A Homegrown Music Festival to Treasure 

Now in its third year, the Treasure Island Music Festival perfects the boutique music fest concept.

Major festivals are a dream come true to most music fans: a weekend away from home with huge lineups across multiple stages, thousands of other fans, and, often times, really good art. They can also be a nightmare: brutal traffic, gut-wrenching decisions between favorite acts playing simultaneously on different stages, and the bathroom lines. Dear god, the bathroom lines. Then there's the Treasure Island Music Festival. It may not quite draw quite the crowd of Outside Lands or host big names like Pearl Jam or the Black Eyed Peas, but this could easily be one of the most unique major music festivals in the country.

Treasure Island starts next weekend, and it expects to hit full stride in its third year. Stacey Horne, Noise Pop's events director, believes they've developed a great partnership with co-production company Another Planet Entertainment. Running a festival is a daunting task for anyone, especially with two companies, but after working out the kinks of the past two years, both companies have learned to combine the production expertise of Another Planet with the aesthetic and vibe of Noise Pop to create something truly unique.

Horne calls it a "boutique festival," one that aims to create the experience of a major festival with a big-name lineup, but with a much more intimate feel. And nestled in the middle of the bay and hosting a number of Bay Area vendors and artists on-site, it also has a very local feel. And if you can't tell the difference between the 12,000 people they expect to attend compared to the 40,000 to 60,000 that Outside Lands attracts standing in front of the stage, you'll definitely feel it in line for the bathroom.

The smaller scale also eliminates one of the worst parts about any major music festival: having to choose between your favorite artists playing at the same time. Treasure Island's two stages are scheduled so that when a band finishes on one stage, the next band starts on the other, so the music never stops and you never have to worry about missing a great performance.

This is particularly exciting considering that this may be the strongest lineup Treasure Island has ever seen. Not only does it boast big names like MGMT, Girl Talk, the Flaming Lips, and the Decemberists, there are also some stellar openers.

Take Dan Deacon for example. Deacon, who plays on Saturday, has developed a reputation both for his wacky, cartoonish, extremely fun hyper-pop music and for his wild stage antics and crowd participation at his shows. During his tour in support of his new album, Bromst, earlier this year, Deacon would walk through the crowd and pick one audience member to kneel in the middle of the floor while everyone else was instructed to form a circle around him. Once the music started, the guy in the middle would start an interpretive dance that everyone around him was supposed to copy until all would break loose into a happy, sweaty lump of dancing bodies at the song's climax. Nearly every song had its own game, almost all of which are hilarious to watch and participate in.

But if quirky, dancey stuff isn't your style, the festival neatly breaks up its lineup so that the electronic and hip-hop acts play the first day, while the second day hosts the folk and indie rock bands. The Flaming Lips, who are known for their extravagant stage setups involving confetti cannons, psychedelic dancers, and singer Wayne Coyne rolling on top of the crowd inside a giant inflatable ball, are enough to look forward to on the second day, but the Decemberists, Beirut, and Grizzly Bear, all of whom have put out critically acclaimed material in the last year, should be just as exciting. The second day also boasts some solid openers including Spiral Stairs, the side project of Pavement's co-founder, Scott Kannberg.

And if you feel like taking a break from the stage, the festival also hosts a number of local artists and vendors, midway and carnival games, and a sixty-foot Ferris wheel; a nod to the island's 1933 World Fair history. Some of the highlights include a thirty-foot mural wall to be painted at the festival by Bay Area graffiti artists, a drawing lab, and the Universal Record Database. The URB is an organization that aims to set and record any quantifiable record you can think of, including "the longest break-dance wave chain," "most number of people singing 'Don't Stop Believing,'" and "fastest time eating a banana while standing on the Great Wall of China and wearing a purple T-shirt."

While it would seem that music festivals would suffer in this economy, Noise Pop and Another Planet seem to be coping just fine. General admission ticket prices are $65 for one-day passes and $115 for both days, and VIP packages have been brought down from a minimum purchase of four passes to a minimum of two. Even in a slow economy, Horne says they plan to sell out, so get your tickets soon.


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