Treasure Island Music Festival Highlights

A celebration of music, art, and Bay Area culture – the best way to describe Treasure Island Music Festival.

Located in Oakland, CA, Treasure Island Music Festival (TIMF) recently hosted their 11th annual music and arts festival with over 23,500 total attendees across two days. As an avid festival-goer myself, I will admit that my expectations were high for my first time attending TIMF. In the years past, the festival was located on Treasure Island itself. This year, TIMF decided to give the crowd an even better experience by moving the festival to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park. Not only did the new location provide an eccentric beach vibe in mid-October weather, but you also had an unbelievable view of the San Francisco skyline no matter where you were. Produced by both Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment, TIMF has grown to become one of the West-Coast’s most favored music festivals for many reasons.

DAY ONE: Hip-hop, House, & High-energies. 

One thing that sets TIMF apart from other festivals is how they skillfully incorporate different genres each day to appeal to several different crowds. With only two stages and no overlapping sets, there is never a need to worry about missing your favorite artists, giving the overall festival a stress-free vibe. Kicking off the weekend on a high note, day one of TIMF was filled with hip-hop, house, and high-energy performers. If you want constant dancing, loud bass, and bold, colorful outfits, day one is for you. Headlining the first day was critically acclaimed rapper and songwriter, A$AP Rocky, who closed out his U.S. tour with TIMF as his final show. Other headliners for day one included the second-ever festival performance of Silk City, the new experimental duo between Diplo and Mark Ronson; electronic/new wave singer and songwriter, Santigold; and many other famous artists such as Pusha T, Aminé, Laff Trax featuring Toro y Moi and Nosaj Thing, Polo & Pan, and more.

The legend himself

DAY TWO: Rock & Relax.

If you’re into indie rock and are looking for a more laid-back vibe, day two is for you. The difference in apparel on the second day was apparent, with most attendees in vintage attire and oversized jean jackets. Closing out the festival was the incredible psychedelic rock band Tame Impala, who is prepping for the release of their highly anticipated, soon-to-be-revealed album. Other headliners included Lord Huron, who recently released their third album, Vide Noir; Jungle, a 7-person live band from the UK; folk-rock sensation Courtney Barnett; and POND, Cigarettes After Sex, US Girls, and more.

Art & Interaction

With the advantage of TIMF featuring non-overlapping sets, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break from the stages and check out all the art and interactive tents around the festival grounds. I admire how important art is to TIFM, because most festivals do not offer the opportunity to find your creative outlet amidst the busy crowds and performances. On day one, Molly and I arrived at the festival shortly after the gates opened and were both instantly impressed by how much there was to do. I was blown away by the number of free items that were offered to everyone, from custom sunglasses, to foldable hand fans, to endless Odwalla smoothies and Cliff bars.

There were three major art installations at TIMF, one of which you notice directly after walking through the gates: the 1800-lb manta ray sculpture, named “Fly By” by Peter Hazel and Colin O’Bryan, was influenced by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. This may be the most memorable piece for most attendees due to its prime location overlooking the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline. Formerly displayed at Burning Man 2015, Mechatheusisby Barry Crawford presented a giant mechanical squid with moveable tentacles. My personal favorite, the “Cosmic Voyager” by Chromaforms, featured a laser-cut stainless steel sea turtle sculpture where you can observe a futuristic city from beneath its body and even receive a horoscope reading based on the date and time. The festival also featured the “Balloon Chain” by Robert Bose, similar to the ones presented at Coachella, giving the crowd a colorful and heart-warming feeling no matter where you looked.

Good plants

One of my absolute favorite parts of the festival was WorkshopSF’s Camp DIY, where everyone is encouraged to express themselves through several different crafts offered. Whether you’re interested in crafting, sewing, tie-dyeing, or florals, there is something fun for everyone to experience. First, Molly and I checked out the funky temporary tattoo table, where we got to browse through hundreds of free tattoos and shared stories with strangers about why we chose the one we did. Molly got the chance to make her own flower crown while I stamped up some fabric and made myself a patch. This area also featured a unique, remodeled trailer filled with plants that guests are encouraged to walk through, along with a display of one-of-a-kind painted jean jackets by local artists.

The Highlight: Tame Impala.

Without a doubt in my mind, Tame Impala’s long-awaited performance was the highlight of the weekend (and probably my life). Seeing Tame Impala live is not like going to any other show; it is truly a spiritual experience. After waiting over 4 years to hear them live, my expectations were through the roof. With that being said, I was completely mind boggled after their 90-minute-long performance. The psychedelic rock band was scheduled to play at Desert Daze just two days before and unfortunately had their set cut an hour short due to a hazardous electrical storm, so it was clear that they were ready to bounce back and perform their hearts out for the Bay Area. To top it off, they performed their song “Jeremy’s Storm” for the first time in five years for a one-off jam. They even admitted to hardly practicing beforehand, so it was a special experience seeing them improvise live on stage. I have seen hundreds of musicians throughout my life, but nothing will compare to the talent Tame Impala puts out on stage. They are one of those extraordinary bands that sound even better live and I feel so lucky to have witnessed such an exceptional performance.

(Blurry) Tame Impala

Final Thoughts.

Overall, I was blown away by Treasure Island Music Festival and the experience they gave their attendees. It’s no wonder it has become one of the West Coast’s most beloved music festivals – I highly encourage everyone to check it out next October! A good majority of the crowd was 21+, which resulted in a more mature and laid back audience. If you’re legal and looking to enjoy good drinks with good music, this is the perfect festival for you. No matter your age, however, there is always something to do at TIMF. From the all-remarkable performances to the unique art and interactive vendors, this festival stands out above many others. Counting down the days ‘til next October when I get to do it all over again!

Representing KCR!

Review by: Brittany Roache

The Paper Kites at the House of Blues San Diego

The Australia-based band, The Paper Kites, brought their sense of magic to the House of Blues San Diego.

With their rock-folk and woodsy forest vibes, the members tend to use their harmonies and magical lyrics to create a mood that you are immersed in the song, feeling everything the words were intended to have — even if you have never heard the song before! Sam Bentley (vocals, guitars and keyboards), Christina Lacy (vocals, guitars and keyboards), David Powys (vocals, guitars, banjo and lap steel guitar), Josh Bentley (drums and percussion) and Sam Rasmussen (bass and synthesizers) make up The Paper Kites and the beautiful music they make.

The Paper Kites are known for their melancholic tones that offer you a sense of sadness mixed with hope. They opened with the song “Red Light” off of their new album On The Corner Where You LiveThanks to artist Megan Dougherty, the stage was set up to look like you were sitting in an apartment with the band. Artist Mike Castle came up with the lighting design of lights seeping through the blinds that Megan had carefully structured. They also added the featured colors for each song, like the dark blue for ‘Deep Burn Blue’ and the mysterious red for “Red Light.”

‘Deep Burn Blue’ followed ‘Red Light’ funnily enough. This song is about the feelings inside you and your own thoughts that make you not want to leave your own room. It’s as if you are afraid of what the world has to offer. Lead singer Sam put it himself that “music is so much more purposeful and devastating when it makes you feel exposed.” “Revelator Eyes” from twelvefour followed this. It is a song where the person is still trying to hold on to their relationship even though they can notice that their partner is not feeling the love anymore. The theme of the show at this point was following a relationship, which I’m sure many people in the audience could relate to.

The song “On The Corner Where You Live” is about saying goodbye even when that isn’t what you want to do. They continued this feeling of hurt with the song ‘When It Hurts You’, a powerful rock ballad about not wanting to hurt your loved one because you will feel the pain too. I closed my eyes during this and the one following it, ‘Bloom’, which made the room feel like we were all one. It is the song of hope, and the band played it slowly instead of at the fast pace that we are all used to. It was a perfect triage of songs to follow the relationship we were all pretending we knew.

‘Bloom’ was the first song I ever heard by The Paper Kites so I really felt in that moment how far the band has come and who they have developed to be. It is still so surreal to me that the track ‘Bloom’, their most popular song, was made as a bonus track release with the first EP they made. They had no idea it would be so successful. The Paper Kites emphasize continuously in their music that sometimes you have to let go (‘On The Corner Where You Live’), and although it hurts (‘When It Hurts You’), something good can come out of everything (‘Bloom’).

The Paper Kites included an intermission song, which was the track for  ‘A Gathering On 57th’. It gave the audience chills and a familiar feeling of nostalgia. I have always felt with that song that I am on a train visiting family or on my way to see someone I love.

‘Give Me Your Fire, Give Me Your Rain’ began after the interlude, and the crowd was back to its’ original excitement and swaying. ‘On The Train Ride Home’, the song from its’ self titled album is a personal favorite. It has a great deep meaning behind the simpleness of it. “If I can’t get the things I want, then give me what I need.” With a feeling of loss under the lyrics. This song may be about the chapter of our lives where we cannot find our true direction, where most of us are not able to handle the pressure to ourselves as we go to face the reality and so we try to go back to our home where we were once settled and happy. The train is a metaphor for our means to go back and within it we try to ask for help.

Some highlights to this show include their performances of “Electric Indigo,” and “Don’t Keep Driving” which they ended with. In the end, the audience was filled with a yearning and a desire to stay in that room forever.

I would definitely see The Paper Kites again if I had the chance. Their songs are so deeply personal, and I would recommend listening to their music if you are going through anything. I’m excited to see what is coming next with this band and where they will take us on their journey.
Review by: Molly Atkins

Tame Impala at Treasure Island Music Festival

Seeing Tame Impala live at Treasure Island Music Festival was an opportunity I’d never dreamed of experiencing. 

Led by record-producer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, Tame Impala is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. After being blown away by them, I wrote about the whole experience for those looking to experience it themselves.

The show:

Opening with the short interlude “Nangs” gave the perfect vibe of what the show would be like. The crowd was enticed by the fog pouring in from both sides of the stage, while the slowly changing lights immersed us all into the trip we were about to undertake. Slowly but surely, Kevin Parker’s voice began to sing “but is there something more than that?” Who knew 7 words could elicit such a feeling of love and excitement from a group of fans.

Tame Impala followed this moment with their hit single, “Let It Happen.” At this point, lasers began to shine, which seemed almost close enough to touch. The lasers bounced to the bass, following the sound at each turn as if they were magically being shot out of the band’s instruments. I felt as if it was the first time I was hearing the song even though I knew all of the words. As the song transitioned, Kevin did something we didn’t expect; He had the audience clap along, something you usually wouldn’t see at a psychedelic rock concert. He transformed us into instruments, adding percussion with our hands.

“Are you ready?” Kevin asked. And suddenly, confetti was covering the sky. The visuals at this concert were nothing short of breathtaking, seductive even.

Tame Impala’s lasers

Tame Impala proceeded to throw it back with “Sundown Syndrome,” their first official 2009 single. Being a sultry song, the band shifted the music into having a jazzier flow, while Kevin’s soft spoken vocals taught us how to sway.

The Moment” started and at this point we were all in our own little worlds. It’s such a fun and easy going song, it’s hard not to dance along. The band followed this with a snippet of  “Sestri Levante” to get us into the mood for something amazing: “Elephant.” This ultimate classic had us all on another level. If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Dumbo, the song is literally like that one scene with the elephants where you think you’re on drugs. It’s crazy and hypnotic, and Kevin was throwing us through the ringer.

Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?” was a very hardcore song compared to the others. It was almost like we were in the studio with Kevin as he wrote out the words, unsure and scared of what the feelings he was having meant. Next, “Eventually” came on with its’ distorted and romantic chords. The visuals for this song were also out of this world. The layers of lasers were immersed into a moving cloudy sky of light, flowing with the sound of the guitar. This song is heavily drum based compared to the other songs, so it was amazing to see how they added everything together in person.

Afterwards, “Yes I’m Changing” threw everyone into a reflective mood, as the song holds feelings of love and heartache. This song is about growing and becoming a better person, but not forgetting about who you are and not letting your past hold you down. “There is another future waiting there for you” he sang, telling us all that there is so much we can do to change. This song is the perfect mix of nostalgia and yearning. If you’re going through anything right now, this is the song to listen to. It’s hopeful, and it really makes you think.

The almost romantic but somehow savage song that is “The Less I Know The Better” started playing and we were all in a daze. If you haven’t heard this song before, I would stop what you’re doing right now and look it up. That’s it, I can’t ruin it, you’ll have to listen to it for yourself.

Amongst the excitement and shock of hearing that song live, the audience was blown away by something none of us expected. Tame Impala’s first performance of “Jeremy’s Storm” since November 2012. We were truly lucky to be there and be witnessing something like this. Kevin even said himself that they didn’t even soundcheck it and they were just going to go for it. This song had the most simple visuals which really showed off the bands’ roots. 

Love/Paranoia” was like a lullaby to us all, waking us up to the dreams that the song emitted. For a song about cheating, it’s one of their most beautiful songs. It feels almost as if you’re trapped in a loop, trying to push out and escape. And somehow, Tame Impala makes it feel like you want to be there.

Alter Ego” felt like we were all going through some sort of time machine into the past. And it was almost as if we were all traveling together, on a journey to trying to go back to the beginning of the show, knowing the end of it was near. “Apocalypse Dreams” rang out like a cry as we all danced, not wanting it to ever end. One of their longer songs, it was perfect to end on.

Beginning the encore, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” played with a feeling of hope. Right as the song started, confetti filled the air and we were all moving in the air with it. I was realizing in this point that it really was the end of the show, and this was Tame Impala in their purest form. I didn’t want it to end.

Their last song was introduced with Kevin saying some parting words. “We will see you real soon, I promise,” he said, as “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” began. Everyone was holding onto his words of ‘seeing us real soon’, because he was still in front of us! During the interlude, Kevin spoke: “Alright guys. This is it! This is the last one. We will see you really soon. We love you! Thank you.” Confetti filled the sky one last time. It was the hardest goodbye.

WHAT NOW?

If you ever have the chance to see Tame Impala live, DO IT. Tame Impala has perfected this art of psychedelic, sexy, but somehow distorted way of catching your eye and making you never want to turn back. It was one of the most magical shows I have ever experienced, and for that I am so grateful, and excited, for what is to come with Tame Impala’s future. According to Kevin, we’ll be seeing them “real soon”, and I’ll be sure to hold him to that.

Photos by: Brittany Roache
Written by: Molly Atkins

Dreams From The Stars: Cult of Personality

In this edition, Ahmad Dixon witnesses the origins of a cult revolving around his friend. This isn’t a dream. It’s an absolute nightmare!

My friend Sam is a peculiar person. We became friends about a year ago, right before college, and since then we’ve become relatively close. However, things between us have become pretty strained because of an incident that happened recently. We were walking around Kensington when I noticed a team of bald men in robes trailing behind us. At first I tried to ignore them, initially writing them off as local town color, but then I noticed that they had Sam’s dumb face embroidered on their chest. “Hey Sam, what’s up with those guys?” I asked before we turned a corner.

“Oh them?” he said unenthusiastically, “They’re just my cult.”

Out of all my friends I would have thought Sam would be the least likely to form a cult of personality. Once while working at coffee bean he was almost kidnapped and sold into slavery by pirates because he messed up an order. Although in hindsight it was kind of obvious. We visited a fortune teller once and she said that Sam was the reincarnation of Charlemagne, Ramses II, and a Manager of a Fort Lauderdale Best Buy. She told me that I was going to get crushed by an elephant. I usually don’t put much stock in fortune telling, past lives, and the like, but I was indeed crushed by an elephant a week later, which lead me to believe that that particular fortune teller was on the up and up.

Footage of Me Being Crushed

Since that day in Kensington, I never saw Sam unless his cult was somewhere near by. It began with three, middle aged, bald men, but then it grew and they added four, young, bald women. Then it was 15 bald men, women, and children. And finally it escalated to a crowd of around 35 people following around my friend during his day to day activities. They’d throw flower petals in the space directly in front of his feet, they’d venerate his trash as sacred artifacts (ever see an apple core in a gold plated box?), and I think one of them learned how to play lute in order to write songs in his honor. The songs were mostly just popular tunes with the word “baby” taken out and replaced with the name Sam.

Sam seemed utterly disinterested in this development in his life. I asked him how he felt about being a living god and he just shrugged and said, “them’s the brakes.” After he said that the cult would sometimes chant “them’s the brakes” for hours on end in a hypnotic meditation.

I tried not to talk to members of the cult due to the fact they all gave me the heeby jeebies but curiosity got the better of me and I asked one of them what they saw in Sam as a spiritual leader. They said, “The Sam is the bringer of happiness and salvation, without The Sam there would be no sunrise, no morning dew on the flowers, no order to the universe. The Sam is a being of infinite compassion and infinite wisdom.” I looked over to Sam to see that he was on the verge of tears due to being unable to open a jar of peanut butter. He pulled out his pocket knife and somehow cut himself flipping it open. Cult members almost trampled each other trying to catch his blood as it dripped from his finger. I heard later that this event is one of the more important parables in the Book of Sam.

I went over to Sam’s house in City Heights to return some books and things had obviously changed since the last time I was there. Outside the walls were covered in murals depicting Sam slaying dragons and the cosmos being born out of his mind. I like to believe reality existed before Sam was born but I have no proof to the contrary so I felt it was not my place to argue. Inside there were masses of people, of various nationalities, on their knees chanting and praying. Some were in tears because of their proximity to the so called creator of the universe. Sam was in his pajamas playing his Nintendo Switch.

I went up to my friend and asked how long he thought this could possibly continue. He said when he got tired of all the positive attention he was getting and when they stopped giving him fruit offerings on command. I said “you know you’re not actually a god right.” I regretted this outburst almost immediately because everyone in the house stopped chanting and looked at me. A hundred hands reached out to grab me and before I could realize what was happening I was in a cage. Sam continued to play Zelda as this was happening. I yelled at Sam to let me out but he again said, “them’s the brakes” and went about his day.

I’m not the type of person who likes to be confined for extended periods of time. Especially when I’m in spaces that aren’t big enough for me to sit down in. I survived on nothing but the stale bread and dirty water I was given twice a day. What felt like months passed and I began to have strange visions. Dancing colors of light, geometric shapes, vibrating amorphous blobs. My beard grew down to my chest. I was losing my mind.

One day Sam came to the front of the cage, drinking a cup of coffee. I didn’t respond because I thought it was another hallucination. He said I could come out, and I just looked straight ahead. He then opened the cage and I collapsed. “You know the door wasn’t locked right?” I would have been enraged if I wasn’t exhausted. “I don’t know why you decided to stand in there for three hours, you look awful.” He said between sips of coffee. I didn’t speak. “Oh and you don’t have to worry about that cult anymore, we were out on a hike and they saw an interesting rock. They decided to worship that instead.”

My relationship with Sam became pretty strained after I broke a chair over his head.