For the seventh year in a row, the Gorge Amphitheatre will host the Sasquatch! Music Festival, and this year is bigger than last year, extending to a third day. Music of all kinds—with a generous dose of indie rock—will be represented, but despite all the talent on hand, it's unlikely there'll be any crossovers or supergroup pairings; for instance, Dan Bejar's Destroyer plays at the exact same time as his other band, the New Pornographers, so no hopes for a guest appearance there. Instead, be prepared for full-length sets by some of the best acts from the Pacific Northwest—and some of the biggest acts in the world. Sure, the Gorge is remote, but the spectacular Columbia River setting is worth the five-hour drive from Portland, so be amply prepared with all the necessities for a three-day camping trip. You'll want light clothes during the warm day, but you'll need to bundle up for very chilly nights, too. Most importantly, be prepared to ROCK. Visit sasquatchfestival.com for more info.
THE GAME PLAN
First off, you're going to have to settle. There'll be far more music than you'll be able to take in, so don't get greedy and try to see it all. Pace yourself. You'll be doing a fair amount of traversing between the three stages (the main Sasquatch Stage, the Wookie Stage, and the Yeti Stage) and this year's brand new Comedy Tent, so keep hydrated and wear comfy shoes. Above all, be prepared for surprises. You could stumble across something that you had no intention of seeing, and it may very well be the highlight of the weekend.
SATURDAY, MAY 24
Start the festival off right with hot new space-cake folksters Fleet Foxes on the main stage, then mosey on over to the Yeti Stage to catch Portland's own the Shaky Hands. Then you've got a tough choice in front of you: Stick around for the warming, fizzy pop of Seattle's Throw Me the Statue, or hurry back to the big stage for the global carnival waltz of Beirut. Soon it will be time to venture to the Wookie Stage and settle in for the Whigs' no-bullshit muscle-car rock, followed by the whiskey-drenched country-folk of Kathleen Edwards and the dizzying wordplay of the chameleonic Destroyer. Don't get too comfortable, though: As soon as Mike Patton's Crudo takes the stage, you will need to beat a hasty retreat, so escape to the Comedy Tent for Asssscat!, an improv show put on by members of the Upright Citizens Brigade. Then it's time to catch M.I.A. on the main stage, but if you're still feeling restless you can ramble back to the Wookie Stage (Mike Patton will be gone, I swear) to swoon downstream with Okkervil River, then get cannonballed by alt-rock icons the Breeders, or you can stick it out at the main stage and shriek along with Northwest heroes Modest Mouse and watch the moonlight glint off Michael Stipe's bare dome during R.E.M.'s night-closing set.
SUNDAY, MAY 25
There are some stretches of dubious music today, so you'll need to branch out a little and wander, just finding what suits your mood. You could start off with the Kinks-y fractured pop of the Morning Benders on the Wookie Stage. Afterward, check out the main stage for one of the weekend's few sets of hiphop with Seattle's Blue Scholars, then jog over to the Yeti Stage to bask in J. Tillman's forlorn revival folk. Then it may be time to venture to the Movie Tent to see the Flaming Lips' loopy celluloid opus Christmas on Mars in its first public screening, and as soon as you've had your fill, hit the main stage for the spiked-hair power-folk of twins Tegan and Sara. Next, head over to the Comedy Tent for the profane freestyling of performance artist Reggie Watts. Mates of State beckon from the Wookie Stage with their blissed-out marital synth-pop, but absolutely do not miss the breathtaking lonesome country of Sera Cahoone on the Yeti Stage. Then, you can neatly dodge the dreadlocked agitprop of Michael Franti & Spearhead by returning to the Comedy Tent and peeing your pants to stand-up heavy-hitter Brian Posehn. Afterward, lope on over to the Wookie Stage for some Jicks-y progressive-rock action with Stephen Malkmus, then hit the main stage to sob off all your eyeliner as the Cure close the night.
MONDAY, MAY 26
It's a holiday, so you can sleep in a little—but not too late, because Yeasayer takes the main stage shortly after noon, with their spiraling world-music-influenced indie rock. Then visit the Yeti Stage for the stoner psychosis of Whalebones (who just may be Yetis themselves), and scoot on over to the Wookie Stage for the charming pep rally of Thao with the Get Down Stay Down. You may be tempted to once again stomp along to the epic guitars of Built to Spill, but you've seen 'em before, right? Instead, stick it out at the Wookie Stage as the Little Ones offer up home-cooked, cheery, effervescent pop. And the Wookie will be the place to be, so skip the novelty flamenco of Rodrigo y Gabriela on the main stage; instead bunker down with the appealingly creepy ghost-folk of the Cave Singers and watch the beginning of Battles' mindblowing mirrored wrecking ball. But be prepared to jump ship: Before too long, it'll be time to swoop over to the main stage for Flight of the Conchords, in one of the New Zealand comedy duo's first American live appearances. You're going to be spent by then, so soothe yourself with the faux-soul of Jamie Lidell on the Wookie Stage, and then raise your eyebrows quizzically to Michael Ian Black's non sequiturs in the Comedy Tent. Finally, summon up whatever energy you've got left and trot back to the main stage for the Flaming Lips' festival-closing bonanza.
The Sasquatch! Music Festival is at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA, on Sat May 24 through Mon May 26, $56.50-76.50 a day, all ages.