Sunday at Treasure Island Music Festival was predictably chill. Like years past, Sunday’s lineup of indie rock and downtempo electronic artists served as the perfect “hair of the dog” to Saturday’s cocktail of electronic and hip hop acts. Even the weather mellowed by a cool five degrees. The crowd, far soberer, drifted between sedentary cigarette puffs and stages. With Massive Attack as the headliner, what could you expect?
For many, Sunday’s lineup was stacked. The coupling of older respected bands like The New Pornographers and Massive Attack with budding contemporaries like alt-J, Chet Faker and Washed Out left little for wanting: fans knew they’d imbibe in a heavy pour of chillwave, art rock, and the like. However, in reality, like a friend solemnly bemoaning a breakup, after a while you just want to say “Cheer up bud!”
Acts such as Cathedrals, Bleached and The Growlers got the day started, and by the time Chet Faker took the stage, it felt like the crowd was pining for an energy boost. Though the previous set by The New Porngraphers matched perfect harmonies and rhythm (not sounding like they were just kicking off a tour after recently releasing their first album in four years), it couldn’t quite make up for the disappointment from Banks’ set. Her voice sounded flat, either because it was weathered after a long tour, or the fault of the sound engineers (who messed up the previous day with Janelle Monae).
Thankfully, Faker grabbed the crowd’s attention alone on stage, looping and layering heavy bass-driven beats with a synthesizer, his vocals mirroring the recordings. With the packed crowd already swaying by the third song, their hands raised as if exclaiming “hallelujah!”, Faker was then joined by a guitarist and drummer whom provided a fuller sound that took tracks like “Gold” and “Drop The Game” to the next level.
The crowd’s invigoration continued for TV On The Radio, and the band didn’t let them down. During “Wolf Like Me,” a middle aged woman, who had climbed five feet up a light poll and held on to it with one arm, waved her other arm freely without the least bit of concern of falling.
After Faker and TV On The Radio, the energy of the festival never let up. Minneapolis-based Poliça turned in one of the most surprising and dance-worthy sets of the whole festival. Vocalist Channy Leaneagh danced around the stage, in and out of the last rays of light from the sunset setting behind her. The synth driven beats and heavily distorted lyrics had the crowd pulsing and crashing, like breakers against the front of the Tunnel Stage.
Next up was alt-J, who just released the incredible new album This Is All Yours. They said this was the first time they have played the new songs in a festival setting and kicked it off with the single, “Hunger of the Pine.” The buzz from the crowd was electric. Something about watching music on an October night where the temperature managed to hold on above 60 and the wind wasn’t freezing was special. Even songs I didn’t love on the album, like “Left Hand Free,” became suddenly very moving live.
Anyone who has been a fan of Washed Out for awhile has been able to see an incredible evolution. From an amazing artist who crafts beats from his home, to a full fledged live act that can get an entire music festival moving, Ernest Greene is only getting better with each performance. The ambient, chillwave beats had people dancing, even those 50 yards to the side of the main audience. I really enjoyed “It All Feels Right” which benefits from all the live instrumentation added in recent years.
What can I say about Massive Attack? They were fantastic, and there is a reason they have been one of the most recognizable names in electronic music since the early 90s. Their set started off dark and brooding, with everyone but singer Martina Topley-Bird in the shadows. As they continued to play the logos of large and dubious corporations were flashed in rapid succession in the background. Whether fans had been with them since “Unfinished Sympathy” or just knew them as the group who made the theme song for the TV show House, everyone seemed to be enjoying the deep bass, clean beats and haunting lyrics.
Check out our photos and let us know your favorite act below.
Photos by Bob Patterson