San Francisco – This year’s Treasure Island Music Festival boasted one of the most interesting lineups of the year, promising sets from a lot of seasoned veterans across a multitude of genres, including OutKast, Massive Attack, TV on the Radio, and The New Pornographers, just to name a few. The festival’s two stages—named the Bridge Stage and the Tunnel Stage—are situated on the same sprawling field, thus, there is no overlap between the two…meaning one could see every single band that plays the festival, if so desired. At Treasure Island old pros and new bands are mixed throughout the day, and seeing as there is virtually no conflict between acts, the newer bands often get their time to shine at this unique festival, and more often than not, the audience loved every second of it.
Orlando, FL’s resident prodigy Marcel Everett—better known as XXYYXX—was one of the first acts to grace the only slightly smaller Tunnel Stage and what a way to help kick things off! His effortless blending of hip hop and trip hop beats with ambient/minimalist stylings helped set the tone for the weekend’s festivities, and the crowd was loving every second. Everett never broke focus from what he was doing as he twisted knobs and adjusted levels with the ease and grace of a conductor, commanding both his tools and the audience with a wave of his hand. The 18-year-old was sincerely humbled at our appreciation of his music and we were glad to be there to eat it all up.
Danish songstress MØ immediately followed XXYYXX, taking over the larger Bridge Stage with her band consisting of a guitarist and two percussionists (one on drums, the other on drum machine/beat machine). She came on in a black skirt with a matching sports bra-like top, and in what seemed like a very Bowie-esque kind of move, an eye patch. After her opening song “Maiden,” we learned that the reason behind the patch was not a statement or a joke or anything, rather Ms. Ørsted suffered a rather serious eye infection a few days prior. Still, she pressed on, making efforts to climb into the photo pit and onto the rail separating it from the audience to connect with the crowd, even with her stunted depth perception. The quality of MØ’s visual aids was perhaps the most surprising thing about the set, often depicting cinematically arresting photography that went along with songs from her debut LP No Mythologies to Follow, including “XXX 88,” “Pilgrim,” and “Walk This Way,” as well as an older track “Freedom (#1)” taken from her Bikini Daze EP. Though one of her senses was impaired due to illness, her overall performance—including her vocals and her stage presence—did not seem fazed in the least, and the whole audience—especially the relentless screaming superfans in the front couple of rows—was completely enraptured.
Icelandic singer Ásgeir was the first act I saw on the festival’s second day, which was cooler and breezier than its predecessor, which was fitting for the nordically themed music emanating from the Tunnel Stage that early afternoon. Ásgeir was joined by four fellow band members—including a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer, and a keys/synths guy—while he himself shuffled instruments like a chef juggles cooking utensils, seamlessly transitioning between piano, acoustic guitar and electric guitar as his set progressed. Most of his set was taken from his excellent debut In The Silence, including “Summer Guest,” “King and Cross” and the title track and even did a few of his songs in his native Icelandic, sounding at times like a mix between Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, as he often found comfortable beauty in a higher vocal register. The set was surprisingly more energetic and more booming than I would have imagined, seeing as his album is so relaxed and mellow in comparison, and the energy really worked for him and his band. Perhaps the most arresting part of the set was his delicate, artful cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box,” on which he took to the piano and sang in slow, achy falsetto, breathing beautiful new life into a classic.
LA-based singer Jillian Banks was on the last leg of her first headlining tour when she played the Bridge Stage on Sunday, calling the whole experience “magical” and “a dream come true,” and never holding back on giving her San Francisco fans her love (‘Aw, man, I love you guys!’). The fog was starting to roll in a bit as she took the stage, cloaking the singer and her band in breezy mists as she tore through much of her album Goddess, most notably “Alibi,” “This Is What It Feels Like,” “Change,” and “Drowning.” She of course played the title track, (‘because every woman is a fucking goddess!’), and closed things down with “Beggin’ For Thread,” which had even the laziest, most hungover people on their feet, turning it out at the mercy of the song’s persuasive beats. (Photo By Catie Laffoon)
Treasure Island has become a favorite for many in these parts due to its lack of conflicts, its gorgeous views of the city and bay, and for the multitude of interesting acts that grace its stages. The headliners and old pros are always great to see, yes, but it’s the new bands that become the headliners of tomorrow, and Treasure Island, as always, has laid the groundwork for these new acts to climb the ladder for future events.
(Photos By Corey Bell except as noted)