As I crossed the Bay Bridge, I looked back at the beautiful San Francisco skyline and forward at the small island in front from of me; we were on our way to Treasure Island Music Festival.
Photo Credit: Mike Rosati
Since 2007, music lovers from all over Northern California have been flocking to the middle of the Bay to two fun-filled days of amazing views, great food, and performances from some of the best artists in the game. Produced by Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop, Treasure Island Musical Festival is known for it’s focus on up and coming artists and small, gorgeous venue. In fact, the festival only has two stages (the Bridge Stage, and the Tunnel Stage) and is formatted so that none of the sets overlap.
Photo Credit: Josh Withers
Day One (Saturday, October 18th)
Traditionally, the first day of Treasure Island is the “electronic day,” and this year was no different. Naturally, as soon as we stepped foot on the island, we made our way to the Silent Disco cleverly called the Silent Frisco to warm up our bodies for the full day of dancing to come. We threw our headphones on and bobbed our heads to the same techno house beats coming from the DJ in front of us.
Photo Credit: Josh Withers
After a few songs we ran over to the larger stage on the far end of the island, the Bridge Stage, to catch a few songs by modern soul band Jungle. The fairly new, 7-member group, got the early crowd movin’ with their tropical sounds and singles from their recently released album “Jungle.” As the septet wrapped up, we headed back over to the smaller Tunnel Stage to watch electronic producer Ryan Hemsworth. The hip-hop inspired DJ spun slow jams and rap hits. He masterly laid booming bass over the tunes and got the audience down low, grindin the hour away.
Following Hemsworth, we decided to take a little break and fill up on some of the delicious eats Treasure Island had to offer. There were more than enough food stands to choose from, including a small gathering of San Francisco food trucks which also offered great vegetarian options for the conscious eaters among the masses. As we sat and ate, we caught some of the very entertaining performance by firecracker Janelle Monae. The 28-year old six-time Grammy nominee overcame her mic cutting out in her first two opening songs and went on to put on quite a theatrical performance. As someone who hadn't listened to a lot of her stuff, her songs were were quite catchy, and her fans were enthusiastic about joining her in singing.
The sunset set the mood perfectly for the LA duo Classixx. The on-stage chemistry between the childhood friends definitely resonated through the crowd as everyone grooved and jived to the sexy smooth sounds of “Holdin On.” I’ve seen Classixx live a few times before, and they have never let me down.
The countdown was over; the show I was waiting for was here. The next hour was more than just a music set; Zedd delivered an immersing experience that had the crowd going wild. He hit his fans with a wide range of remixes, house, and finished his set with his own singles: “Clarity” and “Spectrum.” I’ve been following Zedd for quite some time now, and I have to say it’s been quite an amazing ride. He’s grown so much as a DJ. His recent sets have included a much wider spectrum of music, as opposed to just a mix of his own singles and Top 40 songs. And pyrotechnics, because, why not.
Photo Credit: Brooke Duthie
Photo Credit: Mike Rosati
I have to admit, I was pretty emotional when Zedd’s set came to end, we wanted to have Zedd continue for the rest of the night. After overcoming our slight musical withdrawal, we ran over to St. Lucia to keep our dancing going with the band’s fun, catchy, indie electronic tunes. Former choir boy Jean-Phillip fit in perfectly with the eclectic San Francisco crowd. The 80’s influenced sound was really fun to dance to, you could say they “Elevated” everyone’s spirits (see what I did there) with their unique tropical pop sound.
In the unlikely case that you haven’t noticed, Outkast has been all over the place this festival season: Coachella, Austin City Limits, Counterpoint, Governor’s Ball and Life is Beautiful to name a few. While some of the shows have been plagued with poor sound-mixing, or overcrowding, it was awesome to boogie down to oldies-but-goodies like “Hey Ya!,” “Rosa Parks,” and “Ms. Jackson.” The throwbacks being performed made the whole world disappear and the only thing that is existed was the moment, which was a very cherished feeling.
Photo Credit: Josh Sanseri
Day Two (Sunday, October 19)
Sunday was the day of one-of-a-kind voices, and Banks started it out with alternative pop hits from her first and most recent album “Goddess.” The 26-year-old American singer-songwriter had a dark pixie vibe, with dark hair accentuated by a black cape blowing in the wind. She had an eerie but innocent voice that was mesmerizing. Banks got the crowed swaying to and fro with singles “Change,” “This Is What It Feels Like,” and “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From.”
Photo Credit: Catie Laffoon
Chet Faker was the performance I was most excited to see, and apparently a majority of the Treasure Island crowd felt the same way. The second the scruffy, bearded Australian walked onto stage, you could just about hear every girl in the crowd swoon. Other than a way too loud bass level and some wind catching the microphone, Chet Faker put on a hell of performance. The audience bounced and danced to the man’s downtempo electronica beats and sang along to hits “Gold,” “No Diggity,” and “Talk is Cheap.” I’m sure most of you know this seductive, soothing voice from a few Flume remixes, and in fact, the two recorded and released an EP together last year entitled “Lockjaw.”
I’ve dabbled in Alt-J’s albums (especially “An Awesome Wave”), and I was pretty excited for their performance since I’ve never seen them live before. As the four, quirky Englishmen stood in a line across the Bridge Tunnel, I was hypnotized by their performance. Their attention to detail and passion for their music is truly one-of-a-kind. Hits like “Tessellate”, “Breezeblocks,” and “Matilda,” boomed from the speakers to minimalist, synchronized lighting. It’s hard to put a name to their sound, but that’s what makes them so fun and unique.
Photo Credit: Mike Roasati
The great thing about music festivals is that you get to watch artists earn prime time spots as they advance their career and gain a larger following. At-J is a perfect example of that, they were incredible live and are surely on their way to being headliners in festivals to come.
Scheduling chillwave artist Washed Out right before the headliner proves to you just how laid-back Treasure Island truly is. The American singer-songwriter Ernest Greene’s serene voice carried out over the island as he lulled the audience with tunes “Feel It All Around,” and “Amor Fati.”
Massive Attack: they were the perfect pick for the Sunday night headliner. No matter what music you listen to, Massive Attack will appease you. Even us EDM-lovers are very familiar with their tracks (although remixes) “Teardrop” and “Paradise Circus.” The English duo has been making music for as long as I’ve been alive, and it shows. The haunting, dark set matched perfect with their lingering lyrics and the feel-it-in-your-heart bass. Massive Attack doesn’t play very many shows, and I was honored to have the opportunity to see them live. It was incredible and a perfect end to my 2014 Treasure Island.
Photo Credit: Brooke Duthie
Bathrooms, food, and beer are readably accessible and available, with almost no lines, and credit cards accepted at all vendors.
Rating: 9 out of 10
I could not imagine a more picturesque place for an indie/electronica music festival. Nothing is more poetic than the sun setting in the bay as you dance the day way with friends to electronic beats and fun pop songs. And there’s plenty of room left on the island if they ever wanted to increase the size and number of stages.
Rating: 10 out of 10
It’s hard to compare this lineup to other music festivals, because it would be like comparing apples to oranges. For the size and purpose of the festival, the lineup is quite impressive year after year. From up and coming artists, to some of the top in the game, the lineup a respectable mix of musicians and always secures performers I HAVE to see.
Rating: 8 out 10