stop.

  • Artist: St. Lucia
  • Track: Paper Heart

  • Chilled People: 9

Sasquatch Festival Coverage 2014: Day 2

“Hey I think you left your panties on the road there..” Bobcat said with a sly grin, pointing at the pair of abandoned undergarments trampled on the pathway. We pulled the joke on four separate groups of strangers as they passed, each one displaying low degrees of reception, unsure how to react to early morning shenanigans when they were zero beers deep. Premier camping turned out to be a pretty unelaborate lie, there were very little concrete benefits to shelling out an extra $200 bucks for a campsite; the free showers were laughable, out of order the first day and only half functional the second (most of the showers were cold water only), Cody described them best:

“If you were to hold the shower head directly in front of your face the water would fall before it hit you”

It seemed the only benefit was the shuttle service to and from the festival grounds, which became an extremely invaluable resource when faced with the exhausting walk to the gates. But there was still a major drawback, you had to ditch your liquor before you got on the bus, as opposed to enjoying a few beer on the walk. The modest line to pile on the shuttle often erupted into a chug-fest, the unlucky soul still sporting a full beer by the time the bus arrived would be sentenced to slam it as fifteen strangers exuberantly chanted “CHUG CHUG CHUG”. As a twisted metaphor for modern societal class differences, a tall fence with guarded entrances kept the premier campers from the general rif-raf, but our dear friend Emyn always snuck in regardless. It seemed like some sort Orwellian internment camp, and I started to wonder if we paid $200 bucks for the rather ‘lavish’ comforts of a fence. But we began to justify it in other ways: “I just like the atmosphere here it’s more.. mature” “Everyone in premier camping is just more, chill”, and whether or not these sentiments were valid didn’t seem to matter as long as we thought they were. Undoubtedly, we were the upper class.

Or rather, the middle class. Since terrace parking still existed for the upper middle classfolk (all 50 of them), and Gold parking for the hoightiest of toighties. The only real advantage being slightly closer proximity, and of course the all-American feeling of being “better” than others. I was reminded of our ‘Platinum Ticket’ purchase last year, where the four of us doled out double the cash for regular admission and received absolutely zero benefits whatsoever. Price gouging had become a common theme at Sasquatch, from the 13 dollar beers to the various tickets and campsites created to take complete advantage of those willing and foolish enough to pay, it’s no surprise they tried to stretch the festival to a second weekend… and quite relieving that they failed miserably.

It should be noted, however, that scalpers were extremely rare this year as opposed to last. Utilizing a four-ticket-per-purchase method as well as online registration, the staff were able to curb the problematic issue of ticket resales, and the system ran quite smoothly as a result. The festival itself should never be about the bottom line, shady camping deals or not, we were there for the elite musical talent. But with one less day of music, it was more important than ever to get to the grounds early and soak in the sounds. First on the docket were the critically acclaimed indie-folk Canadians, Half Moon Run.

Half Moon Run – 21 Gun Salute

It’d been a few years since the trio released their first album, ‘Dark Eyes’, but their sound was fresh and welcome in the beaming afternoon sun. The harmonious vocal melodies reminded me immediately of west-coasters and festival favorites the Local Natives, but there was a deeper more genuine element to their music that had me swaying. Perhaps it was the Canadian flavor, that unmistakable drip of maple-syrup saturated sweetness, Half Moon Run struck an impressive chord. I ducked out the press pit and drank in the end of the set from the back end of the crowd.

Half Moon Run – Call Me in the Afternoon

After raiding the press tent for snacks and garnering the usual forlorn looks of concern from the conservatively dressed dorks buried in camera equipment, I rushed off to the main stage to meet up with the group and snag some prime real estate on the hill. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and the beauty of the Gorge could only be rivaled by the breathtaking brilliance of Swedish songstresses, First Aid Kit.

First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining

Mirroring our afternoon on the hill with The Tallest Man on Earth last year, First Aid Kit played host to one of the more serene and beautiful sets of the festival. With homages to Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and nods to country legends like Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash, the Swedish sisters left us in a state of awe. The scene couldn’t be sweeter; we were all reunited, sufficiently stoned and satiated from the festival eats, soaked in beautiful music and good vibrations.

There were a few pleasant surprises during the set, amidst favorites “Wolf” and “Emmylou”, First Aid Kit played an emotional rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘America’, much to the delight of our friend Jasmine, who teared up as she told us it was her ‘favorite song of all time’ being played by her favorite band. There were smiles all around, certainly aided by the treasure chest of drugs one of our compatriots randomly found on the ground, and we all left in the highest of spirits as we dipped back to camp to get our drink on.

First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

Shotgunning on the RV rooftop was on the regular; it seemed the most appropriate place to binge, but without a ladder we were forced to climb up rather awkwardly through the back bedroom window. It was a slightly arduous process but worth the result, the view on top was magnificent, and garnered the envy of every ground-bound tent dweller within eyeshot. We had a full schedule for the evening. Washed Out, Hemsworth, Chet Faker, Tyler and finally The National. The excitement was palpable, tonight was going to get wild.

There exists no recent album more festival appropriate than Washed Out’s ‘Paracosm’, and the atmosphere was dreamlike as Ernest Greene and company began their sunset set. Only two months prior I managed to catch Washed Out close out SXSW in a sweaty cramped concrete shoebox at the stroke of midnight. But with the beautiful open air and the sun beginning to crest behind the Gorge, the scene couldn’t be anymore opposite.

Washed Out – It All Feels Right

It was a bit of a mystery to me how Washed Out would manage a live show prior to SXSW. For the most part, Ernest Greene’s music seemed reserved for the bedroom loner, or perhaps the faint noise you hear from the headphones of a late night transit ride. Washed Out live was the exact opposite. Bursting with energy, exuberant and emphatic, Greene ran rampant over his acoustic guitar before turning to the tables and hitting the keys. It was a stellar performance once again. Reworking old gems from his early releases and weaving in hits from “Within and Without”, Greene showcased a rather impressive resume of tunes. It was sheer bliss. A floral thrill ride. And a highlight in an already incredible weekend.

Washed Out – Belong.

I ran over to the electronic tent to catch the back half of Ryan Hemsworth. The set was in full swing and so was the crowd, droves of wide-eyed fans were just beginning to hit their peak as Ryan rather calmly pumped out remixes behind a Tetris-like wall of colorful lights. It wasn’t my scene, and with the liquor starting to fade I elected to dip out of the crowd and run to catch Cloud Control at the Yeti stage. I felt like a yo-yo, bouncing between acts, desperately snagging my shots and getting a feel for the scene.

A few hours earlier I eavesdropped on a rather awkward interview with an unknown artist. The interviewer asked terrible questions, seemingly uninterested, and as a result the artist began to ramble on about old Sega video games. “Did you ever play Doctor Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine?” I perked up. I played the game for years, and began to chuckle audibly as he described the ins and outs of Mean Bean stratagem. He was met with a yawn and a disengaged glance. It was the worst interview I’d ever witnessed, and at the time I hadn’t realized the unfortunate artist was in fact lead singer Alister Wright. His dorky charm had won me over, and their set did not disappoint.

Cloud Control – Dojo Rising

I wasn’t familiar with the music, knowing only their sonic smash ‘Dojo Rising’, but the Aussies had been ruthlessly hyped by festival promoters, and for good reason. They were this year’s answer to Tame Impala. Sexy psychedelia, drenched in reverb and fuzz, Cloud Control drew obvious comparisons to the music of the 60′s and 70′s. They were undoubtedly one of the coolest most polished bands of the entire festival, and I made note to immerse myself in their music once I got back to my homeland. After three quick songs I had to duck out early to catch fellow Aussie Chet Faker.

Chet was on his game. For an artist who had been toying with the idea of early retirement before his career really kicked off, Chet Faker looked completely in control. At first I was skeptical of his booking in the electronic tent, but after the first beat dropped it became quite obvious that this would be the performance of his life. The crowd was in synch. For those paying particularly close attention, Chet had very few sounds that were ‘automated’, or rather, he controlled each instrument manually. It was a flurry of knobs and dials, and music aside it was a thrill to watch him multitask so fluently. He was truly a master of his own sound. At one point he blended two of his hits with incredible precision, and the whole tent lost it.

Chet Faker – Blush

Rarely would one witness a security guard doing anything other than looking miserable. But by measure of a good show, when Chet played his debut rendition of Blackstreet’s ‘No Diggity’, every single guard was bobbing their heads and mouthing the lyrics. We were all children of the 90′s, it seemed, and for a few beautiful moments I felt the true soul of Sasquatch. The comradery, mutual respect and love that binds us, and our devoted appreciation for excellent music. It was all there. Someone nearby suddenly gasped and pointed backwards, and in the twilight the sky had turned the most beautiful shade of green. There was an energy within that tent, the unwavering feeling that we were all supposed to be there, and we were all connected.

Chet Faker – Gold

It was difficult to step into the ‘real world’ after his performance, and we had little time to adjust as we ran to catch the start of Tyler The Creator. The press pit was a jungle. Everyone was patiently waiting for that first glimpse, and Tyler made us wait. His DJ played some crowd favorites to pump everyone up, DMX’s ‘Up in Here’ being the highlight, and after fifteen minutes of crouching and exchanging awkward but knowing glances, the photographers shot up out of the grass and Tyler was met with a roar from the crowd.

The next few songs were a violent blur, I couldn’t quite make out who his stage partners were, but the three of them were bouncing all over the stage. The crowd had grown raucous, shifting fifteen feet in one direction only to be shoved back the other way. It was completely out of control. The ever-resourceful Mark would later tell me that after his glasses got knocked off his face for the second time, he knew he’d have to get the fuck out of there. What were the chances that he’d catch them mid-air three times in a row? But it wasn’t as simple as backing out. There’s only one way out of a crowd of that ferocious magnitude, and that was up. Mark crowd surfed out, and we met shortly after the three-song press limit and Tyler saying “Goodbye photo people” to the vacating photographers. It was hard to be a journalist in something so dangerous, and I had very little knowledge of the music that was actually played. The crowd was in a violent frenzy. We elected to dip out and head to a much more relaxed venue, the main stage for The National.

The National had recently garnered mainstream attention after a critically acclaimed album release and a series of television appearances. I remembered seeing Lena Dunham and her awkward talk-heavy skits on SNL being appropriately interrupted by raw, emotional songs from The National a few months prior. At age 43, Matt Berninger looked positively grandfatherly, which was appropriate considering his band had been long heralded as bearers of the ‘Dad Rock’ banner. Any alcohol I may have ingested had completely faded from the pure adrenaline of the Tyler concert, and I caught the first few songs from albums ‘High Violet’ and ‘Boxer’ stone-cold sober. That was until the most serene hippie slash babe lit up a baseball bat sized joint behind me, with every intent on sharing. After only a few minutes I was wide eyed and thirsty to the point of emergency. I couldn’t keep my eyes off The National.

The National – Graceless

It was, undoubtedly, the most emotional performance I had ever seen. Berninger paraded around the stage, slowly mounting his anger and antagonizing his bandmates. At one point he stood infront of his drummer screaming and waving his arms, desperately trying to throw off the focus and make him skip a beat to no avail. ‘Squalor Victoria’ reached boiling point, and soon after Berninger walked to the very edge of the stage a good thirty feet from the rest of his band to sing a song and wallow in self pity in a corner. While he threw a temper tantrum in the background, the Dessner brothers would walk to the front of the stage and deliver heavy, well-crafted guitar solos. Berninger was an emotional rollercoaster of angst and sadness. Their most recent album ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ was full of relationship-heavy misery ballads, and I found myself becoming completely overwhelmed by emotion. I stood there in deep reflection of my own life while songs like ‘I Should Live in Salt’ and ‘Hard to Find’ tore me to pieces. It was too much to handle, and I had to leave the crowd on the verge of tears.

The National – I Should Live In Salt

The National – I Need My Girl

Jackie and I watched the rest of the show from the distance. Huddled for warmth and emotional support, the scene was magnificent to witness. The massive crowd, the Gorge playing host, and the brilliant lights and sounds. Undeniably a human experience that bore no comparison. The desire to reunite with our compatriots had grown quite strong. We hadn’t seen Bobby, Joelle, Jasmine or Macklemost himself (Cody) in hours, so we elected to trudge back to camp and see if they’d made it home. I stopped by Cut Copy briefly to snag some rather disinterested photos, but my emotions were still elsewhere. The National had put me in a hypnotic self-reflective trance, and I was already dreaming before I went to sleep.

Sasquatch 2014 Festival Review: Day One

“What in the hell happened last night?”

My head was cleaved in two, and the fleeting memories of the night before were barely cohesive. A technicolor blur, short bursts of light and flashes of foreign faces; a musclebound roid-head with a genuine smile rolled about in a wheelchair, I remember lighting a small hot air balloon on fire, playing flippy-cup with Shannon and a batch of complete strangers, the epic RV cock-block on Bobcat… the bite-size tidbit memories were a-plenty, but it was nigh impossible to draw up a timeline of events. I must’ve met a couple hundred people. Such is the case on the first night of Sasquatch, the chaos takes over the moment the sun comes down, the walk of shame is multiplied by a few thousand, especially for those unfortunate enough to forget where they camped in the first place.

Fortunately the schedule granted us a lengthy recovery period, and the afternoon was spent piecing together the disjointed random events of the evening prior. Bobcat and I elected to work off some of the liquor with a multipurpose walk to the grounds; I’d snag my press pass and a coffee and we’d scope out the scenes of destruction across the campsite. Unfortunately our hike was for naught; the press passes weren’t available for another hour or so (the atypical oblivious volunteer sort of shrugged and tossed out a random guess), and the coffeeshop was out of sugar. After I plugged the old pun “I’m sweet enough as is”, we randomly bumped into David Greenwald of Rawkblog and The Oregonian. He was a welcome familiar face in a sea of lunacy, and the presence of an actual professional was quite reassuring in contrast to the drug-rattled mania. It was his first year at the Gorge, and he told us he was camping with the general admission, affectionately referred to as ‘District 9′. I felt a strong twinge of sympathy; David was a seasoned vet of music fests and journalism in general, but very little could prepare the even the saltiest of correspondents for the sheer weirdness of the Gorge. We shook hands and Bobcat and I made our way back to the campsite…

Rattlesnakes were common to the area; the Gorge itself was quite desert-like in vegetation and scenery, and although the initial shock of seeing a potentially deadly animal was quite a jolt to the small crowd, the actual threat was quite miniscule. Of course, considering the fact that over 70% of rattlesnake victims are drunken males, the danger seemed more palpable in the late hours when thousands of inebriated youth stumble to-and-fro up the very same path. We exchanged a few “Holy fucks” with the rest of the onlookers and made our way back to ground zero to refuel on food and booze.

Chance the Rapper was the first big name on the docket, and the absolutely massive sea of attendees left the MC in a state of awe-inspired appreciation. His stage presence was absolutely electric; spraying the crowd with a bottle of water (and subsequently apologizing to the security staff he drenched) while bashfully quipping how we were “the biggest crowd” he’s ever drawn. It wasn’t just a ploy to win us over, the crowd was monumental, stretching far beyond the physical limits of the Bigfoot stage and encroaching upon the surrounding neutral boundaries usually reserved for the burnt out and hopelessly drunk hot messes.

Chance The Rapper – Cocoa Butter Kisses (ft. Vic Mensa & Twista)

The press pit was absolutely abuzz, khaki’d dorks jostled for position with flowery hipster-femme photogs, every last camera drinking in the pure plasmatic and palpable energy of Chance’s performance. He blasted through a handful of old favorites from his 2013 debut release ‘Acid Rap’, and gained mad cultural clout for his unexpected cover of the theme song from 90′s cartoon Arthur. For the thirty or forty people who actually recognized what he was singing, it was surely a very special moment, but even for those who either never saw the show or were simply too far rattled in the late afternoon to be effectively coherent, Chance had the crowd swaying on a string, and set the bar sky-high for the rest of the festival.

Chance The Rapper – Everybody’s Something (ft. Saba & BJ The Chicago Kid)

I never wanted to become jaded. A lot of my fellow press members were hard to please; they’d seen it all before. After years of covering emerging superstars and buzz-bands alike, the prospect of being inches away from internet sensations was old hat. To me, the thrill never gets old, from my first press pass at the Calgary Folk Fest to the absolutely overwhelming intimacy of SXSW, the awestruck emotions always seem to strike me at the most poignant moments. Shooting pictures while literally standing at Chance’s shoes was one such moment, and in the midst of the all-enveloping sensory overload that is a festival press pit, I froze a singular moment in my memory. With raised eyebrows and my mouth agape, all I could think was, “This is the fucking coolest thing ever”…

One of the most glaring issues with the festival was the inability to stay within the grounds unless you had a hefty bankroll to quench your necessary bodily functions. Food options were plentiful, undoubtedly, but the price points were monumental and the cost of eating and getting sufficiently drunk enough to tolerate the festival ran over $70 dollars daily. It was a steep price to pay, and very few except the California trust-funders were willing to stay on the grounds and catch all the shows. Over the course of each day we would find ourselves refueling around 6:00 PM, unfortunately missing a few good shows in order to keep the juices flowing well into the evening. The major delay wasn’t from the twenty minute walk back to the campsites, but rather the senselessly monstrous line created by the rather pointless bagcheck before admission. Wait times were up to 30 minutes, all to satisfy whatever bureaucratic red-tape that kept attendees from bringing in their own beverages and liquor. The annual horror stories soon followed “They made me chuck my fucking unopened Red Bull!” “Dude said my umbrella was ‘too big’” etc., but for those fortunate enough to have a press pass, there was no line whatsoever and a very minimal bag check.

Smuggling methods were quite simple and the same as the previous year. Need your drugs and alcohol inside the grounds? Simple. Shove it in your crotch. Voila! Even the press had their own unique methods of smuggling; one beefy fellow from Seattle revealed all his stashed alcohol inside the battery storage areas of his many cameras. The bag check served no purpose other than ruining the days of those too stupid to hide their booze or those showing particularly bulbous crotches, and whatever show you may have been rushing to see would surely be over by the time you finally made it through the gates. Yet it was a necessary evil we all accepted as reality, for whatever reason, be it the insurance companies surely involved, the beer sponsors charging an outrageous $13 for a tall-boy, or whatever archaic and unrealistic Gorge bylaw, the admission line-up was a stain on the festival that nobody even suggested needing a wash.

We had a steady buzz by the time Phosphorescent started fiddling with his pedals, and unlike this time last year (a storm started rolling behind frigid winds during the Japandroids set) the sun was high and hot in sky. Fresh off the glowering success of his 2013 album ‘Muchacho’, Matthew Houck rolled through a series of sleepy afternoon blues-folk ballads, humming howling and hoo-ing with a whining twang like the country stars of old. It was a set perhaps better suited for the lazy drôle of the late afternoon mainstage, but mounting instrumental solos and crashing climaxes kept the crowd coherent. It was a bit overwhelming with the size of the standing audience and the general fervor of the crowd as the booze train began to roll, an obvious shame the organizers didn’t swap stages with The Naked and the Famous, as both bands would’ve been better suited to opposite stages.

Phosphorescent – The Quotidian Beasts

Such was the reaction you might expect from a man who has quietly released over a half-dozen albums in a decade, the majority of the crowd seemed sedated, but there were certainly a few people having some very profound musical epiphanies, as is the case when you pair introspective metaphor-satured folk-rock with copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and sunshine. To me, the set seemed best suited to a cigarette, a glass of whiskey and a few ounces of liquid loneliness, but it was a privilege to witness such a talented act regardless of the circumstance.

Phosphorescent – Ride On/Right On

I ducked out of the set with enough time to raid the complimentary cheese plate restricted for the press. Each day they provided us with a small array of delicious and nutritious snacks (as well as an unlimited supply of bottled water). Considering the proximity of the press building to several of the big stages, having access was undoubtedly the greatest benefit of scoring a pass. It was a small, air-conditioned oasis from the madness of the crowd, and although the press themselves plotted steep points on the anti-social spectrum, it was still a great space to catch one’s breath and psyche up for the next adventure. Phantogram was next, a band I had successfully managed to miss on six separate occasions, but this time I had a belly full of cheese and pretzels and a half-flask of Wild Turkey.

It was at this very point as I hopelessly adjusted my camera’s menu options that something went terrible awry. Although I wouldn’t discover the malfunction until 600 miles and five days later, something went haywire with my memory stick, and every photo I took between the start of Phantogram and first set of the last day mysteriously evaporated. 12 out of 24 bands witnessed were completely gone, aside from any photos I had taken with my iPhone, and the loss still resonates harshly in my coverage as well as my experience of the festival

Perhaps the busiest band in alt-electro, Phantogram had been touring solidly for as long as I could remember, hitting every festival and every venue humanly possible. Despite their saturated schedule, Sarah and Josh looked fresh as daisies, and proceeded to absolutely slay the Bigfoot stage and bring the crowd to a raucous frenzy. They had a number of festival-ready smashers off their latest release ‘Voices’, and it was an absolute treat to witness a band I had been religiously listening to for over five years. It’s difficult to narrow down their sound, somewhere between the oft-seen male/female electro coupling and hard-hitting guitar driven neo-psychedelia, Phantogram carved out a very specific sound that was completely in-tune with their set time. It was the start of the party, and the rowdiness had just begun.

Phantogram – Black Out Days

With Foster the People blaring away from the mainstage, I crept over to the Damien Jurado set to catch a few songs from his brilliant album “Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun”. Once again, it was relatively inappropriately placed on the Yeti stage, and after two decades of fantastic indie releases it seemed quite unfair to put Damien anywhere but the mainstage in the afternoon. One of the common themes of the festival was that the headliners were rather underwhelming compared with previous years (Macklemore and Mumford and Sons last year were gigantic heavyweights at the time), but with a mid-card bursting with incredibly talented musicians on the cusp of fame and notoriety, there were bound to be a few misplacements. Jurado seemingly picked up on this vibe, and rather grumpily performed a few acoustic jams before losing the interest of the crowd. Between Foster the People and Mogwai on the larger stages, as well as remix legend Classixx ripping hits for the drug-rattled molly-poppers like a giant bug zapper, there wasn’t much room for Jurado to draw an audience, and after a few sleepy jams I ran off to find the rest of the group jostling for early position to see Outkast in an hour and a half.

There were only a handful of ‘Photo’ passes handed out at this year’s Sasquatch, and I wasn’t one of the lucky ones employed by a national mag or newspaper, which meant I had zero access to the mainstage photo pit throughout the entire festival. Not one to follow the rules, I snuck in regardless, and after being spotted by a pit watchdog and booted out stage left, I slithered through the crowd and hopped back into the pit stage right. In all the confusion, darkness and noise it was exceedingly difficult for the staff to keep sneaky bastards like myself out, and although my pictures were all dark and shitty (and subsequently deleted forever) it was worth the effort just to see a world class act from only a foot away. The performance was polished, professional, and down-right entertaining, and although they had a lot of help thanks to pre-recorded vocals, Andre 3000 and Big Boi ran rampant on stage with no signs of rust. There were weird set pieces, some sort of strange holographic cube, and several strong doses of eclectic bravado from Andre in his bizarre white wig and black jumpsuit. But for those who had seen their fair share of live acts, the performance fell short on genuine emotion. Undoubtedly it was a blast to see 30,000 people ‘shaking it like a Polaroid picture’, yet when the majority of the audience were 8-year-olds when Outkast was relevant, it was hard to justify their clout as a mainstage headliner.

OutKast – So Fresh and So Clean

We danced our asses off nonetheless, and after a full day of drinking under the sun it seemed there were very few people with the energy to catch the end of Rudimental or experience the inevitable weird of Die Antwoord, I myself being one of them. Desperate to catch up with several lost members of our party, I clamored back to the campsite and shot a few forlorn looks at the Bigfoot stage where things were getting absolutely ‘feeky’.

Sasquatch 2014: Arrival!

A white-knuckled high speed burn through the careening mountain trails was certainly bound to get the blood to boiling point. While the sun set and the darkness enveloped the area, the danger became more and more apparent as sightlines decreased dramatically. A lukewarm sweat seeped through my palms and onto the steering wheel of the behemoth 30-foot RV; my mouth hung open on high alert, ready to yell and holler at my raucous passengers at the sight of any sharp turns or worse, wildlife. I heard very little noise other than a low-pitched hum from the back of my skull, it was some sort of instinctual defense mechanism designed to block out the pure vibrating chaos taking place behind the short curtain of the drivers cockpit. Five youths, my festival compatriots and dear friends had taken to the bottle for the past few hours, and their drunken disorderly RV party had reached its peak. For a moment I pondered the strange phenomenon of drinking heavily in a moving vehicle as the forest and mountains flew past in a midnight blur. I imagined it was akin to Dorothy’s house spinning around in the tornado, except the occupants were significantly intoxicated, and although the experience seemed like a dream, we were wide awake. We certainly weren’t in Kansas anymore; the never-ending canola and wheat plains of mid-western Alberta were supplanted by the treacherous winding highways of the Rocky Mountains. The destination was Cranbrook BC, but there were several hours of road to burn and my intense concentration could break at any moment.

Hozier – Take me to Church

A large, dark mass began to take shape in the oncoming lane as I eased off the gas and held my breath. Hazard lights blinked in the distance, and the mysterious mass grew closer. For a split second, a gruesome scene materialized as the RV headlights finally caught up to sight. It was a deer, buckled over onto itself, front legs bent backwards and head hunched to the side. In that fraction of a moment I saw the blood that had showered the road, and the piercing cold glare of the fatally wounded quadruped as it stood mangled on the verge of a crippling, painful death. It was a haunting vision, a snapshot of disfigured horror and a mortifying omen. As quickly as it appeared, it was gone, and the low-pitch buzz that shielded me from the noise of the cabin evaporated. Pure adrenaline coursed through my veins as I recounted the terrifying vision to my co-pilot who couldn’t quite make out the gory details of the scene.

The highway shifted northwest, and I knew we were only a short drive from Cranbrook. The looming rocky leviathans, with all their dangers, were mostly behind us. Falling rocks, winding roads and herds of mountain goats were no longer the threat, rather a straight-shot (more or less) to our final checkpoint lie ahead, as a welcome relief. Minutes flew by, and we suddenly found ourselves in the small East Kootenay city of Cranbrook. The warm sweat had subsided, and I breathed several weighty sighs as we pulled into the parking lot of a national supermarket and shut the engine off for the evening. There were a few cold beers with our names on them, and my co-pilot and I took off our Captains hats and emerged from the cockpit into the chaos.

———————–

We wasted little time in the morning, ripping past Moyie Lake and on through to the CAN-US border. We weren’t worried about crossing; all our drugs were safely buried under a rock in Cranbrook and there wasn’t a crumb of incrimination amongst us. It was only a momentary delay before we were off like a rocket once again, making brief stops in Bonner’s Ferry and tearing through Sandpoint long enough to admire the bridge and Lake Pend Oreille.

We refueled in the beautiful and charming Coeur d’Alene, loaded up on liquor (booze taxes in Idaho are significantly lower than Washington) and ripped through Spokane on the I-90 for the final stretch to Moses Lake, just outside the Gorge. The sun was high in the sky as my co-pilot brought the ship safely up to warp speed. After a solid six hours of driving south of the border, we made the all-important pitstop at the Moses Lake Wal-mart to load up on any last minute supplies and drain our dollars into the food fund. After the 2013 debacle of being cold, wet and hungry, the seven of us spared no expense and dished out $500 American collectively to make sure we never ran out of resources. It was tedious experience, co-ordinating our efforts and braving the lengthy lines caused by our fellow festival go-ers, but it was a necessary evil, and to take out some much needed frustration we elected to mangle a watermelon in the parking lot and the men held a brief contest over who could throw a chunk of melon the furthest.

KiD CuDi – Pursuit of Happiness (Ft. MGMT & Ratatat)

And suddenly, we were off. The scene was almost identical to last year; massive clouds loomed over the Gorge while the sun shot glorious beacons of light onto the ravine. The sun then began to set behind the Columbia river as we pulled the bus into the lengthy line of vehicles eager to gain entrance to the Gorge. Windows down, we blasted music that would soon envelop the main stage, singing to passing cars while droves of envious attendees marveled at our glorious behemoth RV in all its majestic beauty. We captained the ship nearly 600 miles, and it was a very surreal moment as we arrived at the main gate to our campsite.

Hyper-reality soon turned to concentrated panic, as the premier camping wristband lady rather sternly informed us that we were limited to six people per campsite. “One of you will have to go to regular camping. Sorry.” she flat-out backhanded all of our requests, rudely dismissing our pleas for a supplemental wristband and relentlessly ignoring reason and logic. “We’re at capacity, we can’t allow anymore campers..”

“You mean to tell me that every single campsite currently has the maximum of six campers?” I argued.
“It’s not like we’re taking up more space, we’re still all sleeping in the RV” my co-pilot Cody piped up.

But she couldn’t be reasoned with. It was ridiculous to ask one of our fellow campers to ditch their home and pitch a tent somewhere with strangers back in District 9. We had all paid equal parts for the RV, and our investment was too complicated to comply with her outrageous demands. We asked if we could park in our spot in order to figure out a solution, all the while knowing we would need to come up with a quick scheme in order to circumvent the rules. We cracked a nervous beer and set up our chairs and gazebo while my co-captain Cody and our free-spirited Québécois compatriot Joelle ventured off to the gates to find our solution. The plan was simple yet daunting, they would run past every oncoming vehicle until they found a small group headed to premier camping, at this point they would hold up traffic to quickly explain our story and pray that someone would be kind enough to allow Joelle to pile into a foreign convoy and snag the final wristband for the group. The rest of us would simply have to wait, nervously unpacking and constructing the campsite.

Fortunately, as with most unnecessary conflicts caused by festival organizers, with a little ingenuity and a fistful of balls, anything can be accomplished. And within twenty minutes our brave duo returned with our final wristband and was met with a rousing roar of approval. We had made it. And it was time to get straight dicked.

The Gorge would never be the same..

Stay tuned for our full festival coverage, including music reviews/photos, pink gorilla suits, copious amounts of liquor and drugs and of course, The Naked Man.

Five days, 2000 kilometers and an ounce of brain cells later, I’ve returned from the fabled Sasquatch! Music Festival a different human being. It was my first time as an official member of the press, and my first time where I completely let loose. I was a belligerent drunken spectacle (although quite composed and never overstepping my role as a journalist… heh), and on the final evening I rocked the press pit dressed in full mermaid(man) attire, only to switch a few hours later into an obnoxious fuzzy pink gorilla suit. Needless to say, I scared the living shit out of the khaki’d press.

There were a few very sentimental moments in the mix, the most poignant of which came while watching The National. I actually had to leave the front crowd because I was overcome with emotion; I couldn’t hold back tears, and as lame as that may sound there was a genuine, physical connection between myself and the music. One song stood out in particular, and it’s been on repeat in my cranium ever since.

Stay tuned for a cavalcade of updates as yours truly; the weirdest press fucker at the entire festival, reports back on all the drugs and mayhem that were this past weekend.

  • Artist: The National
  • Track: I Should Live In Salt

  • Chilled People: 19