SASQUATCH! 2016 LAUNCH PARTY WITH CHARLES BRADLEY & M.WARD (PHOTOS)

By Ian Bremner

Sasquatch! has mostly been the “indie darling” to the Bonnaroos and Coachellas of the festival-verse, but they have done their best to keep up with the rat race of lineup announcements and big splashes headlining the bill.

Despite the ranging opinions of Coachella, they still rule the whole lineup drop experiment. It is always a surprise at a seemingly arbitrary time (it’s probably the opposite of arbitrary) and it breaks the internet for several hours forcing people who couldn’t care less to stay offline for a few days. Bonnaroo’s lineup will be announced on Conan later this week.

In recent years, Sasquatch! has thrown a “Launch Party” at the Neptune Theater in Seattle to announce the lineup. It is a good mix of civil pride, sponsorship announcements, live sets from bands and the lineup video. This year, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires were the big draw as he and his band always bring the love and energy.

Local radio DJ, Luke Burbank had the MC duties and did a great job. He knew his role; keep everything on time, throw in some jokes, make sure to mention the sponsors enough for them to get their money’s worth and get on with the show.

After a deserved moment of silence for David Bowie, another moment of silence was held for Minnesota Vikings kicker, Blair Walsh. For some reason, the crowd wasn’t able to stay silent for Walsh… #GoHawks.

After a few brief announcements, M.Ward was announced as a special guest and took stage to a great rock n roll set of about 10 songs. For those who think of M.Ward as a whispery acoustic singer or ½ of She & Him, he is quite different in a live setting. It was the first gig with his new band, who sounded tight through and through, featuring Ward manning the electric guitar the whole time. He played a wide variety of cuts including a Buddy Holly cover and a tease from an upcoming release.

The crowd was an eclectic mix of people consisting of those who were there to see Charles Bradley, local music fans and those truly geeking out to see the lineup in which they would be spending their money on at The Gorge in May. For every 10 college students already in festival mode, there were one or two 55 year-olds air guitar-ing in the balcony.

For only as long as it took to switch out the stage equipment, The Extraordinaires walked out in matching suits and launched straight into their brass/bass/groovy guitar rhythm. After a 5 minute instrumental, Mike, the keyboard player who doubles as hype man, grabbed his drink and the microphone to warm the crowd up with a party scream and properly introduce the “SCREAMIN’. EAGLE. OF SOULLLLLL. CHARLES….BRADLEYYY!!”

Bradley took stage with his usual flair wearing a bright red suit with sparkles and a sequin eagle on the back. Bradley is all about giving back the love he receives from on stage and it is easy to love Charles Bradley. For a seemingly fragile man, he actually is fairly nimble, dropping to his knees, spinning around and strutting across the stage. He promised he will be performing until the day God says it’s enough. Luckily for everyone in attendance and everyone who has seen Charles Bradley, that day appears to be a ways off.

The launch was about 15 minutes behind by the time Burbank came on to give the people what they wanted: the 2016 lineup. Ironically, due to those 15 minutes, Sasquatch had already dropped the lineup online so the people who stayed home on twitter were actually the ones with first knowledge. As it was, when names like Florence + The Machine, Alabama Shakes, The Cure, Disclosure, Kurt Vile, Chet Faker were scrolling across the screen, the night ended in cheers.

Photos from the launch by Curt Emerson

Oh right, the lineup:

sasquatch-music-festival-2016-lineup[1]