I’m sitting next to a girl I just met mid-afternoon. She says, “These are all the types of bands I want to listen to alone in my room.”
And it’s true. Treasure Island’s second-day lineup consists of bands with slow tempos and sensitive leanings, a major temperature change from the electronic acts the day before. Aside from the cooler music, a serious drop in degrees has festivalgoers shivering. You could name this festival after flannel. I discover that Vetiver is fabulous music to buy a scarf to.
I am sitting on the grass with my friend Stuart Schuffman, otherwise known as Broke-Ass Stuart, when Grizzly Bear goes on later. “This is the windiest show I’ve ever played,” says Ed Droste.
“I didn’t expect them to be this mopey,” Schuffman tells me. I would use a word more like “dreamy.” Their lovely, hollow, echoing voices make cathedral-worthy harmonies bolstered by a prominent wind-chime effect and heavy bass, which I can feel through the grass. I even forget that I’ve lost my pinkie toes to frostbite when the “The Knife” is played: It’s a song worth suffering for. “Chin up/ Cheer up,” they sing next. I try my best.
The brass section and accordion of Beirut create an Eastern European mood that seems appropriate, considering it’s about 4 degrees outside. Their music is more attention-holding live than I remember, although it could just be my achy ears. “Fuck the cold,” Zach Condon says from the stage. “I’m scared of earthquakes.”
Like Beirut, the Walkmen also break out brass. A show highlight, “The Rat,” is loud, fast and angry. Hamilton Leithauser’s voice is part Axle Rose and part Nathan Willett of Cold War Kids, and he sings with passion. He also accepts blame for the lack of sunshine. “We have a history of bringing the bad weather whenever we play outside,” he says, “so sorry.”
My new friend had a good insight: Some bands are better for lonesome bedroom listening.
The Flaming Lips are not one of those bands. They start off the antics by entering the stage through an opening in a projected image. The image is of a naked woman, and you can guess where the opening is placed. Then, Wayne Coyne is hoisted into the crowd. He is inside of a giant inflated ball. He crowd-surfs as the rest of the band plays “Race for the Prize.”
“I was afraid it might be too cold to freak out,” he says once onstage. “Is it too cold to freak out?”
“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” and “Fight Test” are played next to the loosening of orange and red confetti. Then, they play a song that the Lips premiered at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, claiming at the time that they would never play it again. It’s called “Enthusiasm for Life Defeats Existential Fear.”
By the time “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” begins, I’m finally not cold anymore.
[For a rundown of the festival’s first day, click here.]