I saw 14 amazing bands during my Governor’s Ball weekend! (I also briefly saw Mayer Hawthorne, Weird Al Yankovic, Bjork, and Tame Impala. I don’t have much to write about them, though, except that Weird Al Yankovic was just fantastic, and Bjork was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen- I couldn’t run in the opposite direction from her fast enough).
I also learned that my love for all things British apparently extends to my music taste, as over half of the bands I saw hailed from Europe. Go figure.
I’m working on a video of all the bands I saw (despite losing most of my footage from day 1) that will hopefully be ready for you guys tomorrow, but now I’m going to write about them and my experience from this past weekend. I’m posting these in order of my least favorite to favorite.
Drake being at the bottom of my list is in no way a reflection of Drake as a performer and has everything to do with me. The crowd had a lot of energy, as did Drake- there were 50,000 people in attendance at his set, so that was pretty amazing. But I wasn’t super excited to see him in the first place, which meant that I just kind of rolled up to the stage about 10 minutes before he went on, so I was really far away and could barely see him. In fact, I spent most of his set just lounging in the grass, watching from afar. He had loads of energy, but I haven’t listened to his new album, which is mostly what he sang, so I didn’t know any of his songs. If I had seen him 3 years ago, it would have been a much different experience for me, as I love his first mixtape and album. I’m not as crazy about his newer stuff. Also, he didn’t rap very much- he sang a few words, then held the mic out to the crowd. And did this over and over again. I wanted to hear him rap, and I didn’t really get to… so that’s why Drake is at the bottom of my list. Sorry, man.
Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you are that Mo is second to last. But she was not at all what I was expecting. She was dressed in a tracksuit and was really awkward and tried dancing like a popstar even though her songs are slower and more indie. (Think Sporty Spice doing her thing to Adele’s music). Her voice was drowned out by the backup vocals, too, so I couldn’t hear her sing at all. Her performance didn’t match up with her songs and it was just awkward to watch. I didn’t really enjoy this set. She’s one performer I would skip in the future.
12. The War on Drugs
The vocals and musicians were amazing for this set. They sounded great- seriously great music here. But I found myself distracted and thinking about other things, rather than just living in the moment and letting the music overcome me. Every other set I saw over the weekend had my full attention, but these guys just didn’t. They didn’t have my attention. So basically, they were a bit boring. Even going back over and watching my videos of them, I was like, “God, I’m bored.” They were good, but didn’t really put on a good show. They just stood there and played amazing music. I guess I wanted more from them to really grab me and pull me into the moment and their music.
Flume was fun. But I’m annoyed because he got a bigger stage and crowd than Odesza, with only half the talent. I saw Odesza first, and they spoiled me. Flume can’t even compare. Also, Flume’s best stuff is his collaboration with Chet Faker, and he didn’t play any of that, so…
10. Clean Bandit
These guys put on a fun show! The best part for me, though, was the surprise appearance by Alex Newell for the song Stronger. He killed it! I was so excited to see him sing live, as he was one Glee performer I never got to see since he joined the show near the end of it’s run. This was the first band I saw on day 2, and it was a great start to the day and really got my energy up! I had a good time at their set. They didn’t blow me away, but they were good fun.
9. Hot Chip
I danced so hard at this set, you guys. The crowd was the best part of Hot Chip. The vocals were lacking, but the energy was great. I danced and danced and danced and sang my heart out to Look At Where We Are, which is my favorite song of theirs, and I was so pleasantly surprised that they performed it, since it’s such a slow song. I really didn’t think they would sing it, so YAY! But mostly, the dancing… man, I had fun!
8. Charli XCX
What a pleasant surprise! Charli was the first performance I saw of the weekend, and it really kick-started everything perfectly. She had so much energy! I sang along to every song and just loved watching her dance around the stage. She was such an entertaining performer! It was also pouring rain during her set, which just added to the fun for me. I was soaking wet and dancing in mud and it was just loads of fun.
7. Angus and Julia Stone
Their voices are perfection. This was a slower set, but it was halfway through day 2, so I really needed something chill, after a day and a half of dancing hard. I was right up at the front of the stage and was just completely enraptured by their voices. I loved this performance. Julia KILLED it with her cover of You’re the One That I Want.
6. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
I really love Noel’s songs, and he sounded great live. But the biggest crowd-pleasers of his set were actually his Oasis covers. Now, I’m an Oasis fan, but I kind of wish he had sung more of his own songs. Not that I didn’t enjoy his covers! He was still amazing! But I just love his songs and wanted more. I was standing next to this really annoying girl during his entire show, too… she kept running back and forth in front of me, stepping on my feet, trying to find the best spot to take a picture, so that was obnoxious. But it was pretty much worth it just to see these guys, because they truly put on a great show. It wasn’t anything too exciting, or super hyped up, but just classic rock and roll. He has a good sound, and he was just a good live as he is recorded.
5. Ryan Adams
This was a surprise favorite for me. I had the choice between seeing Ryan Adams and Deadmau5, so I decided to go for someone new that I had never listened to before. I didn’t know any of his songs, so I was super pleasantly surprised. He rocked the stage- I mean, completely owned it. I felt like I was at Woodstock (not from personal experience, I can only imagine what it was like). I laid out in the grass and looked up at the stars and listened to Ryan Adams just rock the stage and it was the most magical night I’d had in a really long time- I didn’t want it to ever end. His music is the kind that just takes you to a whole different world. It was fantastic. Ryan Adams, I’m now a fan. Check this guy out if you’re a fan of classic rock. And definitely go see him live, although it probably won’t be quite the experience I had, considering it was under a wide open sky on an island… But his energy is amazingly contagious. He put on a great show.
4. The Black Keys
This is my second time seeing these guys, the first being at Bonnaroo and, once again, they did not disappoint. They’re great live. This was the perfect way to end the weekend, complete with a fireworks show at the end. Like, that’s honestly all I have to say about them. If you like their music, you’ll like them live. It’s as simple as that. Go see them!
3. Marina and the Diamonds
My queen! Marina is just the most adorable, gorgeous, amazing person. I was so close to the front of the stage for this performance and it was fantastic. The crowd was amazing and so excited to see her, and she put on an amazing show, complete with giant, inflatable fruits. Sure, her voice isn’t the strongest live, and she’s not as energetic as Charli XCX was, but she still put on a great show and was fun and quirky and I had a fantastic time singing along with her.
2. Florence and the Machine
Florence is everything you could ever want and then so much more. She was like a fairy, floating around the stage and being precious and magnificent. Her performance was dramatic and heartfelt and just so honest. She also had a broken foot, but that didn’t stop her from leaping and twirling around the stage. You can tell that her heart is truly in her performance and that she loves every second of what she does, and that joy just rubs off on the crowd and makes it a magical experience. She even excitedly ran off the stage to greet a fan who was holding up a sign that read “Hug?” and brought her onto the stage with her so she could hug her and all of her band members. She’s a precious human being with a voice of the gods. I would see her live again and again and again.
No surprise here for my number one. These two guys are just my favorite people ever. I’ve been obsessed with Odesza for a while, and they did not disappoint. I honestly just wanted their set to go on and on and on all day and night. I didn’t want it to ever end. I could ramble on and on about how amazing these guys are, so I’m going to summarize to keep this brief. Drumming- spectacular. Bass- loud (and I mean heart-racing, breath-stopping, booming, feel-it-in-your-toes LOUD). Tracks- on point. Energy- high. Dance-able?- Yes. Performance- perfection. RUN, don’t walk, to see these two.
Right, so those were the bands that made up my amazing weekend. But there’s always more going on at a music festival than just the music. I also chilled in a hammock, took advantage of the truck handing out free Slurpees, laid out in the grass and stared up at the stars while great live music played all around me, danced at the silent disco, and ate some really great food from the food trucks. There were other things going on at the festival, as well, that I unfortunately didn’t have time to do- flower crown booths and body paint and tattoos (the fake kind) and artist signings…
Music festivals are like this whole experience completely separate from the real world, where you just escape and live this entirely different life surrounded by beautiful music all day long and it’s just so magical and I love every single second of it.
Even the 30 minute walk to and from the island was incredible, the Manhattan skyline off to one side and the Hell Gate bridge over the East River on the other. And the Manhattan skyline also served as a backdrop to the main stage on the island, as well.
This was one of those weekends where you just stop and remember that you live in such an amazing, beautiful, magical city where anything can happen. I fell in love with music and NYC all over again at Governor’s Ball, and I can’t wait to go back next year.