When you realize you're out in the middle of the ocean listening to sensational live music with the greatest backdrop and set time structure in festival history you get that nervous excited feeling in your stomach. The vulnerability and privacy of being on this island releases you from constraint, the fact its almost impossible to lose your friends or miss a set thanks to no overlapping performances eases your anxious mind and you are allowed to just soak it all in and embrace your new life...as a pirate.
We had had just a smidge bit of fun at Treasure Island Music Festival's ninth iteration that had a high and low tide of energies depending on the day, slathered in rock, rap and rave acts who for the most part were enjoyed immensely by the laid back Bay Area festivalgoer fleet. New acts like Shamir and Bob Moses really got the people lit up with their groovy and dancy jams and big gunners The National, deadmau5 and Big Boi evaporated our brains and melted faces with massive performances. THIS is Treasure Island....
PICTURE THIS -- Father John Misty
The wind was howling through rockstar hair and the catnipped crowd was purring as ADHD mic-stand thrasher and folklore folk legend Father John Misty busted pipes and sprayed his poetic polemic on the smiling lovers and listeners on Sunday afternoon. His voice gave us rushes, his delightful and delirious ramblings were met with cackles and when he asked the crowd how he should man-bun his hair, he mocked his band with a “look at these suckers” for having their long locks blowing in their faces. The weather certainly managed to give the rockin Sunday lineup an extra spoonful of effortless epic with The War On Drugs, The National and Father John and his blessings looking like wind-swept phantoms out at sea.
SAVING MY THIS -- Gorgon City
Yes, LIFE. That is what Gorgon City erupted the island with during the afternoon firework show that really kicked the weekend off for everyone. Set of the fest? Maybe, actually. The pop-house banger duo d’brit Kye and Matt have found something infectious with their full rack of band featuring vocalists that had us all vibing and looking around smiling as we bounced with our wild packs of ravenous friends.
The sun came out to play, the dancefloor had an extra spring to it and the buzz of the day was coming in strong as “Saving My Life” and “Imagination” echoed out over the bay area crowd. Treasure Island 2015 fully came into its own at this moment and the excitement just did not stop. I’m still excited, when can we go back.
LET’S DO THIS -- Big Grams
Dopest dope from ATL to TI. The Big Grams revolution has begun with their marquee first performance blowing skirts and minds up with a briefcase full of the finest cut moments from the festival.
There was nobody having a better time on Saturday night than Big Boi and Phantogram's Sarah Barthel, trading off crushing lines and choruses over the gourmet beats of Josh Carter. The crowd was absolutely bonkers at the smaller Tunnel Stage flowing out from every side, singing along when they could to the relatively new album by this apex predator supergroup everyone needs to run and see immediately.
As I predicted in my preview article Run The Jewels joined them onstage for their track “Born To Shine” just a few hours after a monster afternoon set. They were “Rick Flarin, fur coat wearin’” that swagger and it was powerful watching that much raw rap and rage talent combining. The mashup of Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” and Phatogram’s “Mouthful of Diamonds” was the unpredicted eargasm I never knew I wanted and yea it did us all dirty. They’re somehow even better live than the album and I can only hope for a second dose of that Big Grams fury at a fest or show soon.
PRAISE THIS -- CHVRCHES
We swayed in the winds and wafting guitars of Sunday’s rock lineup, allowing our bodies to rest from yesterday’s high energy bill costs. As the night began to glow however, we found we were not depleted of our natural resources and relish to dance, instead unleashing a shape shifting flurry of dance moves to the mind boggling sermon of CHVRCHES.
Singer Lauren Mayberry was Wendy from Peter Pan, wind-swept on an island of treasure seeking scallywags and looking as though at any moment she might fly off clasping an outstretched crow-calling hand. Resilient yet shy and charmingly powerful in her demeanor and banter with the crowd, the pixie siren was thankful to lose the fear of a San Francisco “curse” as she called it, referring to their missed Outside Lands appearance the year before. I was scared at first when they were delayed twenty minutes with sound issues but then the prolific punching intro of “Never Ending Circles” leaped out of the speakers and so began one of the best sets of the weekend.
This group has elevated to a new level with this latest album, which has allowed them to keep a constantly elevated energy to a set of sing-a-longs. The production design was architected to a powerful stance and Mayberry was the painting set against the strong yet simple geometric shaped frame.
I wanna give a shoutout to my boy Leebs on what we did during “Clearest Blue”. I even heard the dancefloor say “wow.”
REVIVE THIS -- Deerhunter (WH)
Playing just two days after the release of their sixth full-length album Fading Frontier, one might have expected Deerhunter to use Treasure Island as an opportunity show off their new digs.
While busting out the jamming new single "Snakeskin," a beautiful rendition of "Breaker" with San Francisco's skyline glittering on the bay on Sunday night, lead singer Bradford Cox, guitarist Lockett Pundt and the gang brought back some old favorites. The biggest surprise was the title track of their 2009 EP Rainwater Cassette Exchange, which Cox said he had not played in quite awhile. The band had also tried to steer clear from songs from their critically acclaimed Halcyon Digest while touring their punish Monomania (2013), but revisited the album again with "Revival" and even closing the set with a fan favorite, "Helicopter."
Even with the quiet, wind-chilled crowd giving off what Cox called a "polite" vibe, the band seemed comfortable with their new set as well as revisiting their past.
RUN THIS -- Hudson Mohawke
If anyone got trampled at Treasure Island I blame the explosive tribal run-the-trappings that Hudson Mohawke unleashed on the crowd. I saw men and women stampede dance with powerful stomping footwork and rhino glares in their gazes, I saw Hudson Mohawke and his live crew rip it up with a catalogue of his own and TNGHT’s jams new and old, and I saw the crowd get so fired up that the next set by avant-garde contortionist and siren voiced FKA Twigs couldn’t keep their attention so they just headed over for a good spot at Big Grams. Not to say her act wasn’t gorgeous but timing is everything and you can’t always get the set times perfect. Who knows though, maybe we needed to calm down a bit so we didn’t go full party pirate mode…
SAVOR THIS -- Noms
If the eye and ear candy was not delicious enough for you, the frozen chocolate covered bacon was there to put you in sensory overload. Our friends always had a creatively crafted treat in their hand and I was there to scoop up a bite or five to taste the flavors that Treasure Island had to plunder. People have been speaking of the paella like it was a celebrity roaming the island. I have to admit, it was a beautiful dish and I was too nervous to ask for a selfie with it so I just enjoyed a couple noms while grooving to the sexy panther house tunes of Bob Moses.
The burnt caramel adorned vanilla bean custard was a rager in our bud Brian’s smiling mouth so much that he ate-danced with it, making spoonful swirling motions in the air before scarfing to music that wasn’t even playing. Oh, and I gotta give a shout out to my homies grilled cheese and Spicy Pie because they always comes in the clutch when you need a pick me up and cheesy smile.
SING THIS -- deadmau5
The best closed eyes, singing your sweaty little heart out moment was listening to everyone let the world that the children made know that deadmau5 was making them feel all the feels during “The Veldt”. I loved watching my brother rock out to his first mau5 set ever and taught him the words before they came so we could sing it out together.
The anarchist electronic juggernaut made the island his bitch sending our wound up minds and bodies scooting around til we had nothing left and taking a chance to reintroduce the Bay Area to his amped up soundscapes and troll-ey antics for the first time since 2011. For the more loyal fan it was also the first time to see his mousetrap-inspired moving and morphing stage that he hasn’t shown off much. It wasn’t the legendary Cube but it was quite entrancing and wild to watch transform as his set bent and curved with different energies.
LOST IN THIS FADING DREAM -- The War On Drugs (WH)
As the sun began to droop lower over the foggy San Francisco bay, a slight mist wafted across the festival goers as The War on Drugs took the stage. It was a special moment for the Philadelphia band as it was the last show on their tour for their critically acclaimed Lost in the Dream (2014). Before taking the stage, the band huddled together in a circle sidestage, their arms wrapped around each other. As if saying goodbye, the band played with a ferocity unseen in their previous live performances, with lead singer Adam Granduciel breaking away from his softer voice to begin screaming out the verses of their closing song "Under the Pressure."
He knew the dream was going to end that night, and let the fans know by saying, "This our last show."
The majority of the set was taken up by songs from Lost in the Dream (no complaints there), but they diverge at one point by playing "Brothers" off Slave Ambient (2011).
SNAPCHAT THIS -- The looks
There was definitely a surplus of bubbles at Treasure Island this year. Or maybe I’m like a cat with a laser pointer and just notice them more. Either way they were just one of the cornucopia (had to throw in some Fall themed buzzwords) of visual delights and hangouts on this island wonderland.
I watched Shamir from inside of the mouth of a giant purple angler fish and sat under the ferris wheel surrounded by hula hoopers sitting with my amigo on two randomly and perfectly placed fold-up chairs in the middle of the grass field. There were hammocks and ARRGHt Cars to view the Tunnel Stage from on high, red uniformed hunters on electric powered horses chasing around a lady with a fox hat on, the pungent pupil-warping Ferris Wheel and of course….San Francisco in all its glimmering glory.
There is NO OTHER better setting for a festival than Treasure Island. It gave us a different glimpse of the city and skyline every other hour, flowing from magnificent marshmallow cloud sunsets to grey gloomy stillness to clear skied sparkling at night with a massive low hung orange crescent moon. It was absolutely stunning and I didn’t have to remind myself to take a minute to look away from the stage now and then to soak it in.
Thanks Treasure Island and see you all next year.
Love, Ben and Will Houston