James Blake (dj set) at 1-800-Dinosaur Treasure Island Music Festival Afterparty at the Mezzanine; San Francisco, Oct 20, 2013.
Traveling as a photographer is about as strange as San Francisco. After hauling up to SF on little sleep from Long Beach, then shooting/enjoying Treasure Island Music Fest, it was pretty hard to make it out to James Blake’s record label 1-800-DINOSAUR's Treasure Island afterparty. My co-pilot slept as I veered off I-80/101 onto the Embarcadero, taking in the sounds of tourists and citizens and watching fireworks of undeterminable origin.
After some quick smart phone consultation, we were in Chinatown. The spot I wanted to eat at was already closed and I wound up grabbing take-out from a spot that specialized in the clay pots that came with their meals to the sleeping car for a quiet dinner. Down the street, an old Chinese man played the erhu for money serenaded us.
By the time we made it to The Mezzanine, the show had already begun, and our digesting stomachs pleaded for sleep. As I took a quick cat-nap in the car, I was jolted awake by the cries, no screams of help. “Help!” “Help!” they wailed, cracking with desperation. I threw the car door open in my dreamtime haze to see a man running full speed around the corner to the source of the cries. I saw a few other individuals engaged in the same paniced move. Before I could even digest the situation, these individuals returned, shoulders shrugged, hands in pockets, (slightly perturbed?) the opposite of concern. Was this a false alarm?
The next thing I know, I’m waking up again. The paddy wagon had arrived and cops were swarming. The drama unfolded quickly. The shrieking woman had been identified and there was a slumped man involved in the proceedings. Instead of apprehending the gentleman - who, to his credit, was calm and embarrassed, and there was care expressed in his posture - they cuffed the woman. Before I know it, she lost it and they need three police officers to restrain her; eventually the largest of them essentially has to kneel on her while they try and make sense of this situation.
It was with these expectations turned on their head I went into the show. My timing couldn’t have been better. Despite my regret missing Airhead, I hadn’t missed James Blake. He played a set as ebullient as the crowd, mostly San Franciscans much to my relief, consisting of lots of trashy hip-hop and his own originals. The smoke machine blasting, the beer down mouths drinking, hips shaking, smiles blaring, it was great. James Blake is what Raymond Chandler said of James Bond: women wanted him, and men want to be him. All suave and cool, and that’s the way we felt. Blake repeated the trick the next day at the Treasure Island Music Festival proper, swooning his way into the audiences’ hearts like we had asked him to. Long story short, go see James Blake; fall in love.