ARTICLE IAN MONROE
PHOTOGRAPHY IAN MONROE
OVER THE WEEKEND WE ADVENTURED OVER TO NYC'S OWN POP MUSIC FEST—AND SAW A LOT OF OURSELVES ON STAGE
Blanketing the island in four stages—Gotham Tent and the Honda, Big Apple, and Main stages—The Governor's Ball Music Festival on Randall's Island is essentially NYC's (smaller) Coachella. Arguably, Gov Ball is more indie, and therefore more accessible. Arguably, it's more fun than California's Coachella simply because even though we had to take a ferry to get there, it's in the the world's best city. And it offered fest fair from some of NYC's most notable dining establishments, including Momofuku Milk Bar, The Nugget Spot and crowd favorite Pomme Frites of St. Marks fame. Also, a terrific step up from last year's muddy mayhem, the clear skies and just-right temps made perfect weather for the inevitable crop tops, cut-off denim, and basketball jerseys.
Headliners this year included restored rocker Jack White, EDM heavyweights Axwell & Ingrosso, bro-stepper Skrillex, indie standbys Vampire Weekend and The Strokes, and generally accepted rappers Outkast. With such a diversity in genre, it's hard to say who exactly took the top performance of the weekend, but highlights definitely included Thomas Mars(of Phoenix)'s finale in the middle of a crowd, Skrillex's sampling of The Lion King's "Circle Of Life," and the audience's march to Jack White's "Seven Nation Army." Oh, and before their performance of "Crumblin' Erb," Outkast asked the audience to light one up... as if anyone was waiting for their permission.
The Gotham Tent was apparently the unofficial venue for music's females-of-the-moment, with Banks casting spells over the crowd with her hands, AlunaGeorge whipping up a crowd-pleasing cover of "This Is How We Do It," fairy-like Grimes playing her hits and giving the crowd a taste of some new sounds, and Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells telling everyone to kiss her ass... "with all the love in the world"—and after delivering one of the most energetic sets of the weekend, we're fairly certain everyone in the crowd would, gladly.
In stark contrast to Sleigh Bells' rioting sat James Blake and his subdued, pulsating tunes. In a rather majestic moment, while Blake was wooing us with his British charm, the skies darkened and soft winds came rolling over the sun-blistered crowd. "It's been a while since I've played these songs and everything just sounds so beautiful..." and everyone collectively fell in love.
Disclosure offered a rather underwhelming performance that would be better suited for a nightclub than for four in the afternoon. However, that didn't seem to bother the flower-crowned girls in the crowd, losing it with the duo's closing track, "Latch." Fair enough: We love Sam Smith, too. Final complaint is that Empire of the Sun deserved to play the main stage, if not only to display more prominently their always ornate costumes, crew of dancers, and smoke machine-armed monster.