This past weekend the ninth edition of the Governors Ball took place and without a doubt was one of the best I’ve been to! Being hosted at the infamous Randall’s Island Park right in the heart of New York City, we were able to enjoy the start of summer with some amazing artist’s while the sunset on the beautiful backdrop of New York City. This being my fourth Governors Ball and taking a three-year hiatus from it, I was impressed with just how much the festival has changed and grown within just a few short years. The American Eagle styled Megastructure Stage impressed me and the festival art continues to get better each year. Other notable improvements include the Bacardi stage growing from a small tent to a full production stage. Although I’m a Governors Ball veteran, it felt somewhat like a brand new festival to me with all these impressive changes.
We arrived at Governors Ball around 5:30, checking in was extremely fast and moving through security was even faster. Founders, the event company team behind Governors Ball, has always been extremely organized. If it’s one thing I love about them, it is the organization within the festival itself is never an issue for patrons. Making our way to see MØ at the American Eagle Stage to start our Governors Ball experience, her energy was unbelievable and the stage was bouncing the moment she started her set. 15 minutes in, and we’re graced with her current radio single with Diplo “Sun In Our Eyes”, her band and back up dancers only did this performance even more justice. Closing her set with arguably one of the biggest singles of this decade “Lean On” with Major Lazer and DJ Snake, she played to the energy of the crowd and we ate it up!
Afterward, we took some time to explore the festival, if you’re a foodie, you should set aside a few dollars to pig out. Everything from true New York pizza to vegan ice cream, Governors Ball had it with all the amazing tastes you are expecting. With your downtime at this festival, if you’re not feeling in the mood to party, you can always hang back and play games like hacky sack or Jenga. Personally, I think it’s cool of the organizers to think outside the box and give festival-goers something different to do with their time than just party. It is amazing how something so small makes a big difference. I’m sure a lot of special moments were made thanks to the small but thoughtful planning of the organizers.
Having enough after exploring the colorful and graceful festival grounds, me and a friend decided to check out Lil Wayne a little bit before we saw the true GOAT himself Gesaffelstein! It was a guilty pleasure and a trip down memory lane for us, Lil Wayne has had so many classics for me growing up during middle and high school. Truthfully, I have no shame in saying it, but I enjoyed myself! 8:40 pm came along and we made our way to Gesaffelstein’s closing set at the Honda stage. The entire stage blacked out for a moment and thus Gesaffelstein appeared slowly walking over to his live setup with his now-famous metallic silver outfit. I knew this was going to be amazing, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for what happened that hour. The white lights from the stage lit up the New York City sky while the beats kept booming. Opening with his track “Humanity Gone” and the next track my personal favorite, a special live edit of “Control Movement”. It’s unexplainable on how great this set was, I woke up with insane withdraws after this one the following day.
Day two we followed our similar pattern and made our way to the American Eagle Mega Structure, this time to check Mr. Ty Dolla $ign himself. What I love about Ty is his music catalog is MASSIVE, to the point where he performed songs that I knew about but wasn’t aware that he sang on. I have to give a major shoutout to his singing abilities, aside from being a rapper he is a true singer. He had the crowd jumping for this one especially when singing his collaboration with Khalid and 6LACK “OTW”, it was a lot of fun although his music isn’t what I normally listen to.
Now it was time for one of EDM’s fastest-growing stars to take over the Bacardi stage, giving us a live set we won’t be forgetting anytime soon… ZHU! This set was groovy from start to finish, his live performances are pretty interesting as he has a guitarist and saxophone player on stage with him. My favorite moment was when his guitarist and saxophone player went center stage, each taking turns doing their solos. His guitarist starting with guitar riffs from everyone’s favorite Metallica song “Enter Sandman”, it was a pure bliss moment.
Headlining time and boy was this truly a headliner, I got to witness none other than the amazing Florence + The Machine! I’ve always wanted to see this band, so as you can imagine, the goosebumps kicked in rather early for this one. Her voice was amazing, She has the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard live. Florence had me singing and crying at the same time while she sang “Dogs Days Are Over”, fan-favorite “You’ve Got The Love” and “Hunger”. She took a moment to talk to the crowd, speaking in a very shy voice thanking everyone for coming out and telling us how New York City is her favorite city. The real highlight out of this moment was Florence nodded her head down and screamed out “America, You’re Women Deserve Better!” The crowd from the front to the back began to scream, the energy was was intense and chants began shortly afterward. A sense of unity within the crowd began to take place and we all enjoyed the rest of the night singing together as one.
With the delays and later cancellation of Governors Ball due to weather-related issues, we personally never made it to day three. While many people were upset, I believe the organizers made the right choice and put safety first. No one likes to make the tough decisions, but in this case, the organizers did the very best they could. Refunds for day three are being provided and should be processed within the coming weeks, please check here for more info. Governors Ball founders have released a message regarding the events. You can read it here. An AMA on Reddit about the account of day three can be found here.
Regardless of the videos, you may have seen online, the rioting and vandalization of festival installations are the acts of few and are not indicative of typical New York City festival family. There is never any excuse to deface property at a festival because the organizers were trying to keep patrons safe from adverse weather. This would be an excellent opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of all ages festivals along with the importance of crowd safety and awareness, including establishing and following successful evacuation protocols.
Despite the uncontrollable weather-related issues, the festival itself is well known and it shows. My personal experience this weekend was positive and I loved seeing artists that I wouldn’t normally see. It was great to be out my musical comfort zone and explore different acts. Governor’s Ball is a solid choice for a festival and I wouldn’t let the past weather issues discourage anyone from attending. I have had many great memories with this festival since 2014 and this year added to my box of cherished moments. I’m excited to see where Founders will take the Governors Ball festival next year considering it will be the tenth anniversary, starting from a small one stage festival at Governors Island, growing into what it is today. The organic growth of this festival has been amazing, and I will surely be on Randalls Island next year on June 5-7, 2020 for the next edition. We can hope for redemption and better weather for a more positive day three next year. I believe it is possible.
*Featured Photo of Governors Ball 2019 | Photo via Noam Galai/ Getty Images