For all its 10 years, Treasure Island Music Festival has used the same logo image, designed by Jason Munn, of the event's island home as the bottom of an upside-down ship whose masts are pointed down and whose deck is underwater. This weekend's festival — which despite the occasionally transcendent moment of music and sun was mostly marred by bouts of high winds, heavy rain, and permanently sodden ground — many festival goers like me felt themselves flipped, the upside-down ship rather than the calm island above. That was a shame: Bryan Durquette, a co-founder of the festival and one of its organizers from Another Planet Entertainment told SFist last week that one of the event's historic strengths has been that, "for lack of a better word [it's] easy." This past weekend was difficult, though not without rewards for the bravest among us.
Most disappointing, beyond delays and cancellations — Duke Dumont and Flight Facilities did not play as billed on Saturday, James Blake did not perform as expected on Sunday, and headliners Ice Cube and Sigur Ros each took the stage hours later than anticipated — was the knowledge that there would be no mulligan next year. While Treasure Island Music Festival will continue in some capacity, it won't do so on Treasure Island itself, where massive redevelopment is already underway. That development moved the festival from the west side of the island to its east side this year, a change that was hard to assess due to weather. The popular silent disco and Ferris wheel were placed on a pier, which although scenic and lovely was particularly vulnerable to weather and was shut down entirely on Saturday.
"Yesterday we experienced several schedule delays and changes due to weather-related travel and tech issues," organizers wrote in a statement before the festivities on Sunday. "When these issues arose, we immediately began working behind the scenes to adjust and find solutions as quickly as possible. During this downtime, many of you grew understandably frustrated at the lack of information, and we want to apologize.” It was not the first and would not be the last apology, one of many exercises in the difficult art of delivering bad news to large crowds.
Many loudly questioned other choices by organizers. No umbrellas were allowed. No additional tents for spectators appeared to be added. Sod laid on the site last week may have helped to prevent flooding but it couldn't stop mud and puddles. And though festival workers, organizers, and artists worked hard to right the ship — radio calls for more sandbags could be heard and performers offered encouragement from onstage — spirits were noticeably dampened. A look at the event's Facebook and Twitter page will confirm that plenty of guests were straight-up pissed, and by late evening, many had left, if they braved the weather at all, and performers played to far smaller crowds than in past years.
Still, sets like one by Christine and the Queens during a break in the clouds were particularly special. “We’ll stay on this stage whether it rains," lead singer Héloïse Letissier said, "or something else happens,” she added, indicating the sun that had broken out. Others, including Bay Area locals like Kamaiyah pitched in to show the audience a good time, doing double-duty with a second set before Young Thug took the stage Saturday. Tycho performed a guest DJ set during the heavy winds that purportedly pushed James Blake's show back and then prevented it altogether. There may have been no refunds, but there was the occasional silver lining.