Coming all the way from Nashville, Tennessee, 27 year old Ronde Osburne made his way to San Francisco for one weekend just to see his favorite hip-hop group OutKast at the annual Treasure Island Music Festival. As he took the shuttle across the Bay Bridge, he was mesmerized by the city and festival location. “I was taking pictures of everything,” said Osburne. “I didn’t know I was going to be on an island. I was like, ‘This is cool as s***.’”
For most artists on the bill, it was my first time seeing most artists on the bill that I’ve never heard of or listened to, but when OutKast came on, it was a moment of nostalgia for me and many other fans. The crowd was much older. It was the generation who first had their favorite OutKast songs on the early iPods that still had the click wheel.
Photo Credit: Danielle Maingot/ FOGHORN
Andre 3000 and Big Boi came on stage wearing eccentric outfits and had the same exuberance that they had years ago. It was clear OutKast was performing for the crowd as they moved along the edges of the stage, closer to the fans. They got older and newer fans dancing as they opened with the upbeat song “B.O.B,” and continued on with other familiar hits.
USF student Kenneth Lapuz said it was worth holding a front row spot for 7 hours just to see the American hip-hop duo.
I remembered dancing in my living room when I was in middle school when OutKast performed the polaroid shaking song. Andre 3000 invited girls from the crowd to get on stage, mirroring the music video that I used to always watch on TV and dance to after coming home from school. It was a memorable night as I returned home singing “Ms. Jackson” up until the next day of the festival.
As someone who primarily listens to the indie rock artists featured on the second day of the festival, seeing the first day’s hip-hop and electronic artists expanded my music taste, but also reaffirmed some of my earlier notions about DJ artists.
Saturday night I experienced my first EDM (electronic dance music) concert with a DJ set by Zedd. EDM has garnered a particular following of fans, also known as ravers, partaking in large EDM festivals across the country and internationally. With this in mind, I was curious in understanding the appeal of this genre.
The sun had set, and the crowd grew larger for the “Clarity” performer. To get a better view of the upcoming spectacle, I perched myself up in a tree among others who had the same idea. I had a bird’s eye view of the sea of people, which would later look like waves of moving hands and bodies. The stage had become a larger than life exhibition of two LED screens and Zedd was engulfed in a vibrant display of endless lights, as he sat atop his DJ booth. The anticipation of the crowd as they waited with bated breath was met with an electrifying entrance of flashing lights and a buildup of beats. The energy of the crowd roared and was contagious for non-EDM fans like myself. I first came into this experience to observe the raver community, but instead, I found myself getting into it too. One fan joined me on a tree branch and we danced together, and I’d like to think that the branch was an olive branch to my previous dislike for EDM. However, this was not the same experience I had with DJ and producer Ryan Hemsworth. In the middle of his trap music set, he stopped and said “Sorry, I pressed the wrong button.” As much as I was enjoying his mixes, I was interrupted with the thought, is this what music has become? A matter of pressing the right button? While I understand that a DJ is skillful by mixing a continuous flow of beats, I realized that the primary appeal of seeing DJ sets live is sharing an exhilarating dance experience with the crowd rather than watching some guy press buttons.
Both days of the festival featured female artists who delivered powerful performances. Danish songstress MØ owned the stage with her signature long braid and electro-pop vocals, backed by a mix of rhythm and blues, hip-hop, and pop beats. French-Chilean Ana Tijoux followed with a mix of cumbia, jazz, and rap performance. Integrating something different to the festival lineup, Tijoux rapped in Spanish, and the audience responded well by dancing to the high energy set. Janelle Monáe, who you’ve probably seen on the Google Play ads on Muni bus stops, first had trouble with her set due to mic problems, but she didn’t let that stop her from getting the crowd pumped up. Backed by a brass band and female vocalists, Monáe’s bubbly performance had the crowd jive dancing. On Sunday, newfound singer Banks brought sultry vocals to her dark, rhythm and blues sound.
In its 8th year, the festival’s lineup brought a variety of music genres, but still induced both dancing and easy listening in the crowd. The majority of the days at Treasure Island felt more like a less chaotic outdoor music in the park event, with half of the festival grounds covered with people lounging on their blankets. While there were many options to purchase festival priced food and drinks from booths to food trucks, the festival allowed people to bring outside food, which is not usual for most large events.
This was freshman Molly Aikawa’s third Treasure Island Music Festival. “[It] is one of my favorite festivals because you can’t miss out on any of the artists and experiences because there are no conflicting set times,” she said. “There’s no FOMO (fear of missing out).”