Sure, it sounded crazy back in 2007 to have a music festival on Treasure Island, smack-dab in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. But over the last eight years, the Treasure Island Music Festival has grown into an irreplaceable jewel in the festival calendar's postseason. Yes, it has minor challenges of weather and transportation, but it also has great rewards in prescient booking and an incredible setting. Since its inception, it's been my favorite music festival on the planet.
If you're a newcomer — if you've never hopped on the shuttle to the festival, ridden the Ferris wheel and watched the sun set over the San Francisco skyline while your favorite band plays — then there are a few things you should know. Having made the mid-Bay excursion five out of the past seven years, I'll fill you in on getting there, getting around, and getting the hell out of there before the fog freezes your fingers.
Just kidding. The cold's not that bad. Except for that one year.
Get There Early
The thing that intimidates people most about Treasure Island is the very thing that makes it great. Everyone takes public transportation to the festival. Well, not everyone — you can be schmancy and fork out big bucks for an island parking pass — and to be clear about the “public” part, it's not exactly MUNI. It's something even crazier: Google buses! Yes, you, too, get to pretend to be one of the elite on a real-live Bauer shuttle. The bus ride always has a festive atmosphere, and even if you're shy, eavesdropping on others' conversations is always rewarding.
Buses leave from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Get there early. Really. Get there early. I can't tell you how many times I thought I budgeted enough time, only to find myself disembarking from the bus on the island and running wildly to see the band I really wanted to see. My advice: give yourself two hours' lead time. If you're dying to see Banks at 2:45, get to the Civic Center at 12:45 just to be safe. If you're driving, parking in any one of the lots near the Civic Center can take forever, and then bus lines, bus traffic, will call, entrance lines — it all adds up.