Sigur Rós performs Oct. 16 at the Treasure Island Music Festival. To see a gallery of photos from the festival, visit the Daily Republic website. (Nick DeCicco/Daily Republic)
Chances are last weekend's final Treasure Island Music Festival went nowhere near the way its organizers planned.
Mother Nature was the weekend’s guest performer, battering the festival with rain and wind, causing five hours of delays and stoppages at the two-day event. Three of the 26 acts were unable to perform.
The conditions caused a number of fans to head for the exits on the tiny island between spans of the Bay Bridge. Some on social media called for refunds, but promoters said they will not issue any. Organizers plan to relocate the festival next year due to a redevelopment plan on the island.
While it’s easy to be angry with the way this year’s weather-worsened event went, I felt something awesome.
I don’t mean “awesome” in the casual way that people so often say it, but rather that I was awed. I doubt my friend, Heather, who stood next to me as we watched Sigur Rós perform Sunday to conclude the festival’s history, understood my grin.
It was a tough slog — literally and figuratively — to that moment.
The rains had ceased, but the thousands who remained were draped in ponchos. Grassy fields turned into a puddle-pocked mud pit, caking our pants, shoes and/or boots. Sigur Rós played the untitled first track from 2002’s ( ), a wintry piano-based piece in which singer/guitarist Jonsí coos the song’s vocals.
I tried to step back and absorb the moment. That’s when the awesome feeling hit me.
I thought of our collective resilience, the thousands of us bearing not just the weekend, but all of our collective challenges beyond the festival gates and whatever else swirled in the universe at that moment.
We were weary spirits, but we were sharing a respite from everything life was throwing at us.
A new co-worker asked a few months ago why I’m so into music. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about it on the entries in this blog, but I was at a loss to articulate an answer the way I wanted.
But that moment Sunday captured it.
The truth is that music was a vehicle to connect with people at a time I felt painfully awkward. It worked. I’ve had the great fortune of meeting countless talented, creative people and forged great relationships. I bonded with one of my best friends, Sean, when he taped The Wallflowers’ Bringing Down the Horse to cassette for me in 1997, for example.
It’s a journey that has defined my life professionally, too. A previous Daily Republic editor said, “You might as well cover concerts since you’re going to them anyway.” Fair enough, I thought.
Part of my love of music, too, is powering through adversity. Music is a cure. It’s a place to escape the stresses of daily life. It’s a place to quiet the depression and anxiety I work with daily. That's hard for me to write, but as we watched Sigur Rós, I thought about how, for the moment, those issues turned to background noise for myself and for all of us in attendance.
A concert or a music festival is an actual, physical place to forget our struggles for a few hours. Despite everything against us in the short and long term, we shared something awesome together. So I grinned.
It’s the way that I try to see life – we hope for sunny days. Sometimes, we get them. Sometimes, our white tennis shoes are brown and squishy from the mud and rain. It's how we deal with it that speaks to our character.
I’ve changed in innumerable ways since the Treasure Island fest began in 2007. Working toward resilience and acceptance, to become comfortable with uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, that’s the hardest lesson of my life.
I don’t claim victory, but every day, I learn a little more. I learn to take the good with the bad and understand that impermanence — whether it’s our emotions or it’s a music festival — is truth.
So, as The Wallflowers’ Jakob Dylan sings in the first song from that cassette Sean taped for me two decades ago, “Come on, try a little — nothing is forever.”