Treasure Island Music Fest 2009: Recap and Photos

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Despite the hurricane-grade rain that lashed San Francisco earlier in the week, Day 1 of the third annual Treasure Island Music Festival dawned sunny and warm. Dan Deacon, joined onstage by a raucous crew of musicians and eccentrically-costumed dancers, led a demented carnival of a show that concluded with lines of fans dancing through each others tented arms.

As darkness fell, MSTRKRFT took the main stage, backed by a giant arced lighting sculpture and projection screen controlled by the local art duo Dubbo, who mixed live concert footage with retina-searing animations. Dubbo’s Paper Rad-inspired treatment proved to be a genius addition to MSTRKRFT’s set, as the Canadian knob-twiddlers put their bass effects into overdrive, pounding out crowd-pleasers like “Bounce” before closing out with their signature variation of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Over on the second stage, Girl Talk, shirtless, worked the crowd into a massive dance party, with a set that reflected his recent predilection for longer samples and a lighter touch on the cross-fader, mixing his favorite mash-ups with fresh material, including an epic Black Sabbath/Ludacris jam. He closed with his classic Elton John/Biggie “Tiny Dancer,” as an impressive pyrotechnics display launched from behind the stage, with fireworks popping and sizzling seemingly in time with the beats. In the only glaring scheduling error of the weekend, festival programmers selected MGMT to headline the night, and their mellow, psychedelic jams, combined with “Kids”‘ early position in the set list, caused a premature crowd exodus.

San Francisco’s music scene got some love on Sunday, with local favorites Thao Nguyen and Vetiver (who returned the favor by including “Down at El Rio” in their set) scoring daytime slots. Bob Mould, one of San Francisco’s newest residents (as of this week), dominated the second stage with a wall of sound, tearing through a hefty selection of Sugar classics and a smattering of newer material. At a festival packed with super-sized bands replete with horn sections, xylophones, and dancers, Mould’s modest three-piece ensemble stood apart, but undeniably proved that he can still rock the hell out of a guitar.

On the other side of the band-size spectrum, Beirut‘s Zach Condon announced it was the group’s last US show in 2009, and he made it count: his brass band swirled through an eclectic mix of songs from Beirut’s catalog, and whipped the crowd into a massive dancing frenzy with the most unlikeliest of tuba solos.

And then, of course, the Flaming Lips launched into their headlining set: the crowd collectively lost it as the entire band emerged onto stage from a pulsating psychedelic vagina projected onto a giant screen, before launching Wayne Coyne onto the crowd in his signature human-sized inflatable hamster ball. In addition to the usual retinue of furries, dancing girls, and confetti guns on stage, Wayne bashed a giant gong during “Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung” and led the crowd through a sing-along version of “Yoshimi” before closing with an encore of “Do You Realize??” And as the crowd shuffled back to the shuttle line, we realized, yeah, it’s been a pretty epic two days, and here’s to 2010.