Treasure Island 2009 Preview

<div> <a href="features/features/treasure_island_2009_preview/"><img src="" alt="Treasure Island 2009 Preview" /></a> </div> <p> The past couple of years have seen alternative music festivals blossom all over the place, and even though...
Treasure Island 2009 Preview

Now in its third year, the two-day festival, October 17th & 18th, has kept its two hallmarks:

First, there’s the location, Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, an artificial island built in the middle of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for the 1939 World’s Fair.  Originally planned to become an airport terminal, it instead served as a navy base during WWII.  The late eighties saw it become a film lot, including portraying Nazi Germany’s Berlin Airport in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, as well as hosting the initial ‘bullet-time’ camera set-up for The Matrix (it was also the site of Nash Bridges & a number of Robin Williams movies, but don’t hold that against it…).  Though it still does some film work (including NBC’s new Trauma), in 2005 the island began redevelopment as an eco-friendly, self-sustaining city, including wind & organic farms, and a plan to go ‘car independent’ – so take the ample public transportation to the music festival.

The other aspect that really makes Treasure Island Music Festival stand out is how the two days are set up: Saturday’s for dance & electronica, while Sunday’s for indie-rock, allowing fans to only pay for what they want, or get a healthy dose of both.  The festival is divided between two stages like a New York commuter, ‘Bridge’ & ‘Tunnel’, but bands don’t overlap.  Instead, while one act is playing, the other it setting up, letting the crowd see everyone performing – with no waiting!  And here’s who’s hitting up Treasure Island 2009:




MGMT, 9:25 PM

All of a sudden, Wesleyan University gave birth to a bunch of indie acts, but none blew up like MGMT (QRO live review).  Songs like “Electric Eel” (QRO video) and “Time To Pretend” (QRO video) launched 2007’s Oracular Spectacular in the stratosphere.  The two-man psych-rock band of Ben Goldwasser & Andrew Van Wyngarden is more than prepared to blow minds outdoors at Treasure Island (QRO photos outdoors).


While Sebastien Grainger took the punk side of acclaimed Toronto act Death From Above 1979 in solo career (QRO album review), the other half of DFA1979, Jesse F. Keeler, went electro-house with new partner Al-P.   Though the critical response to this year’s Fist of God has been average at best, MSTRKRFT still know how to throw a show.

Brazilian Girls, 6:05 PM

Actually from New York (and only one is female), Brazilian Girls blend their electronica with a wide variety of sounds, including reggae, lounge, tango, house & more, in a mélange that would suit the massive mosaic that is Brazil – and the band has gotten as big as the Amazon.

Brazilian Girls
The Streets, 4:25 PM

Michael Skinner, a.k.a. The Streets, came out of Birmingham, England, and has become one of the most successful U.K. grime-rap imports to the States.   His material got rather celebrity-obsessed in the process, then went ‘positive’ with last year’s Everything Is Borrowed, so who knows what next year’s Computers and Blues will sound like (rumors include the city of Berlin & Lou Reed’s Berlin…), but those at Treasure Island will get a preview.

The Streets
Passion Pit, 2:50 PM

Blowing up very fast has been Cambridge, Mass’ Passion Pit.  Single “Sleepyhead” found its way to MTV nominations, while record Manners (QRO review) found its way onto the charts.   So catch the burgeoning indietronica stars outdoors (QRO photos outdoors) at Treasure Island (QRO photos at a festival), ‘cause they’re not playing small places – or even medium-sized (QRO photos) anymore…

Passion Pit
Murs, 1:20 PM

Previously part of the ‘elusive’ Log Cabin Crew, Murs has rhymed with a bunch of outfits – but his major label debut last year, MURS For President, was solo.

Also – The Limousines, 12:00 PM




Girl Talk, 8:35 PM

Greg Gillis (Girl Talk – QRO photos at a festival) moved from biomedical tissue engineering to DJ mash-up engineering, taking samples from across the spectrum and making something very new.  While he started out playing clubs, he’s graduated to ballroom & even the great outdoors (QRO photos outdoors).

Girl Talk
LTJ Bukem featuring M.C. Conrad, 6:55 PM

The atmospheric side of drum & bass come to Treasure Island thanks to DJ Danny Williamson, a.k.a. LTJ Bukem.  He brings with him from his Good Looking Records frequent collaborator M.C. Conrad.

LTJ Bukem
DJ Krush, 5:15 PM

San Francisco has long been America’s gateway to Asia, and Asia gives a little back in the form of Hideaki Ishi.  As DJ Krush, he incorporates the sounds of nature into his music – sure to find favor in oh-so-green San Fran.

DJ Krush
Dan Deacon, 3:35 PM

Bringing the wild, DIY element to Treasure Island is Dan Deacon (QRO photos).  The Baltimore native is a man of many talents, including throwing his own DIY festivals & tours, like the recent ‘Round Robin’ tour (QRO live review) with No Age & Deerhunter.   But he’s still best known as an electronic musician, most recently with Bromst (QRO review), which gets wild live, whether with his fifteen-piece backing band (QRO live review) or Deacon standing & playing from in the crowd (QRO photos, outdoors at a festival).

Dan Deacon
Also – Federico Aubele, 2:05 PM, Crown City Rockers, 12:40 PM  





The Flaming Lips, 9:05 PM

Hitting up the few festivals they didn’t hit last year, there’s a good reason The Flaming Lips (QRO photos at a festival) are so popular on the circuit, as there is no live show out there like a Flaming Lips show (QRO live review).  Confetti cannons, costumes, video screens, balloons from the sky, puppets, singer/guitarist Wayne Coyne surfing the crowd in a giant plastic bubble – The Lips have it all (QRO photos), and expect them to take it even higher (QRO photos at a festival).  Oh, and they’ve got some great music, too, from early nineties hit “She Don’t Use Jelly” to 2006’s Grammy Award-winning At War With the Mystics (even put out a movie, Christmas On MarsQRO review), with their latest, Embryonic, out the week of Treasure Island

The Flaming Lips
The Decemberists, 7:10 PM

Portland, Oregon’s The Decemberists have been booming in recent years, from their showdown with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report (QRO Indie on Late Night TV) to this year’s excellent magnum opus, The Hazards of Love (QRO review), making them now one of the biggest bands in indie-rock.

The Decemberists
Beirut, 5:30 PM

While Zach Condon began his instrumental outfit Beirut as a solo project, he’s since developed it into a full band, featuring just about every instrument you’ve ever heard of (QRO photos at a festival).

Grizzly Bear, 4:00 PM

Just hitting their stride, in terms of acclaim, is Grizzly Bear (QRO live review).  The group use both traditional and electronic instruments for their experimental music (QRO photos outdoors), most recently on the just-released Veckatimest, and such tracks as “While You Wait For the Others” (QRO video).  Not for everyone, no doubt, but their experimental music is definitely for some – and growing (QRO photos at a festival).

Grizzly Bear
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, 2:30 PM

Alex Ebert, former singer of Ima Robot (QRO interview), only recently formed Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, yet they’ve got a ton of buzz, and are higher on the Treasure Island bill than other, more established acts.  Is the buzz justified, or just PR hype? Judge for yourself.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, 1:15 PM

Thao Nguyen (QRO interview) and The Get Down Stay Down broke through last year with We Brave Bee Stings and All (QRO review) and its fun, charming folk-rock – and their follow-up, Know Better Learn Faster, comes out the week after Treasure Island.   Her live shows are, if anything, more engaging (QRO live review), whether in a college student center (QRO photos) or a massive converted warehouse (QRO photos).

Thao Nguyen & The Get Down Stay Down
Sleepy Sun, 12:00 PM

Critical praise has been building for locals Sleepy Sun in their hometown since last year’s Embrace, and now their re-wave psychedelica reaches for higher ground.

Sleepy Sun



Yo La Tengo, 8:10 PM

There are precious few alt-rock bands with as wide a discography to choose from for fans that Hoboken, New Jersey’s Yo La Tengo (QRO photos outdoors), who just put out their umpteenth new release, Popular Songs (QRO review).   The trio of singer/guitarist Ira Kaplan, drummer (and wife) Georgia Hubley, and bassist James McNew (QRO photos outdoors) has been making critically acclaimed music for song long now that it’s hard to think of a time when they weren’t (QRO photos at a festival).  Their live show (QRO live review) has always featured some audience requests, from a very knowledgeable audience.

Yo La Tengo
The Walkmen, 6:20 PM

Practically a ‘Brooklyn veteran’ by now, The Walkmen (QRO photos) have grown from their more soused early days (QRO photos – which included a front-to-back cover of John Lennon & Harry Nilsson’s drunken weekend Pussy CatsQRO review) to a sadder, but more accomplished band (QRO photos) by last year’s You & Me (QRO review).  Their live show (QRO live review) has similarly evolved, if losing some of that early fun, but certainly gotten classier (QRO live review).  But, even at festivals (QRO photos at a festival) or outdoors (QRO photos outdoors), they range nicely from barstool rockers like oldies “The Rat” (QRO video) and “Thinking of a Dream I Had” (QRO video) plus the new “The Blue Route” (QRO video) to sadder pint glass-raisers like older “Another One Goes By” (QRO video) and “Louisiana” (QRO video) plus the new “On the Water” (QRO video).

The Walkmen
Bob Mould, 4:45 PM

No one at Treasure Island has been doing it as long as Bob Mould.   From the seminal Hüsker Dü (QRO spotlight on) in the eighties through the nineties’ successful Sugar to his solo work and today’s Bob Mould Band (QRO live review), Mould has been crafting great record after great record, most recently with last year’s District Line (QRO review) & this year’s Life and Times (QRO review).  But he’s also well versed in solo performances (QRO live review), the veteran still able to rock hard and loud, while baring his soul even more.

Bob Mould
Vetiver, 3:15 PM

Americana folk act Vetiver is headed by Andy Cabic (but often joined by folk-celeb Devandra Banhart & others), after moving from the wilds of North Carolina to the wilds of San Francisco.

Spiral Stairs, 1:55 PM

Bob Mould (see above) was once in the legendary eighties punk outfit, Hüsker Dü, and on the West Coast leg of his tour, including Treasure Island, is Spiral Stairs, a.k.a. Scott Kannberg, a.k.a. a former member of the equally legendary nineties alt-act, Pavement.  But unlike the Hüskers, Pavement is reuniting – next year.  So while you wait for their curating gig at England’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, and their four already-sold-out Central Park SummerStage shows (QRO concert listings) eleven months away, check out ‘the other guy from Pavement’ (i.e., not Mark Ibold, now of Sonic Youth – QRO live review) the one who wrote “Date w/ Ikea” (from Brighten the CornersQRO re-release review), whose return to solo work after a long hiatus, The Real Feel, is out right after Treasure Island.

Spiral Stairs
Also – Tommy Guerrero, 12:40 PM  


For festival’s website, go here:


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