Last Saturday, we packed up our gear and headed out to Randall’s Island, just outside of Manhattan for day one of the Governor’s Ball Music Festival. As excited as little kids about to go to Toys R Us, we arrived as early as possible, ready to enjoy beats under a sunny sky, a combination that proved to be one hell of a time. When we first hit the grounds, we were greeted by two stages set up on opposite sides of the park, and so many things in between; from food vendors, water stations, silent disco, and swarms of people ranging from teenagers to seniors; no one wanted to miss this experience. So, we made ourselves comfortable and filed in for the first set nice and early, before noon even hit….
The day started off with a bit of a slow mood throughout the crowd as everyone was still trying to shake that before noon sleepiness, but nevertheless, K. Flay was on stage and ripping despite the odds. She may not be the world’s best known white, female rapper (which is a rare commodity in itself), but she’s super well-known for sparking emotional debates with almost every word she raps and every step that she takes. The spectacle was taken to another level as the early crowd in its almost entirety to watch K. Flay perform her latest “Sunburn” (quite fitting for the scorching sun that day, actually) among other emotionally motivated hits.
ART VS. SCIENCE
After K. Flay, the crowd sauntered over to the Hype Machine Stage to enjoy a set from the wonder from Down Under, or Art vs. Science. Sporting these metallic one-piece jump suits, their set was nothing short of thrilling. By this point, the atmosphere had changed from groggy to excited in the two minute walk from stage to stage. The long-pour beer chug was definitely an element that hyped the crowd up and set the mood as I heard nothing but rave reviews from spectators as the set drew to a close.
WALK THE MOON
Granted the Honda Stage has some technical difficulties in the earlier hours of the festival, but Walk the Moon overcame such obstacles with flying colors. Their tickled the dancing bones of most of the crowd, who seemed a bit shy to let loose before they hit the stage. The vibes spread quickly, and the dancing continued throughout the grounds of the festival to such grooves as “Anna Sun” and “Next in Line”.
Always a crowd-pleaser, Penguin Prison performed in front of a pretty large crowd, as the droves of people started pouring in from the Manhattan ferries. Their set included mostly studio hits and nothing too over-the-top. But alas, the seas seemed to part when they dropped a cover of Lana del Rey’s “Blue Jeans”, as the crowd peaked in this magical moment.
Prior to their set, we had the chance to meet the Boulder duo, which was a treat to say the least. We’re avid supporters of Big Gigantic and their work, but haven’t had much opportunity to see them here on the East Coast, so it was by far one of the sets were had anticipated the most. Their amazing chemistry and undeniable musical talent, which included the saxophone and live drums, which, let’s be honest, we don’t witness nearly enough in the EDM world, created such a peaceful and easy-going feeling over the crowd, you would have sworn you were surrounded by 5,000 people that you’ve known since birth. Having the chance to see hits from the album “Nocturnal” was beyond amazing for our NYC crew.
The much awaited set from Santigold was of course flooded with almost double the amount of bodies that seemed to be within the festival park ten minutes prior, but somehow, the place seemed to fill almost instantaneously. Her set was a pure spectacle and for me, by far the most entertaining. She featured two different insane outfits, various back-up dancers, and even a giant pink horse! The music and dancing coordination was very on-point and it was apparent to everyone in attendance the hard work that she puts into her career. We jammed to her now feverish classics like “Disparate Youth” and “The Keepers”.
The most awaited act was pure insanity as Switch took the stage first, followed by his Lazer partner, Diplo. The crowd was going insane; pushing and screaming, trying to get as close as possible to the gates to see them as close as possible. They were accompanied by their dancers as per usual, who even went as far as to climb the set scaffolding from the sweep of emotion and excitement. They dropped of course “Original Don” and “Mr. Marshall”, but there were two elements that outshined the rest. First, they dropped about a two or three minute reggae mash-up that included oldie but goodies such as Gyptian’s “Hold Ya”. And the best part of the set was when they showcased their new track that has yet to be released.
Atmosphere definitely well, changed the atmosphere of the day. A really cool thing about this particular festival is that you can’t put all of the performers and acts under one umbrella; its not an EDM festival, or an Indie festival, it has acts from so many unique background. Cue hip hop group Atmosphere. Rapper Sean Daley’s refreshing rhymes were blended with a hypnotic and almost spiritual delivery of the set, and I completely lost myself in “Woman With the Tattooed Hands”, as if I were at a private performance of the most intimate sort.
Chromeo is one of those duos who never cease to amaze us, and was also another set we were very excited to see. Yet for some reason, the energy seemed off during their performance. Whether is was the weird time of day where everyone needs to recharge the batteries or the sun hovering over us like a black cloud draining of us of energy, but the set seemed to have a lower energy level than the earlier parts of the day. Despite the hestitation from the general public, their funky vibes like “Tenderoni” and “When the Night Falls” entered my eardrums and didn’t stop until they hit my toes.
Duck Sauce is a pretty big fixture in New York, so the public was spewing enthusiasm as they took the stage. A-Trak and Arman Van Helden were accompanied by their gigantic, nearly thirty-foot inflatable duck on stage for the set. The buzz started in the speakers and reached the crowd hard and fast as they raged to classics like “Barbara Streisand” and everyone was definitely howling like wolves (“Big Bad Wolf”).
The sun finally freed us of our borderline heat stroke when Passion Pit took the stage, and we were all thankful for that. This minute shift has a large impact on the crowd, as everyone seemed more relaxed and headed full speed ahead to ragetown. A sense of relief and euphoria was the result of the synthy sounds provided by these Beantown natives. They dropped such hits as “Take A Walk” and “I’ll Be Alright”, which were well received by the general population that was elated with sing-alongs to some of their favorite Passion Pit tracks.
Kid Cudi closed the night out with quite a set. It seemed that the set was a bit rushed, I don’t know if due to a scheduling conflict, a curfew, or whatever the circumstances may have been. I’m not 100% sure, but this lack of enthusiasm from the well known rapper caused a sense of unease and displeasure in the audience. People seemed confused and not happy about the rush from his older songs (“Day and Night”) to unknown newer tracks that seemed, well, unfinished. A good time was had by all as Saturday drew to a close, but it seemed as if the energy peaked at the wrong time in the day, and the later acts were more subdued than expected. We couldn’t wait to see what Day Two had in store for us as we returned to Manhattan to sleep off our dancing legs.