Photo credit: Luis Ruiz
Governors Ball doesn’t really feel like a festival. Maybe it’s the fact that none of the sets overlap, something that has it’s merits and issues, but most likely it’s the fact that for many of us, we go home at the end of the night. There’s no camping, no wild late-night partying (of course, they did have some wild after parties at Brooklyn Bowl), there’s your bed at the end of the night. Let me tell you, having your own bed at the end of the night has its merits too.
The second year of Governors Ball had two wildly different days. Saturday was all dancing teenagers, kids on molly, modern electronic bands, DJs and underagers sneaking vodka in Snapple bottles into the festival. Sunday was the polar opposite, with the median age moving from 17 to 26 and 90s nostalgia clouding up the air. There was not a single band there that I did not absolutely adore at sometime between 1997 and 2004 and was subsequently reminded how much I adore when I saw them play.
This year’s crowds were decent, though not huge, the food and beer were stupidly expensive, and the line up was perfect for a 15 year old me — in spite of (or because of) that, I still had an awesome time.
Weather: Lucky New Yorkers, we were hit by a pretty brutal heat wave the week before of the festival, and although the worst had past, we were still feeling the heat. While there was a nice breeze on the island and the clouds rolled in around dusk, it was still a sweaty, sticky experience.
Food Options: There were all sorts of food trucks and special stands serving gourmet priced food to hungry festival goers. If you were willing to spend the $18, you could get a delicious lobster roll. My favorite? Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches. I still dream of their red velvet cookie with vanilla bean ice cream.
Not Your Festival If: With ample space, shade, and a fairly early ending time, this is a pretty comfortable festival. If you aren’t interested in the EDM scene that’s permeating pop these days, Saturday definitely wasn’t for you. You may have also hated Saturday if you dislike teenagers, neon clothes, club kids, skin-baring, or (again) teenagers. That is to say, there were a lot of teenagers there on Saturday.
Best Set: Fiona Apple. Why? Because I am a 23 year old girl, that’s why. I knew every word to every single song she sang, even the newest ones. So did every girl in the crowd. In fact, if you listened closely, there were no men singing a long at all. The sound on the Hype Machine stage was sketchy all weekend save for a few sets, and luckily hers was one of the best. The band was tight and Fiona Apple herself was a charismatic, albeit gaunt, brilliant performer. It was a concert I had waited a long time to see, and I was happily not disappointed.
Biggest Disappointment: The sound on the Hype Machine stage was terrible all weekend, and both stages were at times muddy. It was luckily cleared up for the headliners, but there were plenty of sets — like Freelance Whales, Devendra Banhart, Built to Spill, Santigold and Penguin Prison that suffered from it.
Most Nostalgic: When Beck kicked out “Where it’s At”, I flashed back to being six years old and singing along to that song with my parents on a road trip. I never stopped loving that song and hearing it live for the first time sure was an experience.
Best “What a Wonderful World” Moment: Passion Pit’s headlining set on Saturday was maybe my #1 highlight of the whole festival. Watching from the sidelines I saw people thrown into elation at the first few notes of every song. It was enough to make me feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy.
Tip of the Hat: Free water. Everything else was almost prohibitively expensive, but the water was free and there was never a wait. For the hot weekend that it was, the water was a constant blessing.
1) Saying to my friend “I really wish Beck would play some stuff from Sea Change and then getting “Golden Age,” “Lost Cause,” and “Sunday Sun” all in a row.
2) The dude who shouted “ESTROGEN” when Fiona Apple finished her first song. It’s true, the only festival with more estrogen was probably Lilith Fair, and that was no where near as awesome.
3) Dancing to Pat Mahoney and James Murphy’s Special Disco Version like it was a block party. It was the most un-self conscious and sincere fun I had experienced in a long while.
4) Passion Pit lighting up the night. They put on an infectiously happy show. While I’m not a huge fan of Passion Pit, I was still super into it. It was awesome and truly energetic.
1) The sound being hit or miss all weekend. There was this terrible, terrible low-end noise that nearly destroyed so many sets for me.
2) Duck Sauce. Seriously, it’s kind of unlistenable.
3) Spending $40 on beer in one day. I only had 4 beers.
Note: Best brussel sprouts in the world ever. Crispy, salty, and sweet with a hint of maple syrup.
Note: These Fosters were fucking HUGE! $50 well spent.
Note: The hoola hoop ladies were out in force at Governors Ball. I really don’t get it?