Governor’s Ball 2014 Recap: The Highlights, Lowlights, and Top Trends

As fast as it came, Governors Ball 2014 now disappears into the ether, but thankfully, we were there to document an incredible weekend of live music and culture. Now, despite stiff backs, swollen ankles, and sun burn, here’s a first-look at the most memorable moments and interesting trends from New York City’s favorite music festival.

Governors Ball By The Numbers

The highlights, lowlights, and trends of GovBall 2014…

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TV On The Radio play old favorites.

The 15 Best Things About Gov Ball:

1. Jack White’s headlining performance / jam sessions

Jack White delivered the best performance of the weekend with a set full of White Stripes and Raconteurs classics alongside his solo material. With jam sessions and improvisation, guitar solos, and false endings, White was everything a headliner should be.

2. The massive sing-a-long to “Hey Ya”

It was the moment that everyone imagined when Outkast announced their comeback tour, and it did not disappoint. What’s cooler than being cool?

3. The Strokes’ surprise encore

After finishing up their set (which was equal parts nostalgic and awesome), The Strokes treated the stragglers to a surprise encore of “New York City Cops.” The rowdy crowd couldn’t get enough of it.

4. The weather 

Contrary to last year (when a tropical storm mired the weekend in sludge), this year’s installment benefited from three near-perfect days of sunshine.

5. Tyler the Creator berating the kids in VIP

We were all thinking it, but Tyler happened to have a microphone: “Your rich parents pay for this shit? What about everyone else? Fuck you guys!”

6. Julian Casablancas plays “Instant Crush”

This was a rare treat courtesy of Casablancas’ new band. If only Daft Punk joined him…

7. The bathrooms near East Entrance: no lines, fairly clean, still had paper towels.

Festival bathrooms are always pretty gnarly, but this bank of porta johns was tucked away in a corner and no one seemed to notice.

8. TV On the Radio opening with “Young Liars”

Playing to a hometown crowd for the first time in years, TV On The Radio dug deep into its catalog and opened its set with the title track from the band’s debut EP.

9. Diarrhea Planet scaling the Big Apple Stage

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Don’t try this at home.

The Nashville thrashers put on one hell of a show, the highlight of which involved guitarist Evan Bird performing part of “Ghost With A Boner” while hanging 20 feet above the stage.

10. The crowd

A remarkably diverse mix of people, brought together by music. The vibes of the festival were peaceful and euphoric, and everybody seemed to really enjoy their time.

11. Aluna Francis joining Disclosure for “White Noise”

We had an idea this might happen, but that did not make it any less exciting. The whole crowd danced for this one.

12. The logistics of the festival

The layout was nearly perfect, and it is hard to imagine that any festival is more punctual than Governors Ball. Every artist started their set within five minutes of the scheduled time.

13. BLEACHERS cover “Don’t Come Around Here” by Tom Petty

 Jack Antonoff found pop-stardom with .fun, but his new side project crushed its early afternoon set, which included a cover of this Petty classic.

14. Alexis Krauss’ leather shorts

Oh yeah, Sleigh Bells sounded pretty good, too.

15. Tanlines overcome sound problems

Tanlines were in the midst of a fun, career-making set, perfect for the afternoon crowd dancing in the hot sun. But, sound issues put the show on hold. After setting up a fan to cool down their equipment, those who stuck around were rewarded with a triumphant last tune. A great moment.

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Tyler, The Creator ranted and rapped his way through a powerful set.


1. The prices.

$8 beer /$10 burgers. Do I get drunk today? Or, do I eat? Because unless I take out a loan, I can only do one.

2. Sound problems.

There were a bunch of issues with sound throughout. This is to be expected at a festival with so many acts, but aside from the excellent main stage soundsystem, the smaller stages could use a bit of a upgrade next year.

3. VIP / Cabanas.

Contrary to the spirit of the fest, privileged VIP sections were expanded and cabanas were added, blocking the view on one side of the main stage.

4. The Smell on Day 3. 

3 straight days of 40,000+ people will take its toll. Tyler, The Creator said it best: “This place smells like shit!”

Top Trends: 

gov ball 2014

Photo Credit: Amanda Hatfield

1. Pot. Lots of it.
It was essentially legal at Gov Ball.

2. Girls went bra-less.
The liberal movement was in full-swing (no pun intended). Was there a bra burning event prior to the fest that we missed? Regardless, the evolving mentality of the Millennial generation proved more and more apparent.

3. Lines
For virtually every action you took, there was a line waiting for you. Bathroom? Line. Food and drink? Line. A moment to sit and think? Line.

4. Peace & Love
Unity was all around. Between the clothes, the atmosphere, and the diversity, the ’60s era didn’t feel like a far-off dreamworld. It felt real. There’s something bubbling here…

**Our feature coverage of Gov Ball is located here.

Article and photos by Jason Schellhardt & Nicolas White

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