Word by: Chris Clark & Kayceman | Images by: Steven Walter
Treasure Island Music Festival :: 10.17 & 10.18 :: Treasure Island :: San Francisco, CA
Truly a tale of two very different days, the third annual Treasure Island Music Festival was quintessential San Francisco. Served up on a small strip of manmade land sitting between S.F. and Oakland, the two-day weekend event was once again split between dance/hip hop on Saturday and indie rock on Sunday. With only two stages set about 100 yards from each other and all the food, beer, shopping, Ferris Wheel, etc. adjacent, walking is minimal and with no overlapping sets, it was difficult to not hear every note all weekend long.
| Treasure Island Fest 2009|
Saturday was hot, in the 80s, and people were wearing close to nothing. A much younger, shinier (lots of neon spandex and ironic accessories) and hopped-up crowd, got down and dirty on a balmy, beautiful October evening featuring one of the most beautiful sunsets the Bay has seen all year. Sunday was windy and chilly, down to the 50s by the time the city skyline came to life, but patches of sun and the pristine, loud sound system kept the older, hairier, and more subdued rock fans in the game for the duration. Sunny and 82 one day, foggy and cold the next; cuties in skimpy skirts grinding to beats here, bearded dudes in hoodies head-nodding to guitars there - welcome to San Francisco.
By: Chris Clark
Crown City Rockers :: 12:40-1:15 p.m.
CCR's well-known, high-octane live performances are always something to witness. The Oakland-based quintet fuses full band arrangements with ferocious hip hop from Raashan Ahmad and crew. What Treasure Island got was 35 minutes full of balls-to-the-wall, rocking hip hop with a sliver of Fender Rhodes funk, earning early day crowd-pleaser status.
Murs :: 1:20-2:05 p.m.
For years Murs has been bringing his positive, sometimes political message to an increasingly diverse crowd. Clearly, the festival wanted to add that extra little touch of flavor by having Murs take the stage to keep the party going. While it wasn't the most amazing hip hop performance I've ever seen, he clearly got the crowd interacting and swaying their arms to the beat, so at the end of the day, Murs was a success. Murs for President tracks abound, and the crazy, dreaded underground icon did a quality job of working up the crowd's energy and getting them ready for the music ahead.
| 10.17 :: TI 2009|
Federico Aubele :: 2:05-2:45 p.m.
Offering a decidedly more mellow show than most at TI, Federico Aubele did however provide a deliciously sophisticated set of stylish salsa with a dollop of acoustic flare. Playing at the side or Tunnel Stage, I sat back and watched as a growing crowd of onlookers gathered for an act many probably hadn't heard of before but will surely be downloading soon. What I liked best about Aubele was how at ease he seemed to be onstage. Performing 40 minutes of straight baby making music, he had a substantial amount of young ladies gazing up at him as he sang songs of seductive romance.
Passion Pit :: 2:50-3:35 p.m.
I would venture to say for many this was the best set of the day. Unless you've been hiding somewhere or haven't spent one bit of time in today's music scene, you'll surely be familiar and quite possibly be in love with Passion Pit. If there was any doubt of their talent or ability to rock a crowd, that doubt is now evaporated. While young in age, the band takes a unique spin on the indie-electronic combination and turns it into a dance friendly, fiery mix that's only getting more refined as they go. Everywhere I looked, the crowd at the Bridge Stage was throwing a dance competition for Passion Pit, as hipsters flocked in droves to shake their rabbit tails and pop a button on their skinnies from excessive movement.
Dan Deacon :: 3:35-4:20 p.m.
This was kind of odd. Electro-pop, freak show, performance art wildness performed by a 15-piece percussion ensemble is an apt description but I'm not sure it really captures the essence of Deacon and his massively colorful band. Performing live is right up his alley and the direction he took his set was something of organized chaos, where just when you think it's about to fall apart, everything comes together melodiously and life is grand. I'd never caught him live before and was glad to witness such a bombastic musical and visual experience. He was also playing Mezzanine late night, this likely would have been a much better setting to catch Deacon's brand of multi-layered, elaborate performance.
| The Streets :: 10.17 :: TI 2009|
The Streets :: 4:25-5:15 p.m.
The Streets' set came off as rather drab and boring. 30 minutes of attempting to sing/rap ala Drake that didn't do much for me, or most of the crowd either. There was a time a while back where I thought The Streets was kind of cool, but after seeing him live again I'll gladly go in another direction.
DJ Krush :: 5:15-6:00 p.m.
This was clearly one of the best sets of the day. Krush has always killed the break beats and electronic melodies and been able to cross over to crowds of varying degrees. After 11 albums and countless tours, Krush has honed and refined his jazz-heavy textures, creating such a lush soundscape of samples, live touches, and beats that watching him play live is something of a marvel. Not one of the step-on-stage-and-press-a-button DJs (I'll get to that in a bit), Krush is instead a master live manipulator, performing everything on the fly, and nowhere was that more apparent than his TI set. Never before have I heard him drop so much bass-heavy, chest-pounding dub step. Obviously a nod to San Francisco and our burgeoning dub step culture, he came out flying, dropping some of the heaviest beats I've heard in some time. If that's the direction he's going now, I'll be his biggest advocate.
| Brazilian Girls :: 10.17 :: TI 2009|
Brazilian Girls :: 6:05-6:55 p.m.
Normally, the trio kills the festival sets, playing an eclectic balance of mellow grooves and deep bangers. Well, at Treasure Island we were treated to much more of the mellow, enough so to bore me straight to the bathrooms. While I always enjoy the lyrics in different languages and the cultural, worldly vibe put forth by Brazilian Girls, this set seemed out of place and contrasting to the overall vibe being built.
LTJ Bukem & MC Conrad 6:55-7:40 p.m.
If you like drum n' bass, here you go. I think the first time I caught these guys was almost 10 years ago and frankly, their set is still very similar. Looking for a ton of BPMs with some raps layered on top of it? Look no further. To me, it's not the most memorable set, but on the flip side, I did have a blast and danced to the beats, and most around where I was surely did as well.
| 10.17 :: TI 2009|
MSTRKRFT 7:45-8:35 p.m.
This electro duo knows how to rage a party. The Canadians Al-P and Jesse F. Keeler have taken the Toronto scene to the masses, enjoying a chain-smoking, kick ass & take names kind of reputation in clubs everywhere. Their set at TI was a mix of original material off Fist of God and Justice ("D.A.N.C.E.") and Daft Punk ("Around the World") mixes, which blew the crowd up beyond oblivion. It takes many bands a full set, or a good portion of it, to warm up, but that wasn't the case for MSTRKRFT, who came out swinging and never stopped brining the electro tinged bombardment.
Girl Talk :: 8:35-9:20 p.m.
While Girl Talk, aka Gregg Gillis, claims that he's not a DJ and says things like, "I want to be a musician and not just a party DJ," I don't find a lot of value in that. I've been seeing him perform live for the last several years and, to put it bluntly, Girl Talk is all about bringing a party atmosphere with someone else's beats to whatever venue he's playing at. Yes, his set was raucous and teenage girls were going crazy as the stage beside him filled up to the brim with scantily clad tennie boppers and guys trying to get with said girls. To me, he presses a button and then just dances onstage like a caveman. Take or leave it.
MGMT :: 9:25-10:40 p.m.
Without a doubt the most anticipated set of the weekend was that of MGMT. After playing a somewhat-surprise show at The Independent the night before, there was a decent amount of clamoring that the Brooklyn boys should keep their tunes in the studio and not in the live setting. Back in 2008, it was MGMT's time; "Electric Feel" and "Kids" could be heard just about everywhere you went, and even now their debut album, Oracular Spectacular, is widely rumored to be on Phish's short list of possible albums to cover this Halloween. The kids are on fire, but can they bring that fire to the live setting?
| MGMT :: 10.17 :: TI 2009|
The simple answer: No. What was cool about their TI set was the performance of Oracular Spectacular in its entirety. "Time to Pretend" was a smooth opener, but I noticed that the crowd of thousands began to dissipate rather quickly. For me, it was nice to hear them play "Electric Feel," but live, just as I was told from the night before, MGMT was rather sloppy in both their playing and singing. The polished product of a heavily produced album just didn't compare well when placed in the concert setting.
Continue reading for Day II at Treasure Island...