By Jonathan Saunders and Meikee Magnetic
The Treasure Island Music Festival is an annual two-day music festival produced by Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment who have been reliable purveyors of Electronic/Hip Hop/Rap/Rock/Indie Rock music since 2007. This year, the festival took place for the 1st time at a new location on October 13-14th in Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, located in Oakland, California and returning after a short one year hiatus.
The new location was in the boon docks (literally) but offered an awesome view and skyline of the bay and San Francisco, an epic backdrop for an open-air event. Prior to 2018, the festival was located on Treasure Island right smack in the middle of the San Francisco bay but had a disastrous last year, plagued by weather problems and artist cancellations. This year organizers knew they had to step it up to regain the trust of fans and to deliver a flawless festival experience, which they did nicely. Thousands of fans made the leap of faith over the two days and were delighted to see that organizers really put the time in to ensure this year would be a smooth and memorable ride.
There were two ways organizers enticed fans to get to the festival; A free festival shuttle from the West Oakland Bart station or a ride-share drop-off. As there was no on-site vehicle or bicycle parking available, I decided to take an Uber from Mission street in San Francisco to the festival on day 1. I left around 3 pm and quickly realized it was a terrible mistake as there was gridlock traffic on all approaches to the bay bridge and it took over an hour to get to the Uber drop-off on treasure island.
On day 2, I took Bart plus the free shuttle makes it way faster and easier to get to the festival. The shuttle service reduced traffic congestion and they used zero emission buses, which is something we should all applaud. To be honest, it was the best, organized transportation I’ve seen at a Bay Area festival hands down. Once I got there, I was delighted because the new location was pretty damn awesome, better then I expected and with the amazing views, it had a similar vibe to being on Treasure Island.
Being October, of course, we had crisp fall days with hazy skies and a foggy SF city view, so dressing warm was a must. My first impression of the festival was a chill and mellow vibe but, of course, this changed throughout the day as the energy kicked to full tilt. Walking around I found cozy beach dunes to rest on while enjoying the beautiful sunset over the water and the opening tunes around.
The food choices were plentiful, with all kinds of options for every palate, but my favorite was the ramen, which seemed to be a big hit amongst many fans considering their long lines – The food definitely hit the spot. There were also lots of drink options to choose from, including local beers, wine and nice craft cocktails from Don Julio among other liquor brands. I liked how it was spread nicely throughout the festival grounds. An unexpected treat was finding out that the organizers provided FREE Wi-Fi at the food and beverage area near the city stage which came in handy.
There were also ATMs available and lockers on hand that you could reserve in advance to store your valuables. All this made for an easy, very relaxed festival experience. One thing was missing and at first, I couldn’t put my hand and on it, but then realized there was no Ferris Wheel which has been a staple of past years on the former naval base. Hopefully, organizers will bring it back for 2019 as it was always such a thrill to catch your favorite act while floating 100’s of feet above!
OMCA (Oakland Museum of California) was one of the vendors at the festival, promoting art projects and trying to create participatory arts projects in community spaces and surrounding neighborhoods. Also, there were some rad DIY workshops where attendees could make their own custom tees and festival accouterments. All of these extras made for a friendly and unbeatable atmosphere as fans geared up for the pulsating performances ahead from headline acts such as A$AP Rocky, Silk City (Diplo + Mark Ronson), Santigold and Pusha T. The music lineup was stacked for both days!
My Saturday highlights included; Opening act Moses Sumney got the party started. I’ve never caught him before and didn’t know what to expect but he was just pure fire! Dude can sing his behind off with the best of the best and had me glued from his first note. Sumney had some great musicians accompanying his set from violin players to air instruments, making his set even cooler. Singer/Songwriter Santigold was one of my favorites. Her set was silky smooth with fun vibes that complimented her funky costume and beautiful musical aura. The great sound system at the Town Stage tickled all the senses and was especially good for Santigold’s booty bouncing baselines.
As the sun went down the lights turned up with Silk City’s bouncy beats. The highly anticipated supergroup duo consisting of Diplo and Mark Ronson, blew it out of the water, with amazing club beats and an overwhelming energy that elevated the crowd mix after mix. Their remix of Kelis’ Milkshake song dropped so hard, that it started a massive dance pit, where legions of dedicated fans just went bonkers! But the night was all about the headlining performance of superstar rapper A$AP Rocky. Flames and smoke shot from the stage as Rocky took the mic, kicking off an adrenalin-infused set while the crowd knew and shouted every lyric with hit songs that included, “Buck Shots” and “A$AP Forever”. Throughout his set, he would pause to hype up the crowd more and bring some heat to the chilly night.
Day 2 – Sunday: The crowds strolled back and forth to each stage between the acts while tasteful local merchants selling art, handmade clothes, posters and other cool gear and merchandise could be found throughout the Shoreline Park festival grounds. It made for a nice recreational time in between music sets. Fans were kept fed and hydrated with designer snacks and beverages along the way with a similar set-up to Saturday. The music style was more indie rock on day two, which was a nice change from day one.
Aussie singer/songwriter Alex Cameron hit the stage with style, a retro look and his self-proclaimed, “Failed Entertainer” attitude. I really liked his vibe as it really set the mood for the day. He was joined by Sax player ‘Roy Malloy’ who was a nice touch, playing Oakland for his first time. SHAME, the boys from Brixton offered some London attitude to the scene and the beach by the bay, playing an exhilarating set that included their hit single “Tasteless”. They are currently the UK’s most in-demand rock band. Their bass player rocked the stage in shorts doing a good ode to AC/DC while lead singer Charlie Steen stage dived into California stoned out crowd – UK garage baby!
Sharon Van Etton brought intimacy to the big crowd with her soulful song ’Our Love”, and the love was no doubt in the air as fans gathered for her early set. Another Aussie highlight was singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett. What a treat to catch her live as she sounded better than her records as she belted out great songs that included, “Need A Little Time, “Depression” and “Small Poppies”.
Everything prior, however, was a warm up to the biggest name on Sunday’s bill, singer/songwriter/producer Kevin Parker, known to fans by his stage name Tame Impala. Another superstar Aussie making his way stateside and ready to tear the roof off the Town Stage with clearly the biggest crowd of the day waiting. For an hour and a half, Parker and his band tore through an amazing set of psychedelic fused grooves and throbbing synths. The light and video show was also the best of the weekend, just pure eye candy that lined up well with each song including the epic, “Jeremy’s Storm”, “Apocalypse Dream” and “Alter Ego”, which is one of my favorites – just a juggernaut tune! Tame Impala was a great closer to the weekend. Staying until the end has its drawbacks as it takes longer to file through the big crowds and get home, but definitely worth it in the end.
Overall it was a great year for Treasure Island and a coo for Organizers Noise Pop and Another Planet to bring back the original excitement of the festival. Looking forward to seeing what they have cooking for 2019…
For more info on Treasure Island Music Festival visit: www.treasureislandfestival.com