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Best Of Treasure Island Music 2014
The Treasure Island Music Festival took place last weekend on the island in the San Fransisco Bay of the same name. Here's our take away of the best items from the festival.
The Must-See, Bucket List Headliner: Massive Attack
Treasure Islanders buzzed all weekend about the rare opportunity to see Massive Attack perform live. Frontmen Robert “3D” Del Naja and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall have played fewer than 20 shows on the west coast in the last decade (mostly in LA), and tickets sell out faster than you can say “Karmacoma.” The Bristol trip hop pioneers delivered an epic 12-song set that surveyed their two-decade career.
Massive Attack pulled no punches musically or visually, especially on “United Snakes” as tweaked corporate logos and a drone strike transcript flashed on the videoboard. Vocalist Martina Topley-Bird caressed the microphone with stunning sonic artistry as she performed hits once recorded by Elizabeth Fraser (“Teardrop”) and Hope Sandoval (“Paradise Circus”). According to Del Naja, Jamaican songwriter Horace “Sleepy” Andy missed his flight so they had to resort to a DJ remix of his vocals on “Angel,” but the crowd didn’t mind. TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe closed the festival with “Pray for Rain” as the city lights glowed on the fog rolling across the bay.
Most Electrifying Performance: Janelle Monáe
The most electrifying performance of the weekend came from The Electric Lady herself, Janelle Monáe. Monáe overcame a technical microphone glitch come primetime and commenced givin’ ‘em what they love. Monae’s high energy performance would have made the ghost of James Brown dance apocalyptic. Long live Q.U.E.E.N Janelle.
Happiest Idiots: TV on the Radio
Brooklyn-based indie rockers TV on the Radio gave the festival a preview of their fifth studio LP Seeds (due out Nov. 17) with the New Wave-inspired single “Happy Idiot” and synth-heavy “Careful You.” Frontman Tunde Adebimpe opened the set with fan favorites “Young Liars” and “Golden Age” just as the sun started to set over Telegraph Hill and Karl the Fog rolled across the bay. Guitarist Kyp Malone flashed a toothy smile buried deep inside his Santa Claus beard before launching into their dancey anthem “Wolf Like Me.
Best Out of Body Experience: OuterBodyLabs
Adding to the carnival atmosphere, festivalgoers beat the heat by playing a live videogame in the back of a moving truck. OuterBody Labs constructed a puzzle game where teams of two build a tetris-like shape with painted boxes. The catch: players can only see from the removed perspective of a camera mounted on the ceiling via wireless video goggles. Some tripped and stumbled in disorientation, while others completed the puzzle in under two minutes.
Best Reason to Arrive Early Sunday: Cathedrals
Bay Area natives Johnny Hwin and Brodie Jenkins kicked off Sunday with an electrifying performance of their self-titled Catheldrals EP. Hwin, a tech entrepreneur turned electronic music producer, joined with Jenkins two years ago. Cathedrals have left their mark on the San Francisco indie rock scene with Jenkins’s soaring vocals and Hwin’s understated guitar and beat production.
Best Fourth Grade Flashback: Jenga tables
Amid unseasonably warm weekend temperatures, Treasure Islanders relived their youth with rousing games of Jenga on tables dotting the food truck zones. One match which lasted over 20 minutes and drew a small crowd before ending the same way every Jenga match does -- with laughs, high fives and a pile of balsa wood on the ground.
Most Acceptable Fashion Faux Pas After Labor Day: White Denim
The Austin, Texas based White Denim played a snappy set of bluesy, psychedelic indie rock. Singer James Petralli squinted and winced under a black trucker hat as White Denim featured songs from their Jeff Tweedy-produced 2013 record Corsicana Lemonade. Fashion-minded Treasure Islanders didn’t seem to care that Austin Jenkins sported a (blue) denim-on-denim look, as long as he kept twanging away on that white custom Coleman T-series guitar.
Best Unintentional Act of Piracy: MØ
Danish singer-songwriter Karen Marie Ørsted (a.k.a. MØ) stepped onto the main stage Saturday afternoon sporting a black pirate eyepatch. A few songs into her set, Ørsted explained she wasn’t making a fashion-forward statement; she woke up Saturday morning with an eye infection. MØ writhed across the stage and whipped her braid to a vivacious performance of “Don’t Wanna Dance.” Before her last song, she commented on the challenge of dancing without depth perception.
Quietest Wave of the Future: Silent Disco
The surreal Silent Disco area featured people dancing to DJ sets distributed through wireless headphones. It was a bit odd walking past a grassy knoll full of people shaking their booties to inaudible songs, but they looked like they were having a blast. More than a few baby boomers shook their heads, muttering “kids these days.”
Best Strut Across the Stage: Banks
Banks, the stage name of 26-year-old singer-songwriter Jillian Rose Banks, tangoed across the stage in between verses of her sultry, vulnerable tunes in the vein of Fiona Apple. Banks exploded onto the music scene last year when her private SoundCloud recordings got play from by a DJ in the UK, and by the end of 2013 her song “Waiting Game” was featured in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. At Treasure Island, Banks dedicated her set and the song “Goddess” to all the ladies in attendance before strutting off into the sunset.
Best New Profession: Bubblesmith
If Instagram was any indication, one of the most popular attractions at Treasure Island wasn’t the food or the music, but professional Bubblesmith Sterling Johnson. He dipped bubble-crafting apparatus into a bucket of soapy water and wafted iridescent shapes onto the gentle bay breeze. Of the 20,000-ish attendees, about 19,999 of them took selfies with the bubblesmith in frame.
Best Eyeball-Melting Visuals: Zedd
Babyfaced German-Russian DJ Anton Zaslavski, better known as Zedd, took the stage behind his elevated videoboard platform like a futuristic dictator hell-bent on dominating every eardrum on Treasure Island. With dazzling 40-foot-tall graphics and pyrotechnic bursts of flame, Zedd made every person on Treasure Island rock so hard that the crowd seemed a spent before headliner OutKast took the stage.
Most Fresh and So Clean, Clean Performance: OutKast
After a touring hiatus from 2006 to 2014, OutKast returned to San Francisco ready to remind Californians how to party ATL-style. Treasure Islanders accepted OutKast’s apology a trillion times for their extended absence after powering through hits like “Ms. Jackson” and “Hey Ya!” Over the course of 24 songs, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and Andre “Andre 3000” Benjamin left hordes of festivalgoers feeling so fresh and so clean, clean. Glad you’re back, OutKast, we like the way you move.
Best New Fab Four: alt-J
British experimental indie rockers alt-J earned a Beatlemania-grade response from younger Treasure Island attendees. One young lady even painted her face in the style of their latest album This is All Yours. The crowd swooned for standouts like “Matilda,” “Tessellate,” and the set closer “Breezeblocks.”
Best Beat Without The (Original) Drummer: The New Pornographers
In September, New Pornographers drummer Kurt Dahle parted ways with the Canadian supergroup after 15 years holding down the rhythm section behind A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar. Dahle performed on every New Pornographers record since the 2000 debut album Mass Romantic through this year’s newest, Brill Bruisers. The New Pornographers charged through a sunset performance with a mix of all the old showstoppers and new cuts from Brill Bruisers, but longtime fans missed Dahle’s goofy faces behind the kit. Despite Dahle’s absence, Treasure Islanders enjoyed the set as a testament to youth in verse.
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