Last year's Treasure Island Music Festival was such a great time that I couldn't wait for the 2008 edition. The early-bird tickets went on sale in April, and though that translated into five months of anticipation, I was delighted to find my expectations matched — if not exceeded.
The festival had an impressive and varied lineup of bands between the two stages, named Bridge (the bigger of the two) and Tunnel (the smaller). There was a little something for everyone, from electronic dance groups like Hot Chip, CSS, and Justice to relatively mainstream acts like Vampire Weekend and The Raconteurs. It wouldn't be a festival without some suitably indie bands, represented by Tokyo Police Club, Fleet Foxes, and Foals. For those not interested in checking out each and every show, there were many other diversions: a Ferris wheel, a haircutting booth, throwing down a blanket on the lawn, and a wide variety of (expensive) food and drinks — though it seemed like many people managed to smuggle in some contraband digestibles.
Everyone was bussed to the festival site from San Francisco on eco-friendly coaches, since Treasure Island has limited access. The whole process of boarding, traveling, and walking toward the grounds together fostered a communal feeling among the audience that I haven't experienced at many other concerts. It's a cool thing to be a part of, but that wasn't the only great thing about the weekend — to see my list of highs and lows, just
- Chester French: Maxwell Drummey and D.A. Wallach are riding on a lot of hype since they scored a record deal with Pharrell Williams's label, but their live show left a lot to be desired. Their Pharrell connection seemed promising and my interest in them was piqued last month when Maxwell married the British celebrity Peaches Geldof in Vegas. It turns out their music was as superficial as the reasons I was interested in them; their lyrics are boastful and unoriginal, which is only amusing because they tout their Harvard degrees at every opportunity.
- Hot Chip: Lots of people were rocking out to these guys, but their closing with Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" made me a little confused. Apparently they cover that song often, but it still seemed like a downer at a happy outdoor show.
- Goldfrapp: Her high-pitched melodies seemed out of place in the middle of Saturday's schedule. I noticed a lot of people wandering around during her set, so it seems like I wasn't the only one to feel that way. Also, she lost in the wacky costume contest to the front-ponytail-sporting, puffy-silver-suit-wearing Lovefoxxx from CSS.
- The Kills: Despite his recent breakup from Kate Moss, Jamie Hince seemed on top of his game as he and bandmate Alison Mosshart closed out the small stage on Sunday night. Their music doesn't always translate well through an iPod or CD, but in person they can really rock out. Alison has a mesmerizing stage presence, with her head-banging and gyrating dance moves, but she left something to be desired in the decorum department with her frequent spitting off the stage — ew.
- Foals: This quintet from England didn't let a little technical difficulty on the smaller, solar-powered stage slow them down. They played smack-dab in the middle of Saturday afternoon, and their intense jamming seemed to really charge everyone up.
- Nortec Collective: Bostich + Fussible: I had never heard of these guys before they took the small stage on Saturday, but the group from Tijuana, Mexico, had the crowd dancing with their upbeat tunes, despite the absence of vocals in their act. The band seemed to be having as much fun as the audience, which is always a plus.
- The Raconteurs: Who better than Jack White to close a festival? He and his gang from Nashville played songs from their two albums on a dramatic, smoke-filled stage. The crowd was steadily thinning as people tried to beat the rush back to the busses, but that didn't diminish the intensity with which these guys played.
Tegan and Sara