October 14, 2008

Treasure Island Music Festival 9.20.08

After arriving on 'the island' in the midst of the Bay Bridge that connects Oakland to San Francisco, albeit a tad late, via the shuttles from the Giants baseball stadium parking lot, I was a little disappointed to have missed Aesop Rock, but more on why later. We were told however, that he had the crowd turned into 'a tiny fascist army full of chanting and unusual hand movements.' How's that for a review?

The first band that I saw take the stage was Hot Chip, a pop-synth band from England that took Treasure Island back to the time of David Bowie. Now IF the Talking Heads were to announce a tour, (and wouldn’t that be incredible although very unlikely) Hot Chip would be a front runner for their opening band. Their sound is full of danceable grooves that come by way of a multitude of instruments. From my vantage point about twenty rows back on the left, there were many performers on stage and I’m quite sure that I heard many different instruments. At one point, I saw someone with an accordion and another time they had a xylophone looped through a synthesizer. Their music could be described as danceable funk, electro, rock and almost any genre of music except maybe country and classical. I wish I knew more about this band and their songs, so I could give a more detailed report using the names of their songs, but sometimes the musical experience is about first reaction. The songs had a deep guitar funk backed by a synthized instrument of some sort, but most notably the Casio. This band would be great to have as a late night show at The Mezzanine with a dance party lasting all night. They keep your attention and are engaging also. I will be sure to check out this band in the future, and hopefully that be at The Mezzanine (in SF) around 5:00 a.m!

With two alternating stages there was little time to wait until the start of the next band and my next musical experience was from CSS, a Brazilian pop band who took the stage by storm. This band had superb energy and so did the fans. I thought it would be fun to get into the mix and try to get closer to the stage, which turned out to be my first mistake. Once the band took the stage, it was an all-out dance party full of people frailing every which way they could. The crowd was full of young hipsters with even a couple of young Asian lesbians making out right next to me! The train called CSS, was engineered by a spastic lead singer who came on stage wearing what could only be described as 'fluffed up trash bag.' During her screaming vocals the sound was transcended by the two female lead guitarists who could shred with the best of them. Again, I was experiencing all of this music for the first time and am not familiar with their songs, but was not disappointed to say the least. After losing the battle for space in the front, I retreated to the back of the crowd. All in all, CSS was a fun band with a stage presence and crowd response that could not be beat.

JUSTICE, up next, in the words of a friend, killed it. I don’t know what they put in the water in France, but the DJ’s that come out of that place can't be beat. Their stage had what appeared to be an upside down cross illuminated with a bright yellow light. During their set, it turned into an all-out dance party, with people throwing drinks and whatever they could to express their bliss. I even recognized a gentleman who I had seen at Rock The Bells at Shoreline Amphitheatre from a few weeks before. The guy was 'a legend,' decked out in biker spandex and doing high leg kicks while sweating profusely. JUSTICE, came to town and conquered the little island in the bay.

Describing the overall scene on a gorgeous day at Treasure Island was a fun experience with young kids and aging hipsters. The booths were engaging with everything from Sheppard Fairy paintings, who had an exhibit nearby in downtown SF, to another booth selling tiny replica guitars of past greats, not quite your run-of-the-mill festival nick-knacks.

I’m looking forward to the festival next year and won’t be making the mistake of taking the shuttles, as they encourage you to, when I want to see a band perform, when there is plenty of parking on the island right next to the music.

Remember - Music + a Ferris Wheel = A Wonderful Festival!

by Matthew Burns

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