The seventh annual Treasure Island Music Festival returns October 19-20, and the top-notch lineup is as strong as ever. The acts slated to perform are so good, we suggest that you go big. ‘Going Big’ can mean a lot of things here: Getting a two-day VIP pass, taking in every single set and even riding the Ferris Wheel after a couple of Spicy Pies all count. For the first year, only two-day GA, VIP & parking passes are available for purchase, and there is no guarantee single day passes will be sold.
In honor of the seventh iteration of this quintessential Bay Area Festival, here are seven reasons to go big.
1. Now that is a headliner!
Atoms for Peace
Short of Radiohead, there are few acts as highly sought after as Atoms for Peace. Besides the group’s resounding star power with Thom Yorke and Flea, not to mention Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco, Atoms are not constant touring machines like some acts on the bill such as Major Lazer or Sleigh Bells. AMOK’s release was months ago, but is still on constant rotation for many (including this writer), but it’s anyone’s guess how some of these dynamic songs will transcribe to a large, live format.
Band members have been leaking footage of their rehearsals on YouTube, and dropping some seriously exciting nuggets of possibility that make their second touring cycle even more thrilling. Case in point: the video of Thom performing 1998’s heralded UNKLE collaboration, “Rabbit in Your Headlights”. Not only is this an amazing track that Radiohead never attempted, but it pretty much confirms the inclusion of non-Atoms material on stage this run. Will the rehearsed Hail to the Thief B-Side “Paperbag Writer” be present on this tour? Well, guess you’ll have to be on the island to see if the Bay Area is graced with one, or more, of these contemporary gems.
2. “All the best Saturdays are spent dancing!”
The Dance Sets – Disclosure, Holy Ghost, DJ Falcon, Major Lazer, Robert DeLong, Phantogram, Poolside
Per the usual, TI will be split stylistically into two days with Saturday being dominated by all things dance and electronic music, so no moping about or standing with your hands in your pockets. Atoms for Peace will close the first day, but the pulsating lead up to the headliners will generate lots of buzz before the final act even struts out. Disclosure finally return to the Bay after their premier show last fall, and with a highly regarded debut record in June, they are sure to gain new fans and get festivalgoers of all ages into a frenzy with their patented house-oriented 2-step/garage hybrid. Holy Ghost! is the newest DFA Records darlings who have been selling out shows and turning heads this spring, even before releasing their much anticipated sophomore effort, Dynamics. Their deep synth-laden take on disco-pop is infectious, so don’t miss this duo. French producer DJ Falcon is yet another act who has been garnering a great deal of attention with his work on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories – he produced the intense, final track “Contact”. Expect a set heavy on house tunes, and one wouldn’t be remiss in hoping to dance to some Daft cuts during his time slot.
Major Lazer and Robert Delong will also get the spotlight on Saturday. Major Lazer is backed by the big name that is Diplo, not to mention a sizable stage production, and Robert DeLong is a rising star in his own right. Diplo melds the sounds of the Caribbean into a bass-heavy conglomeration, while DeLong takes his EDM sensibility and mixes in alternative rock influences, creating something partially poppy, but fully pleasing on the dance floor. Each act will showcase the cross-pollination that dance music is currently embracing.
3. “Logistics matter, folks.”
Sure, at first glance the idea of reasonably large festival on the less-than-oft-visited island halfway across the Bay Bridge may seem like a logistical nightmare, but after six years the folks at Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop have this event running like a well-oiled machine. For driving patrons, on site parking passes are available, but the sheer majority will be making the pilgrimage to Treasure Island via luxurious busses that are plentiful and organized. The Civic Center will the be launching-off point this year for the second time, as I suppose APE is hopeful the Giants make the playoffs, leaving AT&T park as an unviable option. Once on TI, life is easy – everything is contained and well laid out – making the best use of an otherwise small green-strip of grass facing downtown San Francisco. Lastly, TI’s site says that there will be a carpooling option coming soon, so there may be even more ways to pack onto this tiny rock.
Scheduling music for a large-scale music festival is never an easy venture, and this dubious responsibility is bound to create gripes while pleasing others equally. Alas, this is not an issue at Treasure Island as there is no overlap between artists on the two stages, making any competition a moot point. Another way of saying this is that you can literally see every act, every song and every moment that happens, making it vastly appealing after making grueling decisions at Coachella, Outside Lands and other massive music festivals throughout the summer.
4. “The coolest Scientologist in the World is a headliner.”
It seems fitting that Beck Hansen stands atop the lineup this year, as he has been rather fond of the Bay Area recently with both a tour warm-up show in Santa Cruz and a feature at Davies Symphony Hall, with both appearances shedding more light on his paper-bound “album”, Song Reader. Beck and band will be heading out in the summer to shake off those touring cobwebs, while likely testing out loads of new tunes of the acoustic variety as part of the Americana-rama tour alongside Bob Dylan and Wilco. “Defriended” is a brand spanking new track on the electronic side of things (view it above), and is chock full of bizarre beats, assaulting drum flourishes and Beck’s characteristic croon soaring high overhead. The increase in Beck news has many music fans eagerly awaiting a new record, and it appears Beck is working on a second album for late 2013 that will be the proper follow-up to 2008’s Modern Guilt. It’s safe to say that the festival will be closed out on Sunday in a show-stopping manner that only Beck can provide.
5. “Sunday was made for rocking!”
The Rock Sets – Japandroids, Sleigh Bells & Palma Violets
Just as Saturday leans towards the cutting edge of electronic music, the rock-leaning acts will likely take to the stages on Sunday. Japandroids, Sleigh Bells, and Palma Violets are three superb groups that will surely bring some seriously needed guitar-driven energy to the masses. Japandroids have been touring furiously behind last year’s heralded release, Celebration Rock, and will thrive in an afternoon slot to those looking for blistering anthemic rock and roll. Similar to Japandroid’s minimal band member formula, singer Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Miller combine forces as Sleigh Bells, and after a few months missing from the live circuit they are ramping up again. Their play on dance-noise-punk is slightly electrified and heavy on gripping guitar riffs – Sleigh Bells is sure to get a strong reaction from the crowd. Palma Violets are a newer name that many may have glanced over with the lineup release. These exciting British young’uns are making waves with their patented play on harder-edged Brit-rock, accompanied by a raucous stage presence to match their catchy debut album.
6. “The ideal sunset show.”
James Blake’s songs can be enhanced by listening to them at special moments. Fire up “The Wilhelm Scream” at 2am after partying all night or listen to his cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” in the early morning for example. But no James Blake live music scenario could possibly be better than an early evening set on Treasure Island with the sun starting to fade behind Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. With golden hour rays of light bathing upon a mellow Sunday crowd, could Blake’s post-dubstep crooning go down in any better environment? The 21st century troubadour released a more cohesive album with his sophomore effort Overgrown in April, and he’ll have this new material ingrained in his psyche by October after playing it live throughout 2013. It doesn’t matter how many red bulls, beers or unknowing friends tempt you to go to the Silent Disco during this set – get close for this one and absorb the mellowed bass blasts.
7. “It all comes back to the Indie sets.”
Animal Collective, Lord Huron, HAIM
Indie rock is always a genre that’s represented at Treasure Island Music Festival, but it’s less present than prior years. Animal Collective and their delirious, neo-psychedelia can be classified in many ways: Certainly they have indie influences present in their sound, but they also purvey elements of experimental freak folk and electronic noise pop that sways between the concepts of repetition and ambience. In a word, Animal Collective is unique, and they curate a live experience that makes it easy to float away from the daily grind. LA-based Lord Huron are pure indie with an Americana bent, and their rolling tunes inspire feelings of big open spaces – perfect for TIMF. Haim, one of the biggest up-and-coming acts around, will make their Bay Area debut at TIMF. The all-female group from Southern California have played in Los Angeles over 20 times, but never for their neighbors to the north. Haim has drawn comparisons to Fleetwood Mac, but their quirky back beat and fast paced lyrics translate to a fascinating contemporary mix of pop, R&B and indie rock.