Treasure Island

Photo: Miike Snow
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Miike Snow


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Photo: Dead Mau5   





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SATURDAY

Miike Snow:

Nursing a musical hangover after deadmau5, you'd think gentle, electronic blends of Miike Snow could not possibly match the dynamic of the previous headliner. But the trio, covered with their trademark white masks, added a new level of magnetism to their lively sound.

The mellowness of their self-titled debut raised concerns about how well they would fit in among a lineup packed with synth-heavy acts. In a well-executed move, Miike Snow adjusted their entire set list, adding pounding bass and embellished drum solos. In the haunting "Sylvia," beats that were simply background before became much more prominent and enhanced to the point where they seemed never-ending. Other tracks that did not require as many upgrades, such as "Plastic Jungle" and "Animal," followed more along the lines of their studio sound.

The highlight of their set came when Miike Snow uttered a happy lie. "This will be our last song," they regretfully conveyed to the audience, referring to "Animal." But as the final notes even drifted away and concertgoers reluctantly began to disperse, the warped electronic chords of "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance" burst through the speakers. Miike Snow immediately launched into a delightfully lengthened version of their Vampire Weekend remix, a track not normally on their set list, and further endeared themselves to the hearts of fans.

-Cynthia Kang

Dead Mau5:

The king of the house music scene, deadmau5 took the stage before a cultish cluster of fans that formed a sea of glowing mouse heads and ears. Joel Zimmerman (the "mau5") lived up to the hype, delivering 70 minutes of crisp, ear-blasting mixes that passed by all too fast.

Interestingly enough, the appeal of the show was all due to the crowd. Mixing from his high perch on a cube, Zimmerman did absolutely nothing except bob his giant mau5 head a couple of times. Well, to his credit, he did jump down and run around in a ghost costume during "Moar Ghosts N Stuff" but other than that brief moment, it was difficult to tell that there was even a person on the stage due to his static pose.

But Zimmerman provided the perfect soundtrack for a house party and that was what the night turned into - a 10,000-person house party, reinforced by impossibly bright light shows and set changes. Deadmau5 has accumulated quite a little nest of fans over his career and said fans' hunger for and idolatry of the artist was overwhelming. Call deadmau5 overrated but just try and stand still amidst a flood of flying limbs and drug-induced head sways. It ain't happening.

-Cynthia Kang

Die Antwoord:

Whatever you've heard about Die Antwoord, it's all true. Yes, they are weird. Yes, they are crude. Yes, they are fokken brilliant.

What began as a viral YouTube video, quickly turned into a music sensation. Die Antwoord's smooth flow, peculiar concepts and blatant disregard of social norms make for an unforgettable show.

The South African trio did not need to depend on elaborate backdrops or blinding light displays to appeal to the audience. Their idiosyncratic personalities did all the work. DJ Hi-Tek, covered by a ghost mask, mixed the backing behind a sheet covered with childish and lewd scribbles. Vocalist Ninja's ferocity was apparent through the way he vehemently spat out his raps while Yo-Landi's actions alternated between promiscuous and savage.

Die Antwoord ripped through their set, jumping from one song to another with no need for small talk. Hits like "Rich Bitch," and "$copie," elicited both laughter at the content and pure shock at the graphic performance. If that weren't enough, Ninja dropped trou onstage, ensuring that their act will be firmly planted in people's memories for quite a long time.

-Cynthia Kang

Wallpaper:

Like the inconspicuous wall decoration their name hails from, Oakland's Wallpaper. is not a name that evokes excited murmurs. But the moment lead singer (and Cal alum) Eric Frederic leaped on stage, clad in a suit and fedora, his energy burst across the field and crowds flocked to see what this band was all about.

The elastic synths and soul-filled groove that filled hits such as "ddd" led to instinctive foot-tapping and turned the audience into a hyperactive mass of wriggling bodies. Wallpaper.'s heavy hitting beats and sing-along lyrics made it easy for the average concertgoer to become absorbed in the music, regardless of familiarity with the band's work.

Of course, Frederic's ridiculously dynamic moves helped. Jumping from one side of the stage to another, his routine constantly changed.

Addictive hooks aside, Wallpaper. carried a satirical edge. Frederic poked fun at everything and anything - pre-partying, getting wasted and gangster sensitivities, to name a few. Evoking both laughter and an urge to get funky, the only downside to Wallpaper.'s performance was my outrage at how underrated they are.

-Cynthia Kang

Holy Fuck:

Sitting on the lawn before Holy Fuck's much-anticipated set, all I could hear were shouts of "Holy fuck, this is going to be good!" and other similarly, pun-filled excited yells. Oh, how wrong we were as they brought nothing but disappointment.

After Wallpaper.'s enthusiastic set, there was an understandable, fizzing energy, just waiting to be harnessed. Instead, Holy Fuck's sound came across as dull. Granted, they were passionate but their performance did not elicit much of a response from the audience. The songs were much too static and faded into one another, ultimately becoming a 45-minute drone, with scatterings of strange screeching. Sound interesting? Yeah, the audience didn't think so, either. I snuck a glance behind me and the crowd looked rather lifeless. There were a few head-bobbers, but I was mostly met with faces of boredom.

If the songs themselves don't exactly pump up a party, the least the band could do is show a little interaction with the audience. But aside from a few shout-outs, the members of Holy Fuck kept their eyes on their instruments. Sure, they are talented in producing electronic music but they could learn a thing or two about stage presence.

-Cynthia Kang

SUNDAY

Belle and Sebastian:

Unlike Saturday's headliner (LCD Soundsystem) who displayed nifty set changes and set the crowd jumping, Belle and Sebastian kept it simple and focused the attention on their beautifully structured sound. Accompanied by a 12-piece band, singer Stuart Murdoch showcased both his charisma and dapper dance moves.

Despite the recent release of their eighth album, Belle and Sebastian Write About Love, the band chose not to place the limelight on their new tracks. Released only a week ago, Belle & Sebastian knew that their fans would not be terribly familiar with it and wisely filled up their performance with old favorites. They set the audience swaying and singing along with hits such as the jazzy "Step into My Office, Baby," and the soothing "Piazza, New York Catcher," in which Murdoch attempted to cheer up Giants fans that day.

Belle and Sebastian are the kind of band you'd want as your best friends. Their music warmly welcomes you into their carefree world of breezy melodies. Listening to them is akin to sitting in front of a cozy fireplace, feeling like you've finally reached home. But as the last few bars drifted away, I reluctantly realized that reaching home involved a mad scramble to beat the snaking shuttle lines. Belle and Sebastian, however, enticed me (and other equally captivated listeners) to linger until the final note faded.

-Cynthia Kang

The National:

Be it a lack of love for ginger Scots, or an acquired taste for white-collar middle-aged angst, the National doubtless received the bulk of the hype over headliners Belle and Sebastian on day two of Treasure Island Music Festival.

And they did not disappoint. Lead singer Matt Berninger took center stage, his signature white wine already half-drained, framed on either side by twins Aaron and Bryce Dessner on guitars, Scott Devendorf also on guitar, with John Lennon doppelganger Bryan Devendorf pounding on the percussion to complete the portrait of this Cincinnati-via-Brooklyn quintet.

The National catered to their new-found fan base by playing almost exclusively off of their two most recent albums, Boxer and High Violet, with hits such as "Fake Empire" and "Bloodbuzz Ohio." They did throw in abrasive renditions of "Mr. November" and "Abel" for those fervently devoted fans who went as far back as the Alligator days.

Berninger's baritone mumblings, interwoven with Aaron and Bryce's elusive picking patterns and smooth harmonizing from a duo of brass players, elicited a multifaceted and poignant patchwork of sound that penetrated every ponchoed body swaying in musical bliss.

-Belinda Gu

She and Him:

Only the sunny charm of She & Him could cast away the gloom of a rainy day. Zooey Deschanel was at her most chipper, bouncing impossibly high all over the stage with her tambourine and giving high fives to the backup singers while M. Ward looked on with a nonchalant air, slipping on shades and plucking away at his guitar.

The pair, accompanied by a sizable backup group, gave a clear rendition of their tracks, an impressive feat due to Mother Nature's lovely whiplash of freezing rain and wind. From "Over it Over Again" to "In the Sun," Deschanel's voice never sounded crisper.

Though the music was undeniably radiant, there was a glaringly obvious lack of enthusiasm. Deschanel crooned, "When I look at you, you look so bored," an ironic reflection of her own attitude. She may be hopping up and down (possibly due to the cold) but her expressionless face gives away her apathy. "You guys need to participate more," Zooey mildy admonished her fans, though maybe if she showed more passion, the audience would have too.

-Cynthia Kang

Broken Social Scene:

Broken Social Scene's set came with sunset over the island, as bloody hues smeared the silhouetted palm trees and the skeletal Ferris Wheel. The first words that came to mind as the Canadian supergroup traipsed onstage were, "Fuck, Kevin Drew looks old."

And yes, the ensemble has been going strong for over a decade, but the newly formed lines on Drew's shaggy face were no indicator of his dwindling vitality; the rigor of his performance could not have been eclipsed by a child with ADHD on a gummy bear diet.

The shivering crowd thawed in the damp after-rain to familiar hits such as "Texico Bitches" and "Forced to Love." Lisa Lobsinger, the band's current female lead in a lineage that has included Feist, Emily Haines and Amy Millan, gave a haunting performance of "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl."

The conclusion of their set saw Drew belt into the audience that, "I'm gonna crowdsurf, just to be close to you (guys)." And Drew doesn't do anything half-assed. He surfed into the heart of the crowd on the wave of a thousand eager palms and was never seen again. Just kidding. He probably walked backstage afterward.

-Belinda Gu

Tags: TREASURE ISLAND FESTIVAL






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