Photo by Joyce Jude
Governors Ball was back in full swing this past weekend after a gap year due to the pandemic, and it seemed like the entire city packed in to celebrate live music once again at the event's 10th anniversary. The festival, which usually takes place in June, was moved to September this year and fans enjoyed what may have been the best weather in the festival's decade-long history (no thunderstorm evacuations!).
Against a backdrop of blue skies, the three-day festival took place at Citi Field Stadium this year. Fridays are usually the sleepier days as the drawls of students and 9-5'ers trickle in later, but this year felt different. People packed the trains and the venue from the get-go. Day one brought the soulfulness that are Leon Bridges and Kehlani, as well as acts like EarthGang and 24KGoldn who hyped up the crowd with their unrelenting energy. Billie Eilish closed out Friday's festivities with a stunning set, performing tracks like "NDA", "when the party's over", and "bellyache" before wrapping with fan favorite, "Happier Than Ever".
Saturday, typically the busiest day for any given festival, brought in droves of people for the stacked line up which boasted the likes of J Balvin, Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, and A$AP Rocky. LA pop band MUNA kicked things off into high gear. The band performed their hits like "Number One Fan" and brought Phoebe Bridgers on to sing their latest single, "Silk Chiffon," which serves as an upbeat farewell to the summer months. Megan Thee Stallion aka Tina Snow aka Hot Girl Coach spiced things up the late afternoon, attracting what seemed like every festivalgoer to the Gov Ball Main Stage. If anything, this was a pain point of the festival, as fans had to choose between the feisty rapper and Big Thief, who are arguably one of the best indie bands putting out music these days. It seemed fans had to expel themselves of all that jittery energy with Megan, before moving to the highlight of the day at 6:30pm—when the queen herself, Phoebe Bridgers, hit the stage. As the sun began to set, the LA-based singer-songwriter took the stage and delivered a somber, eclectic, and emotional hour of music to adoring fans. From the likes of that crowd's reaction, she'll likely be headlining Madison Square Garden in no time. Shamefully, sound bleed was inevitable as J Balvin's set started as Phoebe started her last song, the dystopian "I Know The End." To close out the night, A$AP Rocky brought his mob to legions of zealous fans, who gathered to see him play songs from his album, TESTING, and the forthcoming, All Smiles.
By the time Sunday came around, the sun was fighting on, but the crowd seemed beat from two days of non-stop action. The beer lines were halved, people were lying on the grass while the earlier sets progressed. It wasn't until Dominic Fike when the attendees packed in the Barcadi Stage. The soon-to-be Euphoria star played hits like “Acai Bowl” and “Rollerblades,” but the standout tune from his set was his reimagination of Paul McCartney's "Kiss of Venus," to which he breathed new life. The enthusiastic reaction to Carly Rae Jepsen was probably the biggest surprise of the day. Though some may have first gotten to know her via the single "Call Me Maybe" (which, by the way, is still a banger), her work on tracks like "Run Away With Me" and "Emotion" are bonafide hits that all pop fans should revisit. Closing out the evening was Post Malone, who rapped, sang, and played his guitar to what seemed like millions of adoring fans, all while wearing a striped Hello Kitty shirt. Iconic.
For the first time in a long time, music fans were able to reunite on festival grounds for the 10th anniversary of Governors Ball. And while it would have been nice to see Stevie Nicks and Vampire Weekend per the old line up, the one that we were blessed with did not disappoint. And most impressive of all, it seemed like the weather gods finally cut the festival and fans a break by giving us three days of impeccably blue skies and beautiful sunsets as we bid adieu to the summer, and hopefully, the pandemic.
Photos by Joyce Jude