It’s been almost two weeks since we first pulled up to the cow pastures of George, WA and well, our daily lives just don’t quite contain the same excitement we experienced during those four transcendent days at the Gorge Amphitheater. Nonetheless, we take great pleasure in rehashing our adventures via set recaps and photos. Sasquatch has come and gone, but memories of dusty walks to and from the campsite, an innumerable amount of mind-blowing sets and many, many pretty lights are oh so fresh in our minds. It’s a bittersweet moment as we conclude our coverage of the very best weekend of the year, but it also means that Sasquatch is only 350-something days away. Enjoy.
Photo by Bebe Besch
It seems to me that much of musical proficiency today (at least in the spheres that we tend to cover at The Astral Plane) is measured in an artist’s ability to produce bangers. You’re familiar with the kind I’m talking about; the type of song that can get a crowd jumping and screaming with up-tempo (or half-tempo) heaviness, a catchy rhythm and sonic depth. It’s sometimes hard to remember that not all good music has whomps or snare rolls. I became reacquainted with that important fact at Sasquatch this weekend, most notably after experiencing the ethereal miracle that was Active Child’s Sunday evening set.
The sun was just beginning to set behind the modest crowd at the Yeti stage as Active Child’s Pat Grossi appeared. Grossi exemplifies one of my favorite musical phenomena: an individual who doesn’t visually fit their musical sound. Grossi looks a little like a combination of a California frat bro and a Northwest hipster (think black wayfarers and khakis). However, that image was in stark contrast to the beautiful wooden harp placed casually on the left side of the stage, behind which Grossi immediately sat and began to perform. As we mentioned in our Active Child feature back in April, Grossi was trained in a boy choir and as a classical harpist, and both of those skills served as the pedestal onto which Grossi sculpted his set.
The first half of the set involved Grossi playing harp and singing in his signature falsetto, backed by his touring drummer and guitarist/bassist. The tone was calm and melancholy. Highlights of the first half included “You Are All I See” and “Hanging On,” both harp-heavy tracks featuring electronic drums and subtle bass, adorned with Grossi’s harmonious crooning. Halfway through the set, Grossi switched from harp to laptop, showering the audience with some of his more electronic and rhythm-heavy tracks, such as “Playing House,” with deep ’80’s dance drums in perfect contrast to his smooth vocals and echo-y synths.
The crowd was clearly a blend of first-time listeners, looking for a new discovery during a break in the schedule, and die-hard fans who knew every lyric. Both groups were equally entranced, swaying with eyes closed as the incredibly unique sounds washed over them. The set was a beautiful respite from the performances over the weekend that could be so easily placed into one distinct genre, and Active Child surely garnered many new fans after the set was over. Perhaps Active Child doesn’t make you bang your head up or flail your limbs around as though you were having a seizure, but that’s not always the point. Here, the intention is clearly the conveyance of pure and delicate emotional sound, a concept that is astoundingly rare but especially poignant. Looking back at the faces in the crowd after the set was over, it was clear that a connection had been made between artist and audience, and that is all any musician can hope for.
Photo by Bebe Besch
Nine weeks ago, the Sasquatch Music Festival lineup was released to much fanfare. Like all festivals, some hated the lineup while others loved it. For the more levelheaded, it appears to be a very balanced lineup with a deep undercard. From here on out we will be underscoring the lesser-known Sasquatch artists by highlighting a different artist each week. Beyond delving into each artist’s bio, sound, etc., we will attempt to give some insight into what will make their performance at Sasquatch so amazing.
Some of the most captivating music is made when artists seek to combine elements from a variety of styles, generating distinctive, unique subgenres all their own. Additionally, I am always fascinated by artists who draw from their own wide-ranging (if not traditionally related) talents, amalgamating their skills to create something entirely novel. It is no surprise, then, that I was instantly drawn to the music of Active Child, the production moniker of New Jersey native Pat Grossi. Grossi has crafted what I consider to be a truly unique combination of the new and the old, the majestic and the innocent. As a child, Grossi began soaking up music as a member of the Philadelphia Boys Choir. He was also heavily influenced by the heavy, epic rhythms of ‘80s dance bands such as New Order. Add in his dexterity on the classical harp and a propensity for expressive lyrical imagery, and you have a musical entity that is both idiosyncratic and extraordinary.
In his work as Active Child, Grossi manages to fuse his own exquisitely naïve choirboy-style falsetto vocals (reminiscent of the work of James Blake and Justin Vernon) with powerful ‘80s synths and deep, sweeping drum patterns. The dramatic rhythms and crisp handclaps present in the choruses of several Active Child tracks evoke some the same feelings brought on by the work of M83. Additionally, the delicate, angelic qualities of the live harp provide a certain ethereal quality, counterbalancing the intensity of the other instrumentals. Active Child’s music is part classical masterpiece and part electronic gem.
Rossi released a cassette-only EP called Sun Rooms in early 2010 via Mirror Universe, and then went on to release a second EP, titled Curtis Lane, on Merok Records in May 2010. Curtis Lane was received well by various critics, and in August of 2011 Grossi released a full-length album titled You Are All I See. He has since toured with both James Blake and M83, proving himself as a strong performer as well as studio artist. On his tour in August and September of 2011, openers included Com Truise, fellow Sasquatch! 2012 performer and Artist of the Week feature. Active Child’s Sasquatch set will be on Sunday evening at the Yeti stage.
Below, watch the videos for “Playing House” (featuring How To Dress Well) and “I’m In Your Church At Night.”