MUSIC Now in its fifth year, the Treasure Island Festival maintains a mystifying balance: it's both big enough to attract larger acts (Death Cab for Cutie, Empire of the Sun), and small enough to make the event feel intimate (with eyes closed, it's you alone dancing in the Silent Disco). There are rarely timing issues, one act stops, another begins. Precision and organization enrich a festival, whodathunk?
Traditionally, the fest has been split into days by genre — the more electronic-oriented acts go this way (Saturday), the rock'n'rollers go that-a-way (Sunday). As these distinctions have begun to blur — beats with guitars on Saturday, synths with tambourines on Sunday — it can all grow a bit perplexing. Who to see, what to do. Here are some notes to help you maneuver wisely through the festival, taking place Oct. 15 and 16 on scenic, wind-swept Treasure Island:
KUDURO TO YOU One of the best results of dancefloor globalization, Buraka Som Sistema (5:25-6:10 p.m., Tunnel Stage) has been off the radar for a quasar-minute. But did you really think a Portuguese collective who channels the past 25 years of underground dance music history through the irresistible beat of Angolan kuduro music would simply fade away? Naaah. They're back with a choice new cut, "We Stay Up All Night" from forthcoming full-length Komba — and despite the inevitable association of someone named Diplo, Buraka's rough edges and raw fire are still thankfully intact. We don't think we've ever seen a more energetic live electronic stage show than the quartet's appearance here after slaying Coachella in 2009.
EVEN DIZZIER Funny thing about Dizzee Rascal (4:35-5:25 p.m., Bridge Stage). Leaping out of the UK 2-step scene at the beginning of the century with square biz album Boy in da Corner, he became one of the thrilling monsters of grime alongside rapper the Streets. But whereas the Streets sank deeper into the shadows of obscurity, releasing occasional brilliance via Twitter, Dizzee just went for it by shamelessly co-opting poppy Euro-dance and rave-revival sounds. Two years ago, he joined with Armand Van Helden — a polarizing blast from the '90s who cursed us with that "Barbra Streisand" earworm last summer — to put out perfectly mindless smash "Bonkers." While Dizzee's embraced the disappointingly clichéd role of "the nutty MC with the goofy accent," he'll certainly hype the crowd.
OZ ATTACK Somehow, Australia? Aussie dance band Cut Copy (7:55-8:45 p.m., Bridge Stage) revel in a kind of prim disco cosmopolitanism that chases ghostly emotions into catchy choruses. Meanwhile, at the other end of the bombast spectrum, Empire of the Sun (9:35-10:35 p.m., Bridge Stage) will climax the day. That positioning was a real headscratcher at first — outside of pleasant early single "Walking on a Dream," Empire has barely registered on these shores, and when it comes to Australian dance representatives, the awesome Presets or (Kidman help us) pop juggernaut Sneaky Sound System would seem a surer choice. Until you get a load of Empire's eye-melting stageshow, that is, which might accurately be described as "Alien Electro Sioux invade Vegas on a Giant iPad."