In its third year, the Treasure Island Music Festival has become known as the festival that does it right. The organizers - Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop - get big-name acts, avoid parking and transportation problems that larger festivals have, and keep an intimate feel by having only two adjacent stages with alternating acts. Plus, they never change their format by getting too many super-popular mainstream artists.Check out photos from Treasure Island here.
Much like its Golden Gate Park big sister festival, Outside Lands, Treasure Island started off with clear skies and perfect weather for a weekend of music. When arriving on the island, concert goers were greeted by the electro synth-pop sounds of local duo the Limousines. Despite being the first act of the first day, they had the handful of sleepy, early arrivers already dancing and excited for the day ahead.
Day one seemed like a mishmash of different artists from different genres that didn't fit into the whole indie-rock sphere of day two, such as Oakland's own Crown City Rockers. MC Raashan Ahmad's energy and the group's classic hip-hop sound had the hometown crowd bouncin'. But they - and MURS - were the only true hip-hop artists of the weekend.
MURS has been on a campaign to become the president of hip-hop since the release of his debut album, last year's MURS for President - and with his performance this weekend, he likely got a lot more votes. Coming from the infamous Living Legends, MURS brings a classic style of hip-hop that has been missing from the industry for the last decade or so. As he said, his music isn't about bling and smacking-up bitches; it's about the love and the music, which he backed up with his song "Break Up (OJ Song)."
Federico Aubele's soft-spoken vocals, coupled with his light picking of the Spanish guitar, also seemed completely out of place smashed between electronic, house, and hip-hop artists. His performance was amazing and engaged the crowd, yet it left many visitors confused since most were there to dance to artists and DJs like Girl Talk, MSTRKRFT, and MGMT. His style of music and performance seemed more fitting for the second day.
Passion Pit was the first huge electronic headliner. They were also the first band to get the neon-spandex-laden, high-top-wearing hipsters to emerge from their slumber. Droves of fans converged to the main stage to dance to hits like "Sleepyhead" and "Reeling" off Passion Pit's debut full-length, Manners.
Although a lot of Dan Deacon's music - with synth and demonic voice - sounds like it belongs in a dark and twisted '80s video game, he managed to get the crowd engaged. Not only did he have a variety of costumed animals dancing and running around the stage, but he got the audience to engage in an interpretive dance, which consisted of hundreds of people dropping to their knees, jumping, clapping, spinning around, and chanting. All while this was occurring, Deacon had his band of ten-plus musicians, who played things that looked like they belonged in the stage show Stomp, sound like an extremely well-polished band.
Other notable acts included the monotone-rapping and love-adoring hip-hop artist the Streets. The Brazilian Girls used various languages and mixed different genres of music to create an amazingly upbeat, electronic-pop dance sound with foreign flair. Their song, "Good Time," and front woman Sabina Sciubba's giant heart costumes were some of the highlights of the festival.
As the sun started to set, MSTRKRFT and Girl Talk took over. The Canadian DJ duo MSTRKRFT stole the show by doing things to a mixer and turntable that no other DJs could do. The two are famously known for their remixes of artists like Bloc Party, Metric, and Usher; they actually threw in their remix of Justice's "D.A.N.C.E." in a nod to last year's Saturday headliner. They had the crowd dancing throughout their fifty-minute set but ended it with a fitting tribute to their friend, the late DJ AM, by playing Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." You could hear the whole island singing along, even those at the Girl Talk stage waiting for him to perform next.
Girl Talk pulled the same number of fans as MSTRKRFT but on a stage half the size. Fans were so crammed into each other that you could feel the keys in the pockets of the people around you. Greg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, claims not to be a DJ. Like many DJs, he plays lots of mainstream music, but what makes him unique is that he samples short clips and overlays them atop another song, and by the time you recognize both songs, he's already on to another mix of another song. He turns these samples into a new art and type of music in itself. With so many people having shorter attention spans, he fulfills those track-changing urges. The other appeal to him is that he tends to mix '70s, 80s, and 90s songs with modern hip-hop, which satisfies fans of various genres - not to mention, all the while, he's creating music you can dance to, and that's exactly what everyone was doing. Under streams of toilet paper and inflatable plastic tubes spewing popcorn, Girl Talk ended his set with a bang - literally; fireworks launched from the stage in front of the evening skyline.
When New York-based neo-psychedelic electronic pop band MGMT started its set with "Time to Pretend," everyone knew it was going to be an amazing performance. Mobs of people flocked back toward the main stage, mostly dancing and skipping along the way. The crowd went crazy for its hit single, "Kids," which everyone expected at the end. The jumping, dancing, and kicking of people wearing spandex, neon, and leg warmers resembled a Jazzercise class. Yet after the song ended, there was a mass exodus of people, leading one to question: Are MGMT a one-hit wonder? Did they deserve to be headliner? The band played its album, Oracular Spectacular, the whole way through and finished with tracks from its upcoming album, Congratulations, as an encore. The night ended with thousands of hipsters leaving under a 1,500-foot string of balloons with lights stretching across the night's sky.
Day two showed the true nature of San Francisco weather. Since the first day was sunny and nice, day two had to be freezing-cold, foggy, rainy, and overcast. Sleepy Sun greeted concert goers with its psychedelic acid-rock sound, a reminder of the 40th anniversary of the most famous of all concert festivals.
Thao Nguyen and her band, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, was the only performer of the day who didn't seemed ready for the weather, despite being a resident of the City. She came out in a tank top, but claimed that she wore it so she had an excuse to dance, which got the crowd going. With their upbeat, folkie, and almost-poppy songs, you almost can't help feeling happy and dancing. She definitely brightened up a lot of people's days.
Other notable performances included Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Vetiver. When Edward Sharpe - Jesus' body-double as my friend refers to him as - and the Magnetic Zeros took the stage, it's almost looked like they had hitchhiked here from LA. The ten-man band was extremely entertaining, especially when Sharpe sang duets with band member Jade Castrinos. Local band Vetiver's folkie sounds were a nice mellow break. They performed popular songs like "Everyday," which was amazing in person.
Grizzly Bear was one of those bands you had to see no matter who else you came to the festival for. With so much made of their new album, Veckatimest, which has already been deemed "the album of the year" by numerous media sources, you couldn't help but see what the hubbub was all about. Their smooth, harmonizing vocals and mesmerizing melodies were so powerful and mind-blowing that even the sun had to peek through to listen.
If you could picture a band with three guys who can play every horn instrument, and toss in a bassist, an accordion player, and drummer, that's Beirut. The almost-folkie, polka indie-rock band from New Mexico, headed by 23-year-old Zach Condon, sounds like the music of a traveling gypsy circus carnival in late-19th-century Paris. Seeing them live is an experience unlike any other; it's almost like watching a musical chairs of instruments to playing a majestic sound created by only six men, when it theory it should take an orchestra.
Many people came out just to see the Decemberists, but what they were expecting wasn't what actually happened. Many people know the Decemberists for their hits "O Valencia!," "16 Military Wives," and "July, July!," but with the release of their newest album, The Hazards of Love, they opted to take this performance in a new direction. The Hazards of Love is like a rock opera; the whole album is one long song that contains a narrative with reoccurring stories and songs. While most fans were expecting a medley of their hits, the Decemberists decided to play their newest album from front to back. The intertwining of the stunning vocals of Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond made this performance extraordinary. It was one of the strongest and most cohesive sets of the weekend.
When one goes to a Flaming Lips concert, you can't know what to expect to see. Cannons were set up around a completely orange set that resembled a freeway construction zone. Being the Flaming Lips, I wasn't sure what they were going to shoot out of the cannon - my guess was kittens or maybe broccoli. But the show started with the band emerging from behind a screen with a woman's crotch projected on it, as if she were giving birth to them. Frontman Wayne Coyne made his entrance the way he normally does - in a giant inflatable hamster ball rolling himself into the crowd. As usual, their performance contained a lot of streamers, confetti, steam, lasers, and light - oh, and, of course, dancers dressed in bunny and white gorilla costumes. Though the band just released a new album last week, Embryonic, the band played a pleasant mix of new and classic songs - much to the delight of the audience. One of the highlights of the set was the sing-along of "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1." After leaving the stage for five seconds, they came back on to rousing applause and finished the festival with "Do You Realize?"
Overall, the festival was a huge success. Almost all of the bands lived up to their expectations and did not disappoint. The sound was amazing even for an outdoor venue. The transportation on and off the island was seamless. And the fans seemed to really get into it and enjoyed themselves. I'd have to say that this was actually better than Outside Lands a few months ago. Thao Nguyen put it best: "This is the Bestival! The best festival!"