In a world at the edge of San Francisco’s ebbing shores sits an illustrious spectacle. Tens of thousands of people descended upon the Treasure Island Music Festival, a musical extravaganza which rests serenely between Oakland CA, and San Francisco CA, right off the Bay Area bridge. With the San Fran skyline acting as the backdrop, the sights were perfectly fitting for the sounds.
Treasure Island Music Festival (TIMF) has worked diligently in becoming a bright beacon in the musical world. Highlighting up and coming artists, and pitting them alongside heavy-hitting headliners, while offering an uninterrupted opportunity to catch every set. TIMF focuses on a two-stage setup, and what they may lack in quantity of performers, they surely deliver in quality. There are very few festivals that allow you the privilege of catching the entire lineup; with stages sharing a small field bouncing between the two comes down to your ability of navigating the ever-evolving organism of the TIMF crowd. Early day sets of course allow you the easiest access from The Bridge (main) stage to the Tunnel Stage (smaller stage,) but setting a blanket/beach towel down in the middle early on, will help secure you a prime location in between all the festivities.
Treasure Island’s two days are separated by genres and expectations. The first day has classically been reserved for the dance/party atmosphere. Here you’ll find hip-hop acts rubbing shoulders with EDM artists, DJ’s and every variation in between. With artists ranging from the chaotic Tobacco, to the festival kings of 2014, Outkast, part one of Treasure Island was curated to by the ideal party day.
Rolling into the festival, we were just in time to catch the last few songs of Ratking. From the very beginning there was an overwhelming certainty that this Treasure Island was going to prove to be something for the record books. Ratking has been on a steady climb amongst a growing fan base for the better part of the last three years. Their 2012 bedroom recordings found a special place in the online hip-hop world. The electronic meshes can become overwhelming and chaotic for the faint of heart, but if you find yourself at a Ratking show I would urge you to sink in to that chaos, let loose and see where the music may take you.
With Ratking coming to a close we realized that food and water were needed, making Treasure Island’s main benefit it’s hardest obstacle: the music never stops. Having to forgo XXYYXX in search of water and food wasn’t the easiest decision, but I’m human, and as such I require nourishment to make sure I can endure a full day of dancing and running around. San Francisco festivals have become synonymous with amazing food, and Treasure Island is no different. With the classics like yoshiba noodles, and pizza obviously being represented, San Fran specialty carts were out with their blend of gourmet dumplings, amazing papaya and revitalizing coconut drinks. Personally The Chairman which was the dumpling cart, proved to be one of the best values and flavors that could be found. After a few dumplings and a refill on all the water the festival could continue sans fear of dehydration.
Is that a feigned attempt to celebrate the pirate themed festival Mø? Oh… it’s not… my bad. Sporting what could be easily a simple costume addition in the form of an eye patch, Mø was battling an eye infection. Truthfully she didn’t have to mention a thing to the audience and we would’ve thought it was just a joke, instead she wanted to make sure we didn’t think her humor was that bad. Neither the eye patch, nor the infection it was covering seemed to throw Mø ’s amazing voice off. With the San Francisco breeze blowing in and the bright sun unabated by any clouds, Mø strolled across the stage with determination and passion, nothing was going to get in her way. Her adoring fans sporting there own…peculiar…homages to Mø this was an early afternoon set that delivered a high intensity performance that continued the first day on an amazing high.
Ana Tijoux, the beautiful Chilean-French rapper, a womyn with an uncanny ability to spit fire whether it’s in Spanish or in the little snippets of English she may use. With commentary on the plight of worker’s rights in South America as well as the continued depletion of native lands and culture, these prove to be afflictions shared with cultures across the world. When a performer takes it upon themselves to dedicate their talent and time and bring light to these circumstances, there’s a sincere performance which is created.
Jungle… Or should we say Earth Wind and Fire 2.0, has been able to create a large sound that fills anything and everything from clubs to festivals. There sound and style makes for one big dance session. Jungle’s sound is created through the use of an actual big band, and a multitude of musicians and talent. There music is ripe with elements from 70’s era funk, bringing with them an enjoyable and fulfilling event. Songs like Busy Earnin’, rely on the heavy brass that may have once appeared on a BeeGees early B-Side, but for the 45 minutes they have on stage, everyone quickly forgot any negative association to our disco desires.
Ryan Hemsworth and The Silent Disco
Ryan Hemsworth is a producer delicately blending the lines between hip-hop and indie pop. His mixes create smooth party anthems for a generation torn between the Two-Chainz and the Lana Del Ray’s of the world. His work has even garnered the attention of the latter, with Lana Del Ray approaching Hemsworth to produce several remixes. His 2012 solo album Guilt Trips propelled him to new heights showing that he had the chops to create his own music. As he played select mixes from Guilt Trips he made sure to leave the crowd in a state of suspense tossing in some surprises along the way. The set was cut a little short in order to enjoy some of the other festivities of Treasure Island—namely the Silent Disco which is always too fun to resist. Hidden to the east of the festival’s main area the Silent Disco is tucked in a little cove of trees. If you’re unfamiliar with what a “silent disco” is, don’t be ashamed. These little gems are places for local DJ’s to perform their own mixes without interrupting the music that’s playing on any stage with the use of hundreds of wireless headsets. Silent discos offer an entertaining sight for anyone not engaged in the experience. Watching a hundred or so people shuffle quietly to the music can almost be a surreal experience, but when rhythmic clapping and chanting break up the silence, it becomes a highly entertaining sight to take in.
Janelle Monae’s set was unfortunately plagued with an early series of sound difficulties. This was enough to frustrate the beautiful “do-wop” artist—at one point even threatening to end her set early in response to the frustration towards the sound techs, (hey with only 40 mins to setup in between sets, how angry can we really get at them?) I’m sure there’s more than enough complacent San Fran hipsters that have grown accustomed to being delivered sterling performances due to the threat of a negative looming twitter post, but after as many shows and festivals I’ve been to, TIMF had very few noticeable production mistakes. This isn’t to say that they can’t improve. Fortunately the complications could be worked out, and Janelle was able to put on a magikal performance. She ended her set by channeling the great spirit of James Brown, having her own robe brought out only to be tossed back in a fit suited for a fervent reverend.
If Janelle Monae began the nighttime dance party, Classixx assuredly picked up where she left off, singing the sun to sleep as it melted into the bay. Having to unfortunately forgo Classixx’s past live performances for numerous mitigating circumstances, all I knew of their shows were in the energy they brought. Of course being a fan of their remixes I was constantly in state of perplexity as how this would actually transition live. Much to my chagrin Mr. David, and Mr. Blake, (the mastermind’s behind Classixx,) created a glorious compromise… through the magic of television. With a stage prop that looked like a relic off the Brady Bunch they were able to bring Jona Bechtolt from YACHT on stage for their Psychic City remix. Of course the magic of this moment seemed to make up for all the other missed attempts, it also reinforced the fact that they aren’t to be missed.
Zedd was one of the biggest artists on the lineup that I had to push myself to get excited for. I crave live music; I want to see musicians performing, hitting their notes and collaborating to create an experience. Watching someone mix tracks, though enjoyable, isn’t normally what I would get giddy over. Of course with large named EDM artists you can expect a spectacle of a stage display, and this is primarily what drives the crowds…well that and the copious amount of illicit narcotics that are directing their takers to the nearest WOMP! Aside from his show being a 45 minute display of all the different ways he could get After Effects and MAYA 3D to animate “ZEDD,” it was indeed a spectacle. Arguably the best part was watching his own personal excitement.
Admittedly St. Lucia seemed a bit of surprise for their later slot, a reaction I also shared with Washed Out’s placement on Sunday’s lineup. After watching ZEDD and having Outkast right after, St. Lucia seemed out of place, at least if you were basing it off their recorded material. St. Lucia strolled out on stage immediately after ZEDD ended, and kicked off the set with a bang. Though St. Lucia is really South African born Jean-Phillip Grobler, it’s safe to say that the his band in tow, are just as much part of the sound. This new tour of theirs features an impressive light setup that helps to add an added measure to their already electric performance. As Jean-Phillip danced across the stage playing to an already hyped audience (thanks again ZEDD) you could feel the enthusiasm that the band was exuding. In what has to be a highlight of their current tour, St. Lucia delivered the much needed shot of real instruments, and real music post ZEDD. With the city all lit up across the bay, the faint lights twinkled from behind the stage helping to create a dreamlike atmosphere, ultimately completed this particular perfect moment.
Outkast is at the tail end of their whirlwind tour that has seen them perform at nearly every major festival all around the globe. Through that time they have been able to create a cohesive performance that runs like clockwork. They delivered on all the singles you may have fallen in love with, and several you’ve likely forgotten. The middle of the performance was broken up by Big Boi, and Andre 3000 taking turns performing some of their solo material; material that was mainly off theirSpeakerboxxx/Love Below dual release of 2003. I had forgotten how much Outkast has taken real estate in my memory, being able to chant alongside the crowd with nearly every song left me surprised. Especially as my post-formative years have brought deeper understanding to the inequality often created within Outkast lyrics, portraying women and sex as nothing more than a man’s right and obligation. Just because there’s a little cognitive dissonance occurring doesn’t mean you can’t feed into the nostalgia a bit and let loose, however I now have a clearer reason as to why Outkast has slowly worked it’s way out of my listening materials. What more can be said, we dance, we sang, and we saw an obscene number of the original “twerkers” as represented through past Outkast videos… It was adolescence all over again, and if only for that, a fond thank you has to be sent out to Outkast.