Preview: Treasure Island Music Festival

Oct. 14, 2011, 12:56 a.m.
Preview: Treasure Island Music Festival
Courtesy of Another Planet Entertainment

With the lights of its iconic Ferris wheel splashing across the Bay, Treasure Island will reclaim the entertainment spotlight this weekend. For two days, the artificial isle off San Francisco proper will again play host to Treasure Island Music Festival (TIMF), a small-scale bonanza of just-left-of-mainstream rock and dance. Most of all, the local fest will give music-lovers a chance to close the festival season with a fitting and intimate send-off.

Expect no surprises for the fifth take of TIMF. Organizers Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment have isolated their selling points and marketed them efficiently. Day One remains vaguely electronic, while Day Two tilts toward indie rock–with the headliners, Empire of the Sun and Explosions in the Sky, straddling both camps to tempt more two-day ticket sales.

TIMF’s smaller capacity makes it more of a 26-course meal rather than the free-for-all buffet of big-budget festival giants like Coachella and Sasquatch. The musical offerings are still diverse, but the manageable crowd size gives the fog-wrapped island an idyllic, rather than an imprisoning, air.

Through the weekend, 26 music acts will ping-pong between two stages, allowing attendees to see each show without worrying about the dreaded schedule conflict. TIMF remains one of the only music festivals where it is actually possible to see every act on the bill. And the predictably fickle weather will make embracing the group hustle to and from the Bridge and Tunnel stages that much more welcome.

Anchoring the festival are Australian duo Empire of the Sun on Saturday night and high-school throwbacks Death Cab for Cutie on Sunday. The former will rally with electro-pop chords and the costume department of an ‘80s science fiction movie; the latter will draw sing-alongs from the most reticent of onlookers, though the Seattle band lacks some of the nostalgic oomph of last year’s festival closer, Belle & Sebastian.

Their lead-in acts are equally as strong. Dance-punk duo Death from Above 1979 is finishing their reunion tour, obliterating the memory of their five-year split with a reanimated “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine.” DFA 1979 will benefit from the funkadelic endorphins of synthesizer-friendly Chromeo and Australian group Cut Copy, who lead the post-sundown charge on Day One. But, hands down, the most apropos act for the venue will be the atmospheric and extended jamming of Explosions in the Sky on Sunday night.

Females anchor Sunday afternoon, from the art rock of all-girl troupe Warpaint to vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark, promoting the recent release of her third album under the moniker St. Vincent. Rounding out the trifecta is Victoria Legrand, the ethereal voice behind dream-pop duo Beach House’s 2010 release, “Teen Dream.”

Looking for something outside the alt milieu? Head to the tribal rave set by Portugal’s Buraka Som Sistema on Saturday late afternoon or chill out with the soul of Saturday early-bird crooner Aloe Blacc.

In the event that the music fails to entertain, the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline can fill the void–that or the Silent Disco, where attendees can satisfy the need to be antisocial and dance ironically at the same time.

Tickets are still available for both Saturday and Sunday: $70 for a single-day ticket and $125 for both days. With the late start of Stanford’s quarter, even midterms won’t be standing in the way of a weekend of musical bliss.

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