Words and photos by JENZ
Day two of the Treasure Island Music Festival was filled with some stellar string arrangements, wandering around the fields like an orphan, and finding out my alien starfish boyfriend has a twin. Going big on the weekends was never as fun as this.
After a bunch of snags on my own volition trying to leave the city (forgetting film, keys, my press pass, and making two separate trips to Walgreen’s), we finally popped onto the island on Sunday after missing five really cutesy-awesome indie bands I’d initially set my heart upon. Having seen Or, The Whale, John Vanderslice, Port O’Brien, the Morning Benders, and Tokyo Police Club on all separate occasions, I wasn’t completely busted up about the passed chance, but bummed that I totally missed them all at the same place.
Austin’s Okkervil River was front and center when we brushed in, playing selections off their brand new full-length The Stand Ins. As I sat in the grassy meadow stuffing my face full of Cheez-Its, “Lost Coastlines” came over like a gentle shoot of summer warmth; coupled with Sunday’s breezy weather, it was an exceptional way to kick-off the indie-centric lineup for the festival’s second day.
Early on a crowd milled about for Fleet Foxes, and it only grew substantially as the boys climbed on stage. Even Jack White and Patrick Keeler from The Raconteurs made an appearance side-stage as the Foxes ripped through a pleasant mix of soft reverb, folk guitar, and harmonized vocals. “Blur Ridge Mountains” provided more than enough proof that the Seattle band is completely worthy of the buzz built around them recently. And anyone who uses a violin bow on stage automatically wins my heart.
[Jack White and Co. watching the Fleet Foxes]
Walking around drinking the sights of the festival, I ran into the Big Nazo creatures again, and was delighted to see that the alien starfish encounter I had the previous day had been multiplied: there were actually two of them! I danced with a couple of the other creatures before dashing off to Spiritualized. Frontman Jason Pierce was all about mystique and shredding guitar whilst on stage, as he was backed by some sassy vocalists and hiding behind some stunna shades. I know this band is known mostly for the acclaimed Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, but truth be told, that band is equipped with more hooks and shoegaze than a London HMV. A short cover of Elvis’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” was a nice surprise to boot.
My fair city’s The Dodos brought attention back to the Tunnel stage, the lineup augmented by a percussionist armed with a trash can and a large cymbal. Excellent. And while the sun decided right then and there to try and ruin all of my shots, I was comforted by the “happy hardcore” sounds of the usually two-piece. A guitar and a drum kit are all Meric Long and Logan Kroeber have to win over the audience, and it was with those two instruments that they were able to convince me that beautiful Americana is still alive and well. Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold also watched side stage, only furthering my theory that the music love punctuating the festival was only being spread more.
I first decided to sit out on Vampire Weekend, not only because I think their name sort of sounds like a Count Von Count Sesame Street special, but also because I didn’t know whether or not they’d deliver. Having not been impressed with a small club show they did earlier this year, I still wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt and a second chance. Thankfully, the boys proved me wrong, playing both new matter and the things that made them famous like “Oxford Comma.” And, surprisingly, the new wave tinge that I so bagged on them for in January was preened much better this time around.
More festival exploring began after listening to the Weekend play, which included stopping by in the various artisan tents and trying to get my face painted (I tried that shit three times, and there was a huge line in all occasions). I picked up a tailor-made prose piece just for me at the Poem Store, where you named your price and topic to walk away with a brand spanking new poem. I asked mine to be about tattoos and babies, and while the middle of the poem sort of took a downward dive, I appreciated that I now owned a Treasure Island memory.
Dr. Dog was ready to go on, and I could see why some of the audience members had a huge boner for this group. The psychedelic tendencies of the Philly outfit definitely were a nice break from the alternative approaches of some of the other bands, and tracks that held a steady curve of dramatic and soulful guitar picking held my attention moreso. Dr. Dog was my sunset band, and I am happy to say that I am now a fan.
Now a little past nightfall, and Tegan and Sara took the reins as the next-to-last headliner on the main stage. The Canadian ladies were the first act to actually engage in the audience with cute and mindless banter, which I know some people did not appreciate as much as I did. Premature ejaculation, S&M bondage, and Rihanna were only some of the many topics the twins discussed in between busting out rhythmic-perfect “The Con” and “Walking With A Ghost,” even covering said pop princess’s single “Umbrella.” Needless to say, I think I turned out a little gay for them.
I’ve professed my undying love for The Kills earlier this year, and it only grew as Alison Mosshart clutched that mic like it was going out of style to seriously wail it out while pacing the stage. Percussion was subbed in with machines, but if my only complaint about this duo is that they make me want to be more sexy, then I think everything’s okay in the world. “URA Fever” captured the rock/electronica hybrid that they have come to be known for, and I’m glad that the kids around us were going insane.
After everything was said and done everywhere else on the festival grounds, the attention turned to The Raconteurs; the last time I saw them play was two years ago, barely formed of their “supergroup” status. Those 24 months have proven to be a great practicing stretch, as Jack White has now been solidified as a great rock’n'roll icon for my generation. Opening with “Salute Your Solution” and pulling from both full-lengths the band has put out, the blues-infused twangs that Brendan Benson provided added to the firm declaration that The Raconteurs are not just some musicians who decided to come together in their off-time to dick around. It’s a serious venture that has enabled each to contribute to something truly monumental, and for that I can’t say anything better. As we sat upon the Ferris wheel for the second time that weekend, bundled up in each other, “Steady As She Goes” seemed to be so perfect whistling across the air while the big cruise ships sailed by.
So! Seven rolls of film, tired feet, and zero sunburn later, and I have to say that year dos of the TIMF went pretty freaking well. While day one was about the experience and the people, day two was more of a solid showcase in the best of the bloggysphere, despite the crowd being a bit stagnant. But hey! Hipsters were never known to show emotion. (Besides, I was kinda bummed out I wasn’t asked for drugs once during Sunday in comparison to the three separate occasions of the day before.) Some people are really surprised that San Francisco would be able host something of this magnitude, but to them I say this: watch us. Watch us pull off a festival full of quality music, attractions, and experience. Watch us succeed, and watch us produce something truly spectacular. This city by the bay has something to bestow upon to dedicated aficionados who appreciate a good time, and I will wait in anticipation to watch the Treasure Island Music Festival turn into the legacy it’s destined to be.