By Mystery Girl
While the first day of summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, this year’s Governors Ball music festival may have kicked off the season a bit earlier in New York with good music, vibes, and weather. The three-day festival inhabited Randall’s Island from Friday, June 2 to Sunday, June 4, and I got to experience the music and magic for the first time from start to finish.
They say first impressions are everything, and Governors Ball made a damn good one. Allow me to paint the picture of what the first few minutes were like for the Mystery Team and I upon stepping onto the festival grounds on Day 1. Walking through the gates, we were greeted with greenery, pink balloons, and prancing festival-goers. As we proceeded not even fifty feet past the entrance, we were met with high-energy music and cheers pouring out from a stage straight ahead.
We approached the stage to see the name “Michael Blume” on a giant screen serving as the backdrop to a full band, backup singers, and fearless front man Michael Blume; all of whom were dressed in white. It was a PERFORMANCE to say the least, complete with well choreographed moves from everyone on stage, including the band. Blume gave it his all on stage from beginning to end and was fiercely and unapologetically himself; conveying a message of resiliency against negative outside judgment, acceptance, and taking pride in who you are; A perfect first act to be greeted with at a festival that displayed just that.
Be happy with who you are and embrace your fellow people. That was the takeaway I got from this year’s Governors Ball artists, whether it was rock band Tool telling the crowd “Ignorance is the enemy” or songstress Lorde letting fans know the importance of being at peace with your inner self; a fitting intro speech to her performance of Liability. From the acts to the crowds Governors Ball was oozing with diversity, creating an atmosphere on the island that was hard to feel unaccepted in.
With 4 stages supporting artists from a multitude of genres, my ears could transition from hip hop to rock to pop to indie to electronic and more with a short walk across a field. So as Friday continued, I went from hearing the energetic soulful sounds of Michael Blume to the more mellow tunes of UK band Blossoms. Their self-titled debut album hitting No. 1 in the UK last year, the men of Blossoms described their music to me as timeless indie guitar synth pop from the heart. The band played their first headlining U.S. tour just this spring and will be hitting many of the major U.S. festivals this summer, hoping to grow their fan base in the States. I’m glad they put Governors Ball on their list of stops, giving us a taste of music from another part of the world.
While I’m sure everyone has their own versions of stories to tell about their Governors Ball experience, I can only speak for myself. So here are some of MY Governors Ball 2017 highlights.
Day 1- Friday, June 2
- Francis and the Lights. I was a Francis and the Lights first-timer, and I was NOT disappointed. It was fun and uplifting to watch an ecstatic Francis glide and dance across the stage with an infectious enthusiasm and energy he effortlessly transferred to the crowd. The happy go lucky singer wasn’t without surprises either. After doing a lap around the stage, Francis climbed the stage tower and showed off some elevated dance moves before ascending. He then ended his performance with a surprise appearance from Chance the Rapper, where the two danced in unison to their collaboration track May I Have This Dance.
- Tove Lo. She was sassy, she was fashionable, and she gave us a full frontal. Yes, Tove Lo flashed the crowd, and it made me so so proud.
- Kehlani. I’ll admit, I was skeptical, but Kehlani proved she can own a stage. She was strong, sexy, and confident with solid vocals, sultry dance moves, and just enough attitude.
- Lorde. My first time watching Lorde perform was emotional and magical. The songstress held nothing back; you could literally FEEL her emotions emanating from the stage. Her performance for Liability was powerful to say the least, almost bringing me to tears (something I swore I’d never do in public). At least I can say I wasn’t the only one wallowing in my sorrows. Lorde sang to a crowd full of watery eyes; the girl in front of me shamelessly turning back to her friend at the end of the song to confide, “That just wrecked me”. And while Lorde’s set was grabbing all the way through, the ending was something to remember. Closing with Green Light, the singer danced wildly to flashing green lights, ending the song with fireworks shooting out the rear of the stage and upward to assist the moon in illuminating the dusky sky. Bravo Lorde.
- Chance the Rapper. When Chance the Rapper enters the stage riding a motorbike, you know it’s going to be a good show. Chance and his band The Social Experiment closed out Day 1 with a bang, giving us an uplifting gospel like performance that made me feel like I was in a way more turned up version of Church. Oh and of course Francis and the Lights popped up during Chance's set for another May I Have This Dance routine.
Day 2- Saturday, June 2
- Jessie Reyez. I’ve been following Jessie Reyez and the progression of her music career for quite some time now, so it was necessary to finally see her play live and catch her set at Governors Ball (I promise I’m not a stalker…on paper…). Although Reyez had an early 12:15 pm set, a solid crowd of fans showed up early Saturday just to see her, including myself. Reyez was surprised and touched by the turnout, saying that she expected to be performing to maybe 10 people and expressing her gratitude to her audience. The singer belted out songs from her debut Kiddo EP with the rawness and authenticity that made me fall in love with her music in the first place. No smoke and mirrors here folks; just an incredible artist armed with her voice and dad’s old guitar.
- Childish Gambino. I’m glad I got to witness what Gambino said would be his only show of the year. A bittersweet feeling, especially since the artist also announced that his next album will be his last as Childish Gambino. “I’ll see you for the last Gambino album” he said at the end of a great performance. What a way to close out Saturday night. Hits me in all my feels.
Day 3- Sunday, June 3
- Logic. I thoroughly enjoyed the rapper’s latest album Everybody, and so I made my way over to watch him perform some of my favorites like America and, well, Everybody. Aside from the music, I was impressed with two things during Logic’s Sunday night performance. The first; his love for his fans. While on stage, Logic called out a few of his front row fans by name. “How old are you now?” he asked a girl who has been attending his shows since she was 15. Her answer; 19. The fact that he not only remembered, but also acknowledged his fans personally, showed me that Logic is humble and gracious. The second thing I was impressed by; signing with Kat! This was the part of the show when Logic brought out sign language interpreter Kat to sign alongside his rapid free styling. I never thought I’d be able to say hands can rap but Kat kept up in style. It was dope; it was artistic; it was impressive.
- Tool. The migration to another stage made for an interesting transition from the carefree adolescent Logic crowd to the older “rock sophisticated” (as my co-worker put it) Tool crowd. It literally felt like we had jumped dimensions, but that’s exactly what I loved about Governors Ball. My thoughts on the performance? Tool is a well-oiled fine-tuned rock and roll machine fueled on trippy vibes and pure awesomeness.
- Corn Dogs! I had been craving a corndog for over a year prior to attending Governors Ball. Why did I wait a year to eat one? Well because I just knew if I didn’t eat the RIGHT one, I’d be grossly disappointed. So I waited; and as fate would have it I passed a girl eating what looked like the most perfectly constructed corndog. Let's cut the suspense. I found the stand. I bought the corndog. I ate it. I was complete. It was EVERYTHING I had been waiting for and more. Thank you Governors Ball for not only satisfying my music craving, but my corndog craving as well. You’ve been so very good to me. Until next year.