Show of the Month
Treasure Island Music Festival
Treasure Island, CA
September 20-21, 2008
The sun broke free and fans flocked to the middle of the San Francisco Bay for the second annual Treasure Island Music Festival this September. With a green bent and a breezy, beach party theme, the two-day celebration of music and art did not cease to amaze with its excellent booking, immaculate views and all-around smooth-sailing execution.
Opening Day One was the winner of imeem’s Mutiny and Mayhem competition, San Francisco’s very own The Frail. Kicking off its early set with “Addicted,” the energetic dance-rock quartet put on a strong performance that included songs off its new Firefly EP. Soon after, the crowd migrated to the Bridge Stage for Loquat, another SF mainstay. With an ethereal performance full of chimes and harmonious vocals, Loquat contrasted the rampant energy of the previous band with songs from its latest, Secrets of the Sea.
Following Chester French, East Coast transplant Aesop Rock energized fans with his mastery of crowd-rousing wordplay, joined onstage by DJ Big Wiz and Rob Sonic. Hands were readily in the air for their performance of “Ready Aim Shoot.” As the end of their set neared, Aesop jokingly commented on being timed, “I keep looking at my watch like I’m waiting for my girl’s pregnancy test,” garnering a mixed reaction of shock and laughter. Nortec Collective followed on the Tunnel Stage with a unique blend of electronica and Norteño themes. Hailing from Tijuana, the genre-melding five-piece encouraged inventive dancing among the crowd on songs like “Shake it Up.”
Later that afternoon, local DJ and turntablist extraordinaire Mike Relm unleashed an innovative and almost comedic mashup of popular songs, ranging from Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” to Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy” (yes, the piano piece from Peanuts). His was an appropriate set, ushering the eclectic energy of the following acts, TV on the Radio, CSS and Justice, and turning the island into one big dance party before the first day closed.
Or, the Whale, another Mutiny and Mayhem winner, opened Day Two with an organically strong and harmonious performance, establishing the mood for an already sunny day. With the tambourine-laden “Call and Response,” the scene was set for more alt-folk acts to follow. Local music hero John Vanderslice graced the Bridge Stage with a full band, playing a standout sampling of old and new songs, including the marching “Time to Go” off of 2007’s Emerald City. He exhibited enormous gratitude to a crowd more than willing to reciprocate.
Continuing the string of Bay Area bands was Port O’Brien, with a huge seven-piece ensemble in tow to match the impressively large crowd. They concluded with the disbursement of pots and pans, allowing the crowd to participate in a rollicking performance of “I Woke Up Today.”
Later that afternoon, Berkeley’s The Morning Benders performed a set of catchy alt-pop hits, including new song “All Day Day Light” and finishing with a sing-along to “Grain of Salt.” On the Bridge Stage, a faulty cable couldn’t faze Austin’s Okkervil River as lead singer Will Sheff joked, “A lot of these sets here at the festival are very, very professional, and I hope you can appreciate the difference.” Okkervil’s poignantly rambunctious set included songs from new release, The Stand Ins. Fleet Foxes followed with an impressively tight performance full of glorious vocal polyphony. The “baroque pop” band from Seattle started its set a cappella and filled the show with offbeat banter (including a discussion on the Judeo-Christian paradigm), for a captivated audience that included The Raconteurs, stageside. The last performing West Coast band of the weekend, The Dodos featured at most three performers onstage, however their percussive sound easily filled the entire field. The hometown group utilized a variety of instruments, producing a huge wave of echoing melodies over complex rhythms.
As Sunday night came to a close, the final presentation was perhaps not The Raconteurs’ frenetically awesome set, but rather the San Francisco skyline setting off a quiet light show of her own.
-Review by Keane Li; photos by Brian Echon (more…)