Standing on Treasure Island in the middle of the unforgiving San Francisco Bay, the sensible individual should immediately question his or her motives for ever making that turn off the Bay Bridge. With the wind swirling and fog engulfing everything and anything, Treasure Island is the last place you’d want to be in the heart of Bay Area autumn.
That is, unless you’re accompanied by thousands of others, dancing the night away with LCD Soundsystem or screaming their lungs out with The National.
In a week, San Francisco welcomes the fourth reincarnation of Treasure Island Music Festival. The only redeeming quality of the man-made bay blemish, the two-day audio orgy features the trademark polar lineup, with electro-enthusiasts drooling over Saturday and the reflective indie types embracing a mellow Sunday.
Yet whatever fits your fancy, there is something for everyone here, guaranteed. And it’s damn well worth braving the cold, shady surroundings and, for those caught in the thick of school, midterms.
In four years, TIMF has evolved from an eclectic experiment to a bona fide Bay Area attraction. Capitalizing on the music festival craze, California concert conglomerate Another Planet Entertainment and Noise Pop have attracted arguably the most diverse lineup yet, mashing together 26 artists that will shake the island for the weekend.
And the best part of it all? You’ll be able to catch them all – technically. With no set overlap, TIMF is unique in that you’ll have time to catch each and every performance if your little heart desires. Of course to do so, you’ll have to avoid the art exhibits, free haircuts, giant Ferris Wheels and other promotional distractions that will provide for some hard decisions come the weekend. “Hurry, Four Tet’s starting, oh wait, FREE T-SHIRTS.”
Barring free goodies, there is little to get in your way – besides other crowd members – if you’re there for the music. Saturday, a day for synths and laptops, features dance saviors LCD Soundsystem, fresh off stops at Coachella and Bonnaroo and on their second tour in support of their newest album “This Is Happening.” Preceding James Murphy and Co. are pop upstarts Miike Snow and everyone’s favorite half mascot, half DJ, Deadmau5.
And Saturday isn’t all about the headliners, as a solid midday congestion of !!! (pronounced “chk chk chk”), Phantogram, Jamaica and Holy Fuck will take you from the extremes of chill electronica to feet-shuffling dance punk. Also sandwiched in there are South African freak rap group Die Antwoord, whose growing cult following, lyrical stylings and fresh “zeff” make them a must-see.
Keeping with tradition, Sunday remains the de facto indie day – a day where you can chill in the grass and recover from staring at the strobe light during Deadmau5 the night before. Cutesy Belle and Sebastian – the band with the duo name that really isn’t a duo – headline the day, whereas the real male and female duo, M. Ward’s and Zooey Deschanel’s She & Him play earlier in the day. Also making appearances are hometown heroes Rogue Wave, Canadian favorites Broken Social Scene and one Brooklyn band that’s finally getting its due: The National.
Sunday is a day for buzz bands, as Ra Ra Riot and Surfer Blood make their first festival appearances, as well as one for seasoned vets with Superchunk and The Sea and Cake.
With a supreme lineup and a schedule that allows for maximum audio enjoyment, TIMF 2010 is well worth the price of admission – tickets are still on sale for $120 a pop. Arrive early so you can take the free shuttle from Giants’ stadium, pack your lunch and dress in plenty of layers. San Francisco falls can be unsympathetic, even if there’s music to keep your ears warm.
A version of this preview will run at Treeswingers.com on Wednesday, Oct. 13.