’Music Ninja Radio #11 – Treasure Island Preview’

Welcome back, October.

Festival season has officially wound down to a close and we Californians are bundling up for another frigid winter – which may eventually dip into the 50s (gasp!).

Music fans near and far look toward cloudy skies and feel a deep nostalgia for carefree summer days spent romping through fairgrounds from Detroit to San Diego to Washington to Chicago and even here in San Francisco. Fortunately, there is one last hurrah every year to hold us over: Treasure Island Music Festival.

Forgetting temporarily about the misnomer (does it matter if pirates never really operated in the Pacific Ocean?), a different breed of music fan flocks to the lily pad looking island midway between Oakland and San Francisco each October, catching the big name acts of tomorrow at one of California’s most underrated music venues.

When asked what sets this particular event apart, regular attendees will tout the fact that they can see every performance if they choose to – thanks to the dual stage set up – while also enjoying surreal views westward.

Treasure Island Muesic Festival 2013

…Its rectilinear shape makes it stand out from the organic environment like a knife in the spoon drawer. This epic reshaping of the natural landscape is hidden in plain sight, smack in the middle of San Francisco Bay. I’m talking about Treasure Island. – Richard Miller

Although Noise Pop and Another Planet Entertainment have only been running their annual gathering since 2007, the history of musical performances on the island stretch back to 1940 featuring the likes of Jerome Kern, Judy Garland, and Johnny Mercer. Dreamed into existence as the home of the World’s Fair in 1936 and again in 1940, then as the centerpiece of west coast Naval defense during World War II, festival-goers are partying on literally the most hallowed ground in all of the industry.

Despite hosting the likes of Disclosure, Porter Robinson, The xx, Empire of the Sun, Death Cab for Cutie and numerous other stadium filling performers, there is a unique quaintness to TIMF that other festivals do not have. It has a way of feeling intimate without seeming inadequate comparatively. While attendees at better-known festivals spend varying amounts of time in a state of anxiety, ranging from subconscious to overwhelming, there is never a moment on the island where listeners have to choose between “this” or “that”. The production value – the artwork, the silent disco, the comedy tent, the exhibits – is second to none.


Palm trees in a silhouetted row set off massive white buildings, dwarfed by the towering silver Bay Bridge marching across the water towards Oakland.

For eight years the joint hosts have kept to their formulaic success of electronic and hip hop inspired performers on Day One while hosting a more indie rock, psychedelic, and folk-based line up on Day Two. TI2015 however is incorporating some new aspects and improving on last year’s sell out.

Check out our top picks for the weekend below and give a listen to our 2-hour festival preview from the most recent episode of Music Ninja Radio, which airs every Friday from 4-6PM PST on BFF.fm, above. You can still grab tickets to TIMF here.

Performer Spotlight


Skylar Spence

(12PM @ Bridge Stage)

The Long Island based performer released his debut album Prom King last month, and this will be one of the first opportunities to check out his new material. As a Carpark signee, Spence thrives in both the chillwave and pop realms – this is definitely the artist to kick off your Saturday.


(1:30 PM @ Bridge)

In blending elements of the popular tropical house genre with nu-disco, Viceroy embodies his motto “summertime, all the time”. This will be one of his last performances of 2015, so catch the early shuttle for this mid-day set.


(3PM @ Tunnel Stage)

Vegas-native, Shamir Bailey possesses one of the most unique voices and style to emerge in contemporary pop/dance music. With production styles that mix and match elements of disco, funk and house music, his live show promises to keep you dancing from start to finish.

Cashmere Cat

(5:25PM @ Tunnel)

The Norwegian show stopper has cruised through 2015 on the success of last year’s Wedding Bells EP. Although the tracks are no less appealing a year later, here’s hoping we get to catch a glimpse of some new original works at the Tunnel Stage.


’Big Grams – Fell in The Sun’

Big Grams

(8:35PM @ Tunnel) 

In the most eclectic collaboration of the year, Big Boi of Outkast and Phantogram return to TI for the first ever-live performance of their supergroup Big Grams on Saturday. Big Grams came to fruition back in 2012 while collaborating on Big Boi’s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. Both performers have shown out at TI in previous years and this will be the set to see on day one.


(9:25PM @ Bridge)

Get-off-my-lawn attitude notwithstanding, Joel Zimmerman is a legend in the electronic music world – look no further than his six Grammy nominations for validation. Last seen on the island in 2010, deadmau5 is back in a headliner role to put a synth-heavy, entrancing punctuation to Saturday.

strfkr 2014


Viet Cong

(12:40PM @ Tunnel)

Canadian alt-rockers Viet Cong create hard-hitting, punk-influenced music without sacrificing accessibility or catchy melodies. The combination should make for a perfectly energetic start to your Sunday.

Lower Dens

(3:30PM @ Tunnel)

Lower Dens’ Escape From Evil has quickly become a front-runner for album of the year among fans of indie pop and rock. Their lush soundscapes truly engulf listeners for a blissful, engaging experience equal parts triumphant and addicting.

The War On Drugs

(5:50PM @ Bridge)

The War on Drugs have changed the landscape of indie rock over the last 5 years–most recently with their 2014 album Lost in the Dream. Their live shows are packed with even more emotion than their timeless recorded music, which finds itself somewhere between psychedelia, country rock and 80s pop.


(6:30PM @ Tunnel)

After a couple years without new music, Deerhunter have returned this year adding a newfound funk to their already diverse repertoire of sounds. Their latest album drops just a couple days before their Sunday performance, which means we can hope for a set full of new material.


(7:30PM @ Bridge)

Scottish band Chvrches are one of the biggest, most-revered electro-pop acts to emerge in the last five years. With a brand new album out that continues the infectious sound established on their debut, their show may just be the biggest dance party of Sunday and a nice consolation for fans who were disappointed when the band missed their Outside Lands set last year.

Panda Bear

(8:30PM @ Tunnel)

Panda Bear, formerly a member of Animal Collective, has done a fantastic job of keeping the delightfully strange approach of his former band alive through his solo work. Just as Animal Collective’s set two years ago, Panda Bear’s live performance promises to be a trippy, mind-altering journey.

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