Treasure Island is a weird place. Named after the Robert Louis Stevenson book, Treasure Island was constructed (yes, constructed) in the 1930s as an airport. When that idea was scrapped, it was converted into a location to hold California’s world’s fair in 1939-1940. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the island was converted into a full naval base. From then on the island was rarely used, sitting as a reminder of World War II to the many commuters crossing the Bay Bridge. In 2005 the navy sold the island back to the city of San Francisco, prompting a repurposing of the grounds.
Now it’s a tourist attraction, as well as a bit of a curiosity. The flat island, situated in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, offers a gorgeous panoramic view of all the major cities, yet its isolation from all other landmarks leaves it rather unpopulated. Old naval buildings fill its landscape, and while some of the larger abandoned buildings can be host to conventions and exhibitions, Treasure Island is a seldom-used location.
Then October rolls around. Starting in 2007, one year before Outside Lands Music Festival began in Golden Gate Park, the Treasure Island Music Festival burst onto the scene, full of buzzworthy artists performing in the middle of the bay. The festival consists of two days, with the first featuring more electronic-oriented artists, and the second day showcasing rock/pop fare.
While it’s never equaled the draw of the behemoth Outside Lands, the Treasure Island Music Festival is a sleeper hit in the city. With most students away at college, the festival offers San Francisco natives a more subdued (but still invigorating) weekend of music.
This year the festival features such heavy hitters as the prolific hip-hop group Public Enemy, the party-starting mashup master Girl Talk, the minimalistic rock of the xx, and the bombastic pop genius of M83. The lineup may not be for anyone, but for me, the festival is a dream come true. And, as a bonus, the festival features no overlapping sets. That means that you can feasibly see every artist on the lineup if you wish. Music lovers rejoice! You can finally have your cake and eat it too.
This is my first time at the festival, but I have heard lofty praise from some previous attendees. Seeing live music on an island floating in the middle of the bay is hard to beat. A multitude of people populating an island that was once abandoned is an encouraging sight, and hopefully a sign of great things to come. The island is going to be developed into a neighborhood in the coming decades, making it a more popular destination for natives and tourists alike.
As with any festival, Treasure Island is about more than just the music. Its most notable feature, a 60 ft. Ferris Wheel, is just one of the exciting activities available for festival goers in between music sets. The festival also includes the same excellent food found in other San Francisco festivals. With its variety and creativity, Bay Area cuisine is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Other events include silent disco, interactive art installations, and arts and crafts activities that’ll make you feel like you’re back at summer camp again. And given the weather, you’ll probably feel that way.
Many other festivals take place in the summer, taking advantage of the favorable festival weather and the free time the season affords. San Francisco’s weather is a little different. As the oft-misattributed Mark Twain quote goes, “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” While Twain never went on record saying this, it’s still a good description of how San Francisco weather goes. Outside Lands featured some of the chilliest weather of any festival in the US, with temperatures dipping into the low 50s at night, and that took place in August. But San Francisco has the interesting quirk of an Indian summer, where temperatures unseasonably rise in the fall. I’m writing this in October, and the thermometer is hovering around 90, a high for the year.
You can expect similar weather at Treasure Island. Graced with a dazzling autumn, the festival is a reminder of the fun you had during the summer. It’s a final kiss before the festival-less winter takes hold in the Northern Hemisphere. As a bonus, the festival takes place in arguably the best city in America, in one of the most scenic locations available. Tickets for the festival are a steal, with both days going for about $140. If the lineup interests you, I encourage you to go. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t like/know the artists. When you get down to it, going to a festival like this is an experience not to be missed. What better way could you spend a weekend in October?
NOTE: Press Here Publicity asked us to put a preview together -- we did as they suggested -- then then the bozos denied a press pass for the event. We recommend not working with Press Here Publicity, they are a bunch of sallys. Feel free to email them and tell them they suck.