After getting lost in downtown San Francisco, I finally made it back to Treasure Island for day two of the festival and just in time for Vampire Weekend. To my surprise they were not nearly as boring live as I had expected. After being built up in the blogosphere and then ripped apart by critics for lackluster performances, the ivy league educated indie pop group has likely made some improvements over the last year.
For all of Dr. Dog’s supposed effort to recapture a by-gone era in music, their music was discordant and decidedly modern. The influences were apparent however, from the gruff exposition of Jim Morrison-esque vocals, the Jimmy Hendrix reminiscent noise distortions and harmonies evocative of The Beatles and the Beach Boys. The set was quite entertaining despite the feedback, the off sync arrangements and unfortunate imbalance of the instruments, which drowned out the vocals.
Twin duo Tegan & Sara were simply charming. The combination of infectious rhythms, dissonant chords and punk influences made for a excellent performance. Between songs, the pair engaged the audience with dialogue, providing festival attendees with bits of Tegan & Sara trivia. Once their set was over, there was a surprising mass exodus of younger audience members.
The Kills were electrifying. Of all the male/female twosomes to come out of the UK, The Kills are arguably the most gritty and caustic. Together, vocalist Alison Mosshart aka VV and guitarist Jamie Hence aka Hotel have a magnetic energy and drew the attention of the crowd, and definitely gained at least one new fan. Hotel’s appropriately jarring guitar rips were a great complement for the acerbic lyrics and gravelly voice of VV. The pair are one of the best up-and-coming rock bands of the current era.
It was The Raconteurs who stole the show and blew the rest completely out of the water. From stage presence to stage dressing, from arrangement to sound quality, The Raconteurs where enthralling and took the other bands to school in terms of how to put on a good show. From start to finish the Nashville quintet captivated the audience. The set spanned the gambit from bluegrass to hard rock to funky pop ballads. Jack White is the obvious star of the group, he stepped back into the shadows several times allowing other band members to have the spotlight.