No longer viewed as a younger sibling to Outside Lands or Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the Treasure Island Music Festival has come into its own as one of the best-curated and unique festivals not only in the Bay Area, but anywhere in the U.S. This year’s lineup was one of the strongest and most diverse in its seven years. With only two stages and no overlapping sets, the two-day event is the perfect end to the Bay Area’s music festival season.
Saturday’s lineup usually features more electronic, DJ and dance-oriented music, and this year was no different. Some older attendees may have been disappointed by the late scratch of trip-hop legend Tricky from the lineup reportedly due to a visa issue, but the crowd ate up Detroit’s underground mixtape hero Danny Brown, who took his place.
Diplo’s insane creation, Major Lazer, delivered a sweaty off-the-wall set: think dancehall on acid, with frenetic, colorful dancers to match.
As a beautiful day turned quickly into a chilly evening, Brooklyn’s Holy Ghost! smoothed out the energy with a luxe synth- and drum-driven set. It was a perfect set-up for Sweden’s Little Dragon, a crowd favorite, led by the stunning vocals of Yukimi Nagano.
But the night belonged to headliner Atom for Peace, which was making its highly anticipated Bay Area debut. The experimental, groove-heavy supergroup, led by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and driven by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, tore into the thick hypnotic track “Before Your Very Eyes” off their only record, 2013’s “Amok.”
Deep Afrobeat pulse meets electronic trance influenced many of the lengthy jams that followed, thanks in part to drummer Joey Waronker and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco.
Yorke and Flea were especially animated, although the chilly temperatures might have contributed. Yorke joked that the band had visited the Bay Area to escape British weather, though it hadn’t worked out that way.
Songs played from Yorke’s solo record “The Eraser” were as close to Radiohead as the crowd was going to get — it’s clear Atoms for Peace is where Yorke’s head is at now, and that’s a good thing.
Sunday, typically the more band-oriented, indie-rock day, included a varied lineup, with garage-psych Palma Violets, sister trio Haim, melodic-pop Real Estate and the always raucous Japandroids. DJ-producer James Blake’s set was inspired; his hard-to-pin-down style blends eerie soundscapes with haunting vocals. Later in the day, Sleigh Bells wowed the crowd playing delicately forceful songs off their latest release, “Bitter Rivals.”
The eclectic offerings were brought to a trippy head with Animal Collective, whose complex songs played nicely to the welcoming crowd.
Matching Saturday’s headlining star power, Beck closed Sunday night with his signature low-key delivery of soulful songs, hip-hop quirks and funky hooks. A fitting closer to a great weekend, Beck deftly worked his magic like the elder statesman of cool that he is.
Producers Noise Pop and Another Planet outdid themselves with this year’s lineup, further solidifying the Treasure Island Music Festival’s status as a true Bay Area treasure.