Deafheaven at Treasure Island Music Festival 2016, by Jon Ching
Deafheaven (photo: Jon Ching)

Some people feel the rain, others just get wet. Treasure Island Music Festival celebrated its 10th and final stand on the namesake island between San Francisco and Oakland this weekend through intense winds, heavy downpour, and several scheduling obstacles.

As the weekend's storm picked up unprecedented strength over the Pacific, the Bay Area was caught in the wake. But what is a tropical, treasure-and-pirate themed event without a raging tale of the elements to accompany it?

For attendees of Treasure Island Music Festival, the rain wasn’t necessarily a life-or-death deterrent. But it was cold, there was little to no overhead shelter, and to be honest, at those wind speeds, rain was getting under, up, and all in everyone’s business. For a good portion of the day, at least, it remained dry and even sunny. Blustery winds carried the sound, whipping it around the island, but the bass tones were deep and heavy and it was hard not to groove along.

Last-minute addition and Bay Area favorite son The Polish Ambassador was added to the Saturday schedule only days ahead of the show and actually played an extended set that featured remixes of classic dance artists like Michael Jackson with contemporary daytime disco favorites like Poolside.

The rain started shortly before Polish ended the set, but according to a Sunday morning email, “when these issues arose, [festival organizers] were working behind the scenes to adjust and find solutions as quickly as possible. During this downtime, many [attendees] grew understandably frustrated at the lack of information,” as sets were delayed and traffic conditions prevented Flight Facilities from ever taking the stage.

Young Thug was slotted to take the Bridge Stage following The Polish Ambassador — one of the best parts about this festival is the staggered sets so that no artists overlap, but that also means any delay can critically affect the schedule. When the rain hit the streets of SF, the traffic ground to a halt and Young Thug was caught in it.

With no information being relayed and the rain dropping like buckets, some people stood their ground and held strong at the front of the stage, others lined up along fences to avoid some of the wind and inevitable wetness. En masse, another crowd trudged along to the festival to the complimentary shuttles provided, which were incredibly accommodating and comfortable — the festival organized a double-digit fleet of charter buses.

Kamaiyah at Treasure Island Music Festival 2016, by Jon Ching

While frustration grew, the Bay Area’s own Kamaiyah and her crew took the stage in ponchos for an impromptu encore performance in the thick of the storm, playing until their equipment malfunctioned and forced them off the stage.

The festival went on, albeit to a fraction of the crowd that TIMF is capable of drawing. Glass Animals, ZHU, and Ice Cube finished the main stage with a strong, 45-minute to hour-plus long sets after the rain stopped, going well past midnight — How To Dress Well's set was cut down to only 30 minutes on the Tunnel Stage.

Ice Cube at Treasure Island Music Festival 2016, by Jon Ching

A major issue that attendees had across both nights came in the relaying of information from festival organizers to patrons. They used Twitter to convey most of the schedule and planning changes, but the lack of connectivity on the island made that, for the most part, ineffective for the people that remained. It wasn’t until people had left that they took to the social media site to vent.

The outlook for Sunday wasn’t much better, but rain or shine, most wanted to give the festival a second chance. The weather report by Sunday morning called for 100% chance of nonstop rain from 4pm through midnight — a dire forecast for many, a call to prepare for others. To the delight of everyone on the island, come 4pm, the sun was still shining. But it was windy, and there was an enormous black cloud approaching.

Car Seat Headrest at Treasure Island Music Festival 2016, by Jon Ching

Day Wave, Hinds, Wild Nothing, and Car Seat Headrest played early and did everything they could to inject positivity into the crowd. They were highlights of the early afternoon, with people talking about Car Seat Headrest and Day Wave long after they concluded.

Mac Demarco took the stage just after 4pm, and the sky was as clear as anyone could have hoped it to be, despite the forecast predicting the start of the rain. In actuality, the rain held off through the entirety of Demarco’s set, through Neon Indian's too, and it almost completely left Tycho alone. Tycho’s sunset performance was the perfect post-rock emotionally heavy soundtrack to the rolling clouds.

Mac DeMarco at Treasure Island Music Festival 2016, by Jon Ching

“We’ve been on tour for the last month, it’s amazing to be back home in San Francisco,” said Scott Hansen, the primary visionary behind Tycho. “I’ve seen some of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen at this festival and this is a perfect end to this chapter.”

Following Tycho’s main stage act, the click and pop up-tempo sounds of Sylvan Esso ushered in some of the most exciting new tunes heard all weekend. One of the best parts of Treasure Island is that no matter where on the festival grounds you are (except maybe in the Booty Records tent party), the stages were very audible.

The rain finally broke and started pouring at 7:20, five minutes before the end of Sylvan Esso’s set. As the crowd waited anxiously for James Blake and the ponchos came out, the general consensus of the crowd was positive. The rain was not nearly has heavy or devastating as the previous day, and the ground was already a mess – if you were prepared for the mud at the start, the mud at the end made no difference.

But five minutes past Blake’s scheduled start time, festival officials threw the crowd a curveball and pushed back the schedule an hour in response to extremely high winds. The announcement cut the crowd in half once, and then again after Blake’s set was outright cancelled. Purity Ring took the stage only 15 minutes later than their originally slotted start time, and the festival continued.

Purity Ring at Treasure Island Music Festival 2016, by Jon Ching

For the crowd that stuck it out for Sigur Ros’ North American tour closer, it was all worth it. The orchestration of sound seemed to lift Treasure Island out of the Bay and into ultimate euphoria.

In many ways, the capsized pirate ship doubling as an island that the festival chose for its main image this year became the appropriate choice. As concert-goers stood in the rain waiting for an announcement on James Blake, it became clear that the upturned ship was all of us — ticket holders, workers, artists, and promoters — we were all in the storm together. Not everybody survived the topsy-turvy waves, but the ones who managed to climb on top of the boat’s underside definitely scored big and were rewarded for their perseverance in braving the weather.

It may not have been the highest note, the cleanest, or even the best-sustained, but as Tycho said, it is a perfect end to the chapter.

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