After experimenting with adding a second weekend last year to meet heightened demand, this year Sasquatch! is returning to what it does best—four days of non-stop music. "We're going back to the basics," Sasquatch's creator Adam Zacks says, "and we're focusing more than ever on well-considered programming." The 2015 outdoor music fest, now in its 14th year, happens Memorial Day weekend (May 22-25) at The Gorge Amphitheatre.
In 2002, Sasquatch emerged as touring festivals of the late '90s were fading away and a new wave of festivals characterized more by region than by genre—e.g. Coachella and Bonnaroo—were becoming popular. Zacks, then a concert promoter at House of Blues in Seattle, recognized a need for a festival that catered to Pacific Northwest music enthusiasts' eclectic tastes. “The goal is to have a good balance of genres and a mix that equates to a really fun, memorable weekend," Zacks says. "If we can make strides with gender balance and support local artists, too, then we’re on the right track.”
What started as a one-day event in 2002 now spans four days, sells out months in advance, and has established an eager following.
The 27,500-capacity venue has gained international recognition for its accoustics and natural setting; Photo credit: Matthew Lamb
Headlining this year's fest are hip-hop lyricist Kendrick Lamar, electro-pop queen Lana Del Rey, Issaquah-born Modest Mouse and Led Zeppelin’s lead vocalist Robert Plant.
The show will feature an equally diverse set of hometown acts such as Odesza, My Goodness, comedian Yogi Paliwal, The Maldives, Perfume Genius and more. Diarrhea Planet, a six-man rock band hailing from Nashville, Tenn., is one of the acts that Zacks is anticipating the most, while other potential standout sets on his radar include St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Run the Jewels, plus a few sleeper band predictions such as Raury, Benjamin Booker, Blank Range, The Districts and Tala.
Festival goers overlook the Columbia River Basin at The Gorge Ampitheatre in Quincy, Washington; Photo Credit: David Conger
The biggest challenge for Sasquatch, Zacks notes, is "staying true to a vision and differentiating the festival among many new ones."
Its location certainly helps. The Gorge is a 27,500-seat amphitheater in George, Wash., that overlooks the Columbia River and offers sweeping views of the Cascade Range. It's just a short three-hour drive from Seattle — and is considered one of the most scenic venues around. "Like anyone else, the artists are struck by the grandeur of the landscape," Zacks says.
As festival-goers load up their cars and make the trip out to The Gorge for Sasquatch! 2015, they can expect what they've come to love most about the festival: a music-filled Memorial Day weekend. Zacks attributes Sasquatch's success to "a process of slow and steady growth, constantly adapting to cultural shifts and a rapidly growing festival landscape." He boils this year down into three words: "Robert F*cking Plant."
Headlining the 2015 lineup is Lana Del Rey, Sleater Kinney, Modest Mouse, Robert Plant, Kendrick Lamar and more; Photo Credit: David Conger