May 25, 2013


Sasquatch Sunset Bliss: Youth Lagoon Wow With Majestic Indie Anthems

Tim Mosenfelder
Tim Mosenfelder

Sasquatch Fest's opening day got off to a bumpy start, then Youth Lagoon fixed it. Like beer and pretzels, Sonny and Cher, Bill & Ted, cookies and milk (I could go on and on...), Boise, Idaho's indie whiz Trevor Powers provided an equally dazzling complement to his partner: the sunset. His keyboard-laden anthems swelled the heart while Washington State's vistas entertained the eyes. The whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

But great sacrifice begets great moments, and the day wasn't without its hardships. That same stage's sound for Eric Blood--a Seattle producer and former guitarist of criminally underrated shoegaze rockers the Turn-Ons--was unfortunately messy earlier in the afternoon. As was the mix for many others (seriously, who's doing the sound at Sasquatch?). Black Hippy rapper School Boy Q was a no-show, arriving too late at SeaTac airport to make the four-hour drive in time. Rain spat and wind gusted all afternoon. And when Powers finally took the stage, as the sun dropped to the horizon, the crowd prepped for the first sure-to-be "festival moment." 

Instead, they heard "check one, check two" and saw Powers glaring at the sound guy, his pointer finger going up, then down, then up again, then down again, ad nauseam, for 35 minutes. "Epic soundcheck," deadpanned a fan with the luxury of leaning against a fence while waiting. Hey, the sound still sucked and the singer-keyboardist wasn't compromising. Not here, not now.

So Powers worked through the problem, composure waning. But what's that bit about patience and virtue? 

Because then came calm. Then came still. Then came sunset. Then came the under-water-ocean-tide of Powers' stack upon stack of keyboards and a sky full of sherbert-colored cloud whisps that should have humanity sobbing at their majesty. Ladies and gentleman, Washington State. iPhone cameras out. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg bought Instagram for a billion dollars because of moments like these

The quartet played tracks from their more psychedelic, mind-warp of a new album, Wondrous Bughouse (a term for an insane asylum), including the awesome "Sleep Paralysis." But the best moments came with tracks from his debut, 2010's The Year of Hibernation. Crowd favorites like "July" and "Montana" hinge on a dreamy, sentimantal sound with lyrics (and music video images) that celebrate lakes, oceans, mountains and rivers--the vast open spaces of the Pacific Northwest and a youth living and escaping among their infinite qualities. He bathes them all in a grand cathedral-glow.

Friday night at dusk, as nature's fireworks detonated above and the deep walls of the Columbia River gorge sank into blackness like two bits of dying campfire charcoal, Trevor Powers and the rapt crowd around him were at church.