Bestselling artist and Montreal-native Sam Roberts was kind enough to agree to an in-person interview before putting on a commanding performance in support of his group’s newest album, Collider, for thousands of singing-along fans at Sasquatch.

Just a couple hours before his show, I made contact with his manager who then invited us to come on the tour bus.

Sam arrived fresh off complimentary lunch and was instantly accommodating. With his welcoming style, the interview felt surprisingly informal, just a conversation. In fact, we ended up speaking for much longer off the record than on, but this is what he had to say about performing at Sasquatch:

So what are your thoughts on Sasquatch so far?
The first thing you notice, when you put aside all the similarities to other festivals, is that not every festival takes place in somewhere like the Gorge. The natural aspect is always present, you’re always conscious of the scenery. Which is unique, because a lot of festivals are closed off and become their own universe. But here, there’s this constant reminder that there’s a world going on outside of Sasquatch. I like that.

When did you arrive?
Just an hour ago—while, at least I woke up an hour ago. I’m not sure when we got in, but we played in Vancouver last night. We crossed the border at four in the morning. Wake up, throw some clothes on, grab a bite to eat, take a shower, and maybe get a couple beers in the system: you’re ready to go on stage.

So are you going to get a chance to catch some artists and actually enjoy the festival?
I think so, we have a pretty relaxed schedule here. I’m going to go check out Wheedle’s Groove. A band like Beach House, it would be great to see them, but they’re playing at the same time as us. So that’s the problem, there are all these scheduling conflicts. You look at the lineup and then you’re like [sigh], we’re playing at the same time as these guys. It’s not your own show; you’re never in charge of what happens. You’re just a guest. You have to make sure to soak it in and make you have your own experience beyond your own show.

Since you just got in, maybe you haven’t noticed the Canadian influence yet.
Which is always a good thing, the more Canadians the better.

Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of Canadian flags, especially a lot of Canucks flags. Any thoughts on playing as a Canadian artist for such a Canadian crowd?
I think in this part of the U.S. anyway, that’s a pretty logical step. You’ve got all these people from Calgary and out west that have access to this place. It’s a reasonable trip, and when you talk about the landscape out here, its very unique.  I think it’s definitely something that appeals to Canadians. I’m glad to know that they’re starting to trickle down and boost their numbers. Obviously, it’s nice to have a lot of hometown support.

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

I stepped outside of my tent and instantly noticed how many cars had disappeared from the campgrounds.

People traveled from far and wide to attend Sasquatch, so it seemed as though everyone need a day to return to work on Tuesday, and with the exception of the select group of Wilco fans, every stage was fairly barren and open to easy front row access.

Dressed in suits and tuxes, Noah and the Whale came out with a set up equally polished with their well-orchestrated mournful and occasionally inspirational pop tunes. The first time I saw them live a few years ago, the lead singer had apparently just gone through a break-up and their set was a bit of a depressed mess, but in a way, that’s what made them relatable. Now, looking confident and put together, Noah and the Whale lost a bit of their charm, but still surpassed many expectations and presented a lovely set.

Next came beloved Montreal-natives Chromeo on the main stage. As always, Dave-1 and P-Thugg put on the show their fans have come to expect—cocky, smooth, and ironically cheesy. Even though it was the third time I’d caught them live since August, their lovability has far from deteriorated.

90’s four-track, lo-fi college rock kings Guided by Voices took the stage after Chromeo for one of the smallest crowds I observed all weekend at the main stage.

From a distance, the lack of support was a bit understandable; their music didn’t come off well in a large open space like the Gorge and the instrumentation felt dated. But from the pit, hardcore fans joined together, sang along, and helped make Guided by Voices feel at home.

After, Bonobo treated the Banana shack to a DJ set of obscure tracks and mash-ups, coming across as one of the most accessible dance artists of the weekend.

Then, at 7:30, !!! (also known as chk chk chk) brought forth the best set of the day and maybe of the weekend. Somewhat akin to LCD Soundsystem if James Murphy was replaced by a flamboyant karaoke singer at a gay bar, !!!’s lead singer, Nic Offer stormed out with most likely coke-induced energy.

“Don’t kick the photographers out of the pit after our first three songs, let them stay in the whole time…. I have a few surprises for them.” With those words, I became painfully aware of the absence of my photographer attending Best Coast instead.

Offer walked through the crowd, tried on audience members’ accessories, posed for photos, and basically cage-danced on the P.A.’s. But in the end, it was the flawless disco/electronic music that held the performance together.

Everything after felt like a bit of a disappointment, especially Wilco, strumming through some even more mellowed out versions of their songs, commenting on how the last time they played at the Gorge was their worst show ever…

But Major Lazer gave what can be best described as a frenzied, womanizing, lawless two-encore performance of crowd-surfing, daggering, and cloth-fucking.

Mental note: if given the choice between a legendary group’s acoustic jam set or Major Lazer—choose Major Lazer.

And with that, comes the conclusion of Sasquatch 2011. Within the next week I’ll have a full overview sorting out my thoughts, observations, and highlights on my first major festival of the year.

Chk Chk Chk Playlist by ChkChkChk

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

*** Editors note: that guy, standing (yes you know the one I’m talking about) is not in a band, but is seriously awesome.

For the Sasquatch crowd, Sunday was all about the drugs.

All throughout the day, murmurs about trips could be heard, usually along the lines of, “Are you feeling it, man?”
“Ohh yeeaaahh, I’m feeling it.”

The lack of sobriety and continued Canadian pride set the stage for an odd vibe, which was most clear during Montreal native Sam Roberts‘ midday set. In the breaks between his hard rocking, yet still very sing-a-longy songs, more chants of “CA-NA-DA” could be heard.

It was a great set that due to the heavy Canadian influence in the crowd and the seemingly ideal festival music coming from Sam Roberts felt like a microcosm of Sasquatch 2011.

I spoke with Sam in his tour bus before the set, and I’ll have a full article covering the interview posted within the next day or two.

A memorable early performance was that of S. Carey, known as one of the “other guys” in Bon Iver. His atmospheric, introspective sounds a la Sigur Ros created contemplative layers under the inconsistent weather, which swayed from scolding hot to steady rain. A highlight was a tribute to the classic David Lynch sitcom, “Twin Peaks” (filmed in Washington), with the band strumming through the theme during a short break before their last song.

The energy grew as the day went on, especially notable during the surprisingly well-received set of the dirty south soul group Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, based out of Texas.

After showing up over twenty minutes late, they gutted through track after track of dirty soul, becoming progressively more intense as they went on. The entire crowd was dancing and the set peaked with a raucous cover of Louie, Louie and an unforeseen toilet paper extravaganza.

From out of nowhere came an unrelenting assault of toilet paper rolls thrown straight into the air—literally dozens and dozens were tossed over and over again. The audience was covered and eventually the stage as well, but Black Joe only played off it the excitement with more energy.

It was difficult for any artist to match that, but a couple hours later I found myself enjoying the impressive DJ work of Gold Panda. He worked the table and did not settle for any easy drops. His layered beats officially converted me as a fan.

But in terms of fan-hood, there was only one artist on my mind: Flying Lotus. One of my absolute favorite musicians, his set marked the third time I’d seen him in less than a year, and as always, he was amazing.

Mixing up his lineup, he focused mostly on hip-hop, giving the audience a spin of Tyler, the Creator’s, Yonkers, generating a full-on dance party.

Flying Lotus by Audio McSwagger

Meanwhile on the mainstage, the Flaming Lips played through their classic album, the Soft Bulletin. Due to the Flying Lotus conflict, I was forced to miss them, but my photographer made sure to attend and catch some photos.

But in the end, every Sasquatch attendee joined together to watch the late night entertainment from Ratatat.

After a slow start, they eventually started to get going, running through many of their most popular tracks. Better than the music, though, were the absorbing visuals. Honestly too difficult to describe, the video screens sent the already tripping audience to new depths.

Next is Monday, with Wilco, !!!, Guided by Voices, and Rodrigo y Gabriela.

See more photos by Matt Shanafelt from Sasquatch! 2011 via facebook.

Continuing with my Sasquatch! Music Festival coverage, I contacted the Moondoggies, a Seattle-based hometown favourite that specialize in rootsy-Americana rock. Playing at the Bigfoot Stage at 2:00 on Sunday, they are one of the few groups I can confidently say are a must-see. The list is unusually short thanks to a house and a half worth of conflicts and scheduling mishaps.

Really, almost every hour feels plagued. Most painful of all, Sunday evening is a scheduling nightmare. The Flaming Lips, Flying Lotus, and Yeasayer at the same time? This has to be a prank.

So I’m aware that I promised a personal schedule in my last preview, but with this year’s lineup, there is no way to work one out in advance without risking a tumor. As I’ve done for so much of my life, I’m just going to have to wing it.

Of the few plans my friend/photographer have locked in stone for Sasquatch, one of the most notable is meeting up with Sam Roberts. Getting the opportunity to speak with a rising Montreal-legend such as himself is an honor and I look forward to relaying the conversation via Forget the Box in a few days.

But first, as guaranteed, is my interview with the Moondoggies.

They’ve made a name for themselves in their old-fashioned harmonies, with all four members raising their sweet croons over genuine back-to-basics rock n’ roll—a style which has helped them develop a core fan base in Washington State.
As the Moondoggies launch out of the bar scene and into the major festival circuit, the added exposure has helped their audience expand, while high praise seems to be coming from every in-the-know source imaginable.

Out of respect for their busy schedules, especially at a time like this, I kept the questions quick and along with giving their word to swing by Montreal next time they get a chance, this is what they had to say:

Tell me about the experience of getting the opportunity to perform at your home state’s largest festival.
Moondoggies: The setting is insanely beautiful, it’s great. Free pass to watch music all day too.

I’ve always associated listening to your records with road trips across the NW, which is precisely what I’ll be doing to get to Sasquatch. How aware of the listener’s potential setting are you in the songwriting process?
Well I think when you’re creating a song it feels like a place or location you can go to or are getting to, and I think the same about music I listen to. People are going to create what that place is to them and I’ll only know my own outlook. If people ARE listening to it to try and experience something  hopefully it’s away from their computer desk…Unless they’re at work. Otherwise driving around has always been my favorite.

Moondoggies photo from

I’ve been in communication with several artists performing at Sasquatch! and I’ll be posting the transcripts as we go along. In this article, Black Mountain responds to my questions.

The bearded Vancouver-based psychedelic rockers have been converting their intense jam sessions to record for a few releases now and gaining a devoted following. Their newest album, Wilderness Heart, is their heaviest yet and should translate into a powerful live show. They are set to perform at 3:00pm on Monday at the Bigfoot Stage and are sure to mesmerize the midday smokers as always.

Here’s how bassist/singer Matt Camirand replied to my questions…

Tell me about the experience of getting the opportunity to perform at a festival taking place in a location like the Gorge.
I am looking forward to the Gorge as I have never been there before. I have many friends who have seen shows there and all have raved about it. As long as the weather holds out it should be a great time.

Back in 2008, I ran off from Roger Waters’ set at Coachella for about thirty minutes to catch you guys. Being in the middle of that conflict must have been something you were not especially happy about- in fact, I believe I remember you saying something to the audience along the lines of “thanks for missing out on all the awesomeness over there.” Care to add any insight into that experience or just festival scheduling in general?
Ha, yeah, I remember we had a bit of a moment of silence at one point so we could all hear Roger Waters’ set going on in the distance and in fact the second we were done I cruised over there and caught the end of Comfortably Numb with all the insane pyrotechnics and such. It did seem a little strange to schedule us specifically at the same time as Pink Floyd, all things considered.  But hey, it’s a festival and if I got upset for every time I’ve been to a festival and there’s been some logistical or organizational fuck up, I’d be a pretty miserable soul. Festivals are a lot of fun and I can only imagine how difficult they are to organize. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

You recently returned from touring Australia and Europe, what was that like?
It was great. We’ve been to both places before and are always happy to get to go and play our music for the Europeans and Australians. The hospitality in both places is always top notch and the chance to get out of rainy Vancouver in the winter to get some sun in Italy or Sydney is always welcome.

Black-Mountain by -gaga

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