Kata Rokkar — Kata Rokkar – A Bay Area based blog about music, life and stuff by Shawn Robbins.Kata Rokkar — Kata Rokkar – A Bay Area based blog about music, life and stuff by Shawn Robbins.

show review: Treasure Island Music Festival Day Two



Concerts, Music, Show Review, Treasure Island Music Festival 2009

The Flaming Lips - Photo by Shawn Robbins

Day Two started out…awkward. I had chase down a few scalpers to get my girlfriend a ticket but ended up meeting up with someone from craigslist. Our deal got a little odd when the scalpers started harassing us buy saying that the guy selling my tickets shouldn’t be trusted. I politely told him to fuck off, and met up with my girl at the front of the bus line at AT&T Park.

We ended up getting there a bit late, making me miss the amazing Sleepy Sun. I’m sure they kicked if off well though, those guys are fantastic. We walked in on Tommy Guerrero and his band doing their blend of chill out instrumental skate rock. It was a nice start to a chilly day on Treasure Island.

Next was Thao with The Get Down Stay Down at the Main Stage. I didn’t know much about her music; however I loved watching her rock the fuck out. Her brand of indie-pop doesn’t pigeon-hole itself to just catchy tunes and whimsical lyrics, it’s a more brutal form that crosses back and forth from dark to light, much like her performance that day. Very entertaining to watch, I highly recommend catching her live. After a five-year absence, Pavement guitarist and Preston School Of Industry mainman Scott Kannberg returns with Spiral Stairs. While recognizably talented, the music was not anything to rave about. This is not exactly a great side project for those of you waiting for the Pavement reunion.

After a few songs I headed to check out Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. Okay let’s get something straight, if you look at these guys, you’d think they are part of some sort of hippie commune that lives off the earth. You’d probably be right, however, the music and show they put on is joyful celebration of life and the pure happiness music can bring. In fact, the whole band was grinning like kids in a ball pit practically the whole show. Particularly back up vocalist Jade Castrinos, lead vocalist Alex Ebert’s girlfriend. Their chemistry shines on stage and makes for an entertaining show. Oh and the music is pretty good too.

The sleepy folk rock group Vetiver came next. I got very convinced to buy their record that day. Lead songwriter Andy Cabic’s sandy vocals was very fitting sound for the chilly San Francisco afternoon. Afterwards, I made it to the ferris wheel to get a nice view of the city with my girl…a bit cold but very cool to see the festival grounds from up high. After my little ride I watched one of my favorite performances of the day, Grizzly Bear. Still as disarming and brilliant as I remember them, the band played flawlessly to an awestruck crowd lucky enough to witness this very special band.

Next up was Hüsker Dü legend Bob Mould. The man may be showing his age but holy crap can this guy rock out. Despite the small crowd that was forming when he played, the guy still showed enough energy and charisma for me to dust off the old Zen Arcade album. The biggest surprise of the day was Beirut. I was well aware he was an amazing performer and I had heard enough people say “You gotta see Beirut before you die!” to get me enthused enough to check him out. This guy is the real deal. Not only him, but his band and the brass section that tails along. The mix of gypsy folk with Balken waltzes with a more modern feel made for an almost religious experience. Well, I was impressed…the religious experience came from the dozens of girls going apeshit over this guy. I don’t see it, but whatever…better than the Jonas Brothers I guess. After Beirut came chamber rock group, The Walkmen. These guys were a blast to see live. The band’s setlist was mostly off last year’s sonic perfection, You & Me. I’m sure I heard one song off Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone, but don’t quote me on that. Over all, simply fantastic live and would be even better in a venue like The Great American Music Hall.

Next up, The Decemberists. If you were expecting any pre-Hazards of Love, you were extremely disappointed. Granted hearing Hazards of Love in full was a nice thing to observe, I can safely say that any fans of the band were about ready to retire that album and move onto something else. How about some Always The Bridesmaid: A Singles Series songs or shit, even a Crane Wife song would have been nice. I don’t know, I’m just not a huge fan of the new album and kind of wish they’d drop this theater-folk-prog rock they got going on. It’s time to bring back the Decemberists we know and love. Were they bad? Absolutely not. I just think it’s fair to ask for something more from a band with such an amazing catalog. After that, I walked over to Yo La Tengo, who I believe opened with Periodically Double Or Triple from this year’s Popular Songs. It was a decent performance from this critically acclaimed and dare I say, slightly overrated band. After a few songs though I had to rush over to the Main Stage to catch the main reason I was at Treasure Island.

Finally came the main event, The Flaming Lips. Uh yeah, they’re the best. With probably the most outrageous intro I have ever seen, the band members crawled out of a giant digital vagina as Wayne Coyne sat in his deflated balloon, which quickly turned into a giant hamster ball that he famously used to walk across the crowd. The whole set was lined with exploding canons shooting confetti, streamer guns, a megaphone shooting purple smoke, dancing abominable snowmen, and giant balloons that would explode spreading confetti everywhere (I feel bad for whoever had to do clean up). Whilst in the mix of all this chaos the band played plenty off The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, At War With The Mystics, and their new masterpiece Embryonic. I did notice one amazing thing…everyone in the crowd was simply overjoyed. It was not like a certain section of people, it seemed like everyone was connected and have a great time together. Especially during Do You Realize?? and Race For The Prize. The Flaming Lips solidified themselves as one of the most important, influential, and best live bands of all time. This simple fact makes Treasure Island Music Festival one of the best festivals I have ever attended. I patiently await next year’s line-up, which will have to try pretty damn hard to top one of the most impressive line-ups in festival history.

Vetiver Everyday from Tight Knit (2009)

Beirut Cliquot from The Flying Club Cup (2007)

  • lysa

    Great review, Shawn. I wasn’t that into Bob Mould, but I agreed with everything else. I absolutely loved ES and the Zeros – never heard of them, but definitely going to get more. Their music really reminded me of the way the Lips’ music makes me feel: happy. That’s the bottom line – no matter what’s going on in my life, I know there’s always one band I can turn on that will lift my mood. Now there’s two.

    Too bad I didn’t know about your ticket problem – I was trying to get rid of two! Managed to sell them while waiting in line for the shuttle.

    This is without a doubt my favorite musical event of the year – even with the cold and wind.

  • http://katarokkar.cribble.net kata.rokkar

    Thanks Lysa!
    Yeah my ticket problem was a bit of a hassle but I got her in with no problem.
    Yeah, ES and the Zeros are something to behold. A bit of Gogol Bordello flavor in there too. Lots of fun.

    How ’bout those Lips though? A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

  • http://www.theocmd.com theOCMD

    Great shot!!

  • http://katarokkar.cribble.net kata.rokkar

    Thanks! More to come.