For 10 years, the Treasure Island Music Festival has been one of the best-run and best-booked music festivals in the world. Situated on Treasure Island’s west lawn, we got to experience picturesque views of San Francisco, along with some of the best weather and some of the most innovative performers of our time, often just before breaking out to the mainstream. For 9 of those 10 years, everything went off pretty much perfectly; this year, however, mother nature decided that things were going a little TOO well for the festival, and it was time to see how the good people of Noise Pop and Another Planet would handle, well, everything she’s got. In my own humble opinion, they handled it rather nicely, and the 10th year was, once again, extraordinary.
The Polish Ambassador
The Polish Ambassador was already a bonafide Treasure Island hero even before the festival started. Singer-songwriter Kelala was originally booked to play, but she had to drop out just a few days before the event, so The Polish Ambassador rearranged his schedule and jumped in to take on her slot. He was supposed to play for a simple 45 minute set, and he was definitely having fun, getting the crowd moving on this cold and windy Saturday. It then turned out that Young Thug, booked to play the the main stage shortly after, wasn’t in the city yet; the San Francisco International Airport was closed due to wind, and nearly every performer coming in from out of town was essentially stuck. However, the Ambassador was a trouper and just kept performing. His 45 minute set ended up extending for nearly two hours!
If The Polish Ambassador was a hero, Kamaiyah and her team of MC’s and dancers would actually be superheroes. Young Thug still wasn’t on site when The Polish Ambassador had to leave, and the wind turned into the most ridiculous rain storm the drought-riddled Bay Area has gotten in years. The festival could’ve simply shut down shop until the weather improved, but Kamaiyah wasn’t having that. Instead, she put on goggles and a neon green poncho, and proceeded to treat the crowd to one of the most impressive visual spectacles I’ve ever seen. Rain was not just coming from the sky; it looked like they were performing at the foot of an actual waterfall, only with waterfalls also coming in sideways and from below. It didn’t phase Kamaiyah a single bit; she didn’t lose the beat once, and proceeded to work that stage, doing moves that no sane person should even attempt under these conditions. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. When I look back at my history of showgoing, this may go down as the single most impressive performance I’ve ever experienced. She’s one to watch out for. In the event of a zombie apocalypse, I’m definitely joining Kamaiyah’s team.
Kamaiyah was much tougher than even I am. After being blown away, I slowly started feeling my jeans get drenched and sticking to my skin. I knew that I wasn’t going to make it to Ice Cube. Young Thug took the stage, and, although I wanted to enjoy it, I just couldn’t do it. So I went to a friend’s house, put all of my clothes in her dryer, and we ordered pizza and watched The Lobster. It was a fine film. However, during the movie, I went to check out Treasure Island’s Facebook page and saw that Ice Cube was going on at 11 instead of 9, as scheduled. Also, they were letting people back in that left! So, despite missing sets by Glass Animals and Zhu, I still opted to return to the island to experience the legendary Ice Cube.
Sadly, due to noise regulations, Ice Cube’s set was reduced from 90 minutes to an hour. This meant that the setlist was stripped down to all hits. He was also in amazing spirits, putting out a tremendous amount of energy and getting the crowd hyped up, forcing them to forget the cold, wind, and rain of the day. Supported by his Westside Connection affiliate WC, and DJ Crazy Toones, one of the most important producers in LA hip hop history, this event was chock full of West Coast hip hop history. They opened with “Natural Born Killaz,” — sadly without Dr. Dre — and that started a history lesson of gangsta rap that took us through the entire next 60 minutes.
Of course, gangsta rap was born, at least in the eyes of mainstream America, with NWA, which led to a very special appearance by NWA founders MC Ren and & DJ Yella. Sadly, MC Ren was feeling under the weather, so we didn’t get to hear him do his verses from hits “Straight Outta Compton” and “Fuck The Police.” That didn’t take away from the potency of the performance, however, and “Fuck The Police” was accompanied by what looked to be 30 years of videos of police brutality. It was chilling.
Seeing 3/5 of NWA was good. However, the intensity moved up several notches when we got to experience a mini set of Westside Connection. From the opening riff of the mid 90’s classic “Bow Down,” we moved from high energy to full-on aggression. I forgot how great this song was, and the audience managed to get moving at a whole ‘nother level. WC sounded spectacular on these songs, making me wonder why he hasn’t made a bigger name for himself on his own. Of course, the show was closed out with a full audience “rap along” of “It Was A Good Day.”
Natural Born Killaz
Check Yo Self
The N____ You Love To Hate
Straight Outta Compton
Fuck The Police
Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It
You Can Do It
Do Ya Thang
Go To Church
It Was A Good Day
Day 1, although a big of a struggle, will definitely be remembered as “A Good Day.” It was definitely the push I needed to make sure I returned for Day 2, which can be found here.