I know we say this every year, but the curatorial wizards behind the Treasure Island Music Festival really outdid themselves this year. Every single act begs your undivided attention. Good thing this is the one big-ish West Coast festival that doesn’t force cutthroat decision-making between acts. The only thing you need to decide is how close to get for each act. Allow us to advise.
Atoms For Peace
Where to Be: 40-60 yards back.
Why: If Radiohead live shows are any indication, Thom Yorke’s mega side project will be an ambitious spectacle of a production. Recall several years ago at Outside Lands when Radiohead’s forest of LED lights reproduced a digital downpour of neon. That’s a common Yorke conceit. Get too close and you miss the big picture.
If you're into spoilers, here's the full set from their Austin City Limits set last weekend.
Where to Be: Next to the craziest kids you can find.
Why: Diplo’s side project insists upon one thing: energy. All of it. Just let reggae-hop wash over you and …wait for it…BOOOOOOOOUNCE. If you catch a glimpse of the stage, great. It’s freakin mayhem up there. But make sure you’re taking care of business and flailing your limbs with little regard for personal space.
Where to Be: Central, close to the stage
Why: Ambient pop can lose luster when the outdoor elements factor in. We know this. It’s not always slow-mo ambience with Little Dragon – far from it. They keep a kinetic pace, but their best songs are the moodier lounge songs that require close attention: “Feather” and “Twice” being at the top of this scribe’s list. FOCUS.
Where to Be: Up against the stage
Why: Because you’ll do anything to get a glimpse of lead singer Sarah Barthell’s face, which is usually hidden behind a mess of bangs and mystique. Of course, it’s her voice that drives this veteran electronic duo. Hard to believe it was four years ago they played an early afternoon set at TI’s Tunnel Stage, making an otherwise sedate crowd bounce with “Mouthful of Diamonds.” Stole the damn show and it wasn’t even 5 o’clock. Rude, really.
Where to be: Give yourself some space
Why: Because these are James Murphy protégés and you’re going to need what we’ll call Weird Real Estate. When they inevitably drop the dream-dance hit “Do it Again,” you’ll understand why. Or any song from their recent album Dynamics, for that matter. It’s the dance pop album of the year so far, and it’s happening on an island near you.
Where to be: A well lit spot.
Why: Before the festival, print out the sheet music to Beck’s 2012 concept album Song Reader, which was literally just unrecorded sheet music. The idea was aspiring musicians would record the music, share it, and maybe garner a few fans. Beck originally said he’d be performing the songs on a subsequent tour…study up and follow along (oh, and please learn how to read music first if you can’t)! He also has an acoustic album in the works and may be playing tracks from that as well, so you may want to get up close, where the lighting is usually quite good, incidentally.
Where to Be: Next to anything/one that will remind you you’re not hallucinating
Why: Animal Collective live performances defy convention, logic, wisdom, and fans with any sort of preconceived expectations. Just know that information, process that information, and get over that information. Let go. Lose yourself in this cavalier, experimental music, and continuously remind yourself that you’re still you, that’s your hand right there, you’re standing on an island on a planet called Earth, and the music you’re hearing was indeed conceived by humans. Or, to hell with it, let them take you down the rabbit hole. Just try to keep your pants on.
Where to Be: Up against the stage
Why: True story – these hands have hoisted lead singer Alexis Krauss up in the air before. Mid-song, she asked a friend and I to support her bold move to stand on a ballroom chair. That was 10 months ago, and I still haven’t washed my hands. You’ll also want to find your way up close to feel the maximum impact of Derek Miller’s impossibly electric guitar riffs. Anthem after anthem, ditty after ditty, you’ll fall in love. BUT YOU CAN’T HAVE HER SHE’S MINE.
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