Sunday, September 16, 2007

Here's To Next Year: Treasure Island Festival A Huge Success

The event planners over at Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop must be congratulating themselves, and if they're not, they should be. Today's Treasure Island Festival went off without a hitch: the weather was beautiful, the bands were great, the sets were on time, the port a potties were ample, and the transportation was no fuss. It must have been a real hassle to get all of these potentially nightmarish variables in line with each other, but boy were we glad they did! Here at H.A.D., we set up by the front of the Bridge Stage (ie. "big bands" stage) to bring you the best we could offer in concert reporting!

Au Revoir Simone:
The first band of the day was a pleasant surprise. A trio of women from Brooklyn rockin' it out on a bunch of analog synths. This has the potential to be irritating and typical, but they managed to pull it off with originality and flair. There were some hiccups (tuning the synths and general nervousness, mainly), but in the end it wound up being a great opener to a day that would otherwise be filled with guitar driven rock.

Two Gallants:
The last time I saw Two Gallants, they were opening for Bloc Party at the Greek Theater. I don't know if it's the passage of time, a different crowd, or just my perspective, but I enjoyed today a lot more. Obviously, the formula hasn't changed: they're still a two piece guitar and drum band, but today their music seemed more dynamic and spacious. They seem to be exploring new sonic and songwriting avenues, and they result is a much stronger performance.

M. Ward:
I happen to love M. Ward, so it's difficult to evaluate his set without doting on him quite a bit. It was great seeing him with a full band (two drum kits!) after the solo show at Bimbo's this spring. Basically, the man just comes out and owns the stage. He tore it up on electric guitar, he rocked out on the piano, he got sweet and quiet on "Post War".

The set, sadly, did not include "Transfiguration of Vincent", one of my faves. The latest disc Post War was very well represented, along with a track or two from each of the other discs: "Flaming Heart", "Helicopter", "Regeneration #1" were all played.

The first half of the set was completely exemplary, but the second half (while enjoyable) got a little bit loose. I don't know if the band just wasn't in practice, or if there was miscommunication, but it wasn't anything you could point out directly. Nonetheless, M. Ward and band managed to keep it together and deliver a thoroughly pleasing set.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah:
Almost all of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's set indicated that they are still touring largely on the strength of their awesome first album. All the positive crowd response (which was completely justified) was centered around the older songs, and the band seemed to know it, and frankly, to be a bit annoyed about it. Many of the songs would end semi-abruptly, and lead singer Alec Ounsworth seemed to clip lines of lyrics at the end of a number of songs.

The positive vision I found of the "new" CYHSYA was a completely killer distorted noise fest on "Satan Said Dance". It represented a complex and interesting new direction that I really think could represent the band well. All of the tunes were fun, and the band was tight, but I think they need to take a break from touring and decide where the live show is going in regard to supporting old material, and digging into the new.

Built To Spill:
I know I'll offend a lot of die-hards if I express my ambivalence to the B2S set, so I'll leave it at this: The band is extremely tight instrumentally, and has their live show down pat. It just doesn't reel me in personally, and as such I don't even really think I feel comfortable commenting on the quality of their performance, as I found it falling in my lap with a resounding "eh".

If I'm being completely honest, I will simply say that this is the show I came to the TI Festival for. Every time I've seen Britt Daniel and Co. since I first did so in 2003, I have been consistently impressed. Their live show is a rock and roll tour de force, that kicks the album tracks up to a new level. tonight was no exception.

After Britt Daniel's greeting of the crowd with an event appropriate "Argh", the music began. The set started out slow with "Black Like Me" and "Anything You Want", and gradually gained momentum from there. A few tracks from Gimme Fiction, along with "Don't Make Me A Target", led into a somewhat troublesome version of "The Ghost Of You Lingers". Evidently it was hindered by keyboard technical difficulties. Still, the band kept it together, and delivered a decent version.

A rocking rendition of "The Beast And Dragon Adored" followed, and opened the flood gates for the rest of the show. The band flew through the new songs "The Underdog", "Don't You Evah", and "You've Got Yr Cherry Bomb", and culminated with an absolutely electrifying version of "My Mathematical Mind".

In perhaps what was one of the fan-centric moments of the show, as Spoon's set came to a close, some girls shouted "Please, please, play 'Japanese Cigarette Case'". Britt Daniel turned to the band and said "Guys, let's do Japanese Cigarette Case". After blazing through the new tune, the band shifted gears into the old skool "Quincy Punk Episode", and made a hasty exit. The hour went by in a flash, and we were left wanting more.

Modest Mouse:
For many, the festival's main event was the Modest Mouse closer. For me, I wasn't sure what to expect: I enjoy the band on record, but had never seen them live.

Their 1:15+ set focused mainly on the two most recent albums, and much of it was the less subtle side of the Modest Mouse sound. That is to say, driven less by songwriting, and more by Isaac Brock's aggressive vocals. For some, this might seem like the point of Modest Mouse. After all, it is Brock's brainchild. To me, this is the less exciting side of Modest Mouse. I prefer the subtle emphasis of layering and instrumentation paired with Brock's lyrical gift that is a hallmark on every album.

I was impressed by a lot of the performance, and the strongest tracks seemed to be those that had been co-written by new band guitarist Johnny Marr. "We've Got Everything", "Missed The Boat" and "Fire It Up" all sounded fantastic. Marr's input has taken the band in a direction that I find much more desirable, and the live show demonstrated as much. However, I left feeling like Brock's aggressive vocals and guitar overshadowed what could have been a fantastic closer to the festival.

In Conclusion
Despite any subjective opinions of the performances, I think it's indisputable that the Treasure Island Festival was a resounding success. See you next year!

MANY more photos available over at the H.A.D. flick feed.


David said...

Dear, Hippies Are Dead,
Thanks for letting us know you exist.
Please add us to your blog roll and we'll do the same.
Perhaps we can catch a drink over pink nasty this week.
David Downs
Web Editor
SF Weekly
News: The Snitch
Culture: All Shook Down

sfmusic said...

Duly linked, David Downs.