Two breathtaking sunsets over the Golden Gate Bridge and balmy Bay breezes characterized what was just shy of 24 hours of cumulative music output the weekend of October 18-19, 2014 — another spectacular Treasure Island Music Festival.
Highlights from early Saturday included XXYYXX, who set some bass-heavy beats right off the bat and opened up the floodgates for the rest of the day; and Copenhagen’s Mø left nothing to be desired — clad fittingly in an eye-patch and fighting back an eye infection, she ran from one end of the stage to the other and even leapt into the crowd from time to time. Meanwhile, Ana Tijoux had some powerful messages about the beauty of the indigenous peoples and the difficulty of immigrant assimilation in an incredibly creative way with Spanish rap overtop semi-reggae and jazz instrumentals that drew a huge portion of the crowd in the mid-afternoon.
As the sun began to set, Jungle were arguably the peak of the day with a body of sound that swallowed the island. Mixing synthetic and organic elements, their upbeat dance tracks conjured up ’70s nostalgia while also providing what our generation just can’t get enough of — industry standard dance beats. And despite following this adrenaline-inducing set, Janelle Monae made quite the comeback after some initial technical difficulty and projected an attitude far larger than her physique.
On the electronic side of things, Ryan Hemsworth and Classixx fed the energy meter while also providing a welcome breather in the evening’s schedule. Zedd took the day’s momentum over the threshold and was the only act that fell out of place in the lineup, but thankfully after his sensory assault, St. Lucia was a serotonin booster that prepared the crowd for the last curtain call.
Blasting in with “B.O.B (Bombs over Baghdad),” a sea of bodies was jumping and fist-pumping before Outkast from the start. Ever witty and entertaining, Andre 3000 (with snow white hair) and Antwon Patton dropped bomb after bomb with super-hits “Ms. Jackson,” “The Way You Move,” and “Roses.” After commenting on the audience’s overall dirtiness after a full day on the island, they figuratively cleansed them with an epic rendition of “So Fresh, So Clean.” Preceded by the instantly recognizable “1-2-3-4!,” “Hey Ya!” turned the festival lawn into the most poppin’ club in the Bay.
Saturday left no weaknesses on the table for Sunday to capitalize on. But Sunday’s acts would not be dwarfed by the spectacular performance of Saturday’s crew.
Ásgeir kept the fog at bay, oozing infectious happiness from tracks such as “King and Cross.” BANKS sold an image of strong female presence, similar to that of Mø and Janelle Monae the previous day, calling out that “all women are Goddesses,” in reference to her recent debut album, and with beautiful vocal runs and delicate pitch drops, no one was left doubting her claims. The Growlers turned the afternoon into a beach party with their own crowd-surfing hype man.
A mellow jive rippled through the crowd and the sun’s re-emergence provided a fitting pathetic fallacy for the next act.
“Awe-inspiring” is an insufficient descriptor for Chet Faker’s set, which struck the audience with deep emotion. The studio versions of Chet Faker’s songs are softer and more organic, but he and his band tastefully surpassed these tracks with extra electronic backbone live, especially in “Gold” and “Drop the Game.” For the last light of the day, TV on the Radio graced attendees with a medley of old and new material, touching every ear in the swelling crowd with their undeniably original sound with tight harmonies, horn overdubs, and a full ensemble.
alt-J (∆), who spent their summer quietly finishing up their latest release, brought their A-game and the full manifestation of This is All Yours (2014). Opening with “Hunger of the Pine,” a track which features a Miley Cyrus sample, these Brits did not pause for a second after. They successfully showed that their second release was more than capable of competing harmoniously with 2012’s An Awesome Wave. Taking the audience on nothing short of spiritual odyssey and voicing their gratitude for the crowd’s enthusiasm after a festival-free summer, both the band and the receivers of their musical might were sad to see the set end.
Rounding out a long tour, Washed Out projected good vibes and allowed the masses to collect their thoughts before the festival’s final installment.
Massive Attack fulfilled their namesake late Sunday night as all the lights went out across the bay. Used as visuals, current news headlines (including UC Berkeley’s recently exposed rape case), corporation brands, and a military correspondence between ground forces and drone operators gave an eerie coloring to the duo’s transcendent tracks. The trip-hop pioneers disseminated artistic genius over powerful messages of resistance and a refusal to submit; an incredibly electric sound produced from organic instrumentation added to the semi-divine aura surrounding the dimly-lit musicians. Collaborating on the final song with Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio, mixed feelings and an almost-encore left everyone bewildered, wondering, and contemplating.
At the end of the day, Noise Pop has once again proven that there is no better place to catch a show than on Treasure Island. Even if 2014’s lineup wasn’t as stacked as prior years, the euphoria of passing through the festival gates under beautiful October skies is one-of-a-kind. While this annual event is gaining in prestige and attention, let’s keep this our local secret for as long as we can.
Article by Conner Smith
Photos by Chris Redman, Conner Smith, and Edfil Dulay