Photos and Article By: Summer Li
In the morning and early afternoon, thousands of people arrive on the premises of AT&T Park, miles away from the actual music, to be picked up by fancy charter buses that will take them to the island. The festival is unique in this fact, that most people cannot simply go to the gates directly but must enter a predetermined ritual with the festival itself in order to enter. The buses sweep around the edge of the city onto the bridge and into a tunnel that will soon become the grounds for an adventure.
Unique in the bay and started just four years ago, the Treasure Island Music Festival takes place just off the coast of San Francisco atop an artificial island in the middle of the Bay. The two-day festival is a known for its dichotomous lineup of harder electronic and hip hop acts on Saturday and more soothing indie rock and folk on Sunday, with their respective fan base. It’s a great time when these two polar opposite crowds converge for a weekend on the lovely former airstrip and discover new musical treasures.
One of the few included the most astonishing, rap-rave trio from South Africa, Die Antwoord, who were relatively lesser known before they stepped on stage, but was all anyone talked about for the rest of the night. Die Antwoord slapped us in the face and spat at us. We had no idea what to do. They were offensive. They were crude. They were absolutely absurd. But in the most delicious way possible. The represented all of society’s repressions, yet everyone loves them or wants to be them.
There was a tall tattooed man with dark slicked back hair, a hybrid style of the 50s greaser and a street punk, who called himself Ninja. Opposite him was a tiny creature that could have been mistaken for his 7-year old daughter (or son), screeching in a high-pitched voice and dressed in a jumpsuit too-big-for-her. Meet Yo-Landi Vi$$er, a full-grown woman with the most extreme platinum mullet and undercut you had ever seen, who actually has a child with the man she raps next to. It’s a modern-day Sid and Nancy. And then there was the third member, DJ Hi-Tek, hovering over the two in the back, dressed as the grim reaper. He owns a PC.
Die Antwoord’s performance was one of the highlights if not the single most entertaining set of the entire festival as many would attest to. Those who saw them previously at Coachella knew exactly what to expect and most likely came to the festival just to see them, but for those who had never even heard of them are now guaranteed to be abusing YouTube in search of their videos. Die Antwoord simply electrified through your body and forced you to dance. Their lyrics sent a shockwave into the crowd who did not know what to do or how to respond—so there was nothing else to do but to dance and our nod heads in affirmation.
Another great sight was the UK producer Four Tet spinning on the smaller stage right as the sun began to set against the backdrop of San Francisco. Facing the city skyline, the audience not only splurged their eyes upon the producer but also at the incoming dusk and the impending darkness with all of its excitement. Four Tet’s rhythmic beats were sultry and cool, bits of minimal techno and ambient breakdowns, providing the perfect recovery of dancier music from sets before it and the preparation for the epic headliners to come.
Lastly, what can be said about Deadmau5 that has not been said before? The self-proclaimed producer (not DJ—although listed as the #6 DJ in the world) entered the festival near the closing with a shorter set than his usual time slot. Being a shorter set and having a relatively poor-received one this past summer at the Electric Daisy Carnival (http://theuntz.com/Melodies-Memories-and-My-21st-Electric-Daisy-Carnival-2010), the Mau5 had to turn it up a notch. And he did significantly, although more could have been done.
One of the biggest beefs of his set at EDC was the 10-minute long looping of “Sometimes, Things Get Whatever”, beating it over and over into the ground until people started leaving early to beat the rush. It’s a classic, but the dancing audience needs a variety. This time, Deadmau5 brought the song back, but overlapped a darker bass groove to add some swagger and switch up the dance pattern. Along with the new and improved track, Deadmau5 dropped “Sofi Needs a Ladder” instead of its predecessor, “You Need A Ladder”, during which the gorgeous Ms. Sofia Toufa herself came onto stage and emceed the vocals. Her and Yo-Landi Vi$$er need to have a ring match for the title of Hottest Female.
Deadmau5 introduced a few unreleased tracks into his set that were noticeably grittier than his previous album, steering the direction in which his productions are going. Overall, his set was solid, but I expected much more new material such as his collaboration with Wolfgang Gartner, “Animal Rights” and his newer dubstep productions which avid music bloggers have circulated all over the internet. Instead, he still relies on his quintessential tracks, “Ghosts N Stuff” and “The Reward is Cheese” as foundation for his live performances that has undeniably made his sets predictable even as he attempts to manipulate them. At the same time, the man gets the job done and expect nothing but hard-ringing bass and moshing during a Deadmau5 Live gig.
At the end of the day, all festival-goers traverse across the lawn into the parking lot to be picked up by the very shuttles that brought them there in the morning. On the bus, it is quiet. The city skyline gets larger and larger as we near its entrance. Our ears are muffled and our heads are full of images of lights and energy. Soon enough, we exit onto the cold streets of the city back from our day retreat. Back to reality.
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