Review | Photos | Treasure Island Music Festival | San Francisco

Words and Images by: Eric Podolsky

Treasure Island Music Festival :: 10.13.12-10.14.12 :: Treasure Island :: San Francisco, CA

Click here to check out a few photos from this year's Festival!

Treasure Island Music Festival by Eric Podolsky
There's no question about it, October in the Bay Area is a very wonderful thing. With Indian Summer in full swing, a beautiful weekend of cloudless skies and temperatures in the 70s ushered in the sixth annual Treasure Island Music Festival, and a grand, supremely stress-free time was had by all. By this point, Another Planet has Treasure Island's setup down to a science – the grounds are identical from year-to-year, which allows for the one of the most convenient, maneuverable and manageable urban music festivals known to man. Plus, the view of the bay and the San Francisco skyline is one of the most gorgeous backdrops imaginable for a concert experience.

Once again, the weekend was split into an electro and dance music heavy Saturday, followed by a more indie and rock oriented Sunday. Saturday featured some great bands in the afternoon, but the run of pre-programmed electronica acts that evening brought was not my cup of tea. No matter though, we just headed over to the Silent Disco for an alternate headphone funk dance party, and all was right in the universe. Sunday was stacked musically, and the sun, music, great food, and good vibes from everyone in the intimate confines of the field all combined to make up the most enjoyable day I've had in three years of attending this supremely laid-back festival. The lack of huge headliners didn't matter, as there were no overlapping sets anyway, so everyone just relaxed and let the day flow by. Here's hoping this event lasts for many years to come, as it seems to just get better with every passing year.

Saturday Highlights

Toro Y Moi – 3:45-4:30 PM – Tunnel Stage
Toro Y Moi is the stage name of musical chameleon Chaz Bundick, whose shape-shifting band (one of the few full bands in Saturday's electro-heavy lineup) transcended any type of musical genre with their amazing set of psychedelic disco-trance tunes. The one thread running through every song in the set was the presence of an infectious, groovin' bass line, but other than that, every song was so different in scope that the set was unclassifiable, in the best way possible. These guys played their asses off, crafting spacious pop grooves and funky synth jams that got the afternoon crowd moving. Hands down, this was the most musically satisfying set of the day.

Public Enemy by Eric Podolsky
Public Enemy – 4:35-5:25 PM – Bridge Stage
The fathers of political rap were the odd men out at this festival, but they sure brought enough attitude to wow everyone with a whirlwind set that never skimped on the energy. As usual, Flavor Flav played the jester to Chuck D's politically conscious persona, and in between spitting the rhymes on hits like “Don't Believe the Hype, “Fight the Power” and “He Got Game,” Chuck D wasted no time in espousing his political beliefs, especially regarding how big corporations don't support local artists. Shouting “Fuck BET, fuck urban radio and fuck Viacom,” Chuck D's seriousness was balanced by Flavor Flav the clown, hamming it up like the master he is. It was a pleasure to witness such legends at work, making for one hell of a good hip-hop show.

Girl Talk – 9:30-10:55 PM – Bridge Stage
Though Girl Talk's mash-up dance party performance is predictable at this point, it still delivers the super-funtimes like few can. The toilet paper-spewing machines were in full effect, and the crowd of audience members on stage were hamming it up like the amateurs they were. The set started off with some old material, notably his Ramones/Missy Elliott mashup, and got more obscure from there as he started to mix his trademark gangsta rap samples with things other than classic rock – there was some new trance/house music going on that kept the set going, though it didn't engage me like the recognizable classics did. Still, it was a fun way to end a big party of a day.

Sunday Highlights

Wild Belle – 2:05-2:45 PM – Tunnel Stage
This up-and-coming duo's set of languid, supremely danceable indie/reggae tunes was the biggest surprise/discovery of the weekend for me. This brother-sister duo of Elliott and Natalie Bergman have a very different sound going for them – the band's skank-a-licious grooves feature Natalie's sultry, Adele-like vocals and Elliott's wailing saxophone, and made for the most perfect sunny day set anyone could have wanted. The loping, deliberate pace of the music was infectious, and got going a huge reggae dance party by the bay. Just fantastic music.

The War On Drugs by Eric Podolsky
The War On Drugs – 1:25-2:05 PM – Bridge Stage
The War on Drugs' muscular garage rock was a refreshing change of pace to start the day after all the programmed electronica that dominated Saturday. Led by guitarist and vocalist Adam Granduciel, the band whisked us through an energetic, breathless set of dreamy indie rock that impressed everyone with its sweeping, grandiose tunes steeped in Americana. On top of the ebbing and flowing grungy jams, Granduciel let loose plenty of rollicking, emotional guitar workouts that satisfied our souls and left us wanting more after a too-short set. Top notch rock.

The xx – 9:15-10:30 PM – Bridge Stage
Having not played the Bay Area since they were a tiny band opening for Hot Chip back in 2010, The XX have since blown up into a true phenomenon, and this headlining set had the epic feel and scope of conquering heroes come to bask in their glory. Not that they weren't subtle about it – their music is minimalist to the point of haunting – but there was certainly a grand scope to their sound that was not apparent when I saw them two years ago. The moody, deeply soulful voices of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim were at the very forefront of the super-sparse tunes, and as a result, their voices' effect on the crowd was extremely affecting – people were screaming at every turn. The almost overly exaggerated, serious tone of the music lent it a deep, deep feel that really did sound new and different, even in its overtly simple execution. You have to give them credit – they have some fantastic songs, and they did a great job of fleshing them out in the live setting with some minimal dance beats to get things moving a bit. This set closed the weekend in grand style, and we walked away from Treasure Island Sunday night completely satisfied with the entire experience.

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