The Gems of Treasure Island

“San Francisco, you are beautiful!”

I heard this so much at the Treasure Island Music Festival this year, and each time, the crowd would collectively cringe. Why? For the first time in it’s eleven year existence, TIMF did not take place on Treasure Island. TIMF is now smack in the middle of the Oakland Harbor, nestled beautifully adjacent to the sprawling city landscapes of their brethren across the bay. So, for the future TIMF artists sure to provide amazing moments like this years artists did — I need yall to get your geographic pins located on your maps before you walk out on stage.

Oakland. We’re in Oakland now.

Moving on. LOL

This years Treasure Island Music Fest came back with a full on bang of a line up. Boasting an eclectic mish-mash that combined the biggest names in hip hop like A$AP Rocky and Pusha T, to NY underground queen Santigold, psychedelic rockers Tame Impala and electro-pop Kings Diplo and Mark Ronson in their new duo Silk City. It was a line up made in music lovers heaven — rivaled only by the amazing interactive art installations by the collective Chromaform, aaaaaaand the fact that I found Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full” for two damn dollars at one of the vendor booths — shout out Amoeba for that fucking gem.

Speaking of gems…

a. A precious or semi-precious stone cut and polished for ornament
b. Something prized for great beauty or perfection
c. An outstanding person or thing
d. Oooooooh shiny

Each of these definitions of the word somehow, someway, fit into my experience of Treasure Island. Let’s break it down.

Treasure Island Music Festival is a veritable gem (outstanding person or thing) that came along at an important turning point in my life. The summer had drawn to a close and I started to realize that I had been taking on more projects than I should have, and my entire spirit was becoming spread too thin, not to mention my time. I had gone from randomly covering a show or two here and there, to covering multiple shows a month, often times out of town, and in some instances damn near being in two places at once. I needed a fucking clone.

In fact before heading out to TIMF, I sat down with my editor and let him know how I was feeling.

“I think I’m going to be done soon.”

“With what?!”

“With TheMashup. Maybe with writing. I’m not sure yet. I feel like I am at the point where I have to sit down and really figure out what I want because I am not getting any younger, and covering dozens of shows is not going to get any easier. I just think I am going to have to find somewhere to put my focus that isn’t so frenetic.”

“I can understand that. Why did you start in the first place, though? You have only been writing for a year so it’s not like you have been doing this for the last 20 and you’re grizzled and wizened. Why did you do it? I’m curious.”

“I don’t know. I think because there is nothing I have wanted in life more than to be a writer, but I was always deathly afraid that I would somehow publish something and the real writers of the world would find out, band up, and arrive on my doorstep with fire and pitchforks screaming cries of ‘IMPOSTOR’ and ‘USURPER’!”



“You have a damn fan club online.”

“…. what’s your point?”

“People care. They care about you, they care about your writing. They CARE, Liv.”

“I hear you, Rich.”

I wasn’t lying. I HEARD him, I just wasn’t listening.

Photo Credit Josh Withers

I was definitely listening when JPEG Mafia brought his extremely energetic performance to The Town stage early Saturday. He was one of the artists I was most excited about, which OF COURSE meant that he was going to be one of the first people up for the day, challenging my very nature of being on time to events. I was never a fan of being their the whole day. Just another part of being old probably. It was one thing to walk around and enjoy a festival. It was quite another to walk around for twelve hours straight while fighting through crowds to get to the press pit and the media tent. It honestly takes a hell of a reason to get me there first set of the first day.

JPEGMafia is one HELL of a fucking reason.

Photo Credit Josh Withers

Barrington Devaughn Hendricks is what would happen if the Death Grips took more shrooms and some anger management classes. Like… not enough anger management classes to really make a huge impact, but just enough classes to help you feel like you DID something, you know? JPEGMafia, aka Peggy, released a 19 track album called Veteran and it has steadily crept further and further into my consistent playlist. It’s a weird, experimental form of hip hop that I don’t think anyone has pulled off as successfully as he has.

Photo Credit Josh Withers

Whoever brought him to TIMF this year, well fucking done. Acting as an unexpected breath of pure oxygen, he is the kind of artist that leaves you feeling light headed and possibly a little queasy because you aren’t used to something so pure.

AKA I love him, and I am definitely down to take another hit of his air whenever he ends up in the area again.

Pure oxygen.

That’s the kind of high that I ride when I hit my stride. It’s that special kind of high when I first put pen to paper, or hands to keyboard, and feel the molten heat of the words that I have been holding in my medulla as they spread like magma across the page, leaving nothing in its wake but beautiful chaos.

That’s what writing has always been for me. It was a thrill. It was putting yourself before the world and asking your ideals to be validated in the hopes that the masses don’t come along and shred your soul.

Which makes the come down even harder. That’s the spiral that I felt like I was on before I got the email from Trey about covering TIMF. I’m pretty sure the 30s is legit just a decade of asking yourself the hard questions that you completely tried to avoid in your 20s, and one of those prevalent questions had been hitting me for the last year.

“What the fuck was I doing? And more importantly, what the fuck am I supposed to be doing?”

“Alright, what the fuck are we doing now?” Vanessa the ever efficient road-dog asked after the set was over. As I sat and started to truly take in all the different aspects of the show, I realized:

Just be in the moment.
Just be at the festival and take a second to enjoy it all.
To take it all in.
Just fucking be….

I totally did too… at least until Amine came on. I cannot lie, I am drawn to him like a moth to a flame — if that flame had some crazy locs and a killer smile, and created this weird mixture of sensually slowed down gangster rap. I’m not even 100 percent sure how that works, but somehow he has managed to make it so. Definitely a confusing mixture.

Photo credit Josh Withers

Speaking of confusion, I think a small part of the crowd was confused on how to react to him. While there were definitely some young hip hop heads in the crowd, there was a definite section who had no idea who he was or what he was about. In fact one of my favorite parts of the ENTIRE festival was when Amine’s DJ came out to get the crowd warmed up.

He had been playing some pretty feel good hip hop, and some stuff that a general crowd would know so they could sing along and feel those vibes. Things were going swimmingly until he decided to drop “This is America” by our patron saint of patriotic parody, Donald Glover.

The crowd, who’s age range may have been all over the place, but who’s melanin content was sorely lacking, all seemed to pause. Vanessa and I watched in petty laughter as nearly the entire crowd completely stopped. Stopped moving. Stopped singing. As we turned our heads on a complete swivel, Vanessa commented:

“It’s like they aren’t sure what they are supposed to be doing because it’s THIS song…”

A young barely 20 something girl turned to us, her dirty blond hair flowing in the sea breeze, with a look as though she had found her kindred spirit.

“Right?!” she squealed, “I just don’t know what I am supposed to do when they play a song like this!”

It’s okay Becky.
We figured you wouldn’t.
Just turn back around and watch Amine.

Photo Credit Josh Withers

“Shit it is almost time for Santigold. I need to see her so this can all feel real!”

That statement might not make sense to some but it definitely does to me. Here I was running from one stage to another on a beautiful fall day with a cool breeze blowing from being next to an ocean, while some of the artists that had helped shape my 20s along with artists who were on the manifestation boards of my 30s, were standing 15 feet from me. Creating moments that felt nothing short of magic.

Santigold and her performance was no exception; this green haired, orange caped, Oompa-Loompa looking woman screaming “Me, I’m a Creator! The thrill is to make it up!” on stage to thousands of adoring fans was magic, personified. She had folks screaming, jumping and dancing with reckless abandon, and very few fucks to give.

Photo credit Josh Sanseri

I love me some reckless abandon. Santigold went through a solid 45 minutes of everything my soul needed, and did it all with a huge smile on her face as the sunset damn near perfectly coincided with her set ending.

Photo Credit Josh Sanseri

I mean. A dope set AND sunset — that is skills people.

From there we beelined for Pusha T.

Pusha T was one of Vanessa’s all time favorite rappers. I mean to the point where she still lists the Clipse in her daily rotation, despite having not released an album in ten years plus years. We were RIGHT there. Right in the front. Right smack in the middle. Right where we were supposed to be.

The lights dropped.
The crowd screamed.
There he was walking on stage.
Black on black on black fit.
All knowing smile.
Familiar bass line…
But when those first bars dropped?

Photo Credit Josh Withers

Let me put it this way:
I believe there’s a God(dess) above me
T’s just the God of everything else

Photo Credit Josh Withers

“Oh my God, I cannot believe we were that close to him! Another life long idol off the bucket list!” Vanessa screamed at me as we speed walked over to A$AP, “I can’t imagine being anywhere else right now this is right where I was supposed to be!”

Her words stuck with me as we sidled up to the front row of A$AP. I watched as the techs ran back and forth between the large black curtain acting as a protective veil between the fans and the production crew, staring at the crowd as their anticipation built and their excitement began to mount and slowly began to realize…

This is right where I was supposed to be, too.

I would never have been able to wave a wand and make this kind of dream come true, because that kind of magic only exists in fairy tales. Yet somehow, without rhyme or reason, there I was. Front and center as the crowd began to scream and chant a name that I had put on my manifestation board 9 months earlier.

“Rocky! Rocky! ROCKY!!”

Photo Credit Josh Withers

The crescendo rose.
The lights flicked on full blast.
The curtain fell.
So did the tears from my face.

I tried to hold them in but the rush of emotions and swell of my heart took over. I couldn’t pretend this didn’t mean something.

Photo Credit Josh Withers ” class=”aligncenter size-large wp-image-18354″ />

His entire set, I screamed every word. Each video I took until my phone died you can hear me screaming with such energy that the next morning I woke up with no voice and no energy. He took it all with him. I gave it to him willingly, and I’m okay with that. He earned that shit.

I earned this.

That is SUCH a hard fucking sentence for me to say because impostor syndrome is a real muthafucka, but I am truly starting to believe it. I earned this. Until TIMF I don’t think I had really allowed myself to say those words without feeling like I didn’t deserve to.

This one clicked it in for me.

This is right where I am supposed to be.

I don’t think I could ever be more grateful to a music festival — but there is always next year <3 Until then, you know where to find me --- FB: www.facebook.com/thelivstyler IG: @thelivstyler



Olivia Monahan

October 29th, 2018

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