pics and story / Adeline Tan
Governor’s Ball 2013, a 3 day Music Festival held on Randall’s Island was one of the most anticipated events in NYC: for music lovers, teens who can’t get enough of neon, hipster wannabes, “the Bros” wanting a reason to get drunk, festival aficionados and anyone looking for a reason to party for 3 whole days!! Basically this year’s lineup was incredible! From Kings of Leon, Foals, The Lumineers, Grizzly Bear, The XX to Azealia Banks, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. Every single day had a great headliner and awesome bands to look forward to.
Nonetheless on Friday, 7th June nobody predicted that we would be experiencing a tropical storm in the midst of an ongoing music festival. Sure, we knew it was going to rain (a lot) and were warned to wear raincoats, ponchos and water resistant boots, but we were not prepared for the insanity the festival grounds brought along with the storm. Mud pools ankle high, rain and winds constantly falling throughout the entire day. The festival scene was a sea of ponchos from various colors to make shift garbage bags to keep “dry”. You could say we were resilient, but I would like to think of it as a mix of pure madness and insistence. There were still tons of crazy festivalgoers that were dancing in the rain, trudging through fields of deep sticky mud and making the best of the absurd conditions we were in.
Day 1 included acts by Holy Ghost!, Best Coast, Of Monsters and Men, Local Natives, Feist, Beach House and more. However, due to the high winds and heavy rain Kings of Leon and Pretty Lights had to cancel their shows. Feist managed to get one song out on stage, “A Commotion” as the winds whipped up again, hurling the primal beat of the tune into the storm for the crowd readily waiting for more. Feist praised the crowd and swung around a plastic poncho calling upon Poseidon (Greek God of the Sea) “Is that all you’ve got?” which might have explained why before the song ended, the storm blew back a torrent onto the stage knocking out the keyboards and electronic systems, ending Feist’s set for the day. At least we got to see Feist blow on a conch shell horn, which was pretty badass. Although the weather was not for the faint of heart and weak willed on Friday, the cold and drenching rain did not stop the majority of the crowd from having a fun time.
Day 2, Saturday however brought good weather and great news for the 21,000 people attending the festival as the performances carried on without a hitch and people were ready to brave to “swamp” grounds and mud pools in their wellies and trusty Hunter rainboots. It felt like Glastonbury as the multitudes of people trudged through deep putrid mud to get from one place to another. Nobody’s shoes were safe and I’m sorry but your Frye leather boots or expensive new high-top sneakers are goners. They should have placed a sign before entering the festival, “Entering: Where Shoes Go to Die” which was really accurate. My Doc Martens were essentially ruined (but I wasn’t smart enough to wear some rubber wellington boots). Lesson learnt.
A major highpoint on Saturday was the fact that Kings of Leon decided to stay behind and forego their London flight to perform for us that evening. What I would liberally refer to as “inclement weather” pushed Kings of Leon’s headlining slot to Saturday at 6.30pm. Frontman Caleb Followill joked about being “21 hours late” for their performance. Their surprise set was the first time during the weekend that the crowd around the main stage extended past the concrete pavement and well into the ghastly mud surrounding the area. It was a good thing that Kings of Leon gave a face meltingly good show and gave us reasons to dance our shoes off because if you did not keep moving those feet, you’ll get stuck in the goo. I saw a few too many faceplants throughout the weekend, some I undeniably guiltily laughed at and others, I just felt sorry for those poor souls.
On Saturday, some acts stole the show like the Swedish DJ duo Icona Pop who gave us a reason to check out their entire album not just for that catchy celebrated anthem, “I Love It”. The tent was full of people waiting for Icona Pop to play “I Love It,” the sort of feel-good, jump-up-and-down crossover hit but most left happy that they’d heard 30 minutes more. Which included, “It’s My Party” (as in, “and I can cry if I want to”) a pogoing, Dutch house–touched remix of “We Got the World”; new song “Girlfriend” and even some Reggaeton. Alt-J astounded audiences with the cool British swag and amazing tunes. Cut Copy did not fail to impress either, as they took to the main stage creating that much needed summer vibe with fresh dance beats and indie electronic tunes taking cues from contemporaries like Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem but drawing from classic radio pop singles from the 1980s. Vintage disco and synth pop that appeals to both song based listeners and the club kids.
Gun N’ Roses however ruled the night, arriving on the main stage on time, they proved to us that they still have that Rock N Roll drive and sex appeal. Flashing the latest and greatest equipment of the festival with pyro, fireworks and the whole shebang. They pulled out all the stops and delivered a memorable show. Bumblefoot rocked his double-necked guitar, keyboardist Chris Pitman used a stand that allowed his instrument to swivel along with him and DJ Ashba had his six-string equipped with a cigarette holder, how much more rock & roll can you get? Axl, the frontman at 51 years old remains more energetic and agile on stage than ever.
Day 3 provided the sun, which means the opportunity for everyone to express themselves with their wardrobe and take a note out of Coachella music festival outfits and the Urban Outfitters catalog. You name it, cut off shorts, loose white tank tops, feathers, flower headbands, floppy hats, neon tops, patterned 90s shirts and a million ironic tees. Originality was not too present but you can’t blame people for trying to look the part of a hip festival enthusiast. You could find some memorable stylish gems amongst the sea of neon sunnies and high waisted denim shorts. But who am I to judge anyone since I myself wore a wolf motif sleeveless top (like every other hipster accounted for) and Navajo inspired accessories.
The sun dried up most of the damp mud so it was a lot easier to walk across the festival grounds, and it wasn’t as if you were crossing a molting lava pit or quicksand any longer, which was a relief. Some highlights included all girl band Haim, Portugal. The Man, Cold War Kids, Foals, Beirut, Bloc Party, The XX and Kanye West, who ended the festival with a bang!
Probably the only excuse for showing up late for the Kanye West grand finale show was the minimalist dark indie band The XX playing the far side of the festival grounds till 9.30pm, right when Kanye was suppose to arrive on stage. With a weekend full of chaos, The XX set was balanced and tranquillizing and that vanished in the muddy dash that followed their last note towards the main stage to catch Kanye West.
Kanye performed songs from his new album, “Yeezus,” expecting release on the 18th of June. One of them, “Black Skinhead,” he even did twice. All of that attentiveness to design and production detail was part of his stage at Governor’s Ball. There were multiplying black and white and fluorescent projections of him on-stage and visuals of a runway, pilot jets, price tags and angry Rottweilers barking at the audience. Moreover, there was a multifaceted light arrangement in front of the screen with around 40-60 lights that shifted color patterns. Watching the development of his set was almost as unbelievable as watching him perform in the center of the crowd. Kanye West knows how to put on a show.
He also took some time to hate on mainstream radio, which is ironic since it’s the industry that made him wealthy and renowned. Saying “Honestly, when I listen to radio, that ain’t where I wanna be no more,” He told the crowd during his set. “At this point, I could give a f— about selling a million records as long as I put out an album that y’all can rock to all motherf—ing summer. And I don’t give a f— that the label’s saying I can sell more records.” Bold words West, bold words.
We can say one thing about Governor’s Ball this year, The annual New York City music festival definitely wasn’t dull. With pouring rains on Friday which were crazy enough to get headliners Kings of Leon and Pretty Lights’ sets canceled, the once green picturesque field of Randall’s Island turned into an enormous mud pit. That didn’t keep the festivalgoers down. They had on their best impression of Kate Moss’ wellie chic at Glastonbury to get down and dirty! The fearless wore white, the unconcerned went barefoot, and everybody showed off mile-long gams in shorts and short dresses.
For more pics of festival go here!