Notes from the Governors Ball 2019 Festival [RECAP]
Governors Ball Music Festival always seems to score the jackpot when it comes to wet weather. This year – the ninth outing – was no exception. It was as soggy as it was abridged (in light of yesterday’s forecast), and toilet paper in the porta-potties was skint from the get go. But with the stacked lineups and full blown amenities, the festival was still worth the muddy Chucks.
We weren’t sure what to expect from this year’s lineup – there were several repeat performers from GovBalls of yesteryear, and some new names that we weren’t sure how they’d translate in a live festival setting. Here are this year’s handful of highlights that struck the proverbial chord, in no particular order:
- Florence + The Machine brought down the house with her fierce energy and ethereal presence. She darted back and forth on stage, and out into the crowd. Fans practically trampled each other trying to capture her vivacious force. She also had a great bit where she sweetly asked for everyone to put their “fucking phones away” and live in the moment. The crowd obliged, and pretty much kept them in their pockets until the encore.
- The Voidz put on a solid show, though it was filled with a bunch of technical glitches that sparked the ire of frontman Julian Casablancas. He threw a disgusted hand in the air and walked off stage at the end of the set, despite Voidz fans chanting and pleading for one more song. The epitome of rock and roll.
- Newish indie outfit Calpurnia was dealt the GovBall stage at an early afternoon time slot, but the pavement leading up to the main stage felt fuller than it normally is at this time. Finn Wolfhard and Co. played a solid set, and even threw in a Television cover. The real standout was Ayla Tesler-Mabe on lead guitar and vocals.
- Sunflower Bean put out some real Courtney Love vibes with their super charged performance, confirmed by the primarily female mosh pit front-and-center.
- Mitski put on a borderline-erotic show with her singing and methodical moves on what appeared to be IKEA furniture. Fans ate this up, despite her melancholic lyrics and minor key vibe.
- Kacey Musgraves was the unexpected sensational performance, backed by her band who kept it really tight. We particularly liked her vocals during the dreamy steel guitar portion of the show. “Slow Burn” was arguably the hottest song in the set. Repeat +1 worthy.
- Tyler, The Creator riled up the crowd with his “Come, take a journey with me for the next hour and change” banter. And journey the crowd did. It was entertaining, it was a scene, it was an emotional rollercoaster navigating through a collective haze – it was everything you’d want a Tyler, The Creator show to be.
Maybe it was the ’80s vibe in all of the marketing leading up to GovBall. Maybe this overseas trend has finally made the leap across the ocean. Maybe it’s been a long time coming. This year’s hot festival fashion is undoubtedly the accessory with a name that makes every anglophile cringe – the fanny pack. It’s here, and we’re not exaggerating when we say that the fanny pack outnumbered the tally of converse and vans combined. Combined! The cool kids were strutting around with it strapped diagonally across their chest, while the majority of the crowd kept it around their waist in true ’80s style.
Security was tight and medical staff were at the ready to help those who had a little too much fun and not enough water. Shout out to the security guards during Vince Staples who we witnessed help keep one fan upright, then gave her an apple, some water, and a grinning pat on the back before sending her on her way. This all-hands-on-deck approach is across the board throughout GovBall’s services. Staff may operate quietly in the background, but their actions land at the forefront.
The amenities have expanded exponentially over the last nine years. Sponsorship ran rampant like heat rash in a mosh pit. The queue was hours deep for the OGX Beauty Bar – gaggles of girls on their phones waiting to be glitter bombed. It seemed like there were fewer food trucks this year, to make way for more corporate tents, the new Bud Lite Dive Stage, and additional selfie-worthy art installations.
Just a few minor gripes: we could be mistaken, but it felt like there weren’t many toilets this year (certainly less toilet paper as previously mentioned). The giant Google Pixel tent in the middle of the lawn housing the American Eagle Stage and the Honda stage was an obtuse eyesore. The free water station lines were super long – maybe a few more next time? The only other point of contention was the well-seeming “bodega” stand, which claimed to have all of your festival needs. The setup was great, mimicking a mini bodega, but that’s exactly what it was – a setup. A display of fruit in baskets and a wall of groceries cheerfully sat on shelves, and there they stayed. Display only. We asked if they sold earplugs – nope. Then we tried to buy a box of Cheez-Its and an apple off the shelves, but the cashier shrugged and pointed to a sad mini bag of Lays Original potato chips and said, “We have those … and water.” GovBall should take lemons and make lemonade with this idea, and offer fruit and bodega snacks for sale next year. Or they should allow you to bring your own snacks, as in years prior. Honestly, a person can only eat so many fruity pebble sugared donuts.
The weather may have been shit on the final day (yesterday), The Strokes didn’t get to play, and yeah, that really sucks for everyone. But for those who made it for the first two days, there were plenty of awesome little moments that made it worth it. GovBall, despite its ongoing war with Mother nature, is still the perfect place to dance your cares away, worries for another day. Let the music play…