Treasure Island Music Festival, Day One
October 16th, 2010
Better than: A 1974 episode of Soul Train taped inside a meat freezer.
We were breakfasting with friends in Potrero Hill when our hostess pronounced The Problem with this fourth installment of the Treasure Island Music Festival
: "The trouble with it is they divide it into electronica day and annoying indie rock day." Admittedly, fighting in the streets has yet to break out among the two cultural enclaves, with dance-dance freakazoids and indie poseurs mixing with perfect amity at places like Coachella. But TI is much cozier than some polo field down in Indio half the size of Liechtenstein.
This was our first time at the festival and, once through the long fuckaround at the gate, the rumpus being stomped up on the Bridge stage by this year's internet meme Die Antwoord
was a strong audience magnet. Sounding from that distance like an amplified domestic dispute between a chipmunk and a Rottweiler, this impression was sustained up close by rappers Ninja and Yo-Landi jabbering threats of shitrain malediction like they'd just invented anger.
Fading back toward the Ferris wheel, the giant pink flamingo, and the Silent Disco (where scores of head-phoned freaks were shuffling in muffled rhythm) to the Tunnel stage, the transition from South African hype-hop to the cooing drone-trip of Phantogram was as smooth as any handoff on The Ed Sullivan Show, only involving far more physical stamina than the TV party of yesteryear.
's soulful thump began to kill it from Bridge Stage, attendees were showing the bison-like social and migratory habits typical of festivalgoers everywhere, moving in giant giddy herds from one attraction to another. Under frontman Nic Offer's antic prodding, the crowd finally settled in for some serious dancing, with this oft-mispronounced act hammering through an assortment of James Brown vs. Technogodzilla grooves as the sun set rhapsodically over the city and one determined guy by the fence used the fast-decaying daylight to squint into a Stephen King paperback. The band's long swatch of "Me & Giuliani Down by the Schoolyard" was Saturday's high point -- a welcome blast of pure tribal adrenalin in the gathering night.
Even so, the festival space was too cramped for more than one act to play at once, so, by the time
failed to warm things up for the underdressed throng, already rubbing against each other in sociable warmth in the shivering wind. The stone sonic lunacy of Kruder & Dorfmeister
went over better -- the veteran Austrian duo rousing the mob with a ballyhoo cry of "Cokers and jokers, lend me your ears!"
's downtempo smoulder but more quickly to Deadmau5
, as Joel Zimmerman presided over the set with a giant electric grin lighting his zombie mouse costume head. LCD Soundsystem
cranked the mayhem even higher as they closed out the night, a long sample of the 10cc
sobber "I'm Not in Love" preceding the frantic release of "Drunk Girls." We must've kicked past a dozen empty whisky flasks on the way out.
The audience heated slowly to
Personal bias: A five-time Burning Man attendee, I know all about dancing to keep warm.
Random notebook dump: "What is up with the little yellow 'Thank You' stickers on every fourteenth person?"
Overheard in the crowd:
"This festival has turned into a G-rated Burning Man!"
"Who knew music appreciation could be so strenuous?"