Photograph of Toro Y Moi by Darryl Kirchner
If you have never attended a music festival, Treasure Island (TI) in San Francisco would be a worthy introduction. Unlike Coachella or Outside Lands, TI has an intimate factor unlike most, but carries a lineup to compete with the best. Additionally, you would be a part of a festival which has been planned extremely well, with impressive attention to detail and a sense that the folks who put this event together truly care about the festival goers’ overall experience.
I was lucky enough to witness this year’s Saturday line up of thirteen acts, who performed in near perfect sequence over the span of eleven hours. Past reviews of this event have reported that the opening day is dedicated to the beat element in electronic music. This was not necessarily the case this Saturday. Instead, the line up was marvelously diversified, featuring a collection of artists who don’t necessarily fit into “the beat” category. Groups like Dirty Ghost, Matthew Dear, The Coup (who now incorporate live musicians and a singer to the mix), and the melancholy explorations of Tycho brought forth sounds that transcended the genre.
The beat element in electronic music usually, but not always, refers to artists who produce instrumental music. Many of these artists sometimes include vocals in their music but the main focus is on the composition or the beat itself. Holding it down for this subsection were artists like SBTRKT, who played an unfortunately short set of only four songs, but still managed to bring the heat and excite the crowd and Araabmuzik , who smacked the eyes and ears of festival goers with a barrage of heavy, ugly-faced, aggressive beats. He also put on a clinic by literally playing whole songs out on his beat machines, while his fingers resembled that of a virtuoso piano player.
Photograph of Araabmuzik
Anyone who attended the show can undoubtably attest to how beautiful the fall weather was on Treasure Island, which, if you are not familiar, is situated in the bay just east of the San Francisco city center. Accompanying this wonderful weather was a mostly well crafted line up. However, one might argue that one or two of the artists who performed during the day, might have been better suited to play in the evening. Some of the folks I spoke with at TI expressed that they would have preferred to see Grimes play in the early evening or even at night. Grimes, who began playing around 2:15PM, played a well received set featuring songs from her latest album, Visions. The sonic landscape of her music is laced with sparse, ethereal voices spread across a blanket of 80′s styled synth and drum patterns. Even though some would have liked her to appear later in the day, there was still plenty of fervor surrounding her performance.
Photograph of Grimes
The festival was a huge success for both fans and the people who bring this event to San Francisco. Festival goers were treated to an extremely well executed shuttle system that transported fans comfortably to and from the Festival grounds. Also, as promised, the sixty-foot tall Century Ferris Wheel was in full spin as the Samba Stilt Circus snaked, drummed and moved throughout the crowd of folks on the perimeter in an orchestrated drum line with humans walking on long sticks dressed up as pirates. Bizzare? Still, my hat goes off to Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment for putting on an excellent event which seemed effortless in execution, incredibly professional and truly elegant in style. Yes, I’m talking about a music festival.
Other notable performances were by Public Enemy and Girl Talk. PE performed songs from their latest release “Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear On No Stamp.” The ‘best of’ album includes a few new songs but mostly contains re releases of songs PE fans are familiar with like “Don’t Believe the Hype,” “Bring the Noise” and “911 is a Joke.” Although PE holds legendary status in the hip hop community, many attendees seemed frustrated with Flavor Flavs antics and with Chuck D’s mini speeches between each song. Finally, the night ended with an electrified offering from Girl Talk who is known for his epic mashup mixes. As a part of his performance, he brought a large crowd of fans to join him on stage. The result? A massive dance party ensued. Saturday night was no exception.
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Written by Chris Cole. Photographs by Darryl Kirchner.