Governor’s Ball – NYC
Summer music festival season has steadily grown from a novelty to a rite of passage in the last decade. It seems as though new festivals pop up for every niche of music imaginable, from the vivacious Outside Lands in San Francisco, to the laid-back vibes of The Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. This trend comes with good reason. There’s some kind of magic in the way the feedback from an electric guitar rings out over a crowded field at sunset. It sticks with you.
This idyllic “Woodstockian” (to coin a phrase) image keeps music fans coming in droves, so naturally, curating this type of event on the world’s largest stage, New York City, seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, not so fast. A successful NYC event has proven quite elusive, just ask Goldenvoice, the masterminds behind Coachella, whose All Points West festival only lasted two years. Last year’s Catalpa Festival, and 2003’s disastrous Field Day Fest also failed to gain traction.
Fast-forward to 2013, where Governor’s Ball, a festival in its 3rd year and boasting it’s most impressive lineup yet, grew from a mini-fest into a viable 3-day festival New Yorkers can finally call their own. The stage was set, and the amps were turned up, but Tropical Storm Andrea, an unplanned opening act, had other ideas.
Friday festival goers showed typical New York bravado and bared the unrelenting rain to catch a glimpse of their favorite artists, albeit through a sea of umbrellas. Sure, there were some worthwhile sights, like Local Natives braving the storm with swirling harmonies, and Of Monsters and Men playing a set of catchy ballads probably better heard in the pouring rain anyway, but Andrea forced the festival to shut-down early, leaving fans scurrying to shelter through ankle-deep water.
By Saturday afternoon, the storm had passed, but not without leaving the festival grounds of Randall’s Island caked in a thick layer of mud. Early arrivals were greeted by a field of deep puddles, abandoned shoes, and submerged ATM machines, although the sun peeked through clouds, emanating a sense of optimism.
Wild Nothing opened up the main stage with a relaxed set of dreamy and delightful shoegaze, while Icona Pop had hundreds jumping around in the mud under the tented stage, shouting “I don’t care…” (you know the rest). Elsewhere,Japandroids ripped through an incendiary set before the now sun-drenched masses, all the while claiming they were “Guns N’ Roses from L.A.” who later closed-out Saturday.
Sunday found the island slightly more dry, but mud remained the main obstacle. Nevertheless, the music continued, and the last day brought many exciting acts. Portugal. The Man provided their signature ghostly falsettos before eventually giving way to indie rock stalwarts, Grizzly Bear, who looked in their element as they layered choirboy vocals over crunchy guitars as dusk fell. With nightfall came The xx, who played through their impressive catalog of seductive electronic grooves, much to the joy of the audience, heads bobbing in approval.
The festival came to a close as a seemingly endless crowd observed the spectacle of Kanye West. Looking out over the giant field adorned with floating strings of balloons was a bit surreal. There was that “special” feeling that all festivals strive for; it was palpable, and the distant glistening lights of New York City’s skyline only made it all the more memorable.
Article by Nicolas White
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