Governors Ball 2015 Recap

Graphics by Brant Imhoff, Photos by Hilda Pellerano

Overall, I give Governors Ball 2015 a “bomb” emoji. It was an awesome festival, but at times we were on the verge of real problems — overly long lines, sound issues (most notably deadmau5 spilling over into Ryan Adams’ set and the same thing with The Black Keys and Lana Del Rey). At one point between sets at the GovBallNYC stage, there was a sea of Miller Lite cans being picked up by the wind causing attendees to dodge the flying aluminum projectiles — granted, that one is weather related. However, I was very pleased with the strong representation of female artists. The lineup was fairly evenly split for a change, and there were some amazing acts all around.


Governor’s Ball began as everyone had feared it would, with a steady misting of rain. It continued for the first 4 hours of the festival, but that didn’t stop attendees. As all dedicated festival-goers know, just throw on a poncho, say goodbye to your pretty white high-tops, and push through. One band in particular blew me away right off the bat. I hadn’t listened to Black Pistol Fire before, but when I got to the festival and began feeling it out, some heavy guitar riffs caught my ear. I walked to the stage and witnessed an incredible performance, complete with jumps off the bass drum, crowd-surfing, and some mind-blowing solos. Later in the day I was pleasantly greeted by some great dance beats played by a guy with very skinny legs: Chromeo. The best part, though, was Ezra Koenig making an appearance for a rendition of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”. Florence and the Machine also gave an ethereal performance. Florence was truly angelic, like some sort of creature who rode to earth on a comet, born out of flaming diamond dust. Her voice was spectacular, bouncing off the structure, entrancing the crowd.

Florence and the Machine
My Morning Jacket
St. Vincent
Charlie XCX
Benjamin Booker


Kate Tempest opened up Saturday. This spoken-word artist/poet/rapper fusion is really a genre all her own. The bass was so heavy it shook my chest and the crowd was shouting “Yeah” and “Amen”. I felt like I was listening to a heart-wrenching sermon set to some sick beats. The female powerhouses continued with Kiesza, who was unexpectedly one of the most memorable sets I saw all weekend. I felt like I was back in elementary school, seeing athletic girls in crop tops dancing with frizzy hair. She was backed up by some equally awesome female dancers in jerseys, furthering the nostalgia yet still very much of the present with some dub-step tunes. Flume also gave a great show. The entire field between the Honda stage and the Big Apple stage was filled with a club-like atmosphere, perfect for their set time, amping everyone up for the headliners soon to come.

Conor Oberst
Future Islands
Little Dragon
Moon Taxi
J Roddy Watson and the Business
Ryan Adams
Sharon Van Etten
White Lung


Sunday started off with the folk-rock Strand of Oaks. Their lyrics have a way of punching you in the gut. It’s the kind of rock music that plays right into your heart and stirs your soul around, melting it like it’s ice cream in some brutal sun.Then there was Royal Blood. I’d been jamming to these guys for a while, frustrated that I just couldn’t get my headphones loud enough to feel everything they’re putting out. I felt satisfied, banging my head around, dancing to every guitar riff and loving every second. Tame Impala was flawless, playing some of their newest tracks from their upcoming album Currents. I was a little bummed they didn’t play “Half Full Glass of Wine”, but it was great to hear “Cause I’m A Man” live for the first time. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds left me feeling a little more complete in my concert mental library. Hearing “Champagne Supernova” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” live was something that needed to happen in my life and I feel all the better for it. And then there was Lana Del Rey. I was expecting something great from the “jazz singer,” but this was the strangest performance I’ve ever seen. She sang over the recorded track, and then would skip singing verses altogether. The band’s treble was very high, making me cringe at times. And to top it off, left the stage minutes before the band was even finished playing. I was left wanting much much more and I think I’m going to have to take a brief hiatus from my beloved Ultraviolence record because of it.

Hot Chip
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Band
Royal Blood
Streets of Laredo
Tame Impala
The Black Keys
The War On Drugs


Thanks Squarespace!