Treasure Island fest - another view

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Pulling it together: Doug Martsch of Built to Spill at Treasure Island fest. All pics by Kimberly Chun.

By Steven Touchton

This past Sunday was the first time anyone had ever rented out West Oakland's DeFremery Pool in order to throw a late afternoon pool party featuring spazzy bands. Since it was a private rental, you could only attend by purchasing advance tickets from the Club Sandwich Bay Area Web site. It nearly sold out. The weather was perfect for the occasion.

My band KIT shared the bill with Los Angeles's Captain Ahab and Foot Village, as well as local band Cell Block. Cell Block, which includes people from Ex Pets and Coughs, got things going with their brand of aggro-distorto noisy hardcore. People were already pumped just to be at an event like this, and Cell Block's set just ramped up the excitement level that much more.

Foot Village are a vocals-and-percussion-only quartet who stole the show, in my opinion, with a sweat-drenched set of primal energy. Captain Ahab (winner of the Snakes on a Plane-song competition) closed it out, rave style. He brought along a fancy sound system and a dancer guy whose job is to “sexually harass” dudes in the crowd while singing along sans microphone. The dance-party covers included a Vocoder-soaked version of Avril Lavigne's "Sk8ter Boy.”

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Earlimart wear their fall colors.

Most of those who attended left this party excited and energized, making plans for one of the post-show hangouts that ensued. But I had to load out my gear and take off right away, skipping the after-parties, in order to catch Built to Spill at the Treasure Island Music Festival.

My girlfriend and I were running late so we decided to take a chance parking on Treasure Island despite the festival organizers' making it clear online that there would only be parking available for staff and those who purchased VIP tickets. Everyone else were to catch a shuttle bus from San Francisco. Taking a chance paid off for us: parking was readily available. We had saved a lot of time and stress.

The Treasure Island Music Festival was about as unenjoyable as I expected. The only thing bringing me here was my first chance to see Built to Spill. It had all the pitfalls of a big outdoor rock festival: disgusting portable toilets with massive lines, grossly overpriced food (i.e., $6 slice of cheese pizza), a hoard of people who believe the local corporate rock station (Live105 in this case) is on the cutting edge, plenty of buying opportunities, advertisements everywhere you look, sunburn, and sound mixes of rock bands where all you can hear is a larger-than-life kick drum with some vocals on top. And how fun is it to have a football field of heads between you and the band? But you could always spend an hour fighting through the crowd, right? Like I said, these are the earmarks of bug outdoor rock festivals so I shouldn't act surprised.

But I missed Built to Spill’s set!!! What a drag!!! Earlimart and Spoon: they encourage boring complacency. Modest Mouse seem out of touch with the elements that once made them a great band but perhaps I am out of touch with what once made me feel like these events are great.

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I have a few suggestions for the TIMF organizers: please get a third stage with some interesting music. Perhaps KALX and KTRU could co-curate. Most importantly: make it more user-friendly. Give me a reason to come to your festival after a kick-ass East Bay pool party!