I normally do not like festivals, at all. I've actually only attended a few in the past. I went to the Fleadh Festival on Randall's Island about eight years ago and it was decent. I went to the Pitchfork Festival last year and it was TERRIBLE (awful sound, poorly laid out, disgusting grounds, weak bands).
What Kevin Arnold and Jordan Kurland did this weekend with The Treasure Island Music Festival in San Francisco was absolutely astounding. This is the first year of this festival and expectations were very unclear. The setting was on Treasure Island, an old Naval Base that separates San Francisco from the East Bay. It's basically a ghost town that almost no one ever visits. However, it has an amazing view of the city and it's almost shocking that nothing of this sort has taken place there in the past.
In addition to booking a solid list of acts, the real treat was how well the festival was organized and carried out. The scenery was beautiful. It was not over-crowded. They had two stages and the SECOND that the main stage act would end, the second stage would start up (and vice versa). Time slots were kept to a tee. There was PLENTY of food and beverages (including a lot of organic foods). The bathroom lines were more than manageable. Security was great. All told: The fact that this was their FIRST festival is remarkable. This festival gets an A+ for just about everything.
And the music? The highlights for me were M. Ward and Spoon. M. Ward's set, with full band, was just gorgeous. Ward switched from guitar to piano and belted out his beautiful throwback songs with heart and intensity. He closed his set with "Big Boat" which had me slamming my foot to the soil. Outstanding. Spoon, who have almost always been a disappointment to me live, put on a stellar set. They threw together the perfect mix of "Girls Can Tell", "Gimme Fiction" and "Ga Ga Ga..." and, after a few slip-ups early, sounded extremely tight. Britt Daniel took a song or two to get a hang of the guitar, but once he did, the songs took off.
Kevin Arnold, Jordan Kurland, Noise Pop and Another Planet should be commended. They've brought a near perfect music festival to a city that desperately needed one. When considering the future of music, the aforementioned two guys are playing a key role in its development and success.