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Treasure Island Music Festival, Day 1: Photos & Reviews

Thanks to Treasure Island Music Fest 2011, we're struggling through this beautiful Monday. Here are some impressions of the first day's electro-leaning lineup.

Consider Geographer our city’s answer to Passion Pit. The local electro chamber-pop trio is just as irresistibly catchy, and adept at winning hearts and minds and ears quickly. They rewarded the early birds on Saturday with big synths and clicky percussion, and also Nathan Blaz’ electric cello atmospherics. Vocalist/guitarist Mike Deni’s ghoulish vocals reminded of Grizzy Bear’s haunted slo-mo lyrical approach, deep and urgent and capable of the occasional wistful high register. They played most, if not all of their debut album Animal Shapes, an immediately and consistently intriguing collection of songs. They closed with “Original Sin,” the poppiest number of the bunch, looping a sugary synth riff that got the dance party started for those in it for the long haul. Expect big things. –Chris Trenchard

Whoa. Forget trying to put the Shabazz Palaces duo into a box. Their sound crossed genres and eras and dimensions on a whim on the mainstage Saturday. Vocals came packaged in abstract perversions of watery effects, and beats and rhythms recalled the experimental approach once championed by Outkast. The general reaction to their set was “it sounded like acid-(hip-hop/trance/soul/R&B/calypso/something).” The occasional dip into autotune territory was a bit of a turn-off, especially considering it seemed like they had discovered post-autotune territory in previous songs. But they’re mostly in unchartered waters, painting clever (if indecipherable) hip-hop verses over tripped-out beats. –Chris Trenchard

If you wandered into the festival during Buraka Som Sistema, you would have witnessed the entire crowd jumping up and down in a trance, arms waving wildly. The Portuguese ambassadors of kuduro definitely increased their following for their uptempo Angola-rooted dance music fusing hard techno beats with Afro-Caribbean tinges. The pulse climaxed as the coral-lipped MC, who was clad in a one-piece leopard print bodysuit, lured fans into a sing-a-long of their brand new single “We Stay Up All Night.” Seemed like most everyone planned on it. - Mary Polizzotti

The palpable anticipation for Chromeo surrounded the main stage where there was zero space to spare, and the Montreal-based electro-funk duo hardly disappointed. Their 45-minutes mixed older faves like “Bonafied Lovin” with more recent tunes like “Don’t Turn the Lights On.” But it really didn’t matter what they chose to play as the electric guitar plus talkbox action plus synth beats produced a smooth and sexy set that drew the crowd into one massive ‘80s dance party. Talk about two cool cats. - Mary Polizzotti

It’s really hard to pogo and take notes, but I tried. There’s just no way to avoid bouncing dutifully at the climax of a Cut Copy song. Sure, there’s various levels of foreplay, like when lead singer Dan Whitford authoritatively warns that “there’s something in the air tonight,” or “loud speakers sound like disco lights” in “Hearts on Fire” and “Pharoahs and Pyramids,” respectively. But then some euphoric dance pulse inevitably kicks in, like the most reliable lover you’ve ever had, and the ground becomes a trampoline. With all due respect to Empire of the Sun, these Aussie party masters really should have been in the headlining slot on Saturday; their songs are just emotionally and physically draining anthems, one after another. If you’re calves were sore on Sunday, blame Cut Copy. If you felt unsatisfied, may god have mercy on your soul. –Chris Trenchard

Talk about peacocking. Empire of the Sun lead singer Luke Steel came out in feathered headdress and Eyes Wide Shut mask to close Saturday with some performance art spectacle and plenty of WTF-factor.  A team of interpretive dancers punched and air-drummed their way through a brief and thoroughly bizarre set, acting everything out and mimicking someone’s opium dream. Their two-act set came equipped with costume changes and makeup and some fairly catchy pop songs. But we couldn’t shed the feeling that this was the wrong time and place for this, the Saturday headlining slot being the place where righteous dance acts such as LCD Soundsystem and Justice have occupied and thrived. Or maybe it was just an accelerated hangover from that Cut Copy set, a tough act to follow for any band. –Chris Trenchard

Photography by Misha Vladimirskiy