Monday, September 22, 2008

The Three Keyboard Minimum is Strictly Enforced: Part 1

I attended the Treasure Island music festival this weekend, saw lots of cool bands, and have lots of highly informed and sophisticated opinions for the proffering.  Behold!

Since atmosphere is everything..let me briefly sum up my some very general experiences with the concert, as all my opinions are beholden to it.  

Firstly: I won tickets to both days!

The free-ness of this (for me) event affected my opinions (positively, I think) throughout the weekend.  Like many frugal young men, I'm usually conscious of trying to get my money's worth out of a ticket purchase. After a couple of the sets I'd be thinking, "damn, that one totally made it worth the money," then I'd remind myself that I paid exactly zero and think, "man, that was definitely worth leaving the comfort of my apartment for" and so on. 
Second thing you should know--I did not see all the bands or even try to.  I was definitely of the mind that in order to "hear every note" of music at the 2-day affair (very possible) one would be compromising any real ability to see actual "shows."  Basically, it's the idea that if you're not close to the stage or as I like to say "up in the mix" you're not really at the show.  If you're way back in a field you're more of a casual observer and to my mind are not having "the full experience." For some reason that paragraph was laden with "quotation marks" denoting "specific phraseology" that seemed to "require it" at the time.

On to the show:
The best set that I saw was without a doubt TV on the Radio.  These guys brought it hard and distorted.  I had been geeking out to their records for the last few months, so I was primed for a good time, and so we staked a spot early (forgoing some other decent acts) and were right in front for the set.  A good performance should do (at least) one of two things:  1. Hook you into liking songs (or the band itself) that you've  never heard before or 2. significantly enhance the songs you already know from the record, adding to and expanding what the recording has to offer.   TVOTR did both, but particularly the latter of the two.  They were the complete opposite of boring.  They had energy, they had horns (courtesy of Antibalas), they had shitloads of soul, and their guitar player had chimes hanging from the headstock of his Telecaster.  And also Kyp was really really awesome.

They played some songs from their new record (which is out Tuesday and which, I heard from my friends who are significantly more download-savvy, is great) but also killed the first three songs off Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes.  "Wolf Like Me" off Return to Cookie Mountain was also a fuzzed out highlight.  On their records, they use this technique where they augment the lead vocal with another that's an octave above on a lot of the tracks.  It creates a very distinctive sound and is awesome.  Even awesomer was (after seeing photos of the band) realizing that Kyp (see above) does this vocal.  Both him and Tunde are bad ass singers, and the whole band just rocks really effing hard.

I saw Hot Chip on Saturday, and I really dug them.  This was a band I hadn't really heard much of...and based on what I knew didn't think they'd work so well playing at 3PM in a not super crowded field.  But they sounded great with like four keyboards and lots of percussive stuff going on and people on stage running around and switching it up.  They were a nice surprise, because their records sound like straight synthed-out dance music, so when they had a drummer and full rock-a-thon band going, it was cool.  I was a bit farther back for this one, but close enough to feel good about it.

I was front and center for  Goldfrapp as well, mainly because I was saving an awesome spot for TVOTR who were up after them.  My friend described them to me before the show as "music that a girl listens to while cleaning her bedroom."  I found that description to be really vivid and fairly accurate.  Not my style at all.  Euro-scenesters who wore all white and rocked (at one point) two keytars simultaneously.

CSS seemed like they could be cool at one of their regular shows (i.e. a packed and sweaty club with tons of dancing), but by this point in the night I was kinda zonked and didn't feel much like pushing into the fray near the stage.  I watched most of the set, but from afar, so I can't really count this one. LoveFoxxx looked cool though.

The aspect of these festivals that makes all my friends (and often me) cringe is that you can't help but get a diluted version of these bands, and it's not really the same as seeing their proper show.  Because of the stage proximity problem, you have to pick and choose a few solid experiences...but truthfully, even if I could have an easy shot at seeing 10 awesome bands in a row right up front under the best possible conditions, I simply couldn't handle it.  I mean, my aged feet and back couldn't handle it, but also my mind couldn't hang.  After a couple, my senses are overloaded.  I need to go home, digest and analyze, and reboot the machine.

ready to roll,


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