The Gorge, George, Wash.
Located 150 miles east of Seattle in central Washington, the outdoor Gorge Amphitheatre sits high on a rocky hill overlooking the gorge with the Columbia River flowing through, wowing even the bands cLocated 150 miles east of Seattle in central Washington, the outdoor Gorge Amphitheatre sits high on a rocky hill overlooking the gorge with the Columbia River flowing through, wowing even the bands called to play in its presence. "The best part of this show is behind us," noted Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne during his group's outlandish 10-song set at the Sasquatch festival, performed as the sun set in the distant mountains.
Flanked on all sides by people dressed in animal costumes and offering the crowd a limitless supply of confetti and overblown balloons, the group provided the day's most memorable performance, drawn mainly from its two most recent albums, 2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and 1999's The Soft Bulletin. Highlights included a crowd sing-along on the former's title track, the Lips' 1994 hit "She Don't Use Jelly," and a rendition of "Happy Birthday" performed in the spirit of the group's grade-school birthday party atmosphere.
After giving props to the Lips for "the best concert performance ever," lead singer Chris Martin and the other members of headliners Coldplay launched into a spectacular set of their own. The best moments came during songs from its 2002 album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, including a blistering version of "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face."
Coldplay illustrated just what has made it such a bi-continental success. Martin's impressive vocal range, Jon Buckland's piercing guitar work, and Will Champion's powerful drums were all brought to vivid life by the venue's impeccable sound and heavenly location.
Beyond highlights from its two studio albums, the group unveiled a new song, "Moses," the B-side "One I Love," and even tacked on a shout-out to the Lips during "Everything's Not Lost."
Equally impressive was the hour-long set by Los Angeles natives Jurassic 5, whose call-and-response tactics and jaw-dropping DJing prompted the warmest reception of the festival.
Former indie rock mistress Liz Phair also performed songs from her forthcoming self-titled album, due June 24 from Capitol. Playing the set's first single, "Why Can't I?," Phair sounded uncharacteristically romantic, even sappy.
But on "Rock Me," as well the other Phair staples she performed ("Supernova," "Johnny Feelgood," and "Divorce Song"), the singer resembled her usual provocative self.—BF