Now in its eighth year, the Treasure Island Music Festival has become one of the most reliably exciting annual events in San Francisco music. Part of that consistency comes from the atmosphere — a gorgeous locale, a crowd that’s big but not overwhelming, no conflicting set times — but an even bigger factor is the always-interesting lineup of artists.
This year’s lineup is as varied and compelling as one might get, but if you’re overwhelmed by the 26 names on the poster above, here’s a handy guide to some of the categories of artists we’re most excited to see. And just remember: we’re just scratching the surface here!
Long-running indie rock favorites
Plenty of newer bands are part of TIMF 2014, but the festival also offers the welcome return of some indie lifers. Both as a band and in their various solo endeavors, The New Pornographers have a resume of classic pop songs most groups could only dream of. TI catches the group supporting Brill Bruisers, their latest acclaimed (duh) album. Speaking of new albums, TV on the Radio‘s new LP, Seeds, comes out next month. Check out “Happy Idiot” (in a video starring Paul Reubens) below.
Electronic pop music from live bands
No offense to any DJs, but one of the best parts of Treasure Island is seeing synth-driven pop music performed by full live bands. In the past, the blend of sweet electronic pop and savory live instrumentation has led to festival standouts — 2013’s Holy Ghost! and 2012’s Matthew Dear sets quickly come to mind — and this year has plenty of live electronic offerings with the potential to do the same. Jungle‘s live band impressed us greatly at South by Southwest, and Poliça‘s two drummers are reputed to deliver an impressively intricate precision.
The welcome presence of hip-hop
In recent years, there hasn’t been nearly enough hip-hop at our local music festivals, but perhaps that’s changing, what with Kanye at Outside Lands and Outkast headlining Treasure Island 2014. The Atlanta duo’s top billing here feels like the most prominent TI slot for rap since the festival’s inception. With the group’s deep catalogue and the buzz surrounding their recent reunion shows, all signs indicate that the performance will be a home run. Farther down the bill, check out the buzzed-about New York rap crew Ratking, whose So It Goes LP arrived earlier this year, and the politically-minded, Spanish-language rhymes of Ana Tijoux.
Show up on time for the local openers
One of the best Treasure Island traditions is the inclusion of local bands to kick off each day’s festivities. This year offers two great SF openers. On Saturday, it’s Painted Palms, who kicked the year off with a bang in the form of Forever. Earlier this year, the band’s set at Slim’s was tight and compelling, making them a great reason to show up promptly to the island. Ditto for Cathedrals, a local duo whose self-titled EP and attendant buzz has them poised for a quick ascension.