The Treasure Island Music Festival completed another successful year across the Bay Bridge as acts including Cut Copy, Empire of the Sun, Death Cab for Cutie, and many more delivered memorable performances over Saturday and Sunday.
In its fifth year, Treasure Island solidified itself as the premiere festival in San Francisco. These are some of the sets that separated the phenomenal from the amazing.
Give Cut Copy a large outside stage and they’ll take you above and beyond. The Australian electro-pop quartet delivered an unforgettable set on the Bridge Stage, one of the final shows to support their critically acclaimed album Zonoscope. Lead singer Dan Whitford and the rest of the boys were relentless on stage, taking the crowd to new levels with Zonoscope staples like “Take Me Over,” “Corner of the Sky” and “Need You Now.” The band played through classics like “Hearts on Fire” and “Out There on the Ice” with intricate, driving synths and drum beats.
When the lights finally turned down on the stage signaling the end of their set, Cut Copy bid farewell to San Francisco as the group will head back home to take some much needed time to rest and prepare a new record. While this made the performance somewhat bittersweet, many in the crowd unaware of Cut Copy’s music walked out converted. Not a bad way to say “see you later.”
Los Angeles experimental electronic producer Flying Lotus mesmerized the crowd present Saturday night at the Tunnel Stage with his own unique brand of heavy multi-genre glitch-sample infused computer dance music. Commonly referred to as FlyLo, the 28-year-old crowd favorite played through songs from last year’s breakthrough album Cosmogramma including “Do the Astral Plane” and “Dance of the Pseudo Nymph.” He also dropped remixes of Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers” and Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and “I Feel Like Dying.” When organizers told him he was out of time, he vowed to play a free party for two hours to anyone with a PA system.
One of the standout acts of the day was neo-soul funk singer Aloe Blacc and his backing band. Channeling greats like James Brown and Marvin Gaye, Blacc and his group pumped out feel-good tracks for the entirety of their early afternoon Tunnel Stage set. On a day where electronic music reigned supreme, he came out and showed respect for music’s roots that wowed the early crowd. Respect.
Sometimes a performance impresses you simply because of its natural and flawless flow. This was Chromeo on Saturday. The Montreal duo known for creating modern 80s-inspired electro-synth pop got one of the largest crowds of the day moving immediately as they opened with “Fancy Footwork.” The hits kept coming with classics like “Don’t Turn the Lights Off,” “Bonafied Lovin,” “Tenderoni” and set closer “Night by Night.” Chromeo over the years has cemented themselves as one of the more fun and original acts in electronic music, Saturday was no disappointment whatsoever.
Empire of the Sun
The Bay Area’s obsession with Empire of the Sun began two years ago at Outside Lands when the group headlined the Twin Peaks stage Sunday night with their psychedelic dance influenced musical theater. Two years later the the Bay Area is just as consumed.
Behind all the costumes, storylines and glam that comprises Empire of the Sun’s set, their music was spot on as crowds swayed and stomped to “Half Mast,” “We Are the People” and the expected and fittingly titled encore “Walking on a Dream.” There is something about the respective quirkiness of both San Francisco and Empire of the Sun that make these two groups of people a perfect fit for each other.
There may not be any better way to see a band named Beach House playing songs from an album titled Teen Dream than Sunday evening at sunset on Treasure Island. The Baltimore group delivered a truly magical set highlighted by the captivating performances of singer-songwriter and keyboardist Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally.
It’s a little easy to label the group dream-pop and move on. While songs like “Walk in the Park” and “Used to Be” make you swoon back and forth, songs like “Norway” and “10 Mile Stereo” stand behind thundering drums and beautiful falsetto cries from Legrand. Beach House’s set should go down in Treasure Island Music Festival history as the perfect mix of sound and setting, another notch in the belt for one of the independent music world’s most talented groups.
Death Cab for Cutie
Since Sunday is ‘Indie Day’ at Treasure Island, it was only fitting that one of the first bands to define the genre got to close it out. Flaunting their expertise, Death Cab for Cutie delivered an awing performance like everyone else throughout the weekend—except they did it better.
The group transitioned seamlessly through songs from every part of its existence, capping it off with “Transatlanticism” as frontman Ben Gibbard builds slowly “I need you so much closer” into a rousing chorus of “So come on! Come on!” as guitars and drums crash on every side. More impressive was their extended rendition of “We Looked Like Giants,” which featured Gibbard and drummer Jason McGerr battling dual drums during a seven-minute interlude. They played “New Year,” “Photobooth,” “I Will Possess Your Heart,” “Why You’d Want to Live Here” and more.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend of music on Treasure Island, Especially when guitarist and keyboardist Chris Walla spoke into the microphone “Occupy Treasure Island!” while walking off stage.
In a live setting, Annie Clark will make you a believer. The petite and soft-spoken multi-instrumentalist known better as St. Vincent put on one of the best shows of the weekend with a loud and full experimental set. Throughout the nearly hour long performance she sang, screamed and screeched as she played challenging guitar progressions with bass slamming from the speakers. At some point it could be described as Egyptian drone core with heavy hints of psychedelia. Many of the songs came from her new album released last month, Strange Mercy. But to close out her masterpiece of a set she ended with “Your Lips Are Red” from her 2007 debut. St. Vincent’s set in two words: absolutely stunning.
Wild Beats may have been one of the best surprises of Sunday. After each song break, roars from a moderately sized crowd filled the air as the group played in front of a white sun and blue skies. Their songs seemed to take on new meaning live, opting less for precision and more for sun drenched reverberated aesthetic. Some of the highlights included powerful renditions of “Hooting & Howling” and “The Devil’s Crayon.”
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Soon after Stephen Malkmus, the former Pavement frontman, took the stage with The Jicks on Sunday it was clear Malkmus frankly didn’t give a shit what the critics or crowd were going to think of his set. After the nearly hour-long set was through everyone realized why: Malkmus seems to only be getting better with age. He played punk, classic rock and roll, psych rock, anything you could imagine. It was an education from an experienced indie rock professor and a large thankful crowd took notes the entire time. Words of wisdom: don’t ask for Pavement songs of he’ll personally tell you to fuck yourself. One lucky fan got that very treatment Sunday.
What were your favorite moments from the Treasure Island Music Festival?