See What You Missed at the 2017 Governors Ball [PHOTOS]

Posted on: June 6th, 2017 at 9:33 am by

Another year, another roundup of music and festival antics at Governors Ball. Here’s what you missed at this seventh helping of New York’s premiere music festival. (Better late than never, right?)


GovBall staff have mastered a balance of positive vibes with a no nonsense attitude. In light of recent events in Manchester, it seemed like security was even tighter than usual. Brown bagged lunches and spray-on sunscreens were promptly confistated at the ferry, but the subsequent “This is bullshit! I need sunscreen!” complaints melted away when high fives from wristband checkers were required upon boarding.


The amenities at GovBall continue to keep pace with the big festival players around the country, with improvements such as electronic wristband scanning to expedite entry queues and convenient cashless payment options via festival wristbands. 

As always, there were loads of other experience-based things to do besides music; mini golf, lawn games, a giant whale to kick back on, standard-issue flower crowns and body painting tents, candy lounges (which is exactly what it sounds like), the ever popular giant frames for photo ops, artwork galore, and a variety of corporate sponsored booths offering activities and free food and drinks. Plenty of ways to instantly gratify, and instantly forget the light but incessant rain on Day 3.


There’s nothing quite like a festival to really capture freedom of expression – and what better way than with dancing! As in, a guy in a polo shirt setting up shop on the outskirts of the Tool stage, gyrating like he was auditioning for Magic Mike. Or an equal opportunity mosh pit during the Orwells set, where the girls went as hard as the guys. Everyone just goes for it, at whatever intoxicated capactity they see fit. The striking thing about GovBall is the universal courtesy that threads through the crowd. For the most part, fans aren’t the push-to-the-front-while-sloshing-their-drink-on-you assholes you find at any given club. And if they are pushing to the front, it’s usually with a pat on the shoulder and a quick apology as they squeeze by.

Cage the Elephant


GovBall brings a strong food game, as they should. With trendy eats scattered throughout the city, it only makes sense that they would tap popular vendors such as Dō, Wowfuls, and Roberta’s to name a few. Plus there was Subway store built on site, for those who wanted to “eat fresh.” Prices included the usual festival inflation (ie. $3 cookies, $6 cold brews), but we heard several people talking about how the beer selection at Governors Ball was way better than Coachella. That being said, it seems like they run out of Miller High Life first thing on Day 2 every year.

Franz Ferdinand, Photo: Holly Perry


GovBall’s programming brings in a diverse array of artists, and this year was no exception. There were some serious rock undertones, as Day 3 was jam-packed with bands like Orwells, Royal Blood, Cage the Elephant, and of course, Tool.

Organizers had a good grasp on not overlapping timeslots for bands within the same genres too much. The expansion of the Honda stage was a great improvement. Conversely, a new VIP area was moved closer to the Big Apple stage, which fenced off a big chunk of general standing space to the right, only allowing VIPs dibs.

Wu Tang Clan

Some noteworthy moments from various sets, in no particular order:

  • Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man was dropped while crowd surfing, but he took it in stride. Young Dirty Bastard came out to perform one of his dad’s songs. “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” was awesome, as was hearing an entire crowd of millenials sing “Ooooh baby I like it raw!”
  • Indie darlings Car Seat Headrest were fantastic. Crowd turnout for this show was really high, despite it being an early in the day set. They rocked out, extending songs into blurry jam sessions. “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales” live was particularly awesome.

Car Seat Headrest

  • Cage the Elephant brought the noise to an airtight crowd. Matt Shultz had a real Mick Jagger vibe about him, with such an intensity on stage that he’d no doubt spontaneously combust in a club setting.
  • Phoenix turned the main stage of GovBall into a veritable dance hall. Their kalidescopic backdrops reflected in a sheet of mirrors suspended at a 45 degree angle above them. They closed out Day 2 by sending everyone home with a little more bounce in their tired steps.


  • Franz Ferdinand proved that they still have it, and are terrific showmen. The ground around Red Apple Stage was shaking when everyone jumped and screamed along to “This Fire.”
  • The Orwells played their own flavor of gritty rock n’ roll. Frontman Mario Cuomo delivered serpentine gyrations alongside his joker grin and leering eyes. He’s so rock n’ roll he didn’t even finish the last song of the set.

Tool, Photo: Holly Perry

  • Tool’s first permorance in New York in over ten years was beyond any possible expectation. It was loud, tight, and the multimedia projections were the stuff of anatomical nightmares. It may have been over a decade since they’ve dropped anything new, but it holds up.

The rain on Day 3 may have dampened festival goers, but certainly not their spirits. Governors Ball is slowly but surely perfecting their concoction for that one-of-a-kind cool New York vibe that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. And that is what keeps fans happily coming back year after year.

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