18 October 2018 (gig)
18 October 2018
After a one year hiatus, the beloved Bay Area institution Treasure Island Music Festival made its return for year 11. Before the two day festival kicked off, there was a build up of excellent events. Hometown 2000s indie heroes The Dodos played a festival sponsored set at the Independent in San Francisco. On Thursday, Kevin Morby played the serene confines of the Cal Academy of Science’s outdoor space in Golden Gate Park. His set included a hefty portion of 2017’s excellent City Music, including the blowout title track and the Ramone’s tribute “1234.” He closed the night with a solo version of “Beautiful Strangers,” his 2016 single in honor of those slain in the 2015 Paris terrorist attack at The Bataclan theater. The Friday before featured an appearance by Cut Copy’s Ben Browning for a DJ set at Hotel Zetta. Journalists, industry types and fans alike mixed over indie remixes and free mixed drinks from partner Deep Eddy Vodka.
Relocated off of its namesake, Treasure Island Music Festival has found a new home just across the Bay Bridge in Oakland’s Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. As a show of good faith to the new host city, TIMF partnered with store and fashion line Oaklandish to print all of the official merch in their local warehouse. A certified B Corp, the company’s social responsibility standards are high, an area of importance in the ever gentrifying Oakland. Wherever you were arriving from, public transit was the best option. Shuttles carried patrons in to the festival from the West Oakland BART stop, the first train stop entering Oakland from San Francisco after passing under Treasure Island itself.
In a very unique turn of scheduling for a multi-genre festival, the two days are separated in large part by genre. Saturday is heavier on electronic and hip hop artists. Rappers A$AP Rocky, Pusha-T and Amine are among the topped billed acts, alongside major pop, dance or electronic acts like Silk City (Diplo + Mark Ronson), Santigold, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Polo & Pan. TIMF has labeled Sunday as a “more laid-back” combination of rock and indie. Acts like Lord Huron, Courtney Barnett and Sharon Van Etten fit that descriptor, but danceable live rock acts like Tame Impala, Jungle, Pond and Alex Cameron would beg to differ.
Here are few of the top sets of the weekend:
Polo & Pan
Polo & Pan are a French electronic duo consisting of members "Polocorp" (Paul Armand-Delille) and "Peter Pan" (Alexandre Grynszpan). The two got their start at the legendary Le Baron in Paris, which closed its doors in 2016 after 12 years. Their chance meeting at the era defining disco has led to a fruitful partnership producing 6 EP/single releases and a full length since 2014. Their first LP, Caravelle dropped in 2017 and has been taken in as a breath of fresh air by music fans and critics alike. Their unique style stands out in the cluttered contemporary electronic music crowd. They cite influences as wide ranging Ravel, Moroder, Air, LCD, French Touch and Disney. Their textures and instrumentation evoke a global feel drawing from genres across South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East.
Despite the early hour, their set at the City stage at 2:45p on Saturday was among the most well danced of the weekend. The weather was at its sunny, 70 degree peak, perfect for Polo & Pan’s tropical vibes. Tall and blonde, Paul, aka Polocorp, brought the amiable dad moves, complete with fist rolls and finger points. “Bakara” set things in motion early on with its heavier drum beat. They saved their biggest bangers for the end, dropping “Nanã” 2/3rds of the way through, and closing up with “Canopée” to raucous cheers. Catch them playing all across Europe, Canada, and the East Coast of the USA for the remainder of 2018.
Saturday headliner A$AP Rocky has had a prodigious rise from sensational Harlem teen rapper to global celebrity, fashion icon and actor. These days, he can seem less and less defined by his music than by his other passions. When he does drop new material, he continue to show he’s both forward thinking and hugely influential. Testing, dropped in May 2018, continued a trend towards experimental sounds and vocal experimentation. These left turns haven’t affected his popularity though. Single “Praise The Lord (Da Shine)” has over 200 million on Spotify and 80 million on YouTube. Despite all this success, Rocky stays loyal to his native Harlem. His the video for his early smash hit “Goldie,” he and deceased A$AP collective founder, A$AP Yams, split time between Harlem’s Riverside Park and the Eiffel Tower. “Praise The Lord” cuts between Taino Towers, the iconic 35 story East Harlem apartments, and a tour of Skepta’s home areas of London.
A$AP Rocky took the stage for his Saturday headlining set at 8:25pm at The Town stage. The crowd swelled to its largest size of the day after a few songs in. The set featured a significant number of covers. Many of them were shoutouts to his A$AP crew, like A$AP Ferg’s “Plain Jain,” and A$AP Mob’s “Yamborghini High” and “Telephone Calls.” He also showed respect to some native Bay Area rappers by covering two Berkeley artists: “No Limit” by G-Eazy and a track by the prolific Lil B. He kept the energy levels high, insisting on crowd surfers and mosh pits throughout. He saved his biggest, rowdiest songs for the end, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with “Fuckin’ Problems” and “Wild for the Night.” They’re songs he’s distanced himself from creatively in the press, opting for a less commercial sound of late, but it’s clear they still resonate with his fan base.
Pond just might be the hardest working band in indie psych rock. The four piece out of Perth, Australia never seems to stop touring. What’s more, several of the members do double or triple duty playing in other projects. Keyboardist, vocalist and drummer Jay Watson also handles keys in Sunday’s headlining act, Tame Impala, in addition to touring extensively under his synth pop solo alias, Gum. Frontman Nick Allbrook, a former member of Tame Impala, releases solo music under his own name. The band itself has put out 7 LPs, an EP, and 17 singles, all since 2009. In 2017 alone they played over a 100 shows despite all their extracurricular activities.
Their tight knit nature was evident on Sunday at their 12:40pm set on the City stage. The band burned through their 40 minutes in just eight songs. Recent singles like “The Weather” and the glam rock opus “Sweep Me Off My Feet” sit well alongside older classics like the mammoth “Giant Tortoise.” Allbrook’s penchant for frontman hijinks combined with Pond’s polished sound take their set to the next level. He never seems to stop swiveling his hips, throwing himself on the ground, or wading out amongst the masses, and the crowd couldn’t get enough.
Photo Credit: Josh Withers