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Monday, October 15, 2012

Treasure Island 2012 Review: Good Bands Versus Great Weather

Posted By on Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 8:41 AM

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  • Christopher Victorio

Ty Segall slays the serenity

Playing a midafternoon set on the smaller stage, S.F. rocker Ty Segall drew a sweaty, younger crowd up close to get rowdy as he and his band decimated tracks from their ferocious fuzz-garage albums. He also inspired the first crowd-surfing of the entire festival. Performers on the Tunnel stage had the festival's city views as their backdrop, which was sometimes distracting, but the low-key Segall played it cool. "I live over there, by the other bridge," Segall said, pointing out toward the Golden Gate. Then he gestured again, apparently toward the Mission: "Everybody else lives over there." Segall played what felt like a longish set, flush with highlights from 2010's Melted and this year's bone-crushing Slaughterhouse, which was recorded with the same band he brought to Treasure Island. (Segall plays all the instruments himself on most of his records.) A mosphit raged throughout. It was great to see this local luminary finally get his due with a prominent festival slot.

  • Christopher Victorio
  • Los Campesinos!

Los Campesinos! relish the view

This sprawling indie pop crew had a rather different reaction to the views than Segall did: They were openly gobsmacked the entire time. Singer Gareth Campesinos would turn away from the crowd and sing to the city during more agitated parts of certain songs, and seemed generally in disbelief at the backdrop as the band worked through its moaning, heart-wrenching songs. "The sea in the UK does not look like this and this is a song about the sea in the UK," Gareth mused, as the band went into "The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future." The contrast between the band's ultra-melancholy, confessional songs and the lovely setting was sharp, but it worked. There are edges of joy -- or at least, joyful release -- in many of these tunes, and that, coupled with the band's sense of humor ("Approximately 65 percent of you are wearing sunglasses -- it looks like some cyborg attack") made for one of the most exciting sets of the afternoon. The band tweeted later that it was the finest festival they'd played all summer.

  • Christopher Victorio
  • M83

M83 takes us on a nighttime journey

A lot can change in a year, which is about how long M83 has been on tour promoting its breakthrough double album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. We didn't love their last show at the Fillmore, but the band's Treasure Island set was without a doubt one of the best of the weekend -- an electrifying, light-spraying dance party that probably should've closed out the night instead of merely warming up the crowd for the Gossip and the xx. Once Anthony Gonzalez and his band got going, they took the crowd on a soaring, high-energy trip through many of the best songs from the latest album, as well as a few older highlights. Between Girl Talk and Porter Robinson on Saturday, we'd already heard recorded versions of "Midnight City" a couple of times at Treasure Island. But of course it sounded bigger and sleeker when M83 played it live, with an extended sax solo and huge projections of nighttime city views on a screen behind the stage. In the right place, M83 live can be a revelation, and Treasure Island on Sunday night was definitely the right place.

Other notes

  • Christopher Victorio
  • Girl Talk

Girl Talk showed off a bunch of new material on Saturday night, with new mixes including Adele's "Rollin' in the Deep," Gaga's "Bad Romance," and New Order's "Blue Monday" -- along with fiery visuals. The surprises helped enliven what can be a formulaic set, if you've seen it before, and we're curious to hear how the new combos sound on a recording.

  • Christopher Victorio
  • The xx

The xx: Both headliners sounded excellent on their respective nights, but the xx truly presented all the delicate intimacy of their albums to the sprawling Sunday crowd. We still think they should've played before M83, given the vast gulf in energy levels between the two acts. The xx even seemed to try to make things as mellow as possible, running through all of "Crystalized" without the song's beat ever dropping. But for the adorers in the crowd -- and there were many -- they were no doubt a pleasure.

Critic's Notebook

Random thought: Treasure Island is the only festival in the world, we're guessing, where the sails of a boat will peek up randomly behind the stage, in the middle of, say, a Toro Y Moi set. And that's just fine.

The crowd: Was much, much more bro-heavy than we expected. Treasure Island is normally a gathering of the hipsterati from both sides of the Bay, but this weekend saw a heavy contingent of Marina types on the island. No matter how skinny the drunk people's jeans are, though, they'll still happily talk over any set that they aren't completely into.

See also:

* Slideshow: Scenes From Treasure Island 2012

* Slideshow: The People of Treasure Island Festival 2012

-- @iPORT

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Ian S. Port


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