Jesse Paller – The Musicologist
A column devoted to exploring, studying, and becoming part of the universe of music we are so lucky to find ourselves in.
The weekend of October 16, my good friend Jake and I journeyed up to San Francisco to attend the first day of the annual Treasure Island Music Festival. Although the Bay Area air quickly chilled us to the bone, the exciting performances and interesting people (likely a huge understatement) were enough to keep us going, allowing us to view several unique bands and expand our musical horizons. My first music column will be a band-by-band review of all the bands we witnessed.
Holy F***– Sorry, guys, it’s a school publication. The name that would more expectedly serve as that of a vulgar metal band is actually an accurate description of the way the average festival-goer would respond to their first time experiencing the mind-bending aural experiments of this electronic group. A blend between trip-hop, indie rock, and far-out progressive electronic music, Holy F*** opened up our day with their driving, melodic, and yet somehow ungraspable sound. Recommended to anybody willing for a challenge with highly rewarding results.
(Editor’s note: For obvious reasons, The Roar did not include a clip from this first band. We won’t tell your parents if you Google them on your own. Check out the others below!)
Jamaica– A radical jump from the first group. Led by the snarky Antoine Hilaire (“You Americans are so beautiful with your t-shirts and your white arms”), this band delivered some straight-up awesome rock n’ roll. Punctuated by simple chords, sweet melodies and keyboard tricks, the band opened up their shiny pop format in order to deliver some blistering guitar solos. A very fun band to watch and listen to, recommended to anybody who likes Phoenix, Spoon, or just having a great time.
Phantogram- Coming out of the silent disco, we only caught a few songs of this band’s set. However, they were excellent. With a strong live sound, this group blends loping hip-hop beats with bright keyboards and Sarah Barthel’s soothing vocals to create an original collage of pretty, pretty music.
Four Tet- Remember the far-out progressive electronic music I mentioned earlier? Well, this guy is pretty much that. Using a wide-reaching pastiche of influences, from standard electronic and hip-hop beats to jazzy drum samples and folkish melodies, Four Tet gave us a completely out-of-this-world DJ set. Dancers celebrated as the beats, rather than dropping, rose up into the stratosphere. His studio music is unpredictable and exciting, not for the faint of heart, but perfect for the strong of groove.
Little Dragon– Although I love this band’s album Machine Dreams, and you should all get it, their performance was a tad disappointing. I don’t know whether it was where I was standing, but the sound was imbalanced and the song performances were not at the caliber that I had expected. Still, their performance in the studio provides for great listening. Their electronic beats and frosty melodies provide for a new and extremely catchy sound.
Deadmau5– Well, we all know who this guy is. Thousands of people had simply come for his act. Accordingly, Jake and I were quite far from the stage. But of course this didn’t matter- the famous producer’s signature bass-heavy and synth-driving pulse was able to penetrate the multitudes and reach us through the sweaty and exhilarated bodies of the varying levels of hardcore ravers surrounding us. While his set was not of the epic proportions one might expect from someone of his stature, it was still able to bring our adrenaline to its high point of the evening.
Miike Snow– Unfortunately, by this band’s set, the island was so crowded that we couldn’t get within at least fifty feet of the stage. Their cold electronic-infused sound veers between genres, as their singer (actually not named Mike Snow) delivers excellent vocals halfway between Gnarls Barkley’s Cee-Lo Green and Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen. Some great songs include the sweetly Red Hot Chili Peppers-styled “Song For No One” and the epic masterpiece “Silvia.” My biggest regret of the night was being unable to see the unique group up close. But if they continue to impress me with their studio work as they have done so far, I’ll probably be attending a show in the future, closer to the stage this time.
Hope you enjoyed- see you next month!