Recap: Governors Ball 2015 Dissected [PHOTOS]

Posted on: June 9th, 2015 at 9:21 am by
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This past weekend, the 5th annual Governors Ball descended on Randall’s Island, and for three days, the festival grounds were decorated with a kaleidoscope of fashion, food and music. And mud.

Here are some of the highlights:


The logistics of maneuvering a music festival can be overwhelming for the attendee. This is not the case at Governors Ball. By ferry, event staff are there from the get-go, helpfully herding the masses through appropriate queues, and sassing the fool who thought his bottle of wine and nip of vodka were going to make it past bag check. Bummer, dude. Throughout the festival, the staff were upbeat and accessible – an admirable feat, given the twelve hour shifts and amount of bullshit they probably had to deal with over the three days.

It was also the first time we’ve noticed a sunscreen machine, a SoberBall tent, and new porta-potties each day (or so it seemed?). A progressive move, and all of these useful amenities seemed to be enjoyed.


It’s hard to support a $7 slice, but the variety of food to satiate gig goers was impressive, as was the amount of readily available sriracha. In addition to the somewhat nondescript booth fare (nuggets, falafel, stir fry), once again, Governors Ball brought in a variety of food trucks. These were wildly popular, which in turn meant wildly long lines for things like lobster and artisinal ice cream sandwiches. This ain’t your Warped Tour grub.

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The musical diversity at Governors Ball is polarizing. The festival pulls in so many different genres of artists, you can knock out seeing Bjork and Drake all in one sitting. Fans turned out in droves, even for some of the early afternoon sets. Acts like Atmosphere and SBTRKT engaged the crowds with a frenetic energy, intense stage presence and big bass. Streets of Laredo eased everyone into day three of the festival with its folksy jangle – a good soundtrack for walking across the grounds not yet swarming with people; later Tame Impala provided great background music for kicking back and people watching.

But the man who stole the festival was undoubtedly Weird Al Yankovic. His full-on variety show routine was an experience unlike any other, and there wasn’t a straight face in the house. Hard to keep one with fat suits, “White and Nerdy,” and “Word Crimes.”

That’s not to say that the festival was without its vocal gripes from the stage. Ryan Adams vocalized his displeasure with the likes of EDM and Deadmau5 (who was simultaneously playing across the park), by saying something to the effect of, “Try to make this song on your fucking iPhone … It’s like we’re living in a fucking Terminator nightmare!” Despite his harsh yet humorous bit, Adams had a solid emotional set, and played a bunch of deep cuts.

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As mentioned in the past, festival culture breeds an unsettling uniformity in the lengths people go to in order to make their physical appearance stand out. This year also saw an exponential increase in narcissism, and that’s not including the selfie sticks that flew under the security radar. Common was the gaggle who would push through the crowds in the middle of a band’s set, assume the “selfie semi circle” and snap a picture with the stage in the background, only to parade their way out immediately afterwards. Posers in the truest sense of the word.

The overall vibe was nevertheless positive and chill – the only complaints we heard were sarcastic snaps when drunk girls would blatantly ignore the patiently waiting queues for the toilet. We’d venture to say this blithe atmosphere is partly attributed to the fact that Governors Ball is a boutique festival. It’s not a big player, like Bonaroo or Coachella – festivals that attract any and everyone. And while all festivals cost a pretty penny to attend, this one seems to cater to a particular cosmopolitan, dare we say hipster crowd. But most importantly, it focuses on giving the attendee the best overall niche festival experience. Its success lies in this “know your audience” emphasis of the latter.

All in all it was a great weekend to hear some good tunes outdoors.  Until next year…

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