Live Review: Treasure Island Music Festival 2015
It’s been a week since Treasure Island Music Festival closed its doors, and the sensations and feels have still not gone away. The two-day festival went off without a hitch, and brought some of the world’s most exciting and cutting edge artists to as intimate a festival venue as possible, putting the concert-goers right up next to them while they strutted their stuff. There was no shortage of things to do, see, eat, and experience, with dozens of vendors spread out into every nook and cranny of the festival grounds, a comedy tent, and even a silent disco for those who wanted to take part in a hilarious spectacle for passers-by trying to get to the restrooms. Adding to the delight, there was a giant, beautifully lit-up Ferris wheel right next to one of the stages that ran non-stop from the minute the gates opened until the last performance each night. And as if that wasn’t enough, this fantastic display had the most magnificent backdrop one could ask for: San Francisco and the surrounding bay.
Each and every artist featured in this year’s jam-packed lineup left everything they had onstage. As always, the first day focused primarily on hip hop and electronic music, and while there were a couple last minute cancellations before the start of the festival, the artists chosen to fill in—that being FKA Twigs and Big Grams—couldn’t have been better. FKA took the main stage in what was originally slated to be Robyn’s time slot, and absolutely dazzled the crowd with a performance that went far beyond mere entertainment. With provocatively choreographed dancing, her signature ethereal voice, and a Gothic light display that flickered and danced in unison with her, she commanded the entire mood of the audience like a grand puppeteer.
Big Grams, which took over for Azealea Banks, is a brand new super-group comprised of front man Big Boi from Outkast and the electronica ensemble Phantogram. They made their introduction to San Francisco in brilliant fashion, as Big Boi rocked the mic effortlessly, whipping out characteristically smooth rhymes with vocal support from Sarah Barthel. And to top it off, Run The Jewels made a surprise encore appearance toward the end of the performance, which set off rapturous applause from the already lively crowd. We look forward to seeing Big Grams in the future, and highly recommend checking them out if they come to your city.
The headliner on Saturday was deadmau5, and for anyone who has seen this one-man EDM tour de force before, his set was no surprise, providing a roller coaster of house grooves that included the full array of his smash hits. Playfully switching between slow burners like “Strobe,” to full on dance monsters like “Moar Ghosts N’ Stuff,” the crowd was either on its heels or toes the entire performance. And with his new light display, ominously known as “The Dome” and which made its debut only a few months ago at Lollapalooza, this was a treat of a headlining set from first to last.
Father John Misty commanded the stage on Sunday afternoon with his sarcastic stage banter and charming folk grooves. High on the levity and sweet melody provided by Josh Tillman, the crowd seemed unprepared for the hard rifts of Drive Like Jehu. The crowd quickly dispersed as the sentiment of “don’t harsh my mellow” carried throughout the festival.
Luckily, The War on Drugs was there to unite the festival with their steady brand of indie rock. Adam Granduciel’s Dylan-esque vocals got the crowd moving and shaking in harmony. The crowd’s momentum, however, seemed inadequate for Deerhunter as Bradford Cox repeatedly inquired about the energy of the crowd – or lack thereof.
Whatever perceived weariness existed for Deerhunter’s transformative indie set quickly diminished as Chvrches took the stage. Lauren Mayberry triumphantly announced to the crowd that Chrvches had finally overcome “the curse of San Francisco” (referring to several foiled past gigs) as she braved the cold and hyped the crowd with the band’s high-energy set.
Panda Bear was next up at the Tunnel Stage with his experimental tracks dripping in psychedelia. Heady stuff indeed. The National was there to bring the audience back down to earth as they closed out Treasure Island with their dark, melancholy set. Lauren Mayberry of Chrvches made a surprise appearance as she joined Matt Berninger for a gripping rendition of “I Need My Girl.”