While it’s almost always overshadowed by the more prominent Outside Lands fest in Golden Gate Park, the Treasure Island Music Festival has long been the Bay Area’s most consistent source for excellent and eclectic musical offerings in a multi-day setting.
Outside Lands’ something-for-everyone philosophy is nice, but it can dilute the event’s daily lineups. Treasure Island’s formula for presenting electronic-based, hip-hop and R&B artists on the first day, and rock and punk acts on the second day gives attendees a clear set of expectations. And because it’s not trying to sell 50,000 tickets, the festival curators can be more adventurous with their picks, going after up-and-coming artists like Shamir or working to reunite seminal acts like Drive by Jehu (notoriously picky in their appearance criteria.)
This year’s Treasure Island was the strongest in recent memory, particularly on Sunday (full disclosure — the second day acts typically appeal more to me than the first day.) Sunday’s early-afternoon roster included Ought, Viet Cong and Mikal Cronin — a pretty damn impressive undercard. The heavy-hitters on Sunday more than met expectations, with War on Drugs delivering an epic set for their final show in 2015 and Chvrches braving the elements (wind, dust) for a euphoria-inducing performance in the early evening.
The National, in one of their few live gigs in 2015, showed why they’re one of indie rock’s leading lights, headlining the event with poise, and when frontman Matt Berninger brought out Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches for a duet of “I Need My Girl,” there were more than a few tears in the overflow crowd.
While it’s kind of a pain in the ass to get out to Treasure Island, once you’re there, things are easy. The lines are seldom long, the two-stage setup means you can traverse between acts with little trouble and the schedule is organized so that no acts overlap with each other (imagine that — a music festival with no conflicts).
But it’s really the setting that makes Treasure Island so special. Golden Gate Park is nice, but there’s nothing like watching your favorite band perform with the San Francisco skyline and blood red sunset in the background. That’s what will keep me coming back to Treasure Island, year after year.
Also, if anyone cares, my Top 10 albums this year:
- Viet Cong- Viet Cong
- Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
- Grimes – Art Angels
- Tame Impala – Currents
- Diet Cig – Over Easy (EP)
- Titus Andronicus – The Most Lamentable Tragedy
- Girlpool – Before the World Was Big
- Mikal Cronin – MCIII
- Bully – Feels Like
- American Wrestlers – American Wrestlers