Treasure Island Music Festival

Treasure Island: No shutter shades!


By Marke B.

The upside of the Treasure Island Music Fest Ferris wheel.
All photos by David Schnur.

Well, I was kind of wrong, despite doth protesting too much. There was not one single neon louvered spectacle at the Treasure Island Music Festival on Saturday, for a lineup that was topped with rockin’ French duo Justice. And I’m pretty sure it’s not because everyone reads my bitchy repartee in the Guardian. It’s because San Franciscans are so way ahead of those tired Hipster Runoff hater trends!

Ravin’ with a barnacle to pop-hop DJ Mike Relm

And yes, Justice was fab — the sustained set of dance beats after a day of stage hopping dance-floor blue balls was like a huge release, although I must admit that Hunky Beau and I dashed in the middle of their glowing-cross set to beat the bus rush. (Maybe for a whole day of “dance acts” there should also be a nearby tent of continuous local DJs so people can bounce their rocks off once in a while, uninterrupted by stage patter or slow songs?). In fact the whole day, though some folks’ hands turned purple with early autumnal chill, was amazingly lovely, if the energy was a bit scattered.

Amon Tobin blows the crowd (and almost himself) away

There was a broad spectrum of dance music available, from sexy Aesop Rock’s intel-hop, to Goldfrapp’s Kate Bush/Cocteau Twins revival act to Foals’s frantic indie guitar-and-sequencer patterns (unfortunately the solar-panelled sound system crapped out on them for a spell). For every other kind of dance music except house, Latin legend Amon Tobin happily filled in the windy gaps, with an inner-ear/inner-thought blowing set that nodded not only to his super-brainy brand of ambient sway, but also lazer bass, break beats, reggae, and dub step. This was the first time I saw him using a laptop for his sets along with turntables — and, natch, he was a natural.

Channel surfers


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Tunde Adebimpe sounds like he’s in good spirits. Four years ago, when the lead vocalist of TV on the Radio was in his first brush with fame, he would snap at false critical judgments — from comparisons of his voice to "Games Without Frontiers"-era Peter Gabriel to race-oriented articles focused on the group’s unusual makeup of Adebimpe, guitarist Kyp Malone, and keyboardist/producer David Sitek — two black men and a white man.

Today, though, as he walks out of his apartment into the streets of Brooklyn, Adebimpe speckles his conversation with chuckles. He jokes about the Gabriel comparisons, noting, "He has a better tailor than I do." And he shrugs off TV on the Radio’s galvanizing success. "It’s encouraging, because we don’t make the most conventional stuff," he says. "We’re not rich off making records."

Though it’s not necessarily an Obama-size achievement, Greg Tate from the Black Rock Coalition probably didn’t imagine a mostly black rock band would become the darlings of the gentrified indie-rock establishment a mere 20 years after he protested racism in rock in the 1980s. But after two albums — 2004’s breakthrough Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes (Touch and Go) and 2006’s follow-up, Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope/4AD) — of brilliant, brashly intellectual and brazenly avant-garde music (three if you count its 2002 self-released debut, OK Calculator), TV on the Radio’s artistic achievement has eclipsed "black rocker" stereotypes.

By now, TV on the Radio’s amalgamations are well-cataloged: a little bit of doo-wop, a lot of Fugazi, and sprinkled with gospel-like choral rhapsodies. Despite or because of its alchemical properties — Adebimpe claims, "We’ve never written an original note in our lives" — a TV on the Radio album sounds wholly different from anything else. Sitek’s heavy-mental production techniques isolate Jaleel Bunton’s drums and Gerard Smith’s bass into echoing timbres. Adebimpe and Malone’s wavering voices tremble as if they were trying to find rays of hope amid the mud and asphalt of everyday troubles. A TV on the Radio recording is full of hardy optimism; it sounds like a triumphant battle for the human soul.

"I think that there has to be something outside of our reality. I genuinely hope and find that it is, because if it’s not … " says Adebimpe, his voice trailing off. Then he adds, "Our reality is pretty good. It’s got its perks. But hopefully there’s more to it. Whether that’s inside of a person or outside of a person, I have no idea. But there’s got to be something that’s less flawed, and sometimes boring and sometimes repetitive, than just us."

Set for release Sept. 23, TV on the Radio’s third full-length, Dear Science (Interscope/4AD), radiates with newfound confidence. Songs like "Red Dress" and "Golden Age," the latter on which Malone sings "Clap your hands / If you think your soul is free," positively bop with funk. Then, on the slightly kooky "Dancing Science," Adebimpe raps in a stutter-step pace about the information age overload. The effect isn’t as laughable as you’d think.

Dear Science‘s playful observations sound like a miracle after the earthwork obduracy of Cookie Mountain (which sold 188,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan). Universally hailed as a watermark on its release, Cookie Mountain refines Desperate Youth‘s ambient guitar lines and protean libido into granite walls of distortion, drums, and lust. On Desperate Youth‘s "Staring at the Sun," Adebimpe sings, "You’re staring at the sun / You’re standing in the sea / Your body’s over me," squeezing his lover in a viselike grip as if to protect the paramour from a world teetering on collapse. Compare that song with Cookie Mountain‘s "Wolf Like Me," where he doesn’t want to smother you, but devour you. The band attacks with ferocity as Adebimpe seduces his Little Red Riding Hood: "You’ll never know / Unless we go / So let me show you."

For all its enigmatic power, Cookie Mountain quavers with tension. Shocked at its success — "I feel like, after Desperate Youth, we were definitely astonished we were allowed to make another record," Adebimpe says— TV on the Radio initially struggled to devise a follow-up. "We were suddenly questioning ourselves about others’ opinion, which is always death," he observes. "But you always get to a point where you shrug it off and you say, I have no idea what anyone else is going to think. I can only do what I’m going to do…. The last record was intense periods of absolutely no fun followed by two months of the best time recording."

If Cookie Mountain closed a chapter for TV on the Radio’s alabaster soul, then Dear Science signifies a new direction. Adebimpe calls it "brighter and cleaner," shorn of the dense layers of distortion of the past. The music is wide open. The future is wide open.

TV on the Radio play at 7:25 p.m., Sat/20, on the Bridge Stage at Treasure Island Music Festival.

>>More Treasure Island Music Fest

Hot Chip, ahoy


Think of a silkily sexy, deliriously polyrhythmic Hot Chip track as the rippling, bell-shaking musical incarnation of a Persian rug: beautifully detailed; seamlessly groovy; a sensuous, hip-twisting pleasure to dance to or on; and intentionally flawed.

"We hope that maybe the music ends up sounding more refined than polished — there are things we manufacture into the sound that deliberately sound like mistakes," says multi-instrumentalist Al Doyle. "We don’t want to end up sounding like Hall and Oates or something like that. That’s not the kind of sound we kind of go for, totally smoothed out."

Doyle is in a high-flying mood, strolling the streets of Camden in London with what he describes as "a bag full of fancy dress clothes. Quite strange." Hot Chip is set to play a festival on an island off the south coast of England, though, he adds merrily, "we never dress up for anything. We thought we’d do it this time. Make us feel better."

Eight years along after its origins in the hands of ex-schoolmates Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, the band should be feeling just fine — even if they choose not to don pirate gear for the Treasure Island Music Festival. Hot Chip’s latest, excellent album, Made in the Dark (Astralwerks), sounds like the dance-pop disc that New Order never made. Of that recording, Doyle allows, "We’ve got generally favorable reviews on Metacritics. A lot of people really liked it, and some people were confused about it initially. It’s quite an odd record, I’d say, a little bit all over the place in terms of very quite slow songs and big, loud, fast songs. Quite an experimental moment, with a few big pop hits. But we never thought it was odd. It was just the music we made."

The tracks emerged from everyday highs, like, ahem, Salvia divinorum — the inspiration for the swaying, elastic "Shake a Fist" — and were recorded by the full five-piece. "It was a transition record to a more band-oriented project," says Doyle, who happened to attend Cambridge the same time as Taylor and occasionally moonlights live with LCD Soundsystem. "It’s much more about the groove, and it’s very loud as well," Doyle says of the latter band. "It’s like a fucking bomb going off with LCD. Lasting damage!"

Hot Chip prefers to do benevolent damage to their own tunes live. "It’s much more easygoing and there’s a lot more improvisation. It’s a dance party — the audience goes nuts," he explains. The addition of a new drummer, Leo Taylor, should really make all and sundry go off, so much so that the hard-working Doyle is looking forward to the end. After tours of the United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico, "we finish at the end of the year. The holy grail that we’re all looking forward to."

Hot Chip appears at 4:25 p.m., Sat/20, on the Bridge Stage at Treasure Island Music Festival.

Class revolting


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Americans are allowed to talk about class on the condition that we say we are all middle class — never mind if your ‘rents pay for an out-of-state, private college without financial aid, or if you’re a single mom struggling to pay Bay Area rents on service industry wages. Regardless of our assets, we’re all the same if we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, right? So despite capitalism’s emphasis on abstract equivalence, class is at least one area where the bourgies insist on qualities over quantities: "You can have my Horatio Alger narrative when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!"

Thus, comparing Harvard-educated pop duo Chester French to Vampire Weekend because their members seem to have leapt from the same L.L. Bean catalog misses what is genuinely questionable about their act. While neither band ever talks about what their parents do for a living, they both make playing with old-money signifiers a big part of their repertoire. But while Vampire Weekend’s self-described "Upper West Side Soweto" juxtaposes citations of third world pop with symbols of upper-class belonging, that superficial move is at least designed to give the listener pause. The unsubtle doofuses of Chester French mangle their subject matter, driving every obvious detail into the ground. The Zombies-biting power pop of "She Loves Everybody," for example, opens with a shuddering, prim string trio before ditching the classical instruments for well-tempered synths, clean-cut tremolo guitars, and a by-the-books jaded-romance narrative so obvious it’s vaguely insulting to the listener’s intelligence.

Even worse, these bros’ steez stumbles over itself to incorporate high-end, contemporary pop culture, from which VW’s music tends to hold itself aloof. Not that being slightly out of date is inherently superior to being current, but the latter group is at least smart enough to drop its Lil Jon reference four years after "Yeah!" Chester French’s best song — which is still terrible — is the pinched, flimsy "The Jimmy Choo’s" [sic], whose fratboy-with-a-Bret-Easton-Ellis-fetish lyrics clumsily and successfully attempt to pander to the Sex and the City (or is it Gossip Girl?) demographic. Don’t be fooled, though: it’s not class evocation — though they’re pretty bad at making that angle interesting — that makes them especially tiresome. It’s that the Chester French marketing bundle is so clearly designed to float bankrupt songwriting on a pseudo-provocative presentation.

Their ruthlessly calculated niche-marketing conjures up secret pact scenarios with the Wesleyan-affiliated, improbably popular MGMT — "OK, so you guys go for the humanities majors, and we’ll get the sociology/business dudes." The bad news is that it worked: these guys came out of a bidding war with a Star Trak deal and MGMT scored a Columbia contract. Maybe we should make a pact of our own: let’s not talk about class using the terms they’re feeding to us. Who cares about the Ralph Lauren sweater? We want to know what your parents do for a living.

Chester French performs at 1:25 p.m., Sat/20, on the Tunnel Stage at Treasure Island Music Festival. Vampire Weekend plays 5:55 p.m., Sun/21, on the Bridge Stage at the Treasure Island Festival.

“Seventh” heaven



If you loose your tethers to terra firma and let yourself drift with the hallucinatory swirl of fireside Anglo folk, violin-swept electronic beats, and the dulcet sighs on Goldfrapp’s fourth album, Seventh Tree (Mute), you won’t be surprised to learn that vocalist Alison Goldfrapp plucked the disc’s name from a dream. "I can’t argue with that, I thought when I woke up," Goldfrapp says from London during a brief break from the group’s current tour. And the dream itself? "It was a beautiful tree," she recalls. "It all felt amazing and wonderful, and it had a ‘seven’ on it, and then I was in a women’s spa, a Roman bath, and it was very steamy. I was asking people about the title and giving them all the titles I had, and they were going, ‘No, no, that’s wrong. You’ve got to call it Seventh Tree.’<0x2009>"

Sounds like the kind of certainty that you should never buck, and you can practically hear Goldfrapp nodding over the line "You know, when they come and advise … " before she breaks the oracular mood with a dose of levity. "I had too much curry that evening — that’s what I put that down to."

Picturing the ethereal blond in the throes of Indian grub-powered inspiration puts an entirely new wrinkle in Goldfrapp’s intense, synthetic dreamscapes. "Folktronica" isn’t quite the term for what the startlingly grounded singer and collaborator Will Gregory conjure with Seventh Tree: a recording that elegantly marries the groovy Serge Gainsbourg–ian Euro-funk ("Little Bird") with sometimes stonily spare ("Eat Yourself") and occasionally majestic John Barry–imbued orchestrations ("Road to Somewhere") — the latter a combination that might occur within a single song ("Clowns"). The album marked a dramatic shift from the duo’s last full-length, Supernature (Mute, 2005), but then, Goldfrapp never promised you the certainty of a glittering disco ball spinning round. For this record, the pair began to write songs for the first time solely on guitar, and Goldfrapp found inspiration in the quality of light and lyrical fatalism of 1970s road-trip films like Badlands, in addition to popular reference point Wickerman. "I thought about American films — the hazy sunshine, kind of Californian," she muses. "The road trip is significant as a kind of rite of passage, and it feels opportunistic, but there’s always a sense of doom as well."

Writing music for film is one opportunity Goldfrapp would love to grasp, but she also wants to compose for a choir. "Making music is an endless world of possibility," she says. "The future is unknown." But for now, all too soon, it’ll be back to that eternal road, which Goldfrapp will undertake without Gregory. "Will doesn’t tour — he can’t fit in the bunk beds, and I’m not crazy about it either!" she exclaims while simultaneously bemoaning the current drizzly gray of London. "I love playing, but touring is exhausting. I wish I could transport myself from place to place." At least she’ll be trailing that California sunlight soon.

Goldfrapp performs at 5:50 p.m., Sat/20, on the Bridge Stage at Treasure Island Music Festival.

Treasure Island Music Festival 2008


It’s a Treasure Island Music Festival free-for-all, and we’re ready to rock and/or dance overboard with the all-star line-up at the gonzo weekend-long sonic blast. In the name of rockers, Sonic Reducer faces off against the dance-floor repping Super Ego over French electro-pop juggernaut Justice, headlining Saturday. What has the stylish duo wrought? Plus: we also look at TV on the Radio, Goldfrapp, Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend, prep school rock, and other artists appearing Sat/20-Sun/21. For the complete fest schedule and details, go to and dig for gold.

>>Sonic Reducer: No peace, so Justice!
Stressing on semiotics and skipping to the bomb-blast beat
By Kimberly Chun

>>Super Ego: Jabbing at Justice?
“Help! I’m drowning in shutter shades,” yells club kid
By Marke B.

>>No castaways here
Treasure Island jewels to drool over
Our Picks

>>Channel surfers
Flip the switch and begin anew with TV on the Radio
By Mosi Reeves

>>“Seventh” heaven
Goldfrapp ascends to the astral, while throwing roots down in the real
By Kimberly Chun

>>Does Vampire Weekend suck?
A critical mass of critical stabs at the afro-pop punks
By Brandon Bussolini

>>Class revolting
Chester French fronts the new school of college-rockers
By Brandon Bussolini

>>Hot Chip, ahoy
Fancy dress, hearing loss, pop highs
By Kimberly Chun

Sonic Reducer Overage: My Morning Jacket, Common/NERD, Menomena, and so much more


Shadow shag: My Morning Jacket’s “One Big Holiday.”

Feeling frisky, SF? There’s plenty to do besides Treasure Island Music Festival this week – more than we could fit betwixt our hot pages.

Prog, math, post-punk – whatev, dude. The Seattle collection of players from Botch, Kill Sadie, and Nineironspitfire is just as aggro as it’s ever been, from the sound of the upcoming CD, Tail Swallower & Dove (Suicide Squeeze). Wed/17, 9 p.m., $10. Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., SF. (415) 621-4455.


Photons, gather round. The onetime Bay Area party-starters return to the scene of some many rhymes. Thurs/18, 8 p.m., $26.50. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 421-TIXS.

Sealed with a fest



SONIC REDUCER "Obviously I wanted to be part of this wealthy cause … whoops, I mean, worthy cause — a Freudian slip!" blurted Seal to amassed gowns and tuxes at a packed Davies Symphony Hall May 31. Well, it was pretty B&W at this, the Black and White Ball 2008. He went on to explain that he was more than glad to play the benefit bash for the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music education program, until he realized that night’s event was just a day before wife Heidi "And sometimes you’re out … in the doghouse" Klum’s birthday. "Even though it was written almost 20 years ago, I never knew what this song was about till four or five years ago," he drawled graciously, before easing into a swooningly romantic "Kiss from a Rose." The coiffed and painted debs swayed in the seats behind the stage like tropical palms, the gray-tressed oldsters in tuxes yawned as if their jaws would dislocate, and all the right — and leftie — blondes flitted to the front as if drawn to a gyrating, white-scarfed flame. The irony that Seal was putting in a high-energy set and working in an establishment-jabbing anthem titled "System" — "but you won’t get to hear it here because record companies aren’t what they used to be, but this isn’t that kind of show," according to the UK crooner — was not altogether lost on the assembled partygoers at this very establishment affair.

Still, the Grey Goose quaffing, shrimp chomping, and dance-it-up musical offerings lining the closed-off swath of Van Ness added up to a surprisingly solid good time — not to mention further confirmation of the latest urban SF curiosity: packs of underdressed, strapless-clad or micro-miniskirted, microclimate-besieged fashion victims who insist on braving hypothermia sans outerwear. Is it really that toasty over the bridge and through the tunnel?

Nonetheless I got a kick out of Extra Action Marching Band, its flag girls drooling faux-blood while chilling, kicking it iceberg-style beneath the polka-dot-lit, fireworks-bedecked City Hall. Pete Escovedo still had what it took to pull me to the dance floor and get the salsa out. Hot on the heels of Harriet Tubman (Noir), Marcus Shelby riled up Strictly Ballroom wannabes in the bowels of the War Memorial Opera House, and upstairs DJ Afrika Bambaataa turned in an unforgettable old-school hip-hop and rock-pop set, sweetly warbling, "I just want your extra time … " to Prince’s "Kiss," as a mob of gorgeous freaks mobbed the stage. Be it ever so old-fashioned and ever so obligatorily glammy, the B&WB was such a ball that I was inspired to use it as the barometer of sorts for a few other music-fest contenders.

B&W BALL BY THE NUMBERS Kilts: two. Turbans: three. Closeted waltz-heads eager to make the Metronome Ballroom lessons pay off: more than a dozen. Misguided ladies who looked like they tried to repurpose their wedding gowns as white formalwear: two. Gavin Newsom look-alikes: a toothy handful. Jennifer Siebel look-alikes: hundreds. Former hippies in formalwear: six. Men in all-white who looked like they stepped out of an alternate "Rapture" video: two. Burning Man references as City Hall was bookended by pillars of fire at midnight: two. Screeching highlights-victims upon seeing their girlfriends: more than two ears can handle. Sneaky types who looked like they’ve probably worn the same thing to B&WB every year since 1983: more than designers and luxury goods manufacturers would care to know.

HARMONY FESTIVAL (June 6–8, Santa Rosa,, including Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Arrested Development, and Mickey Hart Band) Expected Gavin look-alikes: zip unless you count the Cali boys who look early Gavin — with dreadlocks. Rich hippies with perfect hair and lavishly embroidered coats: three.

BERKELEY WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL (June 7, Berkeley,, with Dengue Fever, and Sila and the AfroFunk Experience) Expected turbans: the Sufi trance music guarantees at least a couple. Kilts: zero. Swirlie dancers: a dozen-plus.

OUTSIDE LANDS (Aug. 22–24, SF,, including Radiohead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson, Wilco, Beck, and the Black Keys) Expected bikes piled in the racks: a thou. Concert-goers overcome by heat: C’mon, this is San Francisco.

TREASURE ISLAND MUSIC FESTIVAL (Sept. 20–21, Treasure Island,, with Justice, the Raconteurs, TV on the Radio, and Tegan and Sara) Projected number of great views of SF: innumerable. Gold-trimmed "ironic" sunglasses: a gazillion. Concertgoers who discover far too late that shorts are only ideal for an hour a day: 135.

LOVEFEST (Oct. 4, SF, Ever-recyclable ’70s-style bells: a couple-dozen. Fabulous-faux hairpieces: Wigstock is forever. Swirlie dancers: you got ’em.



Eke out a few tears of valedictorianism: it’s an Absolutely Kosher explosion of untrammeled, happily eccentric talent. Fri/6, 9:30 p.m., $10–<\d>$12 Café Du Nord, 2170 Market, SF.


Lo-fi dust-ups coupled with folkie meanders are a–Foot Foot, flanked by the solo musings of ex-Guardian-ite Sarah Han. With Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. Sat/7, 9:30 p.m., $8. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF.


Taking a break from the sweltering, disco-imbued exotica of Quiet Village and its Silent Movie (K7), producer Matt Edwards dons his dark techno persona, Radio Slave. Sat/7, call for time and price. Endup, 401 Sixth St., SF. (415) 646-0999, *

Summer 2008 fairs and festivals


Grab your calendars, then get outside and celebrate summer in the Bay.

>Click here for a full-text version of this article.


United States of Asian America Arts Festival Various locations, SF; (415) 864-4120, Through May 25. This festival, presented by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, showcases Asian Pacific Islander dance, music, visual art, theater, and multidisciplinary performance ensembles at many San Francisco venues.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Yerba Buena Gardens, Third St at Mission, SF; (415) 543-1718, Through Oct, free. Nearly 100 artistic and cultural events for all ages take place at the Gardens, including the Latin Jazz series and a performance by Rupa & the April Fishes.

MAY 10–31

Asian Pacific Heritage Festival Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 Ninth St, Oakl; (510) 637-0462, Times vary, free. The OACC presents hands-on activities for families, film screenings, cooking classes, and performances throughout the month of May.

MAY 15–18

Carmel Art Festival Devendorf Park, Carmel; (831) 642-2503, Call for times, free. Enjoy viewing works by more than 60 visual artists at this four-day festival. In addition to the Plein Air and Sculpture-in-the-Park events, the CAF is host to the Carmel Youth Art Show, Quick Draw, and Kids Art Day.

MAY 16–18

Oakland Greek Festival 4700 Lincoln, Oakl; (510) 531-3400, Fri-Sat, 10am-11pm; Sun, 11am-9pm, $6. Let’s hear an "opa!" for Greek music, dance, food, and a stunning view at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension’s three-day festival.

MAY 17

Asian Heritage Street Celebration Japantown; 11am-6pm, free. The largest gathering of Asian Pacific Americans in the nation features artists, DJs, martial arts, Asian pop culture, karaoke, and much more.

Saints Kiril and Methody Bulgarian Festival Croatian American Cultural Center, 60 Onondaga; (510) 649-0941, 4pm, $15. Enjoy live music, dance, and traditional food and wine in celebration of Bulgarian culture. A concert features special guests Radostina Koneva and Orchestra Ludi Maldi.

Taiwanese American Cultural Festival Union Square, SF; (408) 268-5637, 11am-5pm, free. Explore Taiwan by tasting delicious Taiwanese delicacies, viewing a puppet show and other performances, and browsing arts and crafts exhibits.

Uncorked! Ghirardelli Square; 775-5500, 1-6pm, $40-45. Ghirardelli Square and nonprofit COPIA present their third annual wine festival, showcasing more than 40 local wineries and an array of gourmet food offerings.


Cupertino Special Festival in the Park Cupertino Civic Center, 10300 Torre, Cupertino; (408) 996-0850, 10am-6pm, free. The Organization of Special Needs Families hosts its fourth annual festival for people of all walks or wheels of life. Featuring live music, food and beer, a petting zoo, arts and crafts, and other activities.

Enchanted Village Fair 1870 Salvador, Napa; (707) 252-5522. 11am-4pm, $1. Stone Bridge School creates a magical land of wonder and imagination, featuring games, crafts, a crystal room, and food.

Immigrants Day Festival Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City; (650) 299-0104, 12-4pm, free. Sample traditional Mexican food, make papel picado decorations, and watch Aztec dancing group Casa de la Cultura Quetzalcoatl at the San Mateo County History Museum.

MAY 17–18

A La Carte and Art Castro St, Mountain View; (650) 964-3395, 10am-6pm, free. The official kick-off to festival season, A La Carte is a moveable feast of people and colorful tents offering two days of attractions, music, art, a farmers’ market, and street performers.

Bay Area Storytelling Festival Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area, El Sobrante; (510) 869-4946, Gather around and listen to stories told by storytellers from around the world at this outdoor festival. Carol Birch, Derek Burrows, Baba Jamal Koram, and Olga Loya are featured.

Castroville Artichoke Festival 10100 Merritt, Castroville; (831) 633-2465, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm, $3-6. "Going Green and Global" is the theme of this year’s festival, which cooks up the vegetable in every way imaginable and features activities for kids, music, a parade, a farmers’ market, and much more.

French Flea Market Chateau Sonoma, 153 West Napa, Sonoma; (707) 935-8553, Call for times and cost. Attention, Francophiles: this flea market is for you! Shop for antiques, garden furniture, and accessories from French importers.

Hats Off America Car Show Bollinger Canyon Rd and Camino Ramon, San Ramon; (925) 855-1950, 10am-5pm, free. Hats Off America presents its fifth annual family event featuring muscle cars, classics and hot rods, art exhibits, children’s activities, live entertainment, a 10K run, and beer and wine.

Himalayan Fair Live Oak Park, 1300 Shattuck, Berk; (510) 869-3995, Sat, 10am-7pm; Sun, 10am-5:30pm, $8.This benefit for humanitarian grassroots projects in the Himalayas features award-winning dancers and musicians representing Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mongolia. Check out the art and taste the delicious food.

Pixie Park Spring Fair Marin Art and Garden Center, Ross; 9am-4pm, free. The kids will love the bouncy houses, giant slide, petting zoo, pony rides, puppet shows, and more at this cooperative park designed for children under 6. Bring a book to donate to Homeward Bound of Marin.

Supercon San Jose Convention Center, San Jose; Sat., 10am-6pm; Sun., 10am-5pm, $20-30. The biggest stars of comics, sci-fi, and pop culture — including Lost’s Jorge Garcia and Groo writer Sergio Aragonés — descend on downtown San Jose for panels, discussions, displays, and presentations.

MAY 18

Bay to Breakers Begins at Howard and Spear, ends at the Great Highway along Ocean Beach, SF; 8am, $39-59. See a gang of Elvis impersonators in running shorts and a gigantic balloon shaped like a tube of Crest floating above a crowd of scantily clad, and unclad, joggers at this annual "race" from the Embarcadero to the Pacific Ocean.

Carnival in the Xcelsior 125 Excelsior; 469-4739, 11am-4pm, free. This benefit for the SF Community School features game booths, international food selections, prizes, music, and entertainment for all ages.


Russian-American Fair Terman Middle School, 655 Arastradero, Palo Alto; (650) 852-3509, 10am-5pm, $3-5. The Palo Alto Jewish Community Center puts on this huge, colorful cultural extravaganza featuring ethnic food, entertainment, crafts and gift items, art exhibits, carnival games, and vodka tasting for adults.


San Francisco International Arts Festival Various venues, SF; (415) 399-9554, The theme for the fifth year of this multidisciplinary festival is "The Truth in Knowing/Threads in Time, Place, Culture."

MAY 22–25

Sonoma Jazz Plus Festival Field of Dreams, 179 First St W, Sonoma; (866) 527-8499, Thurs-Sat, 6:30 and 9pm; Sun, 8:30pm, $40+. Head on up to California’s wine country to soak in the sounds of Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, and Bonnie Raitt.

MAY 24–25

Carnaval Mission District, SF; (415) 920-0125, 9:30am-6pm, free. California’s largest annual multicultural parade and festival celebrates its 30th anniversary with food, crafts, activities, performances by artists like deSoL, and "Zona Verde," an outdoor eco-green village at 17th and Harrison.

MAY 25–26

San Ramon Art and Wind Festival Central Park, San Ramon; (925) 973-3200, 10am-5pm, free. For its 18th year, the City of San Ramon Parks and Community Services Department presents over 200 arts and crafts booths, entertainment on three stages, kite-flying demos, and activities for kids.


Healdsburg Jazz Festival Check Web site for ticket prices and venues in and around Healdsburg; (707) 433-4644, This 10th annual, week-and-a-half-long jazz festival will feature a range of artists from Fred Hersch and Bobby Hutcherson to the Cedar Walton Trio.

MAY 31

Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival North Shattuck, Berk; (510) 548-5335, 10am-6pm, free. Create chalk drawings and sample chocolate delights while vendors, musicians, and clowns entertain the family.

Napa Valley Art Festival 500 Main, Napa; 10am-4pm, free. Napa Valley celebrates representational art on Copia’s beautiful garden promenade with art sales, ice cream, and live music. Net proceeds benefit The Land Trust of Napa County’s Connolly Ranch Education Center.


Union Street Festival Union, between Gough and Steiner, SF; 1-800-310-6563, 10am-6pm, free. For its 32nd anniversary, one of SF’s largest free art festivals is going green, featuring an organic farmer’s market, arts and crafts made with sustainable materials, eco-friendly exhibits, food, live entertainment, and bistro-style cafés.

JUNE 4–8

01SJ: Global Festival of Art on the Edge Various venues, San Jose; (408) 277-3111, Various times. The nonprofit ZERO1 plans to host 20,000 visitors at this festival featuring 100 exhibiting artists exploring the digital age and novel creative expression.

JUNE 5–8

Harmony Festival Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa; $30-99. One of the largest progressive-lifestyle festivals of its kind, Harmony brings art, education, and cultural awareness together with world-class performers like George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Jefferson Starship, Damian Marley, Cheb I Sabbah, and Vau de Vire Society.

JUNE 7–8

Crystal Fair Fort Mason Center; 383-7837, Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 10am-5pm, $6. The Pacific Crystal Guild presents two days in celebration of crystals, minerals, jewelry, and metaphysical healing tools from an international selection of vendors.


Sunset Celebration Weekend Sunset headquarters, 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park; 1-800-786-7375, 10am-5pm, $12, kids free. Sunset magazine presents a two-day outdoor festival featuring beer, wine, and food tasting; test-kitchen tours, celebrity chef demonstrations, live music, seminars, and more.


Haight Ashbury Street Fair Haight and Ashbury; 11am-5:30pm, free. Celebrate the cultural contributions this historical district has made to SF with a one-day street fair featuring artisans, musicians, artists, and performers.


Rock Art by the Bay Fort Mason, SF; 10am-5pm, free. The Rock Poster Society hosts this event celebrating poster art from its origins to its most recent incarnations.


City of Oakland Housing Fair Frank Ogawa Plaza; Oakl; (510) 238-3909, 10am-2pm, free. The City of Oakland presents this seventh annual event featuring workshops and resources for first-time homebuyers, renters, landlords, and homeowners.

JUNE 14–15

North Beach Festival Washington Square Park, 1200-1500 blocks of Grant and adjacent streets; 989-2220, 10am-6pm, free. Touted as the country’s original outdoor arts and crafts festival, the North Beach Festival celebrates its 54th anniversary with juried arts and crafts exhibitions and sales, a celebrity pizza toss, live entertainment stages, a cooking stage with celebrity chefs, Assisi animal blessings, Arte di Gesso (Italian street chalk art competition, 1500 block Stockton), indoor Classical Concerts (4 pm, National Shrine of St. Francis), a poetry stage, and more.


Sonoma Lavender Festival 8537 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood; (707) 523-4411, 10am-4pm, free. Sonoma Lavender opens its private farm to the public for craftmaking, lavender-infused culinary delights by Chef Richard Harper, tea time, and a chance to shop for one of Sonoma’s 300 fragrant products.


Stern Grove Music Festival Stern Grove, 19th Ave and Sloat, SF; Sundays 2pm, free. This beloved San Francisco festival celebrates community, nature, and the arts is in its with its 71st year of admission-free concerts.

JUNE 17–20

Mission Creek Music Festival Venues and times vary; Mission Creek Music Festival celebrates twelve years of featuring the best and brightest local independent musicians and artists with this year’s events in venues big and small.

JUNE 20–22

Jewish Vintners Celebration Various locations, Napa Valley; (707) 968-9944, Various times, $650. The third annual L’Chaim Napa Valley Jewish Vintners Celebration celebrates the theme "Connecting with Our Roots" with a weekend of wine, cuisine, camaraderie, and history featuring Jewish winemakers from Napa, Sonoma, and Israel.

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival Mendocino County Fairgrounds, 14480 Hwy 128, Boonville; (917) 777-5550, pass, $135; camping, $50-100. Camp for three days and listen to the international sounds of Michael Franti & Spearhead, the English Beat, Yami Bolo, and many more.

JUNE 28–29

San Francisco Pride 2008 Civic Center, Larkin between Grove and McAllister; 864-FREE, Celebration Sat-Sun, noon-6pm; parade Sun, 10:30am, free. A month of queer-empowering events culminates in this weekend celebration: a massive party with two days of music, food, and dancing that continues to boost San Francisco’s rep as a gay mecca. This year’s theme is "Bound for Equality."

JULY 3–6

High Sierra Music Festival Plumas-Sierra Fairgrounds, Quincy; (510) 547-1992, Ticket prices vary. Enjoy four days of camping, stellar live music, yoga, shopping, and more at the 18th iteration of this beloved festival. This year’s highlights include ALO, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Built to Spill, Bob Weir & RatDog, Gov’t Mule, and Railroad Earth.


City of San Francisco Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration Pier 39, Embarcadero at Beach; 705-5500, 1-9:30pm, free. SF’s waterfront Independence Day celebration features live music by Big Bang Beat and Tainted Love, kids’ activities, and an exciting fireworks show.

JULY 5–6

Fillmore Jazz Festival Fillmore between Jackson and Eddy;, free. More than 90,000 people will gather to celebrate Fillmore Street’s prosperous tradition of jazz, culture, and cuisine.


Midsummer Mozart Festival Various Bay Area venues; (415) 392-4400, $20-60. This Mozart-only music concert series in its 34th season features talented musicians from SF and beyond.


Music@Menlo Chamber Music Festival Menlo School, 50 Valparaiso, Atherton; In its sixth season, this festival explores a musical journey through time, from Bach to Jennifer Higdon.

JULY 21–27

North Beach Jazz Fest Various locations; Various times and ticket prices. Sunset Productions presents the 15th annual gathering celebrating indoor and outdoor jazz by over 100 local and international artists. Special programs include free jazz in Washington Square Park.

JULY 26, AUG 16

FLAX Creative Arts Festival 1699 Market; 552-2355, 11am-2pm, free. Flax Art and Design hosts an afternoon of hands-on demonstrations, free samples, and prizes for kids.


Up Your Alley Dore Alley between Folsom and Howard, Folsom between Ninth and 10th Sts; 11am-6pm, free. Hundreds of naughty and nice leather-lovers sport their stuff in SoMa at this precursor to the Folsom Street Fair.

AUG 2–3

Aloha Festival San Francisco Presidio Parade Grounds, near Lincoln at Graham; 10am-5pm, free. The Pacific Islanders’ Cultural Association presents its annual Polynesian cultural festival featuring music, dance, arts, crafts, island cuisine, exhibits, and more.

AUG 9–10

Nihonmachi Street Fair Japantown Center, Post and Webster; 11am-6pm, free. Japantown’s 35th annual celebration of the Bay Area’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities continues this year with educational booths and programs, local musicians and entertainers, exhibits, and artisans.

AUG 22–24

Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival Golden Gate Park; View Web site for times and price. Don’t miss the inaugural multifaceted festival of top-notch music, including Tom Petty, Jack Johnson, Manu Chao, Widespread Panic, Wilco, and Primus.


Burning Man Black Rock City, NV; $295. Celebrate the theme "American Dream" at this weeklong participatory campout that started in the Bay Area. No tickets will be sold at the gate this year.


Sausalito Art Festival 2400 Bridgeway, Sausalito; (415) 331-3757, Various times, $10. Spend Labor Day weekend enjoying the best local, national, and international artists as they display paintings, sculpture, ceramics, and more in this seaside village.

AUG 30–31

Millbrae Art and Wine Festival Broadway between Victoria and Meadow Glen, Millbrae; (650) 697-7324, 10am-5pm, free. The "Big Easy" comes to Millbrae for this huge Mardi Gras–style celebration featuring R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, and soul music, as well as arts and crafts, food and beverages, live performance, and activities for kids.


Art and Soul Festival Various venues, Oakl; (510) 444-CITY, 11am-6pm, $5-$10. Enjoy three days of culturally diverse music, food, and art at the eighth annual Comcast Art and Soul Festival, which features a Family Fun Zone and an expo highlighting local food and wine producers.

SEPT 1–5

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival Various Bay Area locations; This nonprofit organization presents free Shakespeare in the Park, brings performances to schools, hosts theater camps, and more.

SEPT 6–7

Mountain View Art and Wine Festival Castro between El Camino Real and Evelyn, Mountain View; (650) 968-8378, 10am-6pm, free. Known as one of America’s finest art festivals, more than 200,000 arts lovers gather in Silicon Valley’s epicenter for this vibrant celebration featuring art, music, and a Kids’ Park.

SEPT 20–21

Treasure Island Music Festival Treasure Island; The second year of this two-day celebration, organized by the creators of Noise Pop, promises an impressive selection of indie, rock, and hip-hop artists.


Folsom Street Fair Folsom Street; Eight days of Leather Pride Week finishes up with the 25th anniversary of this famous and fun fair.

Listings compiled by Molly Freedenberg.

CO2 stew



SONIC REDUCER It’s not easy being green, music lover. Because I’ve tried to shove my big fat cultural consumption hoof into a smaller carbon footprint, but I can’t dance around the numbers.

I’ve ponied up the green stuff for nonprofits, come correct at the composting and recycling bins, and threatened to finally get the crusty Schwinn into shape despite the near-death horror stories from bike messenger chums back in the day. But what can a music-gobbling gal do when faced with the hard if rough facts spat out by, for instance, the free online Carbon Footprint Calculator? After selecting "I often go out to places like movies, bars, and restaurants," I watched my print soar to Bigfoot proportions — thanks to my nightlife habit I supposedly generate around the US average of 11 tons of CO2 per person — rather than the mere 8.5 tons if I indulged in only "zero carbon activities, e.g. walk and cycle." Even if this out-late culcha vulcha flies on zero-emission wings to each show, I’m still feeding a machine that will prove the undoing of the planet, since the Calculator estimates that hard-partying humanoids need to reduce their CO2 production to 2 tons to combat climate change. We won’t even get into the acres of paper, publications, and CDs surrounding this red-faced, would-be greenster. I’m downloading as fast as I can, but I wonder whether my hard drive can keep up: hells, even MP3s — and the studios and servers that eke them out — add to my huge, honking footprint. Must I resign myself to daytime acoustic throw-downs within a walkable radius from my berth? Can I get a hand-crank laptop? Just how green can my music get?

Well, it does my eco good to know that a local venue like the Greek Theatre has gone green all year round: Another Planet has offset an entire season’s 113 tons of CO2 emissions; composted over two tons of cups, plates, and utensils; used recycled paper and soy-based ink on all their printed materials; and offered a $1 opt-in to ticket-buyers to offset their environmental impact. I can feel my tonnage shrinking just staring at the numbers. And while gatherings such as last year’s Treasure Island Music Festival sported zero-emission shuttles and biodiesel generators and this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will team with Amtrak to provide a free train that will move campers from Los Angeles’ Union Station to Empire Polo Field sans smog-spewing traffic jams, artists like José González have embarked on green tours, adding 50 cents to tickets to support nonprofits. Yet such efforts might prove more consciousness-raising than anything else, González concedes: "For me, playing mostly solo and touring with a small crew, I feel like the actual cut down on emissions is marginal comparing it to major artists, so it’s more about the symbolic value of it, and the ripple effect it might bring."

Still, CO2 spendthrifts like me need a swift kick in our waste-line. Lining up to deliver are such music-fueled events as the free South Lake Tahoe Earth Day Festival April 19 and the Digital Be-In 16 April 25 at Temple nightclub, organized by the Cyberset label with an "ecocity" theme aimed at sustainable communities. Green practices, Be-In founder Michael Gosney says, "may not be huge in of themselves, but they set an example for communities to take these practices back into their own lives." One such community-oriented musician is String Cheese Incident mandolin player Michael Kang, who’ll perform at the Digital Be-In and appear with Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks at the free Green Apple Festival concert April 20 in Golden Gate Park.

Organizing seven other free outdoor Earth Day shows throughout the country on April 20 as well as assorted San Francisco shows that weekend, the Green Apple Festival is going further to educate artists and venues — the usual suspects that inspire me to make my carbon footprint that much bigger — by distributing to participating performers and clubs helpful Music Matters artist and venue riders: the former encourages artists to make composting, recycling, and offsets a requirement of performances; the latter suggesting that nightspots consider reusable stainless-steel bottles of water and donating organic, local, fair-trade and/or in-season food leftovers to local food banks or shelters.

But how green are the sounds? Musicians like Brett Dennen, who also performs at SF’s Green Apple event, may have grown up recycling and composting, but he confesses that environmentalism has never spurred him to craft a tune: "Things as big as global warming have never moved me to write about it, even though I’m doing what I can." And Rilo Kiley’s Blake Sennett, who plays April 17 at the Design Center Concourse, may describe himself as a "recycling animal — I love it! I go through trash at other people’s houses!", yet even he was unable to push the rest of the his group to make their latest CD, Under the Blacklight (Warner Bros., 2007) carbon neutral.

So maybe it comes down to supporting those leafy green rooms, forests, and grasslands we otherwise take for granted. Parks are the spark for ex–Rum Diary member Jon Fee’s Parks and Records green label in Fairfax, which wears its love of albums on its hand-printed, all-recycled-content sleeves and plans to donate a percentage of all its low-priced CD sales to arboreal-minded groups like Friends of the Urban Forest. Fee and his spouse Mimi aren’t claiming to have all the answers in terms of running a low-carbon-footprint imprint, but they are pragmatic ("In order to support bands, labels need to give them something they can sell to get gas money," Fee says) and know their love of the outdoors segues with many musicians. "You develop that camping mentality from touring," he offers. "You’re not showering, and you’re hanging out for long periods of time. Everyone loves to be outside." That’s the notion even those too cheap to buy offsets can connect with — until the weird weather is at their doorstep.

Switchboard Music Festival


PREVIEW While something like the Treasure Island Music Festival can be summarized in a nutshell — a day of indie rock and a day of electronica — the annual Switchboard Music Festival defies classification. Traditionally, a lack of stylistic consistency is frowned upon in the music world — some artists spend years searching for their own reliable sound — Switchboard organizers say times have changed. With file-sharing and iTunes inundating fans with music, composers have the opportunity to go wild. On a song-by-song basis, good music is good music, regardless of who produced it or what genre it is.

Like many of the acts throughout the day, San Francisco’s Aaron Novik seems to put his eggs in more baskets than the Easter Bunny. Novik is a self-described "clarinetist, composer, bandleader" who clearly has a propensity toward variety, as his projects span anywhere from psychedelic jazz to metal. At the festival, Novik will lead his traditional Jewish folk band the Yidiots, which includes Guardian editorial intern Dina Maccabee on violin.

Fellow musical butterfly Amy X Neuberg, the festival’s headliner, will demonstrate her wide range of musical manifestations. Oakland composer Neuberg’s performance centers on creative uses of her own voice, including some over-the-top opera, soft jazz tones, and spoken word — all looped in real time through a sequencer to create harmonies. Genres will bend and tear within her set and those of others, only to shatter with the first note of the following act.

SWITCHBOARD MUSIC FESTIVAL With Christopher Adler, Dan Becker, Del Sol String Quartet, Edmund Wells, Erik Jekabson, Gamelan X, Ian Dicke, Ian Dickenson, Inner Ear Brigade, Jonathan Russel, Robin Estrada, Ryan Brown, and Slydini. Sun/30, 2–10 p.m., $5–$25. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., SF. (415) 826-4441,

Treasure Island fest – another view


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.”

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.

More treasures from the Island


By Molly Freedenberg

Still a little fuzzy on what the Treasure Island Music Festival was like? Think blue skies, a slight breeze, and the scenes yours truly captured below.

Not even the brief power blackout could ruin Zion I’s upbeat, playful mood. When the sound and video stopped working, the freestylin’ MCs just worked harder to keep the crowd going.

Treasure Island was just right


By Molly Freedenberg

Imagine a concert held in your college quad, add a gorgeous view of the Bay, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what the Treasure Island Music Festival was like this weekend. Organizers were smart enough not to be overly ambitious, either with the space or the lineup, so that the fledgling fest fit just right inside its britches: two stages appropriately far apart so you never felt crowded nor lonely, enough vendors and bathrooms so no line was ever very long, and just enough musical acts to fill two whole days without overlapping each other (which, by the way, is the Number One Best Thing about TIMF. And after five years of Coachella I’m-missing-something anxiety, I should know).

Highlights of Saturday’s hip-hop and electronica heavy lineup:
*Zion I’s high-energy freestyling, which continued through a brief blackout, and their DJ manipulating a Playstation controller like a turntable.
*The moments when Honeycut sounded like an American version of Kinky.
*Everything about Kid Beyond’s U2-meets-Nine Inch Nails beatboxing.
*The gold lame pants only M.I.A. could pull off.

It’s really too bad if you missed it, because this one was so successful, next year’s is bound to be a zoo.

Note: Stay tuned tomorrow for more photos and commentary.

Calling all island girls



SONIC REDUCER Oh, island music — the soft swish of silky trade winds, the gentle rustle of swaying palms, and the way-organic click-hop drone of crickets. From where I’m lounging at press time, in a humid picture-postcard tourist paradise outside the ’20s-era pink pachyderm of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, it’s also the sound of a few bruddahs playing a 12-string and electric bass version of "Brown-Eyed Girl." That was my island soundtrack growing up in Honolulu, along with the music of the Rascals and Earth, Wind and Fire, though surprisingly little Beach Boys, who had the vocal interplay Hawaiians adored but sounded like they probably didn’t really surf.

The Beach Boys just liked the idea of it, but then, don’t we all, buying into the seductive constructs of island fantasias, though we native born have always had a complicated hate-love relationship with the visiting cultural imperialists who drive the tourism-focused economy. Little surprise locals use the term transient like it’s a dirty word.

Speaking of island music, locally we have the Treasure Island Music Festival, the first two-day music event of its size on the human-constructed isle built to boost San Francisco pride by proximity and buoy the 1939 World’s Fair. The lineup, by the way, banishes memories of pop-period Van Morrison (though not fond thoughts of Hawaiian music materfamilias Aunty Genoa Keawe, who still plies audiences with her dulcet falsetto every Thursday at the Waikiki Marriott’s Moana Terrace) and includes Modest Mouse, Thievery Corporation, Spoon, Built to Spill, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, M. Ward, Gotan Project, MIA, Ghostland Observatory, Dengue Fever, and Mocean Worker, in addition to a bevy of talented locals like DJ Shadow (with Cut Chemist), Two Gallants, Zion-I, Honeycut, and Trainwreck Riders.

Noise Pop founder and IODA CEO Kevin Arnold, 38, told me the event has been a long-cherished dream for himself and Noise Pop co-organizer Jordan Kurland. The organizers had expanded NP in the past, to Chicago, before pulling back; they’re now venturing out again, working with Another Planet Entertainment. And why this fantasy island? "Because it was there," Arnold says. "We spent a lot of time looking around San Francisco and where people have been able to stage concerts in the past and make the event stand out. The island has all of that going for it: the location is pretty idyllic and beautiful, and it seemed like a fun thing to do."

Arnold and Kurland had come to a turning point with Noise Pop 14, and lately, he says, "we felt like it was time to really go for it and see if we can expand and actually make some money on what had been a large hobby for a long time. [Noise Pop] had broke even but had not done much more." So they took a loan out, hired staffers like general manager Chris Appelgren, Lookout! Records’ last head, and are now — in addition to coproducing a series of music-oriented City Arts and Lectures talks — putting on an event that, at an estimated 10,000 attendees per day, threatens to consolidate SF’s rep as a ground zero for must-catch music fests. And who can resist the chance to see these acts with an open-air backdrop of the city, glistening across the water? "I think for a lot of people, it’s this big question mark in the middle of the bay — what is it?" Arnold says, recalling that he witnessed a Robot Wars event there a decade ago but has never tangled with the military police once positioned there (ask a certain Oakland hip-hop star about that). "I think it’s a neglected space, and it’ll be good to educate people about what the island is."

SHAPE-SHIFTING CLUBLAND Venues come and go and morph radically — hey, maybe Treasure Island will become our next no-parking Speedway Meadow. Thus, while the Make-Out Room has been getting a makeover, to be unveiled Sept. 7, and scales live music back to Fridays to Sundays, word comes from D’Jelly Brains’ John Binkov that legendary SF punk joint Mabuhay Gardens will reopen at 443 Broadway, under the aegis of punk and metal bookers Tambre Bryant and Tonus Atkins. D’Jelly Brains join Victim’s Family member Ralph Spight’s Freak Accident for the revived Fab Mab’s first show Sept. 7. "Hard to believe," he e-mails. "Went by there to check it out last night. Locked and shuttered…. But at least no sports bar, yuppie tunnel crowd, meat market."<\!s>*


Sept. 15–<\d>16, 12:30–<\d>10 p.m.; $58.50 per day, $110 for a two-day pass


With D’Jelly Brains and the Radishes

Fri/7, 9 p.m., $8

Mabuhay Gardens

443 Broadway, SF


Are Tinsel Town train wrecks responsible for Austin, Texas, band Okkervil River’s latest CD, The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)? Inspired by documentaries about Clara Bow, various show folk, and the poet John Berryman, vocalist-guitarist-songwriter Will Sheff wrote the album in a cheap rental in Brooklyn, a vast change from the rustic origins of 2005’s Black Sheep Boy. There, he found several lyrical themes running through the songs, concerning "having to be a fan and having to do with entertainment and what happens to you when you’re on the furthest extreme of life after entertainment. But it wasn’t necessarily as if I was trying to make some sort of finely tuned point, because if I wanted to do that I would write an essay and post it on the Internet."

To read the full interview, see the Noise Blog at


Wed/5, 8 p.m.,$13 (sold out)


628 Divisadero, SF

Also Thurs/6, 6 p.m., free

Amoeba Music

1855 Haight, SF

Fall Arts: Outrageous stages



AUG. 31

Beyoncé Will our dream girl arrive on a palanquin amid tossed rose petals? Or re-create the Guess jeans Brigitte Bardot zombie on the cover of B’Day, hoisted atop a blossom-spouting bidet? Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakl. (415) 421-TIXS


San Francisco’s Summer of Love 40th Anniversary Concert C’mon, people, now, smile on your brother and skip Burning Man, find a flower, and get in free to this concert. Behold survivors Country Joe McDonald, Taj Mahal, Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers, Canned Heat, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jesse Colin Young, Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek, Brian Auger, the Charlatans, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks, Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer, and many more unusual suspects who may or may not remember that actual summer, flashbacks permitting. Speedway Meadow, JFK and Crossover, Golden Gate Park, SF.

SEPT. 3–4

Brian Jonestown Massacre The übertalented, longtime San Francisco psych-rock train wrecks return, dig? Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-1421,


Bebel Gilberto Brazil is hot — Vanity Fair says so. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 346-6000,

Rilo Kiley Love their precocious story-songs or cringe at the lyrics? Put them under the black light to peruse the new wardrobe, album, and outlook on the old winsome farmers. Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 775-7722

SEPT. 15

Colbie Caillat The husky-voiced Jessica Biel look-alike attempts to break the Jack Johnson mold — maybe. Fillmore, 1805 Geary, SF. (415) 346-6000,

SEPT. 15–16

Treasure Island Music Festival Yaaar, blow me down some Golden Gate International Expositions! What it is about Treasure Island that brings out the barnacle-encrusted, vision-questing soothsayer in us? No wonder Noise Pop and Another Planet have touched down on the once-forbidden isle, transforming it into the site for one of fall’s biggest rock, pop, and dance music fests. Spoon, Gotan Project, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, MIA, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, M. Ward, Two Gallants, Ghostland Observatory, Kinky, Zion-I, Earlimart, Flosstradamus, Au Revoir Simone, and more establish a beachhead, while Built to Spill and Grizzly Bear spill over into shows at the Independent and Mezzanine. Gurgle, gurgle.

SEPT. 17

New Pornographers Is AC Newman still spending his free hours with his SF lady friend? Prepare yourself for new porn pop from the New Pornographer: Challengers (Matador). Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 775-7722

SEPT. 18

Peter Bjorn and John Scandinavian whistlebait keep blowing up. Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 775-7722

SEPT. 21

Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem The Fire this time? DFA’s big kahuna is playing at my house. Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View. (650) 541-0800,

The White Stripes What rhymes with "sticky stump"? The duo let the healing begin in Mexi-witchypoo getups, with biting story-songs and sexed-up nesting instincts. Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Gayley Road, Berk.

SEPT. 21–22

Amy Winehouse and Paolo Nutini The big-haired "Rehab" vixen reunites with her Scottish scrapper of a tourmate. Warfield, 982 Market, SF. (415) 775-7722

SEPT. 22–NOV. 30

San Francisco Jazz Festival SFJAZZ is jumping in honor of its 25th anniversary fest, starting with guitar genius John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension and continuing with Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, Ahmad Jamal, Ravi Shankar, Caetano Veloso, Les Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Youssou N’Dour, Tinariwen, Cristina Branco, Vieux Farka Touré, the Kronos Quartet with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche, and the Bay’s own Pete Escovedo. Gasp. Various venues.

SEPT. 23

Alice’s Now and Zen The battle of the Brit crooners ensues. Soldier boy James Blunt tussles with body-painted vixen Joss Stone as the Gin Blossoms look on helplessly. Sharon Meadow, JFK and Kezar, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 421-TIXS,

SEPT. 27

Arctic Monkeys The ingratiating punky popsters emerge from a deep freeze. Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove, SF. (415) 421-TIXS,

SEPT. 28–30

San Francisco Blues Festival This year’s looks like a doozy, bluesy outing, starting with the free kickoff performance by Freddie Roulette and Harvey Mandel at Justin Herman Plaza, before moving on to movies at the Roxie Film Center and Fort Mason performances by vocalist John Nemeth, boogie-woogie keymaster Dave Alexander, hot ‘n’ sacred Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Allen Toussaint, the Carter Brothers, Fillmore Slim, and Goldie winner Jimmy McCracklin. Great Meadow, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF.

OCT. 5

Daddy Yankee Reggaetón’s big daddy, né Raymond Ayala, brings newfound hip-hop roots on the road. Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View. (650) 541-0800,

The Shins Wincing the night away. Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Gayley Road, Berk.

OCT. 5–7

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Get your spot in the shrubbery now: after drawing 750,000 last year, our hoedown overfloweth with the usual generous array of country, bluegrass, and roots roustabouts, including Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Los Lobos, Doc Watson, Charlie Louvin, Keller Williams, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Nick Lowe, Michelle Shocked, Boz Scaggs and the Blue Velvet Band, Gillian Welch, the Flatlanders, Jorma Kaukonen, Bill Callahan, the Mekons, Dave Alvin, and Blanche. Golden Gate Park, Speedway, Marx, and Lindley meadows, SF.

OCT. 6

Download Festival Break out the old smudgy eyeliner: the Cure have been found. Then upload shed-friendly modern rockers like AFI, Kings of Leon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, She Wants Revenge, Metric, and the Black Angels. Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Mountain View. (650) 541-0800,

OCT. 8–9

Beirut Bold and brassy. Sprawling and sassy. Herbst Theatre, War Memorial Veterans Bldg., 401 Van Ness, SF.,

OCT. 9

Genesis "Turn It On Again: The Tour" — please, don’t. HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose. (415) 421-TIXS,

OCT. 17

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony Re-create martial bliss-hell? El Cantante go for that! Mennifer — that just doesn’t have the same ring — undertake their first tour together. HP Pavilion, 525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose. (415) 421-TIXS,

OCT. 20

Interpol We’re slowly warming to the cool rockers, who are sure to have their jet-black feathers ruffled by the Liars. Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, 99 Grove, SF. (415) 421-TIXS,

DEC. 6

Tegan and Sara So jealous of those who got to see them at Brava? Bet it stung. All you get is this, the last performance of their fall US tour. Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Lower Sproul Plaza (near Bancroft at Telegraph), Berk.