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Sasquatch is not just the official mammal of Cascadia

Although it is that.

It’s also the name of a music festival, now in its sixth year, held at the Gorge over Memorial Day weekend. Malen, Roark and I attended, my fourth time and their first, and we had a lovely time.

My personal highlight of the show was Spoon’s performance on Sunday evening as the sun was setting — a perfect set, full of their catchy riffs and vocal talents. Gale-force winds earlier in the afternoon had shut down the main stage for several hours due to the lighting rigs swaying dangerously back and forth, and we had the good luck to be in the pit as they crew began to hoist them back into position over the stage. We were initially ecstatic, but then something alarming happened.

The pit is subdivided into two concentric partitions separated by a double wall partition, meant to prevent the entire force of the crowd from pressing against the stage all at once and crushing people. You pass from the outer partition to the inner one via a chute wide enough for about five people to walk abreast. Staff had cleared out the inner partition while the tech crew secured the perilous lighting situation, and once everything was rigged satisfactorily they reopened this chute to allow people back into the inner circle. This was a mistake.

The three of us were standing near the opening of the chute, all unaware of its proximity, when all of a sudden the tightly packed crowd surged quickly toward the opening. We literally had no choice but to follow the tide. As people tried to force their way through the bottleneck from all angles, those of us near the front felt the weight of several hundred people trying to cram their way through a five-person corridor. We were being crushed. “Stop pushing!” Malen shouted over and over as the pressure built and we inched slowly, agonizingly forward. My arms were pinned to my side, one of them with a tenuous grip on my backpack, which I had taken off to rummage through just before the surge began. I tried to bring them up to give myself some elbow room, but there simply wasn’t space. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we popped like corks out of champagne bottles through the chute and into the inner circle. We weren’t sure that the privilege had been worth the discomfort, but Spoon soon laid all our doubts to rest.

During the musical lull, I enjoyed myself more than I had during the rest of the day listening to music. Some Australians (I discovered their nationality after talking to them, they weren’t wearing a flag or anything) were running down the steep upper portion of the grassy bowl, then sliding on feet and knees as far as their momentum would carry them. Equipped with my trusty REI jacket, made of a slick neoprene-like material, I showed them my unique style: rolling onto my back in the air, then tucking my knees into my chest and whizzing on the smooth surface of my jacket, a giant turtle shell, into clumps of people unlucky enough to be in my path. I made some impressive distance. We had a wonderful time.

Other notable moments (other than the music, which was generally very good and with a well-intentioned crowd) included waiting in very long lines for shitty, greasy food; people flying long strands of toilet paper like kites during the windstorm; professional scalpers buying up all the tickets around us while we were trying to find Roark one on Saturday (he didn’t get in); and Adam’s enormous cabin-tent, which we almost didn’t manage to erect and could easily have sheltered a party four times our size.

In short, I loved Sasquatch almost as much as I love sasquatch.

Posted in Musings.

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