The Treasure Island Music Festival Had a 10-Year Run. Now What?

T.G.I.T.I.M.F.! Producer Jordan Kurland vows it will be back this year, at a yet-to-be-disclosed location that will be announced soon.

Photo by Josh Withers

“When we started in 2007, we knew eventually it was going to have to move,” Noise Pop cofounder and Treasure Island Music Festival producer Jordan Kurland says. “At that point, we didn’t know when.”

That when turned out to be 2016, after the festival moved from the island’s west lawn to its east side for one last hurrah before going on hiatus. It was not a happy year. Inclement weather forced a few acts to cancel, with others letting fly accusations of bad faith over being forced to perform under dangerous conditions. Sets began late. Many fans demanded refunds. Above all else, it was very wet. But Kurland remembers most years fondly.

“In 2013, James Blake was playing our quote-unquote sunset spot, on the main stage,” he says. “The fog was rolling in from the north, and there was a container ship floating out in the Bay. I was on the east side of the stage, and it was such a magical moment.”

A Ferris wheel ride with cofounder Kevin Arnold was another annual tradition, he says, adding, “We’d done Noise Pop for so long. But Noise Pop was and remains a club festival. We’ve never been a part of gathering that many people in a space.”

Kurland is a Chicago native — and the similarities between TIMF and Pitchfork’s July festival in that city are no coincidence — who’d long made a habit of bringing out-of-town visitors to the island for the view. The idea to throw a festival there began in the mid-1990s, gaining traction around 2005. Only 10 months after the first TIMF, Outside Lands debuted in
Golden Gate Park, and Kurland credits the involvement of Another Planet Entertainment with keeping the programming from becoming a turf war. To his surprise, the permitting process was easier than the logistics.

“It’s very expensive,” he says of the site. “You have to build everything out there and bus people in.”

TIMF took 2017 off, and Noise Pop will announce the date and location for 2018’s festival — to be held somewhere in the East Bay — in the weeks to come.

“It will be roughly the same size,” he says. “There might be some changes, but nothing major. It’s going to feel a lot like Treasure Island felt in terms of the two stages. The tagline we used to use when we started was ‘A music festival for people who don’t like going to music festivals,’ and we want to keep that spirit: smaller and easy to navigate, and we’ll continue the discovery element.”

The name isn’t going anywhere, either.

“There was some spirited debate about that,” Kurland says. “It was hard, but we spent 10 years on this and I think the name of the festival has outgrown the site, in a way.”

If Nevada City doesn’t have to be in Nevada and Virginia City doesn’t have to be in Virginia, then surely the Treasure Island Music Festival can be in Oakland or Alameda, right?

 

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