Treasure Island Festival Diary, Part 1: 10/17/09 Daylight

by Gordon Elgart on October 18, 2009

We're about to wave them like we just don't care

We're about to wave them like we just don't care

The day is finally here for the Treasure Island Music Festival! This morning, I woke up with an extra bounce in my step which disappeared quickly as I started packing my backpack. Camera? Check. Laptop? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Now off to take the long public transit adventure to Treasure Island for a day of music and fun in the sun in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

I failed to take my own advice and arrived at the bus stop at 11:40. After waiting in line for about 15 minutes, I was on a bus to the island. I arrived about ten minutes late for The Limousines set, happy to see that they were playing for a lot more than just friends and family. They do that electro disco thing that I’m always talking about on our podcast, and I really liked them. The DJ/keyboard player dude was behind this giant light-up stand that did not light up in the noontime sun, but I would imagine that when seeing them in a club somewhere, that thing looks really cool. Their songs are full of modern pop culture references like “Donnie Darko DVDs” and the like, and the crowd seemed to really get into them.

That keyboard stand needs to get lit up.

That keyboard stand needs to get lit up.

Next up were the Crown City Rockers, who have I seen many times as the opening band for Ozomatli. They’re an extremely polished combo, and they managed to get the not-yet-drunk crowd throwing their hands in the air with abandon. Many shout-outs to the East Bay were met with appreciation by the small yet enthusiastic crowd. They’re a fun way to help get going early on. Murs came out next on the main stage, and he didn’t really get much of a reaction. People at fist seemed thrilled to see him, and when he ripped off his shirt, he got some nice high pitched screams, but overall I never felt like the crowd was engaged in his set. Since I wasn’t either, it was time for a wander.

I wanted people to shop local, so I had to follow that advice myself. I grabbed some food over at Asqew Grill, ran into a friend of mine with a bottle of Jameson I needed to confiscate temporarily, looked at fun stuff at the Indie Mart of local businesses, visited with a few local poster artists, and stuck my nose up at the secret corporate marketing (that I won’t mention here). I stopped by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition booth to ask them to read our article about the David Byrne talk. I hugged some friends. I drank some beer. And then I looked in on Federico Auberle. Unfortunately or fortunately, it was super easy to get close to the stage because he was playing for friends and family only (including his wife who was on stage with him). He’s really good, but his music just came across as background music to people who had just spent an hour or more listening to hip-hop. He’d be great…great in a jazz club, but here at Treasure Island, it seemed like the wrong booking.

Oh no! I didn't like them as much as I had hoped to.

Oh no! I didn't like them as much as I had hoped to.

Next up was the band that many people were rushing here to see: Passion Pit. This is what I wrote in my notebook about Passion Pit: “Like a not-as-good Hot Chip.” The lead singer’s falsetto vocals didn’t stay in tune at all, and it all sounded a bit amateurish. I was pretty disappointed because I too had been really looking forward to them.

So then I hustled over to where Dan Deacon was playing. He was awesome. At one point, someone asked me, “what do you call this?” I said, “Dan Deacon Ensemble.”

“No,” he continued, “what do you call this kind of music?”

“Experimental dance? Noise fun? I’m not sure.” Whatever you call it, it was completely insane. He had people dancing in a crazy competition, making tunnels throughout the crowd, gave out choreographed hand movements, and basically caused insanity. Seriously, I have no idea what the heck was happening on stage. People were playing all sorts of stuff, but in the end it was a bunch of noisy fun. So that’s what I’ll call it.

The Streets were up next, and I was completely bored of them, so I went looking for my friend who had the Jameson bottle. Didn’t find him, so I went and said hi to some friends who are working today, and used DJ Krush as the background to conversations with them. The way things were going with his set, it looked as if a lot of people were doing the same.

You gotta have heart.

You gotta have heart.

Finally, as the sun began to set over the San Francisco Bay, the Brazilian Girls hit the stage. I really wanted to like them, and I liked their look and their backdrop, but I spent the whole set thinking about how MSTRKRFT was coming on soon, and how I really wanted to write this post for you.

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Read Part Two of the Treasure Island Festival Diary here.

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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