The weather was a perfect: sunny with breezes that cooled off the crowds as they danced and danced over those who stood still. Everyone in attendance over the course of the weekend was regaled with breathtaking sunsets, amazing art installations, a 60 ft ferris wheel, and most importantly, incredible music. The 6th annual Treasure Island Music Festival saw The xx make their only 2012 festival appearance, Public Enemy celebrate their 25th anniversary, The Presets kick off their North American tour, and numerous other bands such as Girl Talk, M83, and SBTRKT play to the crowd with the perfect natural backdrop of the San Francisco bay.
A two-day music festival makes for a lot of material, so rather than doing a play-by-play of each day, here are some of the artists that stood out to me:
Joanna Newsom rarely performs at festivals, but she was truly comfortable on this stage in her checkered red and white dress. She regaled the crowds with her breathy vocals while jumping between the harp and the piano and interacted with several in the audience who shouted out things such as “I love you, Joanna!” She even told the crowd she was doing something “unprecedented” by not wearing heels on stage. Her candid attitude and performance truly made the crowd adore her.
Divine Fits is a supergroup comprised of three members: Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade), and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks). The trio’s set was right at sunset, and Britt Daniel joked that they brought the all-natural backdrop just for the occasion. I had the pleasure of catching up with Britt Daniel in an interview before enjoying their set, which was comprised primarily of synthesizers, drums, and vocals.
Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) played a dreamy electro set for the crowd while flanked by two ladies in skeletal neon paint and translucent hoods. Her third effort, Visions, has been praised by fans and critics alike, and she pleased fans with her eclectic style and lovable synth-pop during her set. Grimes’ instruments and stage were decked out with flowers, and she endeared herself to the audience as she got tangled up in wires and admitted to it being her first time wearing in-ear monitors.
Toro Y Moi (aka Chaz Bundick) is a 25 year-old sensation that has played for crowds internationally but now calls San Francisco his home. Everyone cheered as he announced how glad he was to be back. He played songs from his upcoming album and dropped well-loved hits, such as “Still Sound” and “Talamak.”
Public Enemy was there celebrating their 25th anniversary with the OG crew with the exception of DJ Lord replacing the retired Terminator X. They performed many of their originals including “Fight the Power,” “Don’t Believe the Hype,” “Public Enemy No.1,″ and “Bring the Noise.” Flavor Flav finished the show by saying, “Sometimes you gotta fight for your right to be an equal human being — and that’s real talk.”
Wild Belle is an incredibly talented brother/sister duo comprised of Natalie Bergman on vocals and Elliot Bergman on keyboard and saxophone. I had the pleasure of interviewing Natalie and Elliot before enjoying their tropical, breezy sound with soulful female vocals, which was perfect for the setting. They’re joining Passion Pit on their tour this month, which will definitely make for some fantastic shows.
Porter Robinson, the 20-year-old prodigy, crafted his set to please the crowd. He spun for an hour and thrilled the audience with his visuals, energy, and hard-hitting electro/dubstep beats. His energy is truly inspiring, and he never stopped smiling throughout his entire set.
Australian electro-pop duo The Presets performed an impressive upbeat set with Julian Hamilton on keyboard and vocals and Kim Moyes jumping between keys and drums. Check out my interview with them for more insight into their newest album, Pacifica.
M83 came out on a foggy and strobe-lit stage to play an impressive set. Energy was high, the crowd sang along to songs including the hit “Midnight City,” and at the end of the set, the band popped open a bottle of champagne and sprayed it at the crowd in order to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming tour.
The xx — comprised of Romy, Oliver, and Jamie xx — featured chilling vocals and harmonies, and with Treasure Island being the trio’s only festival stop in 2012, it was no wonder the crowd was so excited. The band played 17 songs, most of which were pulled from their new album Coexist, opening with the new single “Angels” and ending with “Stars,” which was dedicated to Kevin by Oliver.
The transportation to and from the island via the Treasure Island shuttles was efficient and stress-free. All in all, it was an incredibly well-run festival with logistics handled by the best. For anyone who was not there this year, I would definitely recommend making the trip up the coast in 2013 to experience this true treasure in the bay for yourself.
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