Best & Worst from Treasure Island Fest
Flaming Lips' closing extravaganza, the Streets' rhythmic assault -- plus Grizzly Bear, Murs, and more from San Francisco.
This past weekend, 25-plus bands gathered on Treasure Island, an artificial landfill in the San Francisco Bay, for the third annual Treasure Island Music Festival.
While Long John Silver and his stash of gold and jewels were nowhere to be found, the fest’s musical booty was plenty: Flaming Lips, Grizzly Bear, Murs, Brazilian Girls, Beirut, MSTRKRFT, the Streets, Passion Pit and more all performed over the two-day event. Read our Best and Worst moments below.
BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE: VIP BLEACHERS DURING THE FLAMING LIPS
Thanks to a strong western breeze, a Technicolor blizzard of confetti, balloons, and confetti-filled balloons showered a fortunate few throughout the Lips’ 90-minute, festival-closing set of rejiggered favorites that included “Vein of Stars,” an acoustic “Fight Test,” and the rare “Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear.” Only two songs from Embryonic made the list: “Silver Trembling Hands” and “Convinced of the Hex.” Singer Wayne Coyne shouted out the long-defunct Haight Street rock club the I-Beam, one of the first venues outside Oklahoma to book the band in the early ’80s: “For a long time people thought we were from here.”
BEST PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: MURS
Wiseass, whip-smart LA-based MC Murs swerved from J. Dilla-inspired hip-hop to bass-boosted dubstep to a Crookers remix of his collaboration with Ed Banger’s Busy P, “To Protect and Entertain.” He had some choice banter for the early Saturday crowd: “The sun has to start descending before you start popping pills,” “Blueballs don’t go away when you become a rich and famous rapper,” and “Fuck it, music is free-steal everything, motherfuckers!”
BEST BEATBOX: THAO WITH THE GET DOWN STAY DOWN
She’s a triple threat: singer, guitarist… beatboxer. the Streets’approaches every aspect of her art with a wit and charm that’s totally lovable. The spit-kicking intro to “Bag of Hammers” was a particularly well done.
BEST ANTHEM: BRAZILIAN GIRLS
The chorus to the song “Pussy” goes, “pussy pussy pussy marijuana.” That’s all we have to say about that. (Honorable mention goes to their song “Sexy Asshole.”)
BEST COMBINATION: DRUM MACHINES / DRUM KIT
Crown City Rockers, Passion Pit, and Dan Deacon all mixed media with badass kit drummers backed by programmed beats. It was the Streets that did it best though, with dirty digital beats, a live drummer, and three-piece band behind Mike Skinner as he pushed through a set of old and new material. Day 1 was a dance party all the way.
SECOND-BEST COMBINATION: GLOCKENSPIEL/UKULELE
Beirut and Grizzly Bear both played obscure instruments in service of good music. Beirut simply sounded beautiful, all gypsy Mariachi Left Bank soul, while Grizzly Bear was unafraid to fray the edges of their impeccable, harmony-laden indie rock to get a little weird. Day 2 was mostly acoustified and mellow.
BEST INTERSPECIES ROMANCE: THE STORMTROOPER SHARING A CIGARETTE WITH A MAN-SIZED DALMATIAN
Yes, we can all get along.
WORST VENTRILOQUISM: PASSION PIT
The children’s choir woven throughout Passion Pit’s Manners is a giddy thrill. Hearing the disembodied voices of a classroom of 12-year-olds booming out from a festival stage, however, is unsettling. His band sounded red-hot while singer Michael Angelakos began with a shaky voice, but by the time they ended with “The Reeling,” he was feeling fine.
WORST PRODUCT PLACEMENT
The fifth of Crowd Royal sat like a hood ornament on MSTRKRFT’s laptop table.
WORST BOTTLENECK: (TIE) THE PORT-A-POTTIES VS. THE SHUTTLE BACK TO THE CITY
Throwing a major rock festival on an island smaller than Bonnaroo’s parking lot demands sacrifice. That meant buzzkillingly long lines for basic amenities. Space on Treasure Island was scarce but the vista-Bay Bridge, skyline, Golden Gate, Alcatraz, watercolor sunset-was worth it.