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Sasquatch music fest has a big footprint

Don't have tickets yet? Don't fret, many bands will play locally
by: COURTESY OF COLUMBIA RECORDS, Brooklyn rockers MGMT, after hitting Sasquatch on May 31, play two shows at the Crystal Ballroom on June 1 and 2.

For the folks who inevitably wait too long to buy their tickets to the Sasquatch Music Festival, the bad news came earlier than ever this year.

On April 5, to be exact.

That's the earliest date the festival, now in its ninth year, has ever sold out. It's an impressive feat, selling out the Gorge Amphitheater in George, Wash., almost two full months before the May 29-31 festival. This year's lineup may have something to do with that.

Headliners include the reunited Pavement, My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, Vampire Weekend and Ween, and there are a host of great midlevel bands to fill out the festival's five stages during daylight hours. Nonetheless, Sasquatch founder Adam Zacks admits that this year's success comes despite the festival's lack of a 'household name.'

'My sense is it's combination of things,' Zacks said when asked about Sasquatch's early sellout. 'One is just that the festival is hitting its stride. And the festival scene in general is taking more of a place in our culture. People are planning earlier for summer festivals because there are so many of them around the country.'

So what's a Portland music fan to do if they missed out on tickets and can't afford to play ball on the expensive scalping market? How about staying home? You'll skip the crowds, avoid a sunburn and still get to see some great music.

With dozens of bands playing a few hours away, several migrate down to Portland each Memorial Day weekend for local shows. And there's enough live music to stay busy each night of the long weekend, and then some.

On Saturday, May 29, LCD Soundsystem brings its dance-punk-disco mash to the Roseland before a Sunday night turn on Sasquatch's main stage. After their show at Sasquatch on Saturday, '90s rock trio Nada Surf play the Wonder Ballroom on Sunday night, May 30. The band, formed in 1992, is enjoying a resurgence after their 1996 hit, 'Popular,' seemed to leave them destined for one-hit wonder status. Their new album, 'If I Had a Hi-Fi,' is set for release June 8.

If you're looking for something a little more intimate than the Sasquatch experience, check out The Mountain Goats at the Doug Fir Lounge on Sunday, May 30. Frontman and sometimes one-man band John Darnielle has been churning out high-minded, lo-fi indie rock for almost two decades, and he lived in Portland for a spell. Be ready for anything, this is a man whose songs range from the deeply sad and personal to stories of organ harvesting colonies living on the moon. He's also been known to rap a verse or two between songs.

If you're still hungry for more, Brooklyn-based rockers MGMT play two shows at the Crystal Ballroom, June 1 and 2, after playing at Sasquatch on Monday, May 31. The critically acclaimed band was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 2010.

At the festival

If you were smart enough to purchase a ticket early, chances are that decision had something to do with one of the festival's headliners - Pavement. The '90s-era indie-rock legends were the only confirmed band when Sasquatch announced early ticket sales this year. At the time, the recently reunited band had only scheduled a couple of shows.

'(Getting Pavement) is something we've at least been talking about and working on for several years now,' said Zacks, who booked shows at Portland's Roseland Theater before creating the festival. 'The various members had played the festival … we just needed to get them all here at the same time.'

Pavement won't be coming to the city before or after its Sasquatch set, but the ticket-less still have a chance to see them too. There are still tickets left for their recently announced show at McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale over Labor Day weekend.

And if you're still bummed and can't score a ticket to this weekend's festival, look on the bright side - next year is Sasquatch's 10th anniversary, and Zacks promises some new additions.

'There are a lot of special things planned, some big, some small,' he said. 'We've just been stockpiling ideas for the last few years with the 10-year anniversary in mind.'