Our Recap of Governor's Ball

June 10, 2013 BY OBI ANYANWU

Governor’s Ball was the event of this summer without a doubt, and it isn’t officially the summer yet! Sure hopping from stage to stage felt like Boot Camp or some Mud Run, but it was all worth it grabbing good spots for the acts. We were at Randall’s Island all weekend, yes including Friday in that ridiculously intense monsoon (exaggerating of course) and we toughed it out all the way to the end of the RFK Bridge into Manhattan. This weekend was crazy! Low battery life and low service couldn't keep us from documenting the weekend, so here’s what we captured.

So on Friday, we totally ignored the flood warning and Tropical Storm Andrea. Foolish huh? We didn’t give the Weather Channel reports or the alert warnings on our phones a single thought. Our bad.

We skipped paying for the X80 bus shuttle to take the M35 to Wards Island, which was free, but was also the most awkward 25-minute bus ride. We’re sure you can guess why. Our lineup for the day included Best Coast, Of Monsters and Men, Feist, Erykah Badu & The Cannabinoids, and Kings of Leon. We arrived late, but we did make it to the venue safe and sound (and dry) on the Governor’s Ball main stage side of the venue and heard the tail end of Of Monsters and Men’s set, which ended with ‘Little Talks.’

We hung out around the stage for Feist as the rain started to pick up. Feist was 15 minutes late too. It was understandable since the rain and heavy winds knocked down her backdrop and destroyed the set. When the band took to the stage, Feist blew into her conch shell and called for more rain. The audience was on their feet! Umbrellas were thrown away and the rain was embraced for their opening song, ‘A Commotion.’ The group was so intense that the rain looked like it was a part of the show. She even made a face for a split second to her band that was a cross between, “what the fuck is going on?” and “this is fucking awesome!” The production crew cut the performance short unfortunately. Feist called for more rain, but reality set in that they might get electrocuted and that they should leave. After a brief intermission they took an apologetic bow and waved sayonara. We debated staying for Erykah Badu, but decided to wave sayonara ourselves. We headed back to the bridge and called a cab to take us home (perks of living in New York City).

Day 2 went much smoother (despite the mud). We had Alt-J, Cut Copy, Azealia Banks, Kendrick Lamar, Animal Collective, and a final act that we couldn’t pick between until the last minute. We were fashionably late once again arriving at the venue halfway through Cut Copy’s performance on the main stage so we took it easy at the Skyy Vodka tent for Azealia Banks.

Banks' DJ took to the stage and did some sound checking, her dancers arrived, her crew, and then Young Rapunzal took to backstage. By 6pm, she was ready to go and killed her set! She rapped songs from all of her mixtapes like ‘Atlantis,’ ‘Luxury,’ ‘1991,’ which she touted as her favorite, ‘Harlem Shake,’ which she deemed controversial, her Angel Haze diss track, ‘No Problems,’ and our favorites, ‘Fierce’ and ‘Liquorice.’

The girl was on fire, commanded the stage from start to finish. She took breaks to catch her breath while DJ Cosmo, her DJ, played a few songs. We had our fill, well we wanted much more, but we had to run over to Honda Stage for Kendrick Lamar.

Needless to say, we arrived late. All we could see were heads, arms, and a big screen. Some people in the audience were throwing elbows trying to push to the front. Stupid move. We were literally shoulder-to-shoulder the whole time with nowhere to go but out. The shoving and bickering came to an end when Kendrick’s intro video started, and then he hit the stage to ‘The Art of Peer Pressure.’ The “3’s” were in the sky for Kendrick who performed songs from his first mixtape, Overly Dedicated, some good kid, M.A.A.D. city material, and his verse on A$AP Rocky’s ‘Fuckin’ Problems.’ Kendrick switched between a capella verses and hyping up the crowd throughout the performance. He had us in the palm of his hand during ‘Money Trees,’ and ‘Backseat Freestyle,’ but we skedaddled early for Animal Collective. ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe’ slowed us down as well listened and recited the lyrics, but we kept moving over to the You’re Doing Great stage for the next act.

Animal Collective was solid, early even. They opened with ‘Did You See The Words,’ which undoubtedly livened the crowd. Great opening track. Our favorite song of the set had to be ‘Today’s Supernatural’ which sounds ten times better live than on CD, but the audience favorite had to be ‘Brother Sport.’ We left early to make some headway on our walk to the last act, which if you’re wondering, no we still couldn’t decide between Guns n’ Roses and Nas. We don’t know if Animal Collective played ‘My Girls’ or ‘Summertime Clothes,’ but now they are songs to look forward to for the next time we see them in New York City.

After a long and drawn out debate, we decided to head over to see Guns n’ Roses. When will we ever see Axl Rose play again, seriously? Sorry Nas, we got you when we’re in Brooklyn, we promise. The band hit the stage early and got right into their classics, first teasing us with ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ before going into the full song. They played bar favorite, ‘Sweet Child of Mine,’ ‘Live and Let Die,’ ‘You Could Be Mine,’ slowed the set down with ‘Don’t Cry’ brought out the piano for ‘November Rain,’ played an extended version of ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ before ending their set with ‘Paradise City.’ The performance had its share of pyrotechnics and fire throughout, but the fireworks show at the very end felt the most fitting for this celebration weekend. Axl thanked the fans for their support through his hard times, and after our applause we trekked through the mud one last time that day. On to Day 3.

Day 3 had the longest lineup for us. We planned to see Haim, Steel Pulse, Twin Shadow, Foals, Beirut, Grizzly Bear, The XX, and Kanye West. The late trend continued so we missed Haim. Sorry ladies! We did catch Steel Pulse with the expectation to hear our favorite song by them, ‘Blues Dance Raid.’ We figured we missed it, but we enjoyed our set favorite ‘Roller Skates.’ Steel Pulse has a great energy on stage, mixing comedy and dancing. They dedicated a few of the songs and ended their set with a fitting message, “I’m black and I’m proud” from their song, ‘Black and Proud.’

We made a mad dash for the Skyy Vodka tent for Twin Shadow. The band took to the stage for sound check and then they hit the ground running. The ladies were swooning over lead singer, George Lewis Jr. He commanded the audience with new music, but really won the crowd over with ‘Run My Heart’ and ‘Five Seconds.’ He shared his love for the city, his Dominican background, and jokes with the audience. We left early for the main stage to see Foals.

This English based band, Foals, has to be the best performing rock act out today. Lead, Yannis Phillippakis got up close and personal with the audience as he walked through the center aisle that was barred off. He walked all the way to the VIP section but gave his attention to those in the back by the concession stand. He even crowd surfed for a hot minute to the audience’s cheers. Our favorite song of the set was ‘My Number.’ Basically the whole performance was awesome, so much so that we stayed to the very end. Oops! We ran to Beirut and found ourselves stuck in the back behind the VIP section. The slower tunes were fitting for this long weekend. We needed a break to just rest amidst the running and dancing we did all day. We chilled out and swayed to ‘A Candle’s Fire’ and our favorite, ‘Vagabond.’

Then the clock hit 7pm. We made it habit to hang out for full performances so Beirut got all of us, but then it became time to give ourselves to Grizzly Bear. As we headed over to the main stage, we heard our favorite, ‘Sleeping Ute’ and put a little pep in our step. We hit the concrete and took it easy by the concession stand. Yeah, there was no way for us to get closer. We enjoyed the clear view of the big screen to the left of the band instead. We jammed to ‘Yet Again’ and crowd favorite, ‘Two Weeks.’ The band had a lot of fun, shared some jokes with the crowd, and said they would stick around for some of the performances.

We had two choices after Grizzly Bear’s set. We could either head over to You’re Doing Great stage to see The XX or we can hang tight for Kanye. Forgive us XX.

We forged our way ahead towards the stage, but couldn’t get far. We stopped in front of VIP, which seemed to be the best place for great viewing throughout the event. We saw the stage get changed over with an exorbitant amount of lights and a cover of the ‘Gov Ball NYC’ sign. We spoke to some security asking if Yeezy will be hitting the stage early, but instead they answered tons more questions like how Ye wanted the ‘Gov Ball Nyc’ sign covered and for all of security to wear black tees over the Governor’s Ball ones. Very intricate. We were teased with Kanye’s face image from the ‘New Slaves’ projections last month on the main screen, the ‘Not For Sale’ sign that he has been using, and even his face with his eyes rolled back.

He started late, but who cares really? When the music faded out and all of the lights went dark, we were officially ready and so were thousands of other fans that had to stand as far back as the mud just to watch. It looked like the entire venue flooded to the main stage. It was time.

The guitar riffs from the beginning of ‘Black Skinhead’ played and then stopped abruptly met with the audience’s cheers. The image and sound of wolves barking and howling set the tone for Kanye’s performance, very dark and angry, and then he began his set with ‘Black Skinhead’ (altered slightly from his most recent SNL performance).

Kanye rapped a few more new songs from upcoming album, Yeezus, like ‘New Slaves,’ and Daft Punk produced tracks, 'I Am a God,' and ‘On Sight'. He asked the crowd, “You fuck with that new shit right?” Yeezy took it all the way back to The College Dropout days with ‘All Falls Down.’ He skipped his Late Registration songs except for the ‘Diamonds of Sierra Leone’ intro, which went into his verses on Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ remix, but he did stick to every other album, doing verses for ‘Flashing Lights,’ ‘Stronger,’ and ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ on Graduation, and extended version of ‘Heartless’ after ‘Say You Will’ both on 808s & Heartbreak, and ‘Power’ and 'All of the Lights' on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. G.O.O.D. Music got a little love when Ye performed his verses on ‘I Don’t Like,’ which went into ‘Good Life,’ and also ‘Mercy’ and ‘Clique,’ which went into a rant.

He joked saying; “This is the part of the show where I complain about shit.” He went on to explain that he didn’t release a single for the album to radio, because he doesn’t want his music played there anymore. He claimed that he doesn’t care about going platinum or selling a lot of records as long as he puts out good music (also why he skipped putting a cover on the album). Wow. Yeezy closed the show with Runaway, and after the audience’s applause, he went right back into ‘Black Skinhead’ and then left without bowing. He had a complete command of the audience who recited every word by heart when he let the fans sing ‘Heartless’ and ‘Runaway’ for him. After a Yeezus chant and a birthday wish from the audience, we made our way out and back to the bridge.

This weekend was by far the toughest and most grueling weekend of our lives, but we’re more than satisfied. Attending a music festival with this lineup happens once in a lifetime and we wouldn’t trade it for the world. There are so many memories from this weekend, and we can’t wait ‘til next year.

You can catch additional photos from this weekend on our Tumblr page here.