Festival Review: Treasure Island Music Festival 2014

Tis that time when we realize that TIMF was upon us two weekends ago in San Francisco….and we are just now getting around to writing about it.

Let’s make a few things clear before we get to debriefing:

1) We’ve never been before. The only SF festival we’ve attended is Outside Lands – which granted, was heaps of fun and won our hearts because Ben Howard played – but TIMF takes the cake for the most non-stressful stressful festival.

2) We received media passes to interview artists, take photos, etc. in a cute little tented area to the left of the main stage. Only problem was that the artists clearly didn’t feel a desire to come around. The upside = free wifi in the tent. Bonus.

3) We remedied that situation by finding an alternate pathway to the artist trailer area. There may or may not have been a fence involved and shredded jeans. We hung out with alt-J, and I was told by Gus Unger-Hamilton that I reminded him of the guy in the “No Cameras Allowed” documentary. We also talked about Australia, our mutual love for Chet Faker, and all sorts of really important things about life and current events and political happenings. The manager hated us, but we cracked open a beer for him and that seemed to calm him down.

4) I will be going to TIMF every year.

DAY 1:

Okay, to be honest, I wasn’t jumping up and down about the line-up on Saturday – though I was quite excited to see and Jungle, two recently acquired favorites.

We left from Civic Center to Treasure Island via shuttle. Only problem was that the shuttle line wrapped around about 5 blocks. It was 2pm and MØ came on at 2:45, so a bit of panic surged that we weren’t even en route to the Island yet. The good news is that the lined moved at lightning speed, and we were at the front in about 10 minutes. Well done, TIMF.

We picked up our wristbands at the venue and bolted to the main stage where MØ wore her hair in a high (HIGH) ponytail-turned-braid and rocked an eyepatch due to an eye infection – she let the crowd know that she wasn’t trying to be “rude”. She’s the cutest little import from Denmark with a voice that sounds EXACTLY as if it were coming off of her record. I actually had to pay real close attention for a moment to make sure there was no lip syncing involved – and there surely wasn’t. And then I wikipedia’d her mid-festival and learned she’s 26. WHAT. The realization came about that I needed to meet her so I ran off to the media tent post-show, but sadly no Danish debut was made.

A piece of paper rolled into a ball hit my head from the stage as her set was over and after picking it up, I learned it was the set list. I was happy again.

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Jungle was up next, and these guys completely stole the show. They hail from the UK with a musical style that I really can’t even pinpoint. Perhaps…funk meets the tropics. To be honest, I don’t think that 70% of the crowd knew who they were, as most of the people near us were snapchatting the stage (a vacant stage…) or looking entirely out of it and laying on their friend’s lap taking photos. I really can’t stand that. I’m absolutely guilty of taking the occasional “we’re just hanging out on the lawn at a festival drinking a beer and looking more trendy than normal” photo but seriously….get up. You’re at a festival, and you’re sleeping in the front section, where people would pay loads of money to stand. It’s one thing if you’re actually tired and need to lay your head down, but it’s another if you’re just here to Instagram that you’re here. If it’s the latter, you should really re-evaluate some things about your life.

There were some dedicated fans though, which was quite refreshing to see. One gentleman in particular even brought his Jungle vinyl to the show and waved it in the air the entire time they were performing (see below, I’m not kidding). Then he got a shout out, and I think he nearly started to cry.

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CLASSIXXXXXX (too many x’s?) was on at Tunnel Stage around 5pm, the ultimate slot time. The view of the city serves as the backdrop, with the sun just starting to set and feel good music vibes all around. The energy at this show was incredible…and it was obvious music lovers were basking in their admiration for not only Classixxx but also the overall festival experience. Maybe drugs, maybe not. Either way, they were basking.

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Janelle Monae. Sorry girl, but we didn’t attend the show. I personally found it a bit odd that Janelle was headling TIMF, but perhaps Another Planet just wanted to diversify the line-up and draw ticket buyers that wouldn’t be their typical festival attendees. She’s cool, and her hair looked like I imagined it to be, but I spent some quality time at the beer stand instead.

DAY 2:

Asgeir: We featured this crazy-talented guy in our last post, and mentioned that we were beyond excited to check him out at the festival, but we didn’t end up making it due to late arrival at the shuttle. So sad. We apologize, and we’re formally putting in our request to come to another show of yours.

Banks: Ah, Banks. I’m going to be honest here. I had such an appreciation for this girl long before the festival, and you’d probably know that from our enthusiastic post we made ages ago featuring “Waiting Game,” praising her and her sound. I wasn’t let down so much as I was put off. As an approved media for TIMF, we received tons of e-mails leading up to the event from managers, publicists, etc. that provided us with some relevant info on the artist and ways to coordinate interviews on-site. The e-mail from Banks’ manager was the only strange one. We learned no photographers were allowed to shoot her set, which is fair enough for a relatively new artist trying to build and maintain an image. But beyond that, I just didn’t sense the most “friendly” onstage presence from her. As I’m typing this out trying to recall exactly what it was that seemed off, I can’t explain anything other than the overall vibe – Banks stood quite stoic, and didn’t interact much with the crowd much at all while on stage. Same great sound….just slightly unimpressed, in the nicest of ways.

Chet Faker had the same brilliant slot time that Classixxx did, and I was over the moon about it. I’ve followed this guy for some time now as he’s got to be one of the most talented Australian singer-songwriters that exists, & I was thrilled to finally be able to see him live. So, I camped out up front near the rail for about an hour until his set and the moment he came on, I heard girls’ screams from miles away. Literally, miles away. I had absolutely no idea that he had that big of a following here in the states. But after all, he teamed up with Flume for “Drop The Game” and their re-work of “Gold” – so perhaps that presented him with a unique opportunity to capture new fans. Nicholas Murphy (real name) has to be the most unbelieveable live performers I’ve seen. His fancy footwork & wildly high energy level captured the crowd when he wasn’t stationed with his head on an instrument creating brilliant synthetic sounds. He then took a moment between songs to turn around, walk backwards away from the crowd, and look at the view of San Francisco with his hand on his forehead shielding the sun. That, to me, proved that this guy is something else.

I can’t say enough about alt-J. Again, we managed to squeeze our way to the front between sets to make sure we got prime viewing at the rail. After an hour of waiting for the foursome to come on stage, they finally made their debut and the crowd went. absolutely. insane. I was pleasantly surprised the balance they maintained with performing new v. old songs. I feel like us concert and festival-goers are quite fussy in that sense: we complain about not hearing all of the old songs or the songs we’re most familiar with, but we also complain about not hearing “Hunger of the Pine” at the end and maybe “Left Hand Free” seven times in a row. They want to perform and sell their new music, but we often don’t give them the opportunity to do so. I praise alt-J for the balance they kept, AND giving us “Tesselate.” It was quite a dark set with an incredible amount of blue/red/green/purple lights (specific enough?), but I think that worked in favor of the dark atmospheric mood and more serious tone their new album seems to explore.

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I would explain the venture into the artist trailer area, the after-party with copious amounts of free drinks, the tour buses (yes, Asgeir’s too), but I’m not sure I want to give away any secrets or insult anybody of Another Planet. Let it be known that it IS possible to meet one of your favorite bands, share stories over vegetarian pizza and beers, make friends with angry managers, and then proceed to get on stage as Massive Attack is performing.

TIMF, you renewed our faith in festivals & gave us hope where is hope needed. You made the stressful little elements of festivals less stressful, and you even provided us with a silent disco – to rock out with headphones in a caged area appearing to the outside world like a bunch of drug-induced test rats undergoing a scientific experiment. You reduced the pressure of stage-hopping by ensuring there were no clash times. You also reduced the chance I’d get shin splints from walking 100 miles in a day by keeping TIMF small, cute, and on an island. You even gave us a stand to get Advil if we had a headache.

For that, I am forever grateful and will be a forever faithful attendee. See you next year babe.

P.S. Thanks for making it feel like Christmas in October. x

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