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Monday, October 21, 2013

The Best of Treasure Island Music Festival, Day 1: Holy Ghost!, Antwon, Danny Brown, and More

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 8:59 AM

click to enlarge Major Lazer at Treasure Island this weekend. - CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio
  • Major Lazer at Treasure Island this weekend.

Treasure Island Music Festival took over that spot of dry land in the middle of San Francisco Bay this weekend. Here are SF Weekly writers' takes on the best of the festival's first day, Saturday, Oct. 19.

See also:

* Atoms for Peace Rule Over Saturday at Treasure Island

* The Best of Treasure Island Music Festival, Day 2: Haim, Sleigh Bells, Japandroids, and More

* Beck Gets a Little Goofy on Sunday at Treasure Island Music Festival

click to enlarge CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost! seems like the kind of band that might be incapable of phoning it in. Bumping through the speakers at a bar, it could be easy to dismiss a good part of its unabashedly disco-fueled synth-pop as an affectation; live, there's no question: Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel actually look like they've been commanded by a higher power to lead balls-out dance parties wherever they go, and they're just doing their best to keep up. Tracks from their barely month-old Dynamics dominated the set, conjuring a hot and humid, stylish and self-aware yet relentlessly silly Brooklyn summer night roof party onto a swath of grass on a chilly island in the middle of the Bay. For an hour, most people seemed more than happy to take that trip with them. Emma Silvers

click to enlarge CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio

Antwon

People think of Tunnel Stage as second tier at Treasure Island. Though the festival's lineup is consistently rewarding all day long, it's common that can't-miss acts are saved for the Bridge Stage, and the lesser known names are situated at this smaller venue at the other end of the concert grounds. That said, Antwon made 12:40 p.m. at Tunnel feel like the absolute best place to be. Playing to a crowd that seemed both familiar and/or Down For Whatever, 'Twon ratcheted through an impressive discography of dance-worthy rap tracks. From "3rd World Girl" to "Living Every Dream," the San Jose rapper got the early-afternoon assembly dancing, shouting, and even singing along when he led an impromptu rendition of the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way." Antwon isn't particularly well-spoken or charming, but it seems he made a conscious decision to be himself and not bow to the model of the rapper image, and that's what makes him fun to watch. The man is all about spontaneity, sex, and realism, and who can argue with that? Will Butler

The Art of the Flaming Lotus Girls

Most unexpectedly necessary objet d'art of the evening goes to "Merope," a fiery piece of intricate metal sculpture brought to you by the Flaming Lotus Girls, around which a good 150 freezing people were gathered at a given time. (From the looks of them, most people were drawn by the warmth as temperatures dropped but then found themselves stuck, slack-jawed like impressed cavemen, in the way many of us get around large fires.) A propane-propelling trigger console resembling an oversized Nintendo controller was proffered to interested patrons, most of whom couldn't help but press the red center button, which made each fire simply get bigger. Then there was the bonding over shared physical discomfort, as evinced by an impromptu sing-along at one point to "Take On Me," among other things. "Why don't you just keep it turned up that high to begin with?" asked one trigger-happy festival-goer, after seeing what the red button could do. "See this tent overhead? You don't want that shit to catch on fire," replied one wise fire professional, to which dude with the controller responded "Yeah I do. Do you know how cold it is?" ES

click to enlarge CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio

Danny Brown

When Danny Brown released Old earlier this month, I was excited to show it to people who might not have been into Brown's previous work. The new album shows a different side of Brown as an artist - one that's more reflective and doesn't rely as much on the super-high-pitched sing-song rap flow coined on 2011's XXX. But when Brown first took the stage Saturday afternoon, XXX was the main agenda. After a few songs, he chuckled and introduced himself giddily as "Daniel," blasting his goofy, falsetto cackle straight into the microphone, to the cheers of the entire, packed crowd. I had to remind myself that this was the Danny Brown, for better or for worse, that people originally connected with. And transitioning into songs from the new album, the payoff was still great: His new tracks not only resound with his evolving vocal style, but benefit from even more dialed-down, dance-friendly production. It was good to see that the crowd was game, loyal, and willing to appreciate both sides of this deceptively complicated rapper - the manic, absurd cartoon cut-up, and the serious, Detroit-hardened mean-streets evangelist. WB

click to enlarge CHRISTOPHER VICTORIO
  • Christopher Victorio

Little Dragon

"San Francisco was the first place we ever played in the U.S., and we really love you guys," said Yukimi Nagano, in her uniquely dreamy way, to the delight of some 15,000 bundled-up fans as Treasure Island submerged into darkness. "We came all the way from Sweden to be here!" On an evening of necessarily short sets -- always "back to the other stage, who's on next" -- Little Dragon's was the first to feel far too short Saturday night. The four-piece band's blend of brooding, soulful, electro-pop doesn't scream arena music the way some of the day's acts might, which only served to make its seemingly effortless command of the crowd atmosphere even more noteworthy. From the opening keyboard notes to Nagano's gracefully urgent stage presence to drummer Erik Bodin's triumphant, outstretched arms (and toss of his drumsticks into the crowd) at the set's closing, so many of us were held captive that it seemed like the beer line might have even thinned out for a minute. ES


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