I must begin this review with a brief caveat… I am not really a festival going sort of fellow. For some reason I usually have a difficult time with wandering around between bands I want to see and trying to avoid bands I could care less about. Yes, I’ve been surprised with some good music I otherwise would not have known about, but overall I tend to get annoyed at festivals… this one was no exception. In fact, I may have been more annoyed with this festival than others I have attended in the past.
The Treasure Island Music Festival, for those of you not in the SF Bay Area, is a two day festival on Treasure Island (the island in the middle of the Bay Bridge) divided into electronic music on Saturday and rock on Sunday. Normally I would go for the rock day (Broken Social Scene was playing on Sunday, would have loved to see them), but I made an exception for both LCD Soundsystem and Little Dragon. If you have not heard LCD Soundsystem, you owe it to yourself to get their latest album, if not all three. I was somewhat familiar with Little Dragon due to their lead singer Yukumi Nagano being featured in a couple of songs on the latest Gorillaz album. My problem though was that Little Dragon went on at 7:00, and LCD at 9:35…. and for whatever reason (fear of being late, crowds, timing, etc.) Mrs. Blahg and I got there around 5:00.
Although it was entertaining to people watch, I realized early on that I am not really a big fan of electronic music. I also realized that we were on the upper end of the age spectrum. Overall the crowd seemed to be in their early to mid twenties… very hip… many costumes (pirate wear for the festival theme, mouse ears for other bands, furry hats, legwarmers, and tons of young girls in really really really short shorts)… and then I realized I was not sure what drug I was meant to be on to enjoy much of what was being offered. MDMA perhaps? Mushrooms? Acid? I was really not sure… all I knew was that I was not on what I probably should have been on. At one point I was eating a Kalbi burrito (really… I don’t know… I was hungry) and two guys quickly came over and almost sat on it next to me. They proceeded to put something on their hand, snort it up and turn to me asking if I wanted any mushroom chocolate. I declined. When they got up to leave I realized I had no freaking idea what mushroom chocolate was and was somewhat creeped out (mind you… I don’t get creeped out easily). I proceeded to try to look up mushroom chocolate on urbandictionary.com and then realized I had no internet service. Go figure… an electronic music show and no 3G access… or rather… probably too many people crowding the bandwidth.
But enough complaining… Little Dragon was cool. Great sound, incredible light show (again, I believe it was for the benefit of their more chemically inclined audience) and I get a kick out of the singers mannerisms on stage. I am looking forward to seeing her performing with Gorillaz at the end of the month.
Unfortunately, the three beers I had enjoyed previously decided midway through their set that they needed to escape and I could hold it no more. So off to the port-o-potties I went. Good god… do people have no manners!! They were disgusting. I feel like such an old man for complaining about port-o-potties being gross… but really… even peeing into the urinal was a challenge. And I missed half of their set because it took forever and a day. So that was a wee bummer. I have no clue who played on the main stage next… I did not care for it. Then on the secondary stage where Little Dragon performed Miike Snow played. Not bad. I knew nothing of his music, but I did enjoy it.
While listening to this, we decided it was time for a nice hot cocoa or tea (I know… party!!) and a well timed bathroom run before getting into position for LCD. As the crowd gathered in front of the main stage, it was getting packed. And then a bit more packed. Then a bit more. But it was good… body heat. Then Mr. Murphy took the stage. Dressed in a white suit, white shirt, white tie… and although I didn’t see his shoes, I imagine they may have been white. He looked like a drunken preacher ready to deliver a sermon of fucking awesomeness… and this is where the ticket price was justified.
Opening with Dance Yrself Clean, the opening track to their latest album This is Happening, they started off nice and mellow and kicked into song in a way that had the crowd lapping at his heels. Followed by Drunk Girls, we began to suspect he would run through the whole album. When the third song was I Can Change, I was being held in rapt attention… which, was not easy…
I must digress again for another brief complaint. The last two shows I’ve been to, I’ve noticed a horribly disturbing trend. Young women talking to each other throughout an entire concert. I don’t mean like “wow I love this song”… more like “and then I did this and he said that and I was like OMG I can’t believe he… blah blah blah blah blah”. Two girls to the right of me. Two girls in front of me. And three girls to the left of Mrs. Blahg. For fuck’s sake… you spent how much to be here and now you aren’t even paying attention!!! Fuck you!! I want to hear the band, not your vapid and idiotic story!!! OK, I’m done.
They then began playing songs from their previous two albums and had the crowd singing along, beach balls going and a great rapport with the crowd. Introducing members of the band between songs… commenting on how cold it was… making a joke or two. A consummate showman… and apparently, that was the last show they will ever play in the Bay Area. That really bums me out. I would adore to see them in a smaller venue. Alas….
As the night wore on, Mr. Murphy called out the last song… Home… and Mrs. Blahg and I began making our way to the back of the mob so we could make a faster getaway. As much as she was correct in doing so, I really wanted to see his encore and hear the remainder of Home (which is such a beautiful song). It wasn’t meant to be. So we got in line for the shuttle to take us back to the city.
Seeing LCD Soundsystem was a fantastic experience I would repeat in a heartbeat. Music festivals in general and Treasure Island Music Festivals specifically… not so much. Perhaps I’m getting too old… or perhaps I need to choose my shows more carefully.
I too can change…
Cornelius J. Blahg