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Treasure Island Festival, SF – Sunday, Oct 18th

October 20, 2009

So, being short on funds and lacking a partner in crime this weekend (housemate/goodbuddy Saraswathi visiting some FMLY members in NYC), I only went to 1 day of the festival, as I did last year. I picked Sunday, the more rock-oriented (as opposed to Saturday, the more electronic/dancey day. Last year, Justice headlined Sat. and it was FCKN INSANE.) Anyway, who can resist the Decemberists and the Flaming Lips? Certainly not I.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it into the festival until about 5:30, because, by train, car, foot, and bus, the various transport all took almost two hours. So, I missed Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Bummer. But I have no one to blame but myself, so I guess the moral of the story is, start going to things early.

However, there was still ample time to enjoy most of what the festival had to offer. It seemed to be way less crowded, and there were basically no lines for anything, so that was nice. It was actually fairly cold and breezy (being in the crowd definitely helped), and (by and large) I would actually describe the overall demeanor of the festival as fairly dignified (generalizing a lot). Definitely not the crazy fanaticism of a Coachella or a LoveFest, nor the wild outfits (including myself, cause damn. Cold. Haha)

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So, let’s talk about some musix. (Almost all the videos I took with my camera are about 15 seconds long.. every time I watch one now I wish they were longer, but at least you can get the idea.)

I got there for the last two songs of Bob Mould, both of which were Husker Du songs (“New Day Rising” and I forget the other one) and I believe he played them both at Coachella. Still, I never object to hearing old faves played live 😉

Beirut was pretty enjoyable, and I’m not a huge fan of most of their album material. The entire band were endearingly nerdy-looking and clearly very stoked, and almost all were playing large, humorous, and/or brightly-colored instruments (accordion, tuba, giant red standup bass, etc). Definitely a good warm-up for the Decemberists, as almost every song brought to mind the phrase “sea chanty”.

Well, to be frank, I didn’t pay much attention to the Walkmen. But I did watch probably 20 minutes of the set, and wasn’t really too intrigued. Rather straight-forward rock, not offensive but not that exciting either, imo.

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The Decemberists were… oh my god. At times I couldn’t believe what I was seeing or hearing. Having seen them twice before (once in SF and once at Coachella fest) I thought I had a pretty solid idea of what they would be like this time.  And wow, was I ever wrong.

Most of the words I would use to describe this set are words I would never have expected to apply to our old friends the D’brists (yay for awk. abbrev.). Psychedelic. Heavy. Colorful. Futuristic. Serious. Badass. Polished (by which I mean buffed to a high sheen). I mean, holy crap, guys! When did you all become serious stadium rock stars instead of a loveable, scruffy band of folksy indie merrymakers?

I actually didn’t recognize almost any of the songs they played (“Mariner’s Revenge”, “Chimney Sweep” etc being noooowhere in sight.. or in sound, I guess) but it was still awesome. It was just like, “guys..? is that.. you?” I don’t think I saw any of them crack a smile during the whole set, and they didn’t say a word until the end.

Biiiig difference from last time, when they were having lightsaber fights and instructing the crowd to scream when the giant whale came out to swallow them. Guys? Are you growing up? Is that what this means? If so, I am a little bit sad, though you definitely ROCKED.

Yo La Tengo, I can’t say I really “get” them, so I didn’t watch much of this. I did hear some, though. My favorite YLT moment was when a racket of really crazy noise occurred (still not sure if there was actually something wrong or they meant to do this) and I could actually see every head in the crowd passing by turn to stare at them, as if to say in unison, “what the SHIT was that!”

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The Flaming Lips were pretty much what I was expecting, and that’s a good thing, cause they are a great festival band. Wayne did the thing where he goes in the big clear ball and rolls around on the crowd, so that was cool! They played a pretty good mix of new songs and old faves. The far-and-away best of the old faves was “Race for the Prize”, that lovely, sparkling, celebratory anthem, here punctuated with great blasts of confetti and streamers. Almost brought a tear to me eye, I tell ye.

I do have to say that Wayne definitely got a bit self-indulgent at times.. like, doing really slow, drawn-out “sing-along” versions of some songs, during which applause was expected at the end of each line. After several minutes, I was definitely really sick of clapping, so I stopped. It annoyed me extra because I really liked the songs they did that with, too, so I wanted to be like ARGH JUST PLAY THE SONG!! and it didn’t really sound to me like many people actually we singing along.. Oh well. That’s probably my only complaint about their set, haha. The ball rolling around thing was awesome, though. Observe:

So there you have it. Overall I was really pleased with my experience, and omg so exhausted by the time I finally made it home by about 2 am – feets were definitely killing. But, it was worth itttt 😉 Also, check out my videos of a dude wearing an LED t-shirt and a sexy acrobat with skillz.

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