Top 5 of Treasure Island 2014

Vortex Music Magazine

Counting down the top five of Treasure Island is not about ranking: It's about memorializing the last glorious weekend before the rains set in. That and two unparalleled days of music in the Bay. However, No. 1 on this list is absolutely unrivaled—just ain't no two ways about it.

Classixx: Click to see more photos by Matt Ellis from TIMF 2014Classixx: Click to see more photos by Matt Ellis from TIMF 2014

A whirlwind weekend in the Bay with two days spent on a man-made island is the only way to bid farewell the year's festival season as well as warmer times and sunshine until next spring.

The 2014 Treasure Island Music Festival on October 18 and 19 was bountiful to say the least, and more 35,000 fest-goers showed their enthusiasm for this year's bill—which included Massive Attack, Alt-J, TV On The Radio, St. Lucia, MØ, Banks, Chet Faker, Washed Out and many more stellar acts—by making this year's sold-out affair the most successful, highest attended one yet in its eight consecutive years.

In an attempt to avoid a tome of highlights, here are our top five from TIMF 2014. But to be completely honest, these are in no particular hierarchical order because each of these moments, acts and artists were—and still are—equally spectacular in their own right. That said, No. 1 is most definitely numero uno.

Five: Jungle

Photo by Josh WithersPhoto by Josh Withers

The first climax of day one came with the appearance of Jungle, a collective of Londoners who knew exactly how to bring booty-shaking soul music to the Bridge Stage. Airtight production and playing from the nimbly percussive band was complemented by a little bit of sex and sass provided by a couple of additional vocalists (above). You only need to hear a snippet of Jungle's music to allow your mind to conjure up images of what this band should look like. Or you can let their track-suited roller dancers, synchronized, move-busting deserted warehouse crew, or the too cute, too shockingly talented six-year-old breakdancer B-Girl Terra (below) paint perfect pictures for you.

Photo by Mike RosatiPhoto by Mike Rosati

Four: Janelle Monáe 

Continuing with the amazin' Js, let's shout out Janelle Monáe—the electrifying lady who brought the funkiest horn section in Metropolis to Treasure Island. There is honestly nothing that can hold this girl down. Not even a bout of absurd technical problems that rendered her vocals completely inaudible for the first two songs of her set. Never you worry, Ms. Monáe still put together one of the festival's finest, most genuine and enthusiastic sets. No surprise though—she's a true performer and quite possibly the best live artist alive right now. Amazingly theatrical, wholly authentic and sonically a knockout, a Janelle Monáe set is a show. And the TIMF go was one that was all too brief.

Click to see more photos by Matt Ellis from TIMF 2014Click to see more photos by Matt Ellis from TIMF 2014

Three: The Growlers

Photo by Josh WithersPhoto by Josh Withers

As is often the case at TIMF, day two is much more rock-oriented and slightly more subdued. With all the glow stick-toting EDM bros having spent all their energy the night before, the crowd was considerably different in composition. The best way to welcome this shift in the weekend's vibe was with The Growlers—a fitting name for a grimy bunch of hooch-gargling garage rockers. And it appeared as though The Growlers have the modern-day equivalent of the Happy Mondays' Bez tagging along with their band. While the band's bright, beer-chugging surf rock was appropriate for soaking up the afternoon sun, their own consumption was assisted by their version of Bez running around the stage plying the band with booze throughout the set—all of this between surfing the crowd on a guitar case.

Two: Danceable Contrasts 

On day one, L.A.'s Classixx warmed up the night as it cooled down by doubly showing their love for some of Portland's most danceable progeny. Accompanied by digital talking heads on the television screen situated between band members Michael David and Tyler Blake, Classixx provided TIMF with their favorite YACHT cover ("Psychic City"—below), and then closed out their set with "All You're Waiting For" accompanied by virtual vocalist Nancy Whang (as pictured above), the Portland-born-and-raised synth whiz known for her roles with The Juan MacLean and LCD Soundsystem.

Minneapolis' Poliça brought a completely opposite vibe to the same time slot on the Tunnel Stage one night later. With two drummers and bass backing the impeccably Auto-Tuned vocals of Channy Leaneagh, she created a dark, subdued groove that built in intensity and passion. Often in a world of her own, you could visibly witness how heart-wrenching and all-consuming the music of Poliça is. And if you were anywhere within earshot, it engulfed you too.

One: ATL's Finest

Cooler than a polar bears toenail: Photo by Josh SanseriCooler than a polar bears toenail: Photo by Josh Sanseri

With previous performers in the day donning SF Giants gear, Outkast absolutely knocked it out of the park. Having seen the duo at weekend two of Coachella, the TIMF stage provided an incredibly intimate setting compared to the SoCal experience. Plus, Coachella marked the start of the festival season as well as Outkast's first gigs after a decade away from the stage. After NPR (and plenty of others) said their first show back was "a little awkward," their second showing at Coachella was an improvement but nevertheless jam-packed—almost claustrophobically so.

Yet, Treasure Island saw the legendary pair with months of appearances under their collective belts and firing on all cylinders. Big Boi and André 3000 destroyed absolutely everything a devoted Outkast fan wanted to hear—epitomized by the first two songs of the set: opening with "B.O.B." and merging it directly into "Gasoline Dreams." 

With the black-and-white Stars and Stripes of Stankonia burning into the crowd's retinas, a platinum blond do'd, almost Rod Stewart-looking Three Stacks emerged with his ever-changing jumpsuit questioning: "Have you stopped growing?" To counter Dré's subdued color scheme, Sir Lucious Left Foot donned a black jacket sewn with strips cut from south-of-the-border blankets, his Falcons hat, a blue bandanna, and a meaty medallion of gold bling. An appearance from Sleepy Brown was icing on the cake as the crowd continued to bob, bounce, scream and detonate brain cells as 'Kast kept it jumpin' like kangaroos.

Ice cold: The coolest motherfunkers on the planetIce cold: The coolest motherfunkers on the planet

While the sweetest moment of Treasure Island also came with some sour, the biggest disappointment may have been that there was no J.Monáe x Big Boi collab during either of their sets. To be fair, the pair both shined on their own, and at the end of the night, TIMF was riding so high that it didn't even matter.

Besides, a weekend with either on their lonesome would've been enough to call it quits—together might've been too mind blowing to handle. Thanks, Treasure Island, for saving us all from inevitable self-destruction.

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