New Yorks premiered grand music festival, Governors Ball, celebrated their fifth year of musical magic on Friday June 5th on muddy Randall’s Island in the middle of the East River. Featuring a veritable who’s who of musically talented folks, the grey day started off right with a the soulful New Orleans sounds of the immensely gifted Benjamin Booker, who crooned his sweet sound to a packed crowd at the appropriately named Big Apple stage. After Booker’s sweet serenade, UK electronic band Rudimental unleashed their unique brand of drum and bass to the gather audience. Known for their energy and big sound, the boys ran around stage with their vocalists Anne-Marie, Bridgette Amofah, and Thomas Jule give the people who arrived early exactly what they wanted, to dance.
Toronto’s own electro-rock band Death From Above 1979 played to their audience like we’ve never seen before. It would appear that somewhere along the way, over the last couple of years, someone suggested to lead singer and drummer Sebastian Grainger to mellow out on the outward hostility and focus inwards on the excellence of the music. It was a performance reminiscent of their early days and it was fantastic. Closing out the night on Big Apple was the magical Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, who riled up the crowd with her signature choreography, sick guitar shredding, and beautiful stage lighting. When you watch St. Vincent perform you know you are watching something special.
Over on the Gov Ball stage, ATL’s Future was the perfect prep for fans who camped out early to see headliner Drake. He shouted out Harlem and commented that the ladies in the crowd were going harder than the dudes. Oh Future, your Southern charm always manages to win us over. Next up, New York/Montreal Electro-funk duo Chromeo got the crowd moving. After a dark and gloomy morning, the sun finally came out and managed to reach its zenith during the mid-afternoon set. Running through a good assortment of tunes, there’s nothing quite like the dance party inducing energy that comes from a Chromeo, especially when they add special guest Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend.
Over in the sweaty Gotham Tent, NYC’s own brother electronic duo Ratatat took the stage, to the joy of the overflowing crowd. You know what gets New Yorkers fucking pumped? Watching a dope New York band lite up the night. Playing a healthy mix of old favourites like “Wildcat” which had everyone wildin’ out, to a handful of tracks off their highly anticipated forthcoming album Magnifique which drops on July 17th via XL Recordings. Aside from the tight tunes the boys also brought out their incredible live show production, a plethora of mesmerizing 3D holograms.
There are very few people who could be late, like real late, for their festival set like Florence And The Machine was yesterday. Perhaps it’s the angelic nature of her honest lyrics or just her phenomenally beautiful demeanour, but as Florence hobbled on stage, a solid half hour late, the gargantuan crowd raised their collective voices in perfect harmonious rapture. Despite it being her “first show back standing up” since she broke her foot at Coachella in April, Florence Welch held her own, running back and forth across the stage and jumping around like it was no big deal.
Closing out the day was Toronto’s own Drake. Taking a moment out of his Jungle tour, Drizzy had New York turning up on the mainstage. The set was adequate, almost entirely the same as his show in Montreal and Toronto last week, including the “OVO Fest might be coming to your town” midset banter. It’s not cool to tease the people Drake, not cool at all.
Check out our photos from day 1 below and stay tuned for day 2 coverage tomorrow!
Florence and The Machine | Gov Ball NYC Stage
St. Vincent | Big Apple Stage
Ratatat | Gotham Tent
Death From Above 1979 | Big Apple Stage
Chromeo | Gov Ball NYC Stage
Rudimental | Big Apple Stage
Benjamin Booker | Big Apple Stage
Photos by Christina Ventura & Hawley Dunbar.