Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco, CA | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, April 16th, 2021  

Au Revoir Simone, Ghostland Observatory, Gotan Project, Spoon, Built to Spill, Two Gallants, West Indian Girl, M.I.A., DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco, CA, September 15th, 2007

Sep 15, 2007 DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist
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Treasure Island Music Festival

Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA
September 15-16, 2007
Words and Photos by J. Pace

Treasure Island. There it sits in the middle of San Francisco bay. To most of us it’s rarely set foot upon, simply driven through, the halfway point on the Bay Bridge. It was built and pirate- and/or Stevenson-named in 1939 as the site of the World’s Fair-esque “Golden Gate International Exposition.” Since then it’s been a lot of things, among them a naval base and site of the Battlebots television show, in which machines battled to a fiery death. Apparently, people live there, too.

For a few days this September it was the site of the first Treasure Island Music Festival, a two-day indie extravaganza. The site was the northwest corner of the island, with a striking view including downtown San Francisco, Alcatraz, and the Bay and Golden Gate bridges. Pretty damned picturesque. We are spoiled here.

Green is the new black. One focus of the festival was to keep the ecological impact to a minimum. The plastic food/drink vehicles were biodegradable, the generators used on-site ran on biodiesel, and spectators were encouraged to take shuttle buses (zero-emission, natch) from San Francisco’s AT&T Park. I obliged, and was treated to a quick line and a rather plush bus. A field trip. Passengers had the wide-eyed anticipation of students legitimately missing class.

The site was well planned, if slightly small. It lacked an area where one could really escape from the crowds for a while or simply lay back picnic style without being a stone’s throw from the army of porta-podies. “What it lacks in space, it makes up for in beauty,” the hipster pelicans flying by seemed to squawk. Other amenities included any number of foods and drink, vendors, art, a ferris wheel, and—most importantly, Galaga. Or rather, a vintage arcade tent featuring at least a few dozen 80s classics, among them a few different Galaga machines. Galaga is a trump card for me, obliterating all resistance, suspending all judgment. They had me at Galaga.

There were two stages at the festival, the Bridge Stage (for the larger acts) and the Tunnel Stage (with better sound and less familiar names). Bands performed back to back essentially, alternating between the two stages. I watched a lot of them in between Galaga games and seven-dollar beers. Here are some highlights.

Day One:

Ghostland Observatory
First you notice the cape. Behind the Rick Wakemanesque wall of synths and digital toys, Thomas Turner tweaked knobs gallantly as his blue cape waved in the ocean breeze. With his vocal range and stage theatrics, singer and sometimes-guitarist Aaron Behrens gives the beats further life, yelping and posing like a modern-day Freddie Mercury. He exudes confidence, and his showmanship is half the appeal of their great live set. Well, that and the cape, which Turner definitely earned later in the set with some tasty filter tweaking. The crowd ate it all up. Dancing occurred.

MIA and her hype girl took the stage by storm, and ran through new stuff and old with equal aplomb. She “usually [does] this shit in the clubs,” she quickly pointed out. Didn’t seem to disuade her—she had all the spit and swagger you’d expect, and seemed to have a deep admiration for Alcatraz, mentioning it repeatedly. She invited a large chunk of the audience on stage toward the end of her set to dance to “Bird Flu.”

West Indian Girl
Los Angeles’ West Indian Girl was truly a highlight of day one. They’re a nod to the L.A. of yesteryear in a way, like an unabashedly psychedelic yacht rock. I mean that in the best way. Singer Mariqueen Maandig had the crowd rapt. Guitarist Robert James draped each song in a mesmerizing wash of delay. It was breezy, earnest pop of a distinctly West Coast flavor. I went away wanting to hear more.

DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist
DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist did a set using 45s. I overheard a couple arguing behind me about whether or not this was impressive. The set was enjoyable enough, with samples from old records talking about seven-inches, a self-conscious tribute to the format. It made for good standing in the ATM line music, which took up the bulk of their set. I returned in time to see the duo strap on little record players around their waists, doing a goofy scratch-along with Metallica’s “One.” This was a treat, and in its own way a comment on DJs performing at a gigantic outdoor festival rather than the more dance-friendly, bass-heavy club.

Gotan Project
Gotan Project play Tango-infused electronica, with several live instruments, including a violin section, a classical guitarist, and an accordionist with serious chops. Somehow it works quite well, without sounding too much like a late-night Cinemax soundtrack. Gotan were the perfect band for the sunset, and also a great transition from the electronic acts back to the rock instrumentation. It was all very mellow, very smooth, and the visual accompaniment made good use of the giant screen behind the stage (with a few of the earlier bands it seemed like they gave a remote control to a tubby couch surfer). The cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” complete with the live string action? Golden.

Day Two:

Au Revoir Simone
Au Revoir Simone played early on the second day, and I was glad to have arrived early enough for their set. They play ‘80s flavored synthpop, which is to say ‘00s flavored synthpop, with the three keyboardists/singers Erika Forster, Annie Hart, and Heather D’Angelo lined up center stage. Occasionally each of them would switch to percussion. They did their best to rock out without resorting to any Trent Reznor-style keyboard abuse. That wouldn’t suit the music anyway, which definitely chooses light over darkness.

Two Gallants
Two Gallants put on a great show. I was somewhat unfamiliar with their music, and also somewhat skeptical with regard to two-piece guitar/drum acts. I always find myself wishing for a bassist, no matter the tone of the guitar. Singer/guitarist Adam Stephens is skilled enough to make up for the lack of bass most of the time, providing both bass and melody on his large hollow body, Tyson Vogel is the breed of explosive drummer that can easily make up for the rest of the space. Their earnest, bluesy balladry suited the mood of the festival well. “Seems Like Home to Me” was transcendent, invoking near silence from the crowd. Stephens’ voice in a live setting was remarkably like Rod Stewart’s. I’ll leave it to you to decide how you feel about that.

M. Ward
M. Ward is one of those artists who relies so much on production to create a mood that you aren’t sure what to expect live. What we got was a highlight of the festival. Ward came out looking an awful lot like Dylan, a comparison he must get a lot. He had that same aloof swagger, too, and it really worked. He switched back and forth from guitar to piano as they went through the repertoire, throwing in an extended guitar solo here and there, or bullshitting with the crowd in that otherworldly southern drawl. The final Dylanesque move was simply leaving the piano before the final song and walking off stage. His band finished up and that was that. A great set, and one that has me digging out his albums to get re-acquainted.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
The love ‘em or hate ‘em Clap Your Hands Say Yeah probably didn’t make any new fans on Sunday. The sound was off, and the performance was off. They frankly seemed to be phoning it in, with the exception of the most-certainly-not-phoning-it-in Robbie Guertin, aka guitarist/keyboardist stage left, who pogoed up and down the whole time like a maniacal raver. They seemed to pick up some steam toward the end of their set, but even the ladyfriend, a fan, was unimpressed.

Built To Spill
Built To Spill brought the rock. It felt like a relief to have some distorted guitars and drum pounding, frankly, after so much electronic or subdued music. Doug Martsch and the boys have a grab bag of songs from, what, a decade now? Classics were of course heard, like “Car” or “Strange.” Doug Martsch, it should be noted, is the most un-rock-star of rock stars. He doesn’t look the part, he doesn’t bring the attitude, he just brings the volume, the hooks, and the glory of guitar interplay. A highlight to me was a fantastic cover of Brian Eno’s “Third Uncle,” a great excuse for further guitar worship.

I have yet to see a poor Spoon performance. Everyone has an off night, but man, these guys seem to just always be on-point. Britt Daniel has got to be one of the most consistent vocalists out there. They did plenty of hits off Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight, and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. They had a rare technical difficulty playing the piano intro to “The Ghost of You Lingers,” but still pulled it off. Other new tunes seemed meant to be played live, despite the studio-centrism of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. “Cherry Bomb” was particulary killer. They were great as always. A class act.

If you’ve scrolled down here for some words about Modest Mouse (not to mention Earlimart on the small stage), my sincere apologies. Two days of rock (OK, two days of beer) took its toll, and instincts took over, leading me to the biodiesel bus back to town, and the promise of sweet slumber. I’ll leave you with the image of the Treasure Island ferris wheel, and maybe we’ll get to do this again next year.

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April 23rd 2009

this album is amazing!

April 26th 2009

What a weird combo. ‘The Last Picture Show’ is a great film.

Frank L.
April 27th 2009

This movie so rocks.  I loved it.

April 27th 2009

It’s weird, “That Beep” sounds so much like Annie. AIH have definitely changed up their style.

April 29th 2009

A lackluster DVD so mediocre that it’s been reviewed twice on this website!

concerned fan
April 29th 2009

Can I get a comment on the music of Conor Oberst and not his comments or who he dedicated songs to.  Please.  It’s not too much to ask from a music website is it.

May 2nd 2009

I still haven’t seen this movie. I’ve really admired Aronofsky’s previous films though.

May 2nd 2009

What a terrible DVD cover. WOW. Terrifying.

May 20th 2009

I’ve never been a big fan of Silversun…meh.

May 22nd 2009

“The material isn’t always up to par the way earlier between-the-records EPs were, but it still beats the hell out of Plans.”
THANK YOU. and agreed.
May 26th 2009

great review! both shows rocked!

Nina Kurtz
May 26th 2009

This reviewer really transported me to the show! Great writer for a great performer.

Diamond Jewellery India
May 27th 2009

Hello Kyle lemmon, Really very nice information on Buraka Som Sistema. Really very nice and fantastic info on black diamond. Thanks for your nice info.

Bar stools
May 28th 2009

I just wanted to say I really liked your review of House of Mystery. It was good to know how it has developed over the years. Keep up the good work.

May 30th 2009

This is an ok ep.  I have to say that none of their recent material is even close to their earlier albums.

June 5th 2009

FYI just watched this show, sucks! Wished it didn’t but it does. Haha all wealthy people are dumb, evil, and think they can buy anthing… jeeze lets just stereo type everyone. Wealthy people just don’t deserve to live I guess according to all these shows that exploit wealth as evil.

Gonzales - linkin park songs
June 7th 2009

Rockband for real. It’s realy kicks ass) I hope the part two kicks ass as twice)))

Josh Tillman
June 11th 2009

The lyric in “James Blues” is:
“James incurred the wrath of jealous woman
And not long after that
Was spending all his weekends
Trying to relearn
How a young man yearns after a nurse”

It’s about castration.  I have little more of a sense of humor than your interpretation suggests.

June 11th 2009

“have a little more of”.  oops.

Gary Knight
June 18th 2009

Great review, Frank.

June 22nd 2009

This picture represents a huge leap forward for its director..a very nice post Chris.

June 22nd 2009

Wonders never cease, Coachella’s when this both fabulous performers start the event with a great start it is great to watch..

maria jones
June 22nd 2009

The rock band which we can say alternative is My Bloody Valentine..This is a very nice post

June 22nd 2009

She’s so hot/cute/adorable….....She is so cute…

June 22nd 2009

Wow! Marcus, This is a very nice post…Depeche Mode are fabulous..

June 22nd 2009

Some styles are more casual while others are meant for going out on ...poofing up skirts is very good

June 22nd 2009

When Bruce Springsteen finally broke through to national recognition in the fall of 1975 after a decade of trying, critics hailed him as the savior of rock

June 22nd 2009

The bonus features with Doubt on Blu-ray start off with From Stage to Screen, a series of interviews with the cast and crew about…

June 24th 2009

I’m one of the fans of The Killers. They’re cool.

June 26th 2009

I saw them play in Austin a few weeks ago. The new stuff is awesome, and they played beautifully.  My favorite track is “Slow Fade,” a single tear streamed down my face when they played it. So good.

July 3rd 2009

Thanks for such a detailed review. You’ve very keen observation for the details that should be there, indeed.

July 3rd 2009

Hi Chris, you are so right about the borders - the top one is incredible. Great thinking!!!

July 3rd 2009

Bonnaroo has always placed an emphasis on local and sustainable ways of making music. ..Nice Blog.

July 3rd 2009

I was actually hoping for a really good Doubt as a Blu-Ray comp….and it is able to prove itself….

Leslie Andrew Ridings
July 5th 2009

I totally get what you mean when you say “the sound of best friends making music together.” I think their sound is really warm and strangely intimate. I don’t know. It feels like music at a house party and the band is having beers and talking between songs—I like it; but the production is really thin, as you said.

Thanks for the review, Laura.

July 9th 2009

You have to be kidding me Lily.  This show does suck and bad.  Totally unrealistic specifically in how these characters behave.  Stupid crap.

July 10th 2009

Saw Bruce in Philly April 28th and April 29th. ALWAYS a great show! I went with a friend who had never seen him and she said it was more than a concert, it was an event—how right she was.

google cell phone
July 13th 2009

It is really a nice post, its always great reading such posts, this post is good in regards of both knowledge as well as information. i like stuff like ghostland observatory, the hush sound, the kills, indie music, black moth super rainbow, radiohead. anything that sounds weird and funky and has good sound to it. i do not like the teen boy singing the song. generations i like are indie, visual, experimental, psychedelic. along those lines. thank you in advance for the helping me on my music quest.Thanks for the post.

July 14th 2009

Nice Cracker reference!

Wound First Aid
July 16th 2009

A full album is set for release in September 2009. The confidence, wide range of obvious natural talent and exceptional promise of these songs is undeniable. The future for First Aid Kit feels star bright.

film izle
July 17th 2009

thanks for info.

Lisa Hur
July 19th 2009

The “barely” is everything in Wendy and Lucy. The sparse dialogue and lack of plot was the film’s message. Its panoramic moments said so much without saying anything at all. Wendy appears sedated much of the film but in a single moment, a bathroom meltdown, her story unravels. A story no one is sure of. In most every shot of the film we follow Wendy but learn little. We leave her without closure, but feel satisfaction without the closure nonetheless, amazed that such simple experience could be so captivating for two hours. I only wish I knew what her bandage was for and why her sister rejected her. Why else was she hurting and why was it so important for us not to know?

müzik dinle
July 19th 2009

thank you
very much
oo fantastic film

Wendy Redfern
July 20th 2009

This was SO good!!!!

July 21st 2009

Why are you so LATE on the tallest man UTR?  I’m disappointed and mad at you for it.  I hope you do a feature on him when his next album is release!

Laura Studarus
July 24th 2009

Counting down…freaking out. Come on Friday!

July 25th 2009

thanks for article.

Mike Trevor
July 31st 2009

I downloaded a few songs from this collection, I like it.
I really love it, play it on my laptop regularly.

Nina Sutherland
July 31st 2009

I love “Tracy’s Waters”  , it’s a wonderful mix of Psych folk and Dream pop

San Diego Weddings
August 5th 2009

I loved Grizzly Bear!  It was so calm and intimate in that space

August 7th 2009

So, if I understood this correctly, they are Australians making Brit pop? I’ve seen a lot of this lately. Looks like UK nostalgia never died out.

August 8th 2009

I think I’ll get this from the library if they have it… I know nothing about this band.

August 11th 2009

Wow…you totally missed the boat on the Jane’s review…Claiming you were there to see the one song that was a commercial smash led me to discount your review immediately, but I read on to see if you redeemed yourself.  Nope.  Fans of the band would absolutely disagree with your take, as the band’s true genius was displayed over and over during the set, Perry’s prancing aside.  He’s a consummate front-man, great voice, showmanship, and control of the spotlight. 
And, yes, ugly girls DO have to be sluttier than the good-looking ones.  Stick to reviewing bands you have a clue about.

August 12th 2009

You are, of course, referring to Alexander Mccall Smith’s series. There are so many witty observations in these books regarding male-female differences and the impact that these have on relationships.
Mma Ramotswe believes that women are best suited for detective work because women notice details, are observant, listen, and have more insight into human psychology than men.

share your discoveries
August 14th 2009

Gives Thanks, Very fascinating read, you should be dramatic of your web logs. I’ve been genuinely delighting developing up your situations from meter to time. Looking forward to understand your future positions
Many wonderful selective information, thanks for partaking.  Testament definitely be back more often….

August 16th 2009

i thought it was a good movie

August 18th 2009

This game looks just as terrible as the movie!

Kyle Lemmon
August 21st 2009

At first I thought Hester and Parks were just biting ‘Ghost Rider,” but I’ll have to check it out sometime.

August 21st 2009

They are COOL

August 24th 2009

wow!  that was a lame review.  I think they are great.  Apparently thousands of others do too.  They love them in Europe as well.  U.S. is always the last to recognize real talent.

August 25th 2009

The looks very pretty :)

Thank you for the post and photo.

August 27th 2009

Agreed. This was a dope show. One of the better I’ve been to in ‘09. Check out their performance of “Jump In the Pool” from the show.

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Justin Voigtschild
August 28th 2009

This high of a review score makes me question how you call yourself a journalist. I read the initial issue and it was utter trash with no redeeming value whatsoever. This title could have done for Greek mythology what Fables did for children’s stories and fictional characters. Instead the writer decided to go for the disgusting, unimaginative stories. I agree that Peter Milligan can be hit and miss in what he writes but this 1st issue made me want to throw up and regret spending $1.00 to give it a try. I have read Vertigo comics for about 10 years and this comic is truly the worst executed idea with no redeeming value I have ever had the misfortune to read.

August 31st 2009

I would’ve loved to see Henry Rollins.  He cracks me up!

September 2nd 2009

Thank you for your review. If this show was a decade earlier, I would’ve been there! Also, I empathize on your anger, when people leave before the show is “over” [the encore]. A band like MEW deserves an encore!
“Comforting Sounds” is awesome to hear live. My husband and I were privileged to see/hear them in D.C. a few years ago.

September 2nd 2009

I love this show!  Can’t wait untill next summer to pick up the New Shows.

Funny Quotes About Life
September 5th 2009

Whats Fray for the uninitiated? A buffy spin off comic from a few years back, which I understand never got its story finished. So Joss has decedied to combine it with a buffy story to finish it.
So we have a back history a number of fans may be unaware of and time travel etc thrown in? sounds like an awful idea but it works excellently.
The art is by Korl Moline who i believe did the original Fray comic, he is fairly similar in style to Georges Jeanty who usually does the book so its all pretty familiar.
The story is complicated and takes a little while to see where it is going but the end result and character writing are excellent. Not a good starting point for new readers but a great read none the less.

September 5th 2009

I became interested in this topic and tried to find additional information. Much of it I downloaded from

September 6th 2009

As I visited the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair it was interesting for me to read The Road to Woodstock ( and to compare its contents with what I saw. Great!

address public records
September 7th 2009

The overarching plot, revolving around the secrets buried underneath a clandestine basement, fares much better. Head writer, Matthew Sturges, is learning at a fast pace as the series[..]

Vadim Uvazhny
September 8th 2009

Did anybody watch this film? Share your impressions, please.

Heathrow Airport Parking
September 8th 2009

Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out! I love what you guys are always up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the great works guys I’ve added you guys to my blogroll. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post.

Bradley Albert Burkley
September 9th 2009

I’m in the middle of reading this book and was stoked to see it reviewed in one of my favorite mags. The review is pretty strait up, as is the book. Interesting for those who know about Steve Kilbey or not. For those who have been in or are in music groups, with it’s drama and challlenges, No Certainty Attached of particular interest.

September 10th 2009

“smashing success” = 6/10?

John Everhart
September 11th 2009

It’s a fine record, but not quite worthy of a 7 or 8, which are reserved for top twenty of the year candidates, which this honestly isn’t for me. But if you’re a fan of Polvo, you’ll like it, and even if you aren’t, it’s an excellent invitation to explore their great back catalog. And “smashing success” is removed from its context of “As far as unheralded reunions go,” as many are downright insipid, and this one is anything but that.

Fire science
September 14th 2009

Who designed Stephanie’s Jacket in science of sleep and where can I get a similar coat?
Science of Sleep is a movie and her military jacket is cute

September 18th 2009

I concur my friend.

September 20th 2009

The hype machine sold Sweet Tooth #1. It was pretty good, but I’m hoping we’ll see a little more happening in issue #2.

Then again, I ought have a little more faith in Lemire, he’s pretty damned good.

September 21st 2009

Will there be a second season of the No 1 Ladies Detective agency?
find public record

September 26th 2009

Can’t wait until this year’s concert. Fantastic stuff. Sooo hot though. Bringing plenty of water this year

DVD Rentals by email
September 29th 2009

Ok this is by far the best series ive seen so far its got great story line, Animation, and good art work…. But one problem is the disc has trouble reading on a Xbox. I putted in the disc once and it worked 2nd time it got defective. Great series to watch a must see

Mark Redfern
October 3rd 2009

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. It’s got a great soundtrack too: Jens Lekman, Tilly & the Wall, The Go! Team, Radiohead, and others.

sobakawa pillow
October 4th 2009

wow, San Francisco’s Girls must have been very bad. It has been a while since I have read such a damning review of any band

sobakawa pillow
October 4th 2009

Jenny Lewis is a babe. I also like the killers. I think they are class

October 6th 2009

The track wasn’t used and in fact went unheard for two-plus decades, but Gordon and Mingus occasionally unpacked it live. In any case, one can only hope that when Mingus finally flipped the calendar past the greatest year in jazz, dude hit the mattress for a well-deserved nap.

October 10th 2009

Great reviews. Loney Dear has been my favorite band because their music touched my soul and makes me feel good. Live they are incredible. I saw them in Fortaleza, Brazil, and I’ll remember that day for a long time.

October 13th 2009

I like bands what make good musics. And banana splitses.

October 14th 2009

Did UTR ever do a review of the Rhino San Francisco nuggets box set?

October 21st 2009

As a fan of the series who buys it month-to-month, I guess I’m biased in that I enjoyed it. I would be interested to see if non-Fables readers enjoyed it.

It’s great to see my favourite magazine cover my favourite comic. I check for a mention of it in every printed-issue of Under The Radar, and so far have only seen it in there this month!

October 21st 2009

Wow! Sounds like a fun show. Now if only we could get him to come out west…

October 22nd 2009

mellow but good/interesting mellow, not boring mellow.  also check out whitest boy alive (same singer)

tuxedo trousers
October 23rd 2009

Where can I buy waterproof trousers not over trousers?
tuxedo trousers

October 23rd 2009

who the hell says “blogosphere” anymore?

October 25th 2009

its a Grower not a Show - er!

October 26th 2009

I wish this had been posted earlier. They had a show where I live tonight, and I could have gone ... oh well.

October 26th 2009

This is a fantastic review.  I’m one of those people that consumes all things Pearl Jam (50+ live shows).  You nailed Backspacer perfectly.  I want to tell you how great it is but it isn’t - it is a step in the right direction though.  Nice job.

indoor wall fountains
October 27th 2009

The overarching plot, revolving around the secrets buried underneath a clandestine basement, fares much better. Head writer,

camping tourist
October 27th 2009

What is the best tourist attraction in the Philippines?
camping tourist