Treasure Island 2014: Bands and Beer in the Bay
Just when you thought festival season was over, San Francisco’s Treasure Island Music Festival sneaks up with a weekend full of art, food, beer, and duh…great music.
Treasure Island Music Festival 2014
San Francisco, California
The coolest part of this year’s Treasure Island Music Festival? No overlapping sets. That’s right, my friends. We actually left our FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) at home. The downside of no FOMO? That one band you were really stoked on seeing live…well, everyone else is probably there to watch them, too. With a record-breaking 35,000 attendees over the weekend, that’s a lot of people crammed in front of a stage. Unless you’re one of those festival-goers who has no problem nudging your way to the front of the crowd, proper planning was necessary and some sacrifices had to be made in order to snag those perfect viewpoints.
While the first day of the festival leaned towards hip-hop and electronic melodies, the second day was focused around indie- and grunge-rock, which is nice for those of us who have a all-encapsulating taste in music. Headliners Outkast and Massive Attack shared the same stage as Zedd, Alt-J, and Janelle Monáe, while rapidly rising favorites Jungle, MØ, Chet Faker, and BANKS held their own alongside the venerated portion of the lineup.
Saturday, October 18
The crowds started to really flood in around 2 p.m. for MØ’s set. Donning an eyepatch on stage, it seemed the Danish singer was getting into the island spirit, but she later confessed she had fallen victim to an eye infection and was “taking it easy.” That certainly didn’t stop her from crowd surfing and dancing with fans in the pit during her hit “Don’t Wanna Dance.”
UK collective Jungle turned up the heat during their 45-minute set, playing cuts from their debut with an energy that intoxicated the venue beyond the entrance gates. Even those double-fisting $10 Heinekens took a break from sipping to get their groove on.
Food took precedence over crowding in for the next couple of acts, but luckily, the string of local food trucks made it easy enough to get a glimpse of the happenings on stage. Janelle Monáe and her crew decked in all white put on an electrifying and showy performance that was easily the energy-high point before sunset.
After filling up on $4 street tacos and over-priced beer, people-watching at the silent disco (aptly called “Silent Frisco”) provided a new source of entertainment. Witnessing a gaggle of headphoned attendees dance in silence underneath strings of twinkle lit trees is something magical – and difficult not to join in on.
If you’ve ever pondered the recently inflated interest in attending EDM shows, Zedd’s performance at TIMF certainly provided some clarity. It’s hard to deny the urge to dance among strangers with a sound that huge and visuals so epic. He even had fire bursting from the stage. WHAT?
For a band that’s still considered to be on-the-rise, the Brooklyn-based St. Lucia performed with the confidence of well-seasoned festival musicians. Frontman Jean-Philip Grobler elevated the crowd’s energy with unprecedented dynamism and chants that even a stranger to the band could follow.
Clearly the band-to-see this weekend, with the audience fanning out to the barrier gates and back beyond the Tunnel stage. With an hour and a half—20 minutes short of their scheduled wrap time—of “vintage” Outkast mixed with iconic tracks from 2003’s Speakerboxxx / The Love Below, the duo traded off performing their solo tracks. André 3000 rocked a black jumpsuit printed with the words “Have you stopped growing” with a red “Sold Out” tag dangling out of his pocket while Big Boi rocked out in a serape-inspired getup. So fresh and so clean. This reunion was a stellar way to end Day One.
The near hour-long wait for a shuttle back into the City, however, was the last thing anyone wanted to do after leaving the festival on such a high note. The shared disdain over the seemingly never-ending line turned into some unexpected bonding for attendees as the buzz faded off and the exhaustion kicked-in. Weirdness certainly ensued, let’s just leave it at that.
Sunday, October 19
Day Two brought out that iconic Bay Area fog that acted as a surprisingly fitting host to the Los Angeles-based Clavin sisters. A set full of fuzzed-out guitar and grunge-y distortion, Bleached was the perfect kick-off to what was going to be a very full day. Now, let’s grab a beer.
1:20 – 2:00 p.m.
The fact that they’re still flying under the radar (but hopefully not for much longer) made finding a prime viewing spot to watch these guys a breeze. It is a bit of a shame because the Texas rockers were one of the most instrumentally talented groups on stage this weekend. White Denim is one of those bands that deserve to be heard live, even if they don’t actually perform in acid wash.
It was a quick twirl and skip on over to the Tunnel stage for the Icelandic singer/songwriter’s mellow set. His haunting rendition of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” was absolutely stunning and left an audible impression on the audience. Calming? Yes, but rest is for the weak and it’s not yet 3 p.m. Moving on!
Talented female musicians dominated the weekend and Jillian Banks was certainly one of them. Her bluesy crooning was made all the more enjoyable with a pint in hand.
Easily one of the more entertaining performances of the day, thanks to touring companion DMTina, who graced the stage in a floral printed kimono and thong, which (s)he enthusiastically showed off to the audience. The band was surprisingly energetic, especially after they revealed that they’d dealt with van-trouble-hell trying to get to the festival. The audience couldn’t have been happier to see them play, as they initiated a massive group hug/circle/cabaret-line mid-way through the set.
The New Pornographers
Not sure if there was some unannounced event going on elsewhere halfway through the New Pornographers set, but the crowd thinned out impressively fast. Their performance was good, with the bulk of their tunes stemming from this year’s Brill Bruisers. Why yes, Neko Case’s hair did blow beautifully in the wind.
And here, we discover where everyone ran off to mid-Pornographers. The biggest crowd crammed into a space clearly not large enough for the fans of rapidly rising indie-fave Chet Faker, whose cover of “No Diggity” initiated cheers that probably broke the sound barrier. Freak what you heard.
TV On The Radio
More tacos and more beer in hand for TVOTR’s set. Hardly anyone in close proximity to the stage could stay sitting for too long with hits like “Happy Idiot” and “Could You” booming across the lawn. Besides, Tunde Adebimpe was quick to point attention to anyone who wasn’t fully enveloped by his performance. Okay, okay…but first, another beer, please.
7:30 – 8:30 p.m.
A most-anticipated act for many festival goers on this brisk Sunday evening. The crowd seemed significantly thicker on the second day of the fest and the UK rockers were probably the reason why. Giving the newest tunes from This Is All Yours their US live-debut, the triangle-lovers were sure to give their all on fan-favorites and closed out their set with a larger-than-life performance of “Breezeblocks.” Fog machine tuned to full-blast.
8:30 – 9:15 p.m.
Little to no delay in kicking off his set, Ernest Greene’s music was one of the handful of acts that fit both the tone and ambiance of what Treasure Island Music Festival suggests. Washed Out’s drowsy yet expansive chill-wave melodies echoing alongside the crashing of Bay waves set just the right chill-factor for the crowd to make it through the end of the night.
The crowds filled in around the Bridge stage as many fest goers made their way out the gates to the tune of Massive Attack’s epic booming. From the distance, the group’s steady bass resonated strong and although the need for rest had officially taken precedence over doing anything else that night, the group’s steady bass resonated strong and instilled those familiar post-concert tingles the whole ride over the bridge.
Below, check out photos of the whole weekend, by Lance Skundrich.