Treasure Island Festival Diary, Part 2: 10/17/09 Nighttime

by Gordon Elgart on October 18, 2009

The sky was lit by balloons and fireworks.

The sky was lit by balloons and fireworks.

When the darkness finally arrived on Treasure Island on Saturday night, I decided it was time to put the camera and notebook down, and just dance. So nighttime at Treasure Island, as seen through my eyes, is a lot of disconnected sweaty memories.  That is, of course, until I tried to leave the island, which turned out to be a lot tougher than I thought.

I was still on a couch writing my last post when I heard a massive cheer from the audience outside.  MSTRKRFT had not started, but perhaps people were cheering their equipment? The anticipation level was massive, as I had learned from talking with some people that they were basically there to see them.  When they finally took the stage and began playing, my night of crazy dancing began.

I don’t have much in my notes because I was jumping around like an insane madman, but I do remember them saying “Do you like house music?” And me screaming “YES!”  I hate house music.  Is this what they were playing?  Maybe I do like house music.  I don’t have any idea one way or the other, but I was enjoying myself immensely because the Treasure Island crowd was finally coming to life.

When they finished, I ran my not-yet-exhausted self over to the side stage to see Girl Talk.  I couldn’t get too close to him, and from a vantage point on the right side of the stage, the volume was just WAY too low.  It was hard to hear.  All I could hear is people complaining loudly about how low the volume was.  Moving farther back, but more centrally, I could finally hear the music. Here’s an idea for next year: side facing speakers on the Tunnel Stage.  When you get a huge crowd running over from the main stage, you could blast the music in that direction so that you don’t get a lot of people pushing and shoving.

I reviewed a Girl Talk show earlier this summer, and the 100-minute set was more impressive musically than the 45-minute version, but this version had to pack in all the toilet paper shooting, giant plastic tube passing, stage dancing insanity into a small package, making the whole thing more intense.  And then he shot off fireworks!

When Girl Talk finished, MGMT took the stage to raucous applause, and then they announced they would be playing their album in its entirety, in order.  I always find this a bit disappointing because it removes the mystery of the setlist from a show, and the anticipation of the next song is part of the joy of a show.

So what happened was that when they finished “Kids,” everybody left.  OK, not everybody, but there was a massive rush to the exits, the likes of which I had never seen.  It seemed like everybody just wanted to hear the singles and go.  Maybe MGMT knew this would happen, and only wanted to leave their biggest fans in the audience.

At this point, I heard a rumor from the poster artists that Girl Talk was going to return to play a second set to mitigate the issue of people needing to wait for the buses. This turned out to be an inflated rumor, as it was a DJ who played an impromptu set as opposed to Girl Talk, who is “not a DJ.”  I never did find out this DJ’s name.

Then we walked out to the shuttle bus line, and holy crap was this huge!  I had been in a line of a similar size in England this summer, and I waited four hours for a bus.  Word on the street was that there were 75 buses being used to get people off of the island, but there is no way that this is an accurate number.  I don’t know how many people were in that line, but it took over an hour and a half to get on a bus.  The people waiting were chippy, the security staff was in a foul mood, and by the time I got on that bus, I no longer had any hope of making it to the Mezzanine in time for Dan Deacon’s 12:30 set.

When on the bus,  I started talking to the driver, and asked him if he could drop us off at 5th and Mission, thinking we could easily get there in time if he did.  Well, sure enough, we managed to convince him to let us off at 4th and Harrison, and we threw a $7 tip at him, dashed out the door, and hustled our way over to the Mezzanine.

It’s nice in this case that Mezzanine always runs late because Dan Deacon didn’t come on stage until after 1AM.  This early morning show was a total revelation. There are a few acts that involve the audience in such a way that keeps the cell phones in the pocket and makes everyone happy.  Dan Deacon is like the funnest camp counselor in history, involving everyone in kids’ games and group hypnosis, and generally getting everyone dancing as a group celebration. The music itself lends itself to chaotic celebration, and he preaches celebratory chaos to match. I left his show absolutely exhausted, a little sore, ears ringing, and happy to be alive.

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Read Part One of the Treasure Island 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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