Recap/Photos: Treasure Island Music Festival

 

Flaming Lips, Grizzly
Bear, Beirut,
Walkmen, Yo La Tengo … what’s not to like! And BLURT was on the scene.

 

Photos and Text by David Downs

 

The Flaming Lips closed out the second and final day of the
3rd annual Treasure Island Music Festival in San
Francisco after masterful sets from Yo La Tengo, Beirut, Grizzly Bear, and the Walkmen Sunday.

 

A cold wind blew through the scarved and hooded crowd of
several thousand fans who had stayed for the 9 p.m. Sunday set, and The Lips
rewarded them with an epileptic light show, buckets of confetti, dancing space
girls, abominable snowmen, and a roaming set list featuring cuts from new album
Embryonic as well as rarities like “Enthusiasm for Life Defeats
Existential Fear”.

 

The Oklahoma
natives emerged from a strobing video vulva like true children of light, and
frontman Wayne Coyne donned the band’s widely-loved moon-ball suit before
jumping off into the crowd in the big bubble. The intro literally caused one
young female in the front row to pass out cold, either from an epileptic
seizure or some other cause. After a short minute on the ground, she became lucid
and a bit panicked as they carried her off amid the frenzy.

 

“Everyone ok out there?” Coyne double-checked before taking
off into “Convinced of the Hex” and “Silver Trembling Hands” from Embryonic, the 12th studio album, out this October.

 

Coyne called the show a homecoming of sorts. “San Francisco is the home
of the freaks. I am one of you,” he said. “San Francisco was the first place that ever
invited us out. We’re from Oklahoma,
and nobody wanted to see us. So for the longest time, people thought that we
were from San Francisco.
So for tonight, it feels like a homecoming to me. Thank you.”

 

Coyne later, quipped, “I was worried it was going to be too
cold for people to fucking freak out,” but the late crowd was going nuts for
“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”, which was
surprising, given the chilly 60-degree temperature and wind. The set capped a
postcard-perfect day in the center of the Bay set against the backdrop of the
setting sun, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz
Island and San Francisco’s signature fingers of fog
lapping at the skyline. Coyne called it “one of the best days we’ve had in a
long time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Mexico’s Beirut (below) echoed the
sentiments, thanking the crowd for joining them in their final show for the
year during a gorgeous sunset set. Flocks of pelicans glided in formation over
Zach Condon’s head, as if on cue, while the band played “Nantes”, “Sunday Smile” and “Elephant Gun”. Beirut’s
multi-instrumentalism far surpassed any other act, incorporating trumpet, tuba,
ukulele, and accordion at one point in their journey through the junction of
Eastern European folk and Western Pop.

 

 

 

 

Grizzly Bear (below) proved equally adept at reinterpreting
classical styles while the Walkmen continue to blaze forward with their beery,
boozehall dirges, and Yo La Tengo (also below) played an eclectic set in front
of a wall of Fender amps that Ira Kaplan frequently squared off against,
issuing forth walls of reverbey distortion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 was easily the more rock and indie music-oriented part
of the festival which included headliners MGMT and MSTKRFT the night prior.
More than 12,000 attendees sold-out day one of the festival and Day 2 looked
almost as packed. Indie promoters Noise Pop of San Francisco, and Another
Planet of Berkeley proved adept at getting the throngs on and off the island
via fleets of shuttles and buses as well as serving them cold beer and warm
food at a reasonable cost. Shorter, smaller and better-curated than almost any
festival, Treasure Island has solidified its
position as a the Summer-ending Micr-oachella for elite aesthetes of modern
music.

 

 

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