The Best of Treasure Island Music Festival, Day 2: Haim, Sleigh Bells, Japandroids, and More
We continue our Treasure Island Music Festival coverage here with short takes on the best of Sunday, Oct. 20. Also check out our Saturday TI best-of, our review of Atoms for Peace's amazing headlining Saturday set, and our run-down of all the goofiness Beck got up to on Sunday.
Christopher Victorio Haim
Being an "I told you so" person is never a good look, but seeing everyone freak the fuck out over the sisters Haim at Treasure Island was kind of like, "well, yeah." They excel as performers, and everything about the way Haim presents itself to the world is somehow both impeccably rehearsed and completely natural and off-the-cuff. It's a wonder that it took the three sisters until their mid-twenties, even, to shred together for an elated, packed festival crowd, screaming while San Francisco sparkled in the background. I saw them play maybe six or seven years ago, to a handful of people at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood, and even then it was a no-brainer: Haim was a name we'd all be hearing. But don't necessarily expect Days Are Gone, their new successful new solo debut, to paint this whole picture; If anything the LP is just a roadmap for Haim's live show, which thrives on a shared musical chemistry that's better than anything that can be planned in advance. Will Butler
Christopher Victorio Haim
Christopher Victorio Japandroids
"This is a very Canadian experience, being this cold up here," said drummer David Prowse, one half of Vancouver's Japandroids, as his bandmate, dressed in a T-shirt, breathed hot air into his own cupped hands and jumped in place for a minute on the opposite side of the stage. "We really appreciate you guys sticking this out with us." And using a metric of "band that actually seemed to make the crowd warmer through sheer onstage energy," Japandroids won Sunday, for some of us. "Young Hearts Spark Fire" still hits a certain adolescent spot after four years; "The House That Heaven Built" is that rare party anthem that leads to fists in the air but also somehow appeals to the down-trodden introvert in all punk kids. Neither here nor there: Brian King's voice appeals to the part of my brain that still secretly loves the Promise Ring, but wants them to grow some balls? "Warning, if you brought small children, this song contains both riffs and drum solos," he said at one point. "Though, y'all are from San Francisco, I guess you're used to seeing Metallica play every second weekend of the month or whatever." Emma Silvers
Christopher Victorio James Blake
Playing sunset on Sunday evening is arguably the most important time slot at Treasure Island, and James Blake did exactly what he was supposed to do. Only just kicking off a relatively limited North American tour and not stuck in the whirr of an album cycle, you wouldn't guess that this would be a tough order for an artist like Blake. But it was cold on the island. He shivered as he got on stage and offered up some dulcet, matter-of-fact banter: "I think I'm being cryogenically frozen." But Blake's band held tight, hitting tunes from James Blake, Overgrown, and intervening EP's with near-perfect marksmanship despite the rapid vacuum-suck of light and heat from every corner of the field. Not exactly sure whether I was blinded by my own borderline obsessive love for Blake's music or not, I made a point to poll various scattered friends after the show, a few of whom and had not listened to Blake's music before, and they all confirmed that they, too, were totally taken by his set. WB
Christopher Victorio Sleigh Bells
If there were any doubt that Sleigh Bells could carry an arena-sized crowd -- and really, at this point, there shouldn't be; their tendency to drown their own melodies in a wall of Derek Miller's guitar noise is certainly better suited for festivals and stadiums than for living rooms -- this set assuaged them. Bona fide rockstar stage presence aside, Alexis Krauss' voice is such a satisfying blend of old-school soul mama and indie-songstress-sweet (without being syrupy), we just wish we could hear it a little more of it underneath the assault from every other instrument. Which isn't to say it was unenjoyably loud: Leaning heavily on songs from the recently released Bitter Rivals -- "You Don't Get Me Twice" brought about especially enthusiastic pogoing from most of the crowd, though "Born to Lose," off 2012's Reign of Terror, sounded less painfully thrashy and more danceable than I remembered -- Sleigh Bells know how to hold a person's attention. You know it's a real rock-and-roll band when you can hear them loud and clear from the bathroom line, about a quarter-mile away. ES
Christopher Victorio Sleigh Bells
Christopher Victorio Animal Collective
Animal Collective playing live is much different than Animal Collective on record. When you put on, well, anything from Sung Tongs to Centipede Hz, you can drink in your personal fill of Beach Boys spaz, freak folk, art pop, or anything else that comes clattering out of the proverbial "stuff drawer" that Animal Collective picks from -- and then you can turn it off when you're full up. Live, it can be a bit nerve-wracking, though. There's simply no escape. Panda Bear, Avey Tare, Geologist, and Deakin are just going to dissect your brain and put it back together wrong again whether you like it or not. Kind of sounds like a nightmare, eh? Well, if it is, it's one of those nightmares that's thrilling enough to not force yourself out of. And, potentially for the festival crowd, AnCo was kind enough to serve up a marginally less pounding, scratch-your-own-skin-off-abrasive pile of sounds, while still dodging the more obvious crowd-pleasers from Merriweather Post Pavilion like "My Girls" in favor of cuts like "Brother Sport" and not leaning too heavily on the lesser, most recent LP. By the time the band dug back to finish out the set with songs like "The Purple Bottle," it had the whole crowd bouncing, squeezing together, and adulating the musicians for finally bringing some warmth back into the main stage area, reaffirming the immense skill of this outfit and giving us fuel for the rest of the night.