This past weekend New York City hosted an event of the highest class and sophistication. Only the very elite very invited, and everyone’s dresses were very french and very expensive and very hard to pronounce. No, I’m not talking about the Met Ball. I’m obviously referencing Governors Ball, the three day music festival on Randall’s Island. It’s absolutely nothing like the Met Ball (from what I can gather by assumption, I obviously have never been.)
Although only four years old, Governors Ball has started to make a name for itself as one of the leading music festivals of the summer, giving Coachella a run for its money lineup wise. Music festivals are great. I, personally, think they may be one of the best things on earth. For (usually) three days you are completely surrounded by music. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, you get sunburned no matter how much sunscreen you use, your legs give out from all the standing, you spend to much money on food. What could be better? Sometimes you even get to camp! Which is better than real camping because music.
This was my first Governors Ball, and it will not by any means be my last. Having a festival right in the heart of New York City is a brilliant idea. People want to come here any way, so why not add a festival? Not to mention you don’t have to take a crowded coach bus for hours to get to the site (like I had to do when I went to Bestival). You can take the Subway and walk over a bridge and boom you are there ready to party. And because of NYC park regulations, you are forced to go home and sleep in your own bed. Seriously, this is every New Yorker’s dream. Not to mention the line up totally killed it. With a mix of hometown acts (like Vampire Weekend, Drowners and umm The Strokes) as well as other national and international acts, there were bands for everyone to enjoy. And enjoy ourselves we did, or at least I did. I was able to see so many bucket list bands I never thought I would get to see, as well as smaller acts I have been drooling over for the past year. I had to make some pretty hard sacrifices when it came to scheduling overlaps, but on Sunday night once I finally made it home and collapsed on my bed in exhaustion, I was content.
I saw so many bands that it is hard to pick out the highlights from the weekend. Every act was amazing in their own right and the bands differ so much in vibe and sound it is almost impossible to compare, however I don’t want you to grow old and grey while reading all of my thoughts on every band I saw so I have narrowed it down to the few that are still making me randomly burst into tears after everything is over.
This English four-piece have a upbeat-indie sound that is seriously infectious. The vocab in their lyrics would have made your SAT prep tutor explode with joy, and the slightly-Vampire Weekend-esque world vibes help Little Comets’ sound remain unrivaled. If you want a band that doesn’t sound like any bands you are listening to now, these guys are what you are looking for.
If you know anything about the schedule for Gov Ball this year, or perhaps went yourself then you might be thinking “wait, but if you saw Damon Albarn, then that means you skipped Outkast!” Before you write something hateful in the comments: I made it to the last half hour of Outkast’s set and I saw them perform “Roses” so back off. Also, I am a massive Blur and Gorillaz fan so there was really no choice in my mind. I got to see Albarn perform “Feel Good Inc.” with De La Soul. So, whatever. Bucket list moment right there.
Catfish and the Bottlemen
“That’s not a real band.” Was my first thought when I first read Catfish and the Bottlemen’s name. It took me about 15 seconds into their first video to be completely hooked. They are a proper indie band, relying on playing gigaftergigaftergig rather than Pitchfork hype to gain their momentum and for four Welsh boys playing a music festival in New York City I would say they are doing a pretty good job for themselves. I saw some legendary bands over the weekend, but Catfish and the Bottlemen still stuck with me as one of the standout performances of the weekend.
Lucius holds the award for being the first band at Gov Ball to make me cry. Have you heard those harmonies though? How can you not cry when listening to those? It’s kind of the same thing that happens to me when I listen to Little Green Cars. This Brooklyn based band totally kills it. And their performance on the main stage on Saturday was so overwhelming I had to slump myself over the barrier after and just breathe for a while.
Spoon is one of those bands that I have loved for so long but I never really talk about them because no one seems to ever be an outright, outspoken Spoon fan. Which is probably why it has taken me so long to see them live. I’ve never had anyone to go to a show with me. Catching their set at Gov Ball was another bucket list moment for me and the fact that it happened after seeing The Strokes was almost too much to handle. They just announced that they will be dropping a new album this fall and I can’t wait.
The funny thing about The Strokes is that everyone is kind of a Strokes fan, even if they don’t really like The Strokes because if you like any indie/rock band that has emerged in the last decade then chances are they were influenced by The Strokes (or a band that blatantly copied them.) They are one of the most formative bands of this century, and I have been a huge fan since high school. Despite seeing Julian Casablancas on his solo tour a few years back and seeing my friend’s Strokes cover band numerous times, I never thought I would see The Strokes live. Then, I saw them from the front row. It was one of the most powerful personal experiences I have ever had. I cried during the first chord. Their performance was tight and they played a good handful of classics. One of the best parts? Shouting the lyrics to “New York City Cops” with two dancing members of NYPD standing ten feet away from me.
I have written about Skaters before, but I haven’t by any means written about Skaters enough. Their debut album dropped earlier this year and they have been supporting it ever since. Their live show is full of energy and passion; just what the music calls for. It won’t be long before these guys graduate from dirty bars to much larger stages, although the bars will miss them. Their throwback punk sound and a cold, cheap beer just pair so nicely together.
It was only fitting that the entire festival closed out with New York band Vampire Weekend. Having a home town band close out the festival really brought an awesome energy and since they happen to be one of my favorite bands I am a little biased, but this was one of the best Vampire Weekend performances I have ever seen. It started with them coming out right after one of my favorite Blur song blasted through the speakers and then ended with Ezra jumping off the stage and showering the audience in $2 bills for good luck. The perfect ending to the perfect weekend.
Did you attend Governors Ball?
feature photo via Gov Ball