Review & Photos: Treasure Island Music Festival 2012
October 17, 2012
Written by Tim Draut
The sixth annual Treasure Island Music Festival took place this past weekend, and yet again proved a major success, with a diverse lineup of musicians performing enjoyable sets at one of the most beautiful festival venues in the world. The Bay Bridged was there was it all, catching both days’ performances amid the throngs of other music lovers.
Saturday, October 13th
Highlights: Grimes, Public Enemy, SBTRKT
Saturday kicked off with an energetic performance from San Francisco-via-Toronto rock band Dirty Ghosts, who performed cuts from their album Metal Moon. Stylish front-woman Allyson Baker powered through songs like “19 in ’71″ and “Surround the Controls”, shredding her guitar as part of the three-piece band, occasionally accompanied by three backup singers. While her bandmates both rocked sunglasses, Baker’s bangs worked just as well.
The festival’s trend of dark-haired, fair-skinned females continued with an electrifying hip-hop performance from K.Flay. The Brooklynite (whose real name is Kristine Flaherty) hopped around stage, alternating between rapping with immaculate flow and banging on various percussion instruments around stage. “I know it’s early, but we can still party!” the rapper said. Accompanied by her live drummer Nick, K.Flay got the party started by banging cymbals, leading up to the first epic bass drop of the festival.
Back on the larger Bridge Stage, Oakland’s six-person boogie band The Coup announced, “We came to funk y’all!” The band did just that, banging out danceable, punk-infused funk jams as Boots Riley rapped to the crowd.
As the crowd steadily continued to fill in, it became apparent that everyone at least wanted to arrive early enough to catch the underground pop phenomenon Grimes, who took the stage at 2:15. Grimes aka Claire Boucher rocked her typical goth princess vibe and, for the first time, was backed by two members of Myths who were adorned in skeletal neon paint.
With synthesizers decked out with faux carnations, Grimes performed five or six cuts from her 2012 album Visions. Instead of ending with “Horizon”, a song she recently recorded with Myths, she chose to end with the more danceable “Phone Sex” single from her recent collaboration with Blood Diamonds. Claire’s most endearing moment was when she took a break to untangle herself from a myriad of chords including her in-ear monitors, which she confessed to be wearing for the first time ever. Afterwards, she tossed a fake bouquet into the crowd, leaving her fans energized to power through the rest of the day.
More of our review and photos after the jump!
Up next was Matthew Dear, who winced and squinted through his electro-rock jams backed by his four-piece “lovely band.” Utilizing experimental vocal effects, Dear’s highlights included the crowd-pleasers “You Put a Smell On Me” and “Her Fantasy”. Over on the Tunnel Stage, Toro Y Moi (aka Chaz Bundick) delivered a tame performance of songs from his upcoming album, plus hits like “Talamak” and “Still Sound”. Bundick expressed that he was glad to be back in San Francisco.
The crowd rushed over to the main stage to catch one of the festival’s biggest draws, Public Enemy. As far as I could tell, the legendary hip-hop crew was there with its original lineup, except for DJ Lord replacing retired turntable legend Terminator X. The crowd put their fists in the air to salute Chuck D and company, who was joined by hip-hop’s original hype-man Flavor Flav shortly thereafter. Flav instigated the crowd with his New York Giants hat as the crew busted out hits like “Public Enemy No.1″, “Bring the Noise”, “Fight the Power”, and “Don’t Believe the Hype”. Chuck D harshly criticized urban radio, BET, and Viacom, while plugging their upcoming album Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp. Flavor Flav finally removed his hat to shake his dreads around, informing the crowd that he would finally take off his trademark clock once he gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor that Public Enemy was nominated for the first time this year.
MPC wizard AraabMuzik kept the crowd dancing as the sun set behind the Tunnel Stage. It would have been nice to have a camera zoomed in on his freakishly speedy fingers, but his chopped up, ethereal hip-hop beats entertained the crowd nonetheless. Porter Robinson turned the Bridge Stage into a rave, dishing out an hour of pulsing brostep backed by psychedelic visuals.
Tycho’s delicate stoner melodies enchanted the crowd into the night, with local musician Scott Hansen backed by two bandmates. Images of nature were projected as a backdrop for the band to perform its dreamy instrumental set.
Australian electro-pop duo The Presets performed against a spectacle of bright, flashing LED screens. Singer-songwriter Julian Hamilton played keyboards while Kim Moyes alternated between keys and drums. The duo focused mainly on cuts from their new album Pacifica, as well as a couple older hits such as “Are You the One?” Their set really got the crowd moving.
SBTRKT, apologizing for his ridiculously short set time, performed with vocal and instrumental collaborator Sampha. Alternating between drums, samplers, and software, SBTRKT wore one of his signature tribal masks over his head, leaving his face exposed. The duo ended with “Wildfire”, leaving the crowd thirsty for more.
Girl Talk closed out the night with a long set of his signature hip-hop match-ups, yelling little else than “San Francisco! Are you ready right now?” He invited a large group of partiers to dance around on stage, launching toilet paper, confetti, and various inflatables into the audience. Towards the end of his set, Girl Talk stopped the show to let a man propose to his girlfriend on stage.
Sunday, October 14th
Highlights: Ty Segall, Joanna Newsom, The xx
Sunday got off to a relatively mellow start, with aging pop rockers Imperial Teen excited to be “the first band of the day.” The four-piece band switched instruments a few times, showing off their skills on drums, guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals. They performed some upbeat clappers from their recent comeback album Feel the Sound, as well as their hit “Yoo Hoo”.
Imperial Teen was followed on the Tunnel Stage by their label-mates Hospitality, a multi-instrumental three-piece that turned out one of the least remarkable sets of the festival.
After the keyboard player finally found a beer, The War on Drugs performed forty minutes of poetic American indie rock, mostly from their latest album Slave Ambient. Frontman Adam Granduciel was calm, cool, and collected, occasionally busting out solos on his harmonica then tossing it on the stage floor when he was finished. The group improvised with some fuzzy ambient feedback jams towards the end, transitioning with some cool sounds.
Wilde Belle performed a mellow, tropical sounding set of indie rock with soulful female vocals. Apparently one of their keyboards broke towards the end of the set, but all was saved by a brief saxophone solo, a trend that would repeat itself later in the night.
Youth Lagoon, performed a tearjerking set of his introspective bedroom jams. Bandleader Trevor Powers sang while playing synths and drum machines, accompanied by a guitarist. Trevor won over the crowd’s heart with material from his debut album The Year of Hibernation.
Ty Segall and his current band lineup of Mikal Cronin, Emily Rose Epstein, and Charles Moothar, performed the hardest rocking set of the festival by a long shot. Our hometown hero dedicated jams from his new album Twins to “taking acid on Bernal Hill,” “the MUNI train,” and the Nordic “Haight Street defender.” Lots of ferocious guitar shredding of course, with crowd-surfing from audience members during jams like “I Bought My Eyes”. After more fan favorites like “Girlfriend” and “Caesar”, the band ended with “Wave Goodbye” off its recent collaborative release Slaughterhouse.
Joanna Newsom was next on the main stage and, although she performed one of the mellowest sets of the festival, it was also one of the most engaging. After some problems adjusting her microphone, Newsom slyly announced that this particular show was her first time “wearing flats”, and then introduced her band members, Neil Morgan on drums and Ryan Francesconi on banjo, tambura, guitars, and kaval. Newsom alternated between harp and piano for an intoxicatingly gorgeous and idiosyncratic set of delicate folk songs. The subtle details of her performance are really what makes it stick, such as her fingers meticulous plucking away like little spiders crawling across her harp on “Have One On Me”. She ended with “Cosmia”, but I’m sure no one in the audience would have minded if she continued playing for another hour or two.
Los Campesinos! took the Tunnel Stage next, with eight members contributing to the British band’s dance-punk set. The singer was absolutely thrilled to be playing against the beautiful San Francisco backdrop, and was scared that the audience was plotting some sort of “cyborg attack” as 65 percent of us were wearing sunglasses. The band’s “You! Me! Dancing!” earned an enthusiastic response from the crowd.
Best Coast paid tribute to summer with songs from their two albums, plus the new single “Do You Love Me Like You Used To”. Bethany gave a shout-out to Flavor Flavor, and the duo ended their set with “Boyfriend”. Divine Fits announced that their first time in San Francisco was a “delicious, semi-narcotic treat.” The band played songs from its debut album A Thing Called Divine Fits, with some nice instrumental breaks occasionally interrupted by a dose of harsh feedback.
M83 was celebrating the one-year anniversary of their Hurry Up We’re Dreaming tour, complete with Anthony Gonzalez popping bottles of champagne on stage. The band played just under an hour of dreamy pop hits, with the crowd singing along on “Steve McQueen” and “Midnight City”.
Gossip continued the party over on the Tunnel Stage with singer Beth Ditto on top of her game. She announced that this was the last show of tour, their first in three years. In between dance hits, Ditto ad-libbed cheer-inciting phrases like “eat your heart out Coachella!” and “spring break!”
The xx closed out the festival with a heartfelt performance of material from their new album Coexist, as well as cuts from their debut such as “VCR”, “Basic Space”, and a stripped down version of “Crystalised”. Romy and Oliver achieved chilling vocal harmonies, while Jamie xx kept the rhythm. Oliver announced that this was the trio’s last festival of the year and congratulated those who were able to catch SBRTRKT and Gossip. The trio ended with “Stars”, which Oliver dedicated to Kevin.