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Review: Treasure Island Music Festival 2015

Photo Taken By Bella Elbaum - Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo Taken By Bella Elbaum – Monsters and Critics 2015 ©

I was lucky enough to go to not only one of the greatest city’s in the entire U.S. but also one of the best music festival experiences to date. Treasure Island Music Festival occurs every October on the eponymous island, which is situated in the bay between San Francisco and Oakland, the festival brings a tight knit group of locals that all want to basque in some live music for a weekend. The main attraction with Treasure Island is that it takes the listener into great consideration. The biggest issue with music festivals is that it is pretty much impossible to see every single band or musician that you want to see. At Treasure Island they only have two stages, and only one act going on at all times, so you are sure to never miss a beat.

Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015
Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015

Music is not the only attraction at the festival. In true San Francisco style you have an abundance of art everywhere. One of the pieces that stood out the most to everyone was a lone telephone booth that had written on top “TALK TO GOD.” They even had someone on the other end of the phone speaking to you! There was a giant birdhouse, along with a gargantuan purple angler fish, and cut outs of spaceships as well.

My personal favorite of the art was the DIY section they had. When I saw this my heart went pitter patter and I quickly went over to the table where they were painting. They had all kinds of crafts for everyone at all levels. There was a table of people making flower crowns, and right next to them was people actually sewing little cup holders for themselves! They even got a little nostalgic with an entire table that made friendship bracelets. I can almost guarantee any sleepaway camp kid was at that table.

Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015
Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015
TIMF JoshWithers BigGrams1
Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015

While making your unique and radiant art you could also indulge in some truly incredible eats. The food vendors were overflowing and there was everything from the simple, yet incredible giant slices of pizza to Spain’s national dish, paella. Food is an essential part of a festival because in order to be able to dance your heart out, you have got to eat something greasy and filling! And if you get too tired from eating and just need a break to lay down and digest your food, you can just turn your head and see the absolutely stunning view that we had all weekend of San Francisco across the bay.
Of course, we cannot forget the epic comedy tent that was curated by Funny or Die and had some incredible comedians who took the stage. Brilliant people like Tim Heidecker, Kate Berlant, Jonah Ray, and many more were able to let people take a break from the madness that was outside, and enjoy some brutally honest jokes.

I am a sucker for both art and food, but the music is really what drew me to this festival. The festival is unique not only because it has no overlapping acts, but it does its best to divide the days by genre as well. Which seriously makes buying a ticket for a music festival so much cheaper and easier. Saturday was a madhouse of electronica and clearly brought a little bit of a different crowd. The crowd was a tad younger, extremely energetic and ready for just about anything.

For some terrible and odd reason people in electronic music have decided to start adding a saxophone to their live performances, and Viceroy came victim to that. I love sax, but seriously, no. Viceroy was fun and a good person to start off early in the day and get everyone into a dancing mood, but the saxophone seemed excessive. One of the most pleasant acts of the day was Baio.

I had never heard of Baio until I had seen the festival lineup and had not listened to his music until that sunny saturday afternoon. Before the festival I had found out that Baio is actually Chris Baio, as in the bassist for indie rock band, Vampire Weekend. Vampire Weekend fans: There is absolutely no parallels between Baio and Vampire Weekend so do not expect indie rock, because you will be severely disappointed. Baio is fun 80’s pop that everyone secretly loves, and will almost always dance to.

Wind blowing my hair everywhere, food in my face, trying to hold onto all my art that I made, I finally miraculously made it to see the fabulously adorable Shamir. Holy shit. He is seriously just the absolute sweetest, and you just want to pinch his cheeks. His clothes were colorful and eccentric just like his personality and he brought sass all over that stage. Run the Jewels was where things really started to heat up and the crowd began quickly increasing in size. Like always RTJ brings so much love, passion and energy with them. Even if you have never heard their music before it’s going to be extremely hard for you to stand still during one of their sets.

Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015
Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015

The effervescent FKA TWIGS took the night away with her performance. The stunning British singer started off her performance with an alternative dancer accompanying her music while she mesmerized the crowd with her stupendous voice and her curiously unique music. Shortly after FKA TWIGS I quickly made my way to Big Grams (Big Boi and Phantogram) to see their live debut right there at the festival! This being their first performance, the energy was surging through everyone and everything was superb. Best part? They brought out Run The Jewels to perform the song they collaborated on, “Born To Shine.” My jaw dropped, I died and was resuscitated, and thought no more happiness could come to me that night.

Of course I was mistaken because I got to see one of the biggest names in electronic music…deadmau5. First and foremost his entire setup is absolutely stunning, and it’s evident that he puts an immense amount of effort into his live performances. He has himself locked up in an octagon which resembles a mouse cage, with his mouse mask on, and the eyes glow in such a way that it almost looks like a lighthouse. His performance was up to par with what anyone would want to hear at a festival. He played many fan favorites, but it was the visuals that really took the show that night. Joel Zimmerman even went so far as to take off the mask and reveal himself to the ocean of people he was performing for.

Photo taken by Bella Elbaum - Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Bella Elbaum – Monsters and Critics 2015 ©

Saturday was an all day dance party, so naturally they had to make Sunday the calm indie/alternative day. As much as I do like to dabble in electronic music, the indie genre will always take first place in my heart. I made sure to get to the festival early so I could enjoy the snarling music of Viet Cong. The post-punks come all the way from Canada and bring an extremely raw and emotional sound with them. Viet Cong gave an exciting start to the day. Just a few acts later we bring down the level with Jose Gonzalez and his magical acoustic guitar. His music is introspective and uncannily comforting, and he reaches deep down inside of everyone in that moment and brings all your deepest emotions to the surface.

Photo taken by Bella Elbaum - Monsters and Critics 2015 ©
Photo taken by Bella Elbaum – Monsters and Critics 2015 ©

Father John Misty is one of my all time favorite live acts, because he’s got energy, punch, and he is scarily witty. Father John is a man of words and seems to always know what to say. His sarcastic and quirky remarks in between songs makes you wonder, “How is he not in the comedy tent?” His lyrics are truthful, and he does not try to hide anything from his audience. Shortly after, The War On Drugs took us to that dreamy place we usually hit around 6:00 at night. Finally being able to see this band was an experience that I had been patiently waiting for since I was just 14 years old, and holy hell it was well worth the wait. Beautiful guitars, beautiful people, and beautiful music. They are the quintessential bedroom rock band.

Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015
Photo courtesy of Josh Withers 2015

CHVRCHES was a band that I never really took the time to pay attention to, but seeing their live performance was an experience that will be hard to forget. The indescribable beauty that is Lauren Mayberry’s voice is something that touches you when hearing it live. During their set the crowd was so big that it seemed like they were getting the support of all of San Francisco. Closing the night was The National. Once again, a band that I never really took the the time to really sit down and listen to. However, their live performance was jaw dropping. The band has really nailed their live performances, and they have an unspoken bond among themselves that shines through. The most exciting part of their performance and what truly made every single person in that crowd want to go absolutely insane was when they brought Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES to sing, “I Need My Girl.” The duo of Mayberry and Matt Berninger was so natural and easy that it makes it hard to believe that the original song was not recorded with her.

Treasure Island is the best little escape that anyone could possibly imagine. It’s a tiny festival that brings mostly locals, and tends to everyone’s needs. The creators of the festival want people to forget about the outside world for two days and delve into a world of creativity, music and love. It is like a home away from home. You immediately feel so comfortable and welcome, and I felt like this was somewhere that I had been before and I knew exactly how to operate. It hurts me that this festival went by so quickly, but I highly recommend and am ecstatic to be going back to my new home next year.


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