The first day of Treasure Island was packed with enough surprises to last several birthdays. Outkast’s The first day of Treasure Island was packed with enough surprises to last several birthdays. Outkast’s closing performance was an amazing way to the end of the night. After a summer full of performances Andre 3000 and Big Boi knew exactly how to top the party for the San Fran crowd. The next day left more than a few fans feeling the effects from the night before. There was a fair amount of patrons who mustered enough strength to make it to the island, but now they’re hangovers had taken hold and the soft grass between the stages were calling out for that all to familiar naptime. Without a doubt this is a byproduct of not knowing how to “fest” the right way. Go hard the first day, but go harder the next. If you haven’t mastered that skill, well then you have some work to do.
Treasure Island’s second day tends to lean more alt-rock heavy, playing to the more gentile natures of music lovers. With past second day names including The Flaming Lips, The Raconteurs, Death Cab for Cutie, and The XX, the party shifts from the Hip Hop and DJ heavy EDM acts from the first day to an often more sensual and heartfelt experience. With Massive Attack slated to close the festival you could bet there were going to be some exciting bombshells in store.
Ásgeir… Yet another amazing artist to come out of the mystical mountains of Iceland. This young performer (26) has found an amazing formula to the creation of his heartfelt and thoughtful tracks. With the assistance of his father (75) who’s an acclaimed poet in Iceland. Ásgeir creates the soundscape, as his father will help with the lyrical composition. The music works seamlessly to compliment a ballad of lyrics that have been crafted in a way that only a special mind can. There’s sincerity in the composition that can’t really be faked or forced on anyone, it’s felt; whether it’s through your headphones, or live on stage. Going into Treasure Island, behind Massive Attack, Ásgeir grew into becoming one of the most highly anticipated acts. His style of music is somewhat reflective of what may have been experienced through the initial stages of Bon Iver’s musical progression. Though the same sentiment is present, it’s brought forth with force in the heavy-hitting bass and electronic beats that accompany the already powerful vocals. Ásgeir’s performance was made even more special through his cover of Nirvana’s Heart Shape Box. The traditionally grunge riddled ballad was reproduced to take on a fuller and dare I say, more precise approach; bringing with it a new experience that left many younger audience members convinced that they had just heard a new Ásgeir track. Ásgeir
BANKS performed to an eager audience of fans. During the height of the hoards clamoring through the gates, many were enthralled at the opportunity to run to the main stage and watch this beautiful emerging artist sing to a high hung sun. The last year and a half has seen Ms. Jillian Rose Banks (BANKS) joining festival lineups all over the world, and quickly becoming one of the most anticipated acts. Her newly emerging sound of R & B has been affectionately referred to as “R-Neg-B,” but really can fall under the indie R &B umbrella. Whatever genre you may want to toss her into, she commands an audience’s attention with her deeply belted howls that quickly descend into an amazingly controlled harmony that comes only with god given talent. She strolls across the stage walking a careful balance of confidence and frail vulnerability as she leaves her emotions out center stage for the world to see. Her performance wasn’t bogged down by any additional stage production, there’s frankly no need for it. With BANKS on stage your attention can’t be bothered being drawn anywhere else.
Having listen to The Growlers for the last few years, I’ve gone in and out of being a fan. Their lo-fi acid surfer-rock has its moments, but it really hasn’t stuck in my rotating collection of albums. I’ve had the pleasure of watching them live, hell I’ve even created a poster for one of their shows several years ago, so I’ve done my research and have become pretty familiar. With that being said, this particular performance felt much more inspired, as if they ordered an extra side of gusto for this weekend. Granted they are a west coast band, so coming back to familiar shores can be enough to put a little extra giddy-up in their step. Their blend of self-described “beach-goth,” in songs like One Million Lovers, and Humdrum Blues took new form as the lyrics and music cascaded into the soft blowing San Fran air.
The New Pornographers
With the release of their new album Billy Bruises, The New Pornographers have begun garnering the familiar critical acclaim that they have become accustomed to. Their live shows have reportedly been an eclectic mixture of their expansive library, and with their full lineup being represented for the first time in years, they deliver a moving performance of classic New Pornographer songs like Bleeding Heart Show, and Testament To Youth and Verse. The last several New Pornographers tours saw the crew missing the musical stylings of original member Dan Bejar; of course this happens to super-groups from time to time. Their performance was sprinkled with slight improvements to their stage production in the form of some added light bars to equipment and the background, (nothing noticeable during this daytime performance,) but the minimalistic approach is one familiar to these Canadians. Treasure Island’s A/V setup proved to be the best addition with its large center screen doubled as another monitor displaying the performance. Looking through a camera screen taking photos of A.C. Newman singing with a 40 ft. tall image of A.C. Newman led to a slightly meta moment. Though the brunt of the field was content with lying around enjoying the rare Bay Area sun, there were more than enough eager fans creating an amazing sing-along experience for any fans of Electric Version.
Chet Faker has been moving crowds for the last few years, with his remix of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” This has propelled the young “Faker” into heights that are often only attainable through years of toiling. This is a reality that he’s often the first to humbly speak about and offer his own sincere appreciation. Having been one of the lucky few to see Chet Faker a little more than a month ago atFYF 2014 in Los Angeles, I knew how amazing of a performance he could put on. His performance at FYF was relegated to the newly used Arena at the Exposition Park where FYF has now found a new residence, so having the potential to catch an open-air set was a titillating thought. With the San Francisco skyline as his backdrop, Chet packed a bigger punch than before. The deep bass that flowed through the crowd created a visceral experience almost knocking people off their feet as the music forced them to “work it.” His music reflects an obvious affinity for some of the deeper roots of modern music, looking back to the traditional Jazz and R &B sounds to influence his nearly smooth and erotic approach. The music he makes oozes sensuality; this reaction is driven home through his performance and dedication to creating just the right mood. As the sun began to set, he was gifted the perfect environment to masterfully craft whatever experience he saw fit.
TV on the Radio
The sunset performance is always an important to get right, this year Treasure Island succeeded both days, with TV on the Radio being the personal highlight of the two. I have to take a second to formerly apologize to TV on the Radio (TVOTR,) as I, along with hoards of other fans, moaned at the thought of hearing more off of TVOTR’s new album. This seemed to hit hard to TVOTR, and rightfully so. Here they had gone and spent so much time and energy in creating something that they could be proud of, and yet their fans are moaning at hearing their new creation… It’s not that we didn’t want new TVOTR, we just love TVOTR, and we wanted to hear what we love… We meant it in the best way possible… seriously! With that out of the way, TVOTR have grown into some of the strongest performers touring in the contemporary rock/indie music world. They demand an appreciation that only sincere professionals and masters can attain. As artists they’ve pushed their unique sound to dizzying heights trying to map out the perfect sound for their evolution. Since their 2004 debut album Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, TVOTR have had impressive growth, a growth that can vividly be seen in their new tracks Happy Idiot, Careful You, Could You, and Trouble; all of which being performed at TIMF in their early live inceptions. These were mixed with fan favorites like Golden Age, and Wolf Like Me. With the new album expected within the next month assuredly a tour is close behind, and with it so should every TV on the Radio fan be, breath held and money outstretched for an opportunity to see for themselves.
Throughout the fest one of the most common phrases you could overhear was, “I’m here to watch Alt-J.” The masses had come in large numbers in hopes to catch a bit of these young performers. I never had a chance to see them before, and though I’ve enjoyed their first album, and with their second one quickly growing on me, I was in a bit of bewilderment as how they were scheduled later than New Pornographer, Poliça, even TV on the Radio; by the time they began with their new single Hunger Pine, it became apparent why. Upon first hearing Alt-J (∆,) their sound quickly reminded me of Yeasayer circa All Hour Cymbals. Their style of vocal harmonization, and the softer rock progressions suggested a certain propensity for the light and airy. While watching their live version of Hunger Pine, it was becoming apparent that this wasn’t their approach live. Alt J’s first album An Awesome Wave, was a byproduct of friends in dorms being forced to operate within their minimal space, it was absent of heavier bass and percussions—now that they have the resources they can begin to make up for lost time. Every bit of power they ever wanted for their music has been reserved for their live performances. Throughout their set there was acknowledgement that this was their first show of their new tour, with it came a new stage setup, and a slew of new material that hadn’t been performed live before, (at least not in its new inception.) The precision of their music let alone how it entwined with the production was enough of an indicator to fool anyone into believing that this wasn’t their first crack at this caliber of performance. Their next string of shows have already sold-out a good portion of tickets, and rightfully so, Alt-J quickly laid to rest any doubt of their hype, proving that they’re well on their way to “closer” status.
The elusive Massive Attack have swept upon the states after their whirlwind tour around the globe this summer. Having played at the Greek and the Santa Barbra Bowl leading in to Treasure Island their presence on the island was heavily felt, at least personally. Without fail there’s an interesting mixture of perception that comes with a Massive Attack show. Their performances are equally mixed with die-hard fans who have had the pleasure to witness, curious onlookers who have yet too experience one, and yougins who believe they’re on their way to another rave. Inevitably throughout all the performances of Massive Attack I’ve witnessed, the last group seems to fall victim to their own follies, over indulging in alcohol and illicit substances—proving to be an emotionally dangerous idea. It’s hard to summarize Massive Attack into the category of “shows,” or “sets,” because what they create is more of an experience. Their focus is on trying to pull back the veil the world at large wears, and shed light on the atrocious natures of our own subscriptions. With the use of powerful visuals, which are designed to bombard you emotionally, their already powerful music is taken to unbelievable heights.
Unfortunately Massive Attack was short of Hoarce Andy, the man, the legend, responsible for Angel. This was approached by core member, 3D, addressing the crowd in pitch black and explaining why Hoarce was M.I.A, The solution was to pretend to be a new band comprised of DJ’s debuting their new single which was Angel. What was delivered was an impressive Angel Club Mix, with extra heavy guitar to really sell the performance. Honestly had 3D gone without saying anything at all, a few percentage of the crowd wouldn’t had any complaint.
The night was topped off by a rare performance that has only occurred in the last three performances. With Massive Attack and TV on the Radio being in the same vicinity Tunde Adebimpe graced the stage with his performance of Pray for Rain off of 2010’s Heigoland. If I was told I would see this one song alone I would traverse vast distances and overcome incredible challenges to make it a reality. For it to occur as pure happenstance is serendipitous to say the least. Tunde’s performances are always impressive; to watch him alongside Massive Attack make for an indelible memory. The oddly created state of detachment displayed by the crowd at the end, unfortunately isn’t something that has been unusual at a Massive Attack experience; though I don’t quite understand the ability to not be affected deeply by the performance and the simple fact of an appearance, we’re all subjects of our own opinions. This particular performance sent the entire weekend onto a level beyond any previous comprehension.
Not being a San Francisco local, hell not even being a Californian, being able to make it out to Treasure Island is always a treat. The amount of time and effort that goes in to the curating of this particular event is impressive, especially as their lineups have continued to reflect their growth. This year was nothing short of incredible being able to experience such an amazing selection of performers from all around the world. As an added bonus, after missing out on the premiere Secret Solstice festival in Reykjavik Iceland earlier in the summer Treasure Island proved to be an amazing consolation with both Massive Attack, and Banks, having performed at Secret Solstice, and were sincerely sad misses. Hopefully the next Treasure Island experience won’t be as long away.