In spite of finicky weather in New York this weekend, crowds of young folk decked themselves out in an enthusiastic jumble of flower crowns, rain boots, and coconut cocktail accessories to commemorate this rising social event of the weekend: the Governors Ball. Randall’s Island Park filled to bursting with celebrities and beautiful, Miller Lite-consuming revelers trying to brush elbows with celebrities. Headlining acts included Florence and the Machine, St. Vincent, Bjork, Flume, The Black Keys, and Ratatat, all of whom brought their A games to their corporate-sponsored stages. There were definitely some spectacular musical moments over the course of the three-day festival, with a very solid production value overall.
My own biggest complaint was about the crowds themselves, but that is always going to be the case at large commercial festivals like this one. Pushing your way through a sea of drunk twenty year-olds in booty shorts is not a task for the faint of heart, but if your desire to see St. Vincent do her signature robot dance and hurl heavy slabs of art rock at the masses is burning enough, then the fight is definitely worth it. Here are a few notable highlights from the weekend.
Florence and the Machine shined much brighter than Drake, who took to the main stage after the female English rock group’s most glorious performance. Lead singer Florence Welch bounced around the stage like a regal pirate queen, despite a recent ankle injury, and she belted her vocal vibrato so powerfully up to the heavens that the ground shook. Florence doesn’t so much perform a song as unfurl it like a flag, and, backed by a punchy horn section, her voice soared proudly above the endless sea of her adoring fans.
I’d also like to give a tip of the hat to Death from Above 1979, the dance-punk duo from Toronto, Canada. They were kind enough to have a short conversation with me, during which I asked, maybe a little bit cheekily, what drug of preference they wished upon their audience for the most ideal experience of their music. Their answer was resoundingly: “Oxygen. Pure oxygen. That’s the really good stuff–,” which made me laugh. I thought it was a pretty clever, cheeky comeback to my question. DFA put on solid performance, although I did not see many of the pair’s diehard punk fans in the crowd of mostly bro’s that were in attendance at the Governors Ball.
Bjork put on an incredible show on Saturday, dressed as an electric butterfly and backed by a full-on orchestra, of course. She performed several tracks from her new album, summoned spirits, banished them, impersonated Obama, managed to cover the full spectrum of human emotion in just one hour, and stole my heart away. Really, like many music critics, I cannot rave enough about the alien beauty of this woman’s art.
By the end of each day, the festival grounds were strewn with trash and fading party girls in crushed felt hats, wallowing in the empty cans and beer mud while their boyfriends swapped t-shirt slogans. Some of the more memorable t-shirt slogans included: “I only smoke when I’m drinking,” and, “If you’re reading this I’m schwasted.” If you are thinking about attending this event next year, I recommend the VIP pass because it will help you to circumvent the traffic.