Treasure Island Music Festival runs Saturday, Sept. 15 and Sunday, Sept. 16 from 11:30 a.m. until the last band leaves the stage around 10 p.m. The event boasts two stages (“Bridge” and “Tunnel”) and two dozen bands on Treasure Island's Great Lawn. Here's our select guide to the roster's riches, divided into national headliners (“Foreign Occupants”) and local heroes (“Home-Grown Gold”).
Saturday, Sept. 15
M.I.A. recorded her latest release, Kala, wherever her travels touched down. The talented MC collaborated with Aboriginal and Nigerian rappers, tacking on Tamil-language soundtracks, and generally weaving an ingenious mishmash of global dance beats. Meanwhile, the more singularly rock-focused Texans in Ghostland Observatory possess enough electro-energy to spur revelers toward the dance floor.
DJ Shadow took a sharp turn into hyphy territory with his last release, The Outsider, which merged his ambient electronic tendencies with tracks featuring Bay Area notables like Turf Talk and Keak da Sneak. Speaking of local hip hop, Zion-I keeps the genre lyrically sharp and socially conscious while the music boosts listeners into high spirits. Honeycut is pop vet Bart Davenport's foray into party-sparking synth-funk, while Kid Beyond is an entire band rolled up into one voice. The beatboxer loops himself mimicking multiple instruments, then sings along to the impressive vocal cacophony he's created.
Sunday, Sept. 16
Noise Pop favorite Spoon released one of the best indie rock records of '07, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Front man Britt Daniel possesses a droll lyricism that's especially sharp here, most notably on the album's slam-dunk dig on industry arrogance, “The Underdog.” The band sounds peppy and confident, and from horn sections to handclaps, it punches out succinct pop nuggets that burst through at the chorus. Although Built to Spill has gotten a bit jam-band-ish lately in its live shows, the group still winds its way through elegant instrumental passages punctuated by Doug Martsch's tart lyrical one-liners. Modest Mouse, another shining star in the Northwest's indie rock lineup, these days has Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr along for the ride, pushing the quirkily melodic band further into the headliner stratosphere. Earlimart's pastoral pop has rightly been compared with both Elliott Smith and Granddaddy, but the songwriting team of Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray has much more to offer than the sum of its influences. On a recent tour stop in San Francisco, the group brought along a small string section to carry further aloft its ebullient harmonies and piano-augmented melodies.
The roots-pop of San Francisco's Two Gallants has entranced fans across the country since the duo formed in 2002. The gutsy guitar-drums pair gives plaintive folk and white-kid blues a rock bite, their songs wrought with passionate delivery and their edges artfully frayed. They're a perfect pairing with Santa Cruz's Devil Makes Three, which uses a banjo, bass, and musical saw to craft country-punk that's still somewhat reverent toward ragtime themes. In contrast, it's fitting that a band named Film School would release such a stylishly cinematic disc as the recent Hideout. The band's new album is a blissful ode to shoegazer aesthetics — languid vocals, guitars that tug like string sections, and plenty of opiated melodies that blossom gently.