The best part of NYC’s Governor’s Ball isn’t the music, the food, or all the activities; it’s the people. Upon entering the gates, Gov Ball volunteers greet festival goers with smiles, high fives and excitement, setting the tone for a great weekend of fun.
We kicked the day off with the beautiful harmonies and dance beats of Meg Mac. Followed by crowd favorite, Bully. Singer and guitarist Alicia Bognann screamed, wailed, thrashed, and hid behind a curtain of blonde hair. During a chat with the band they confessed that if they only had twenty four hours in NYC they would spend most of it eating NYC’s best food. “Pizza, bagels, and dumplings” squealed Bognann.
After their set, we did just that, and purused the over 50 food options, all native to NYC. Gov Ball supports local business and is for foodies and the hungry alike. It wouldn’t feel right skipping pizza at a NYC festival. Even The Knocks and Transviolet confessed to us that one of their favorite things about this city is the abundance and accessibility of dollar slice. We mowed down on burgers from Black Tap, sriracha seasoned noms from Lawless Jerky, sushi burritos from Uma Temakria and hot cheesy pizza from Valducci’s while sitting in the grass waiting for the next act.
Matt and Kim burst onto the stage like a confetti gun of excitement. Not even 30 seconds into their first song Matt was leaping up and down as Kim stood on her kick drum slapping her booty to the crowd. As Brooklyn locals, this one of only two special shows in NYC this year. They celebrated the crowd of new yorkers and the noted the specialness of playing a NYC run and hosted festival. Their set was uplifting and their energy was infectious; they had everyone bouncing and singing along.
Most of the artist’s performing this year are NYC based, making Governors Ball feel like a festival in their backyard. Brooklyn based The Knocks praise Gov Ball because “we get to play on our home turf, so our friends and family get to see us perform in a festival environment which is amazing. The energy of the fans in NYC is next level and are always down to dance and have fun with us. There’s an electricity in the air at Gov Ball that you can’t really describe. It’s surreal, and when it’s all over, we get to go back to our own apartments.” Gov Ball is a festival by NYC for NYC.
Father John Misty remains the king of every festival his tall lanky body and bushy beard takes to, winning the hearts of screaming girls and boys. He crooned. He jumped. He begged on his knees. He saluted the crowd. He cried into the mic. He kept all eyes on him, and him alone.
Bloc Party was ferocious, loud and beautiful to watch during sunset. Singer and guitarist Kele Okereke was lost in a haze of smoke and pastel light, making each power chord ring a little louder.
Beck hasn’t aged a single day since his first hit single in 1994. He danced across the stage like the king of cool. I think he surprised the average festival goer with just how many hit songs his large repertoire boasts. There was no shortage of dancing in the pit or the lawn of blanket chillers.
Julian Casablancas is the father of modern day lower east side rock ‘n’ roll. He is synonymous with what the NYC sound has become. He hasn’t lost one bit of his idyllic stage presence. However, the real treat of The Strokes performance was watching Albert Hammond Jr. shred all those classic riffs and leads we have come to know so well.
Mandy Lee and her bandmates of Misterwives got the dance party started. Beach balls tossed through the crowd as the the sea of people jump around with hands in the air. Lee dances, skips, shakes, giggles, and almost falls down but doesn’t miss a note.
Go Haim or go home. This band sang louder, danced harder and welcomed the rain which drenched them during their set. The show went on, and die hard fans sang along happily while dancing in the rain and the mudd. The three sister’s almost seemed excited for the rain, and by the end of their set shook rain from their wet hair and thanked new yorkers for caring about seeing good music, rain or shine!
The highlight of day two, was the all encompassing performance by Purity Ring. Like true artists, this duo’s stage design, lighting, costuming, choreography and song selection created a mood and atmosphere like no other performer at Governors Ball. The tent covering their stage was more crowded than ever as festival goers pushed closer to avoid the rain and sneak a closer look at their magical lighting set up. Singer Megan James floated between the strings of lights like a winged creature in a gorgeous cat suit.
We played mini golf. We tipped over life size jenga. We took selfies in photo booths. We ate too much. We napped in the grass. We danced in the rain. And we cried when day three was canceled. We’ll see you next year Gov Ball, you’re doing great.
Photos by: Jono Bernstein
Words by: Jessica Louise Dye