Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Dogs are Tired: Part II of Rob's Reportage on the Treasure Island Festival

Day 2: Sunday

I admit that I kinda didn't feel like going again on this day.  This was partly based on weariness, as I'd gone out and drank a passel the evening before at Zeitgeist,  and partly because I had a strong idea that I'd already had my peak experience with the festival (TV on the Radio the night before).  But I dragged my ass there anyway, free ticket and all, because their were bands worth seeing for sure, and I figured I'd go for awhile and leave once it got old.

The highlight of the day (my day) was Okkervil River.  The sound was good, the band was tight, and they played the songs I most wanted to hear (mainly the first two songs off The Stage Names).  They can be a bit too melodramatic for my taste sometimes, and yes the lyrics are the sort written by a proud Bachelor of English, but fuck it, I like them anyway.  As I garner from my friends, the lead singer Will Sheff may have come off a bit cheesy in his stage antics and crowd banter had I not been right up front and sort of into it.  Again we see an example of how proximity has an almost eerily mathemathical relationship with fun times had.  Okkervil barely edged out the boys in (my other favorite act) Dr. Dog primarily by performing on the big stage (with bigger, better sound) and having lots of energy.

On to the Dog...

They sounded awesome.  My brief history with this band:  About 4 years ago, their record Easy Beat reached my hands (via fellow Chopsman Philby, then living in the Eastern lands) and quickly attained classic status in my mind.  The entire Chop geeked out on this record months on end, and I went to see Dr Dog everytime they came through SF in the last few years and even a few times in their hometown of Philadelphia while I was in the Tri-State Mother-Area for Christmas.  During this period, they toured incessantly, released another record (great, but not quite as classic), and I saw them like 6 times in 3 years.  After this, I admit I was slightly burned out on them...still thinking they were cool as shit, but ready for a break from their stylings.  I guess they made at least a little (read: very very little, like close to zero) money because they were able to stop touring for a few months to record yet another record (Fate) which just came out.  
Anyway, it had been awhile since seeing this perennial favorite of mine, and I was excited to hear the new songs performed.  They were boss.  The songs sounded great.  The harmonies were tight. The drummer, in particular, sounded awesome.  We all agreed that he was either really on that night or took a couple steps up in ability or just maybe wrote way sicker parts for himself for all the newer arrangements.  Anyway you slice it, he hit hard.  
I guess the only drawback was they looked kinda tired.  Minus the drummer, the dudes looked worn out and not quite their usual, bouncy selves.  At least one person completely disagreed with me on this point, so, maybe I'm tripping.  Either way--they really rock the new songs and are definitely maturing as a band.  More good shit to come, for sure.

I also saw Spiritualized...who everyone (including Eric, who I took with me) was raving about beforehand.  The performance, to me, was extremely boring and too damn loud.  The lead singer stood facing at a right angle to the audience, never said a word, and wanked philosophic on hella long noise solos. The band didn't move at all or look like they were having fun.  Drag. Also--the show really was wicked loud and on top of that, during one song, the soundguy fell asleep on the slider or something because it cranked the band up to painful, Master D-in-the-end-sequence-of-Bionic-Commando-head-exploding volume.  Extra lame, to my mind.

I watched some of The Dodos, who around these parts are being heralded as pop music saviors with wine in hand, and they were definitely good. Their drummer is really really talented.  Best part of their set is they had a third guy (there are technically only two Dodos) on a riser in the back who would occasionally pop up from under a table to play xylophone.  When he was waiting for his parts, he'd be hiding under this table, and then when it came he'd pop up to play and be really energetic.  He really reminded me of a Muppet.

I skipped Vampire Weekend--who were maybe the biggest draw that day--because I saw them for free at Amoeba around a year ago.  This was, I'd say, directly before the hype machine throttled them fully (out here, at least).  I had not heard their music at that point, and was taken by Eric (the same who attended Treasure Island with me) who is infinitely more ahead of the curve then I am on any given Tuesday.  I think they have a cool sound but nothing spectacular going on in the way of performance, so saved myself the trouble and sat listening from afar while waiting for Dr. Dog to play.

I got tired and left before The Raconteurs, who I would have liked to see (I'm a big Jack White fan, and I've never seen him live) but honestly who look better on paper than they actually are. If it had been the Stripes instead--I would have made it work, but instead I went home and considered my opinions.

What's sort of interesting is that the festival organizers divided the two days' lineup at least partially by genre (loading up Saturday with more electro-dancey stuff, and Sunday with the scruffily bearded gems of modern indie rock) so you might assume a Chopster like me would go in more for the latter of the two days. Not so. In quick summary, the first day had lower expectations and more surprises, while the second day was sort of opposite.

I await your call, 

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