Governors Ball is just over a week old and we are still buzzing from it. We brought you our photo gallery from the festival last week and now are here to tell you our nine favorite things we saw from the festival like CHVRCHES, Eminem, James Blake, Kelela and more.
With their new album just eight days old, CHVRCHES were one of the standouts at the festival. The band was as electrifying as anyone all weekend, taking the spot on the mainstage before Eminem. They mixed things up from old records and their new album, Love Is Dead, even getting into some of the records like “God’s Plan” where Lauren Mayberry isn’t the lead and Martin Doherty came out to sing. They could all step up and sing or play various instruments, but Mayberry was by the far the better dancer with smoother moves compared to Doherty’s that make him look like an infected zombie. It was a vibe though. Switching slow jams and festival hits, when bigger songs like “Get Out,” “Miracle” or “Leave A Trace” came blaring out of the speakers it was hard not to see why the trio are so sought after for gigs like this.
2. Silk City:
We already went into considerable detail about Silk City here, but for a quick recap, Silk City were one of the best sets from the weekend. They brought a 90’s flavored party to the festival as the only pure DJs there (Galantis kind of), blending together classic house records and modern hip-hop songs. They switched up the formula and premiered a few new records, but otherwise made sure to keep things fun under their disco ball on a beautiful night in New York City.
3. The Glitch Mob:
Another group who had just released an album, The Glitch Mob made their New York City debut with the Blade 2.0 and See Without Eyes. Though they aren’t completely rewriting the script when it comes to their music and live show, what we saw was a refreshing update both musically and visually. It was bigger and better. If there is an electronic act you can always count on for a great show, The Glitch Mob is it. They embodied excellence.
4. James Blake:
As the other headliner on Friday night opposite Jack White, James Blake played host to several thousand on the Randall’s Island field just after the sun had fallen. He brought along a drummer and a guy with an analog synth fully equipped with the wires all set up and out for the world to see. Blake’s vocal talent shined on the night as he took turns between playing keys and standing up at the mic. After about a half-hour of softer records that have become the bread and butter of his discography and why people know him, things started to get ravey. As one person behind me said, “this is not edm.” Is was acid, it was house, it was techno all mixed up into one wild light show as the trio went ham on drums and synths. They would bring it back for Blake on vocals, but then descend back into raving madness as the crowd went right along with him dancing in their ample space.
Someone who we made sure to keep an eye on before the festival, Kelela delivered an enthralling set at Gov Ball. The tent started to get more crowded as her set carried on in the midday sun on a hot Saturday. Her voice sounds as good live as it does on her records, if not better. The super fans made a nice pocket at the front of the tent, but she didn’t have the crowd she deserved on a day where the festival was PACKED. She brought funk, soul, sexiness and energy to the Gov Ball stage that wasn’t found by many other performers and it was great to see her perform cuts off her great new record Take Me Apart.
6. Pusha T:
King Push came into the show with as much buzz as he has had in his career. With his beef with Drake still running red hot, he opened to the crowd yelling “Fuck Drake,” which he didn’t really egg on, nor discourage. The chant was heard throughout the set, though those same people would probably have been geeking out at a Drake headlining set if he was there that day. King Push was surgical with his set, bringing along the new cuts from his freshly released Daytona, some of his famous guest verses like “Runaway” and then some hits like “Grindin.” It is a surgical summer and he was surgical with his performance.
The Gov Ball closer, Eminem has been doing the festival circuit this summer and has been using the opportunity to push past the disappointment of his new album Revival and show fans why they loved in him the first place. He delivered a fine-tuned performance going through hits from across his discography, rapping songs like “Rap God,” showing no mercy even on the fastest parts on the song, “Criminal,” “White America” and “Sing For The Moment.” He had Phresher out with him to help hype the crowd and rap along to a few of the songs, but the big features were Skylar Grey who came out for a trio of songs including “Walk On Water” (replacing Beyoncé), “Stan” and “Love The Way You Lie.” Things got quite hectic as the rain started to pick up with a surprise appearance by 50 Cent, who came out for a medley of songs including “In Da Club.”
With the rain really starting to teem down, Em went right to the big hits like “My Name Is,” “The Real Slim Shady,” Without Me’ and “No Afraid.” He left for several minutes to gather himself for a “Lose Yourself” encore, but this allowed those cold and wet fans to rush out of the festival. Overall, many may say he lost his touch with the pen on the last album, but he still has it on the stage.
8. Better Stage Designs:
Festivals at their core are about music. But how the festival is run and laid out can be a make or break thing for the festival. It can either magnify the experience or totally ruin it. Gov Ball has always been a well-oiled machine from its inception and while the lineup has become a little more generic since Live Nation was brought into the picture, the overall festival has remained top notch. This year they made a few cosmetic changes and added some more production to a few of the stages like lights and lasers for a few of the acts. The main difference was changing where the main tent was and switching it with the third stage. The tent got bigger and was moved to the field opposite the second largest stage. This helped against the overflow that always happened for bigger acts and allowed for better foot traffic through the main field, though with tens of thousands milling about or sitting down, it can be tough no matter what.
9. Tash Sultana:
One of the surprises of the festival, Tash Sultana was given the throwaway set time of being placed during a gap before the under headliner, who happened to be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the mainstage, and Post Malone on the Honda Stage and against a surprise headliner during the afternoon. She just happened to be opposite Shawn Mendes, who was there for a special set (presumably with the help of sponsors) and had a rather large crowd. She was doing it all herself, providing a really chill soundtrack to the late Friday afternoon transition into evening. She sounded really good and made the most of the opportunity, likely converting quite a few fans who may have just been milling about or sitting down waiting for the next set.