Treasure Island Music Festival

Kinofilia Coverage:

Photography- AJ- Stitch Hands

Written by Hemal Lalabhai

The thermostat in the bay has been turned up this fall. Twain said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco," but it is apparent this fall that the heat is here to stay. It was appropriate that the weather the weekend of Treasure Island was equal to a warm day on a pirate's cove in the Bahamas. On its sand, a treasure chest full of acts that livened up the soulless Bayside Pirates and soulful lively Dharma filled Bayside Shamans that came out in force to dance the two days and two nights away to music that will follow us in the spirit world.


This intimate artificial island is in the middle of the San Fransisco Bay, and was used as a military base with Federal intent, as well as hosting capital-driven industries. Its dredged banks have tall tress and hillsides that slide into spectacular views of the SF skyline and the hillsides of the East Bay. It served as a port between SF and Alameda Island as well as an island stopover for the bay bridge.  It is now being remediated with conservation efforts by Bayside environmental residents, and warrants a handful of tourists that are eager enough to venture on to it for it's views, and dull factory and military history.


The festival was on the upper outer left side of Treasure Island facing west to the rapture that is the SF skyline. I walked in and my gaze fell upon the thousands of heads that bobbed and weaved through the festival grounds. I was greeted by hula hoopers, a man with dreads making bear sized bubbles, and a ferris-wheel decked out in hippie lights. The Bay showed up in force. The diversity that makes the bay a haven for free thinkers was violently on display as festival goers wore their freedoms lightly along with their love for music on their sleeves.

Leading up to the festival, I was shocked at how many peers, friends, and colleagues hadn't heard of the festival, or even half of the acts. I too was eager to see new names along with their new sounds. It was apparent upon my arrival that this festival is very intimate and it made me feel comfortable to be on this Island, part of the lively bunch of misfits, techies, and yogis that is the essence of the Bay's Dharma.


I have to start with Big Grams, THE set that took my breath away. They encouraged me to be unconscious with my dancing, their melodies rhythmically intertwined me with the crowed in a daze of familiar Outcast beats by Antwan "Big Boi" Patton and the electronic mysticism of Phantogram, made up of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel. I learned that together we could "beat the drum" to their "Drum Machine" and that everyone in and around me made the ground shake like it was our first night in Zion. You couldn’t find a soul in the crowd that didn’t know the lyrics to "Mrs. Jackson," a throw back that needs to be replayed more often by all you readers.


If you ever have the chance to see Big Boi, I hope you are graced with his upmost respect by singing with you the "special thing" we all have going on with "Mrs. Jackson."

Big Boi assassinated this set and had me along with everyone else in his tight gripped rap verses that hit each rhythmic cycle of Phantogram’ soothing duets, their street beats and psych pop. Phantogram gets me going on their own and this collaboration with Big Boi is undoubtedly a gift for all hip-hop and electronic lovers, trip hop, and a jest for the true meaning of what Phantogram are. 

I was truly a "Goldmine Junkie," throwing up the treasures of their sound to the crowd with my body, I found that regardless of age, race, religion, and drug preferences, all of us "Fell in the Sun,” with “Big Grams” in our pockets. In our fall, we all felt a burning within us that created our own alchemy for creating our own gold.


Sound Tribe Sector 9 is so funky you might wear down your shoes and tread the floors you'll be dancing on into dust. This psychedilea hip-hop, jazz funk band has everything and more that a band should have, meaning that they play instruments. The fruit of their hard work and sweat vividly brought the sun down on Saturday night and awakened the light in our third eyes, creating an awareness in our minds of what music has fled away from: the beauty of listening to live music with talented musicians kicking ass on their solos, and jamming their hair follicles out. Members - Hunter Brown, Zach Velmer, David Phipps, Jeffree Lerner, David Murphy were so composed and keen on sharing their collaborated music with us, that I too felt like I was on stage with them making music just by dancing with them in the crowd. The spectacular rainbow of lights that accompanied their show on stage, warmed on our faces, and I felt all the colors I was hearing on stage. I feel like I was inducted into the Tribe of Sector 9 and their sounds will live forever in the Bay, as it resonated with the setting of the sun and the inspiration they delivered in all hearts present, to this incredible encounter with their groovy eruption of skillful and tasty tunes.


I dig deadmau5 more than many other DJ's, and its my opinion that he has big ears for making some cosmic house tunes. His music helps me see past our planet into the stars beyond, the boundless spacey elements found in his heart raising melodies is a call to arms and legs to come to breath and dance. "I remember." deadmau5, known for his iconic mouse helmet, found his slice of cheese at Treasure Island. I witnessed a patron rage so hard he decided to take a nap in front of the sound stage... he passed out, in the wasteland that is EDM and house music. deadmaus5 kept us moving with his performance, setting fire to the crowd’s feet, keeping us warm as the Bay cooled us off. He actually cared about his crowd taking time to entertain us with a man in a shark outfit chasing him around the stage as he calmly drank a corona and went back to spinning religious beats into our minds and down into our hearts. deadmau5 made us passionate in his mixes and shared the pristine absurdity and awesomeness that house music is.  My friend AJ and I were awestruck with his set, his lightshow, his stage setup, and most of all… his desire to create that he brought gracefully to light when he performed for us.

Treasure Island is a very cozy intimate festival that makes you feel familiar with your surroundings regardless of you being from the Bay or not.  It has everything you would want from a festival: great food, overpriced booze, a Ferris wheel, sexy yogi hula hoopers, dazed drug techies, a lineup that has a bit of everything for everyone, and a free shuttle that takes you too and from the festival into the heart of SF near the Civic Center Union Plaza. If you’re in need of a festival that has a Do Lab presence and small clique of burning man attendees, along with pockets of EDM bounce house lovers, Treasure Island is the pirates life for you.