San Francisco – Well, it was a good run, but you can’t outrun the cruel hand of overdevelopment forever, it seems. That’s right folks: after ten years the Treasure Island Music Festival—billed as “the Festival in the Bay”—will be celebrating its last installment on the island that gave this festival its name. For those who don’t know, Treasure Island is, in fact, a man-made island, made for the 1939 World’s Fair. A veritable pile of mush jutting off the northwest corner of the naturally beautiful Yerba Buena Island, it has been the site of military facilities, tons of irradiated soil, and a wonderfully kitschy monthly flea market since its inception. Perhaps most importantly, however (well, to some people), it was the home of the Treasure Island Music Festival, a 2-day escape into a hidden gem floating in the bay, surrounded by gorgeous views, amazing food, a no-conflict scheduling system, and tons of repurposed art installations gained from past editions of Burning Man.
As of 2017, the festival will unfortunately be relocated to a yet-to-be-determined location due to the development of condominiums (like the world needs more of those) on the island. The promoters have promised that this year’s event is to be the largest on record: it is being moved from the western side of the island—which features gorgeous sunset views of the Bay Bridge, SF skyline, and the Golden Gate—to the eastern side—which has more space, yes, but at the same time does not offer the same beautiful aesthetic the festival has come to be known for. Nonetheless, the lineup is solid and holds something for everyone, and Best New Bands will be on location to give you all the latest, as Treasure Island’s last festival held on its homeland and namesake unfolds, this weekend. As always, there is plenty of rising talent to check out, but these six acts are not to be missed:
SOFI TUKKER – Saturday, Tunnel Stage, 2:15-2:55
New York-based indie dance duo SOFI TUKKER—consisting of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern—may have only one EP released at the moment (this summer’s Soft Animals), but clearly that’s enough to land them a coveted spot at the tenth edition of Treasure Island this year. While the EP clocks in at only just under a half-hour, its six tracks are packed to the brim with powerful house beats, tempting vocal hooks, and a healthy dose of Latin influence, which comes alive in Hawley-Weld’s Portuguese lyrics and colorful echoes of South American orchestration that paint the underlying house tones and rhythms with carefully lain brushstrokes of harmony and enticing passion. As of yet, there is no news of a full-length on the horizon, but as the pair’s popularity is sure to grow exponentially over the course of the next year or so, I’m sure there will be some as-yet-unreleased tracks making their way into their early afternoon set.
*Photo courtesy of SOFI TUKKER
How To Dress Well – Saturday, Tunnel Stage, 5:25-6:05
Soulful electronic pop singer-songwriter Tom Krell—aka How To Dress Well—will probably not be sporting his signature summer shorts come Saturday when he steps onto the Tunnel Stage at Treasure Island. While the singer looked especially dashing in his shorter-alls while appearing with CLASSIXX on its summer festival tour this year, the weather here is much cooler in the Fall. Factor in the torrential wet weather we are supposedly going to be confronted with this weekend, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that he’ll have to come up with some alternative fashion choices. Hot on the heels of his fourth full-length Care (the follow-up to 2014’s What Is This Heart?), released earlier this year, Krell is locked and loaded to showcase his talents at this year’s festival. No matter what the climate has in store, the experimental balladeer will most definitely be presenting some of the most evocative and vocally beautiful music of the weekend, as his silky voice and allspice orchestrations are virtually weatherproof.
Glass Animals – Saturday, Bridge Stage, 6:10-7:00
Oxford’s mellow psych-alt rock band Glass Animals will be making its Treasure Island debut this year, as one of the final sets on the Bridge Stage this Saturday. The quartet is no stranger to the Bay, having played last year’s Outside Lands festival, as well as a breathtaking headlining set at the cozy Rickshaw Stop in 2014, hot off the release of the band’s gripping, swirling debut LP ZABA. This summer Glass Animals returned with the sophomore LP, How To Be A Human Being - a magnificently compiled sonic collage that demonstrates the polar opposite of the fabled “sophomore slump.” On How To Be A Human Being, the band goes beyond the slinky, slippery trip-hop-tinged harmonies of their debut. Instead, the foursome has found footing in a multitude of electronically charged arrangement techniques and a healthy dose of introspection as they lyrically explore the many facets of the human condition. As with alt-J’s sub-headlining set at 2014’s Treasure Island, one can only expect the unexpected. With larger songs comes a larger production, and it’ll take a lot to match the charisma and idiosyncratic beauty of Glass Animals’ new material—though I’m sure the band is up to the task!
Hinds – Sunday, Tunnel Stage, 12:40-1:20
Madrid lo-fi quartet Hinds will be in the process of making its victory lap as the four-piece stops through the Bay this Sunday afternoon, closing out an extensive year of touring behind the excellent debut album Leave Me Alone. The four young women who make up the ranks in Hinds are sure to bring their infectious energy and unparalleled enthusiasm—as well as their trademark humor—to Treasure Island this weekend, not to mention their talent of tugging at the simplicity that governs Hinds’ no-frills, honest indie rock. Be prepared to sing, and of course dance, as there is almost no possible way to resist the foursome’s gritty coos. Perhaps the subtlest movement you’ll notice is the pull of a wide grin as it slips across your face, but that’s the one you’ll remember, and ultimately equate with what is certain to be a true highlight of the festival.
Christine & The Queens – Sunday, Bridge Stage, 2:45-3:30
Artsy freak pop luminary Héloïse Letissier is one in a million! Under the moniker Christine (with her backing band The Queens), she creates eerie, serpentine pop melodies that can both bask in tangible warmth as well as slither through the darkest corners of the psyche. Her debut LP Chaleur Humaine (simply called Christine & The Queens over here in the states) earned universal acclaim when it arrived back in 2014, and the synthy chanteuse has kept up the momentum with the release of several EPs and singles (the most recent being this year’s “Tilted,” an English-language version of her song “Christine.” Navigating two languages, a heap of electronics, visual art, and exquisite adeptness for performance are just a few of the many layers that embody the boisterous style of Ms. Letissier’s unique sound, and as she brings it stateside for this year’s Treasure Island Festival, who can say what other goodies she’ll pump into the mix?
James Blake – Sunday, Bridge Stage, 7:30-8:30
Britain’s favorite electronic minimalist and digital ballad-penning whiz kid James Blake is one of the few artists to ever return to the Treasure Island stage, yet in my book he is welcome anytime, anyplace. Blake first graced the Bridge Stage back in 2013, on the tail end of his tour promoting his Mercury Prize-winning sophomore LP Overgrown, and the misty gales of that brisk October afternoon were a perfect backdrop to Blake’s signature velveteen vocals and swooping production. Blake’s had quite the year, appearing on two surprise-released LPs—Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Frank Ocean’s Blonde—while also surprise-releasing his own LP The Colour in Anything back in May, after years of teasing songs from the album via his many radio appearances in the UK. Blake will be one of the last performers of Sunday’s festivities—and of the festival’s island home in general—and is expected to make the audience swoon once more as he navigates his already impressive catalog. While the newer material is surely to dominate his hour-long set, we’re praying for some older tracks to permeate the show—namely his dynamite cover of Feist’s “Limit To Your Love” or his gorgeous rendition of Joni Mitchell’s classic “A Case of You.” Regardless of the setlist he ultimately decides to perform, it’s certain to be a show not easily forgotten.
The 10th Edition of the Treasure Island Music Festival takes place this weekend on Treasure Island, located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay. For more information, tickets, and for full lineup and schedule visit the official festival website. Stay tuned to Best New Bands as we bring you coverage from the Treasure Island Festival this coming weekend.
Photos courtesy of Giant Noise and Treasure Island Music Festival.