A weekend at Governors Ball

My favorite part of music festivals is leaving a set early.

“What is the guy talking about?” you might be saying. “Leaving early? What a poser.”

No, I don’t take joy in walking away from an artist’s performance and missing live music. But what I do enjoy is walking through a sea of people, all fully engrossed in the music, and dancing like fools. By walking away early, you get a face to face view of hundreds of people simply enjoying life.

And that’s what I love.

Gov Ball 2014This blog has been a little music-centric lately, but what can I say, for me, it’s the summer of the music festival. I attended Boston Calling last month, and this weekend, I visited Randall’s Island for the 4th annual Governors Ball Music Festival.

The island is situated between Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, making it a convenient location to plop a spacious music festival. Naturally, the one thing you hope for during such an event is that Mother Nature cooperates, and boy, did she ever. She was almost too cooperative, in fact. Standing for several hours in the sun for three straight days takes it toll.

But it was worth it.

When you enjoy a diverse palate of music, festivals are mandatory. It’s too expensive and time-consuming to see all of the artists you want to see. At a festival, you can knock a bunch out at once, and at the same time, see artists that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise considered seeing. It’s not quite the same as seeing a band surrounding by their own fan base, but it’s the next best thing.

Being a journalist has its benefits. Yes, I write for a local newspaper that really has no business covering giant music festivals, but that doesn’t stop me from applying for media credentials. I attended Governors Ball for free, and while I may not publish anything about it for my newspaper — I’ll sure as hell do it here.

I had a fantastic time. In total, I spent 27 hours on Randall’s Island this weekend, basking in music by Jack White, The Strokes, the 1975, Interpol, Foster the People, Phoenix, and much, much more. Here’s the full line up. With my credentials I was able to bring a different person each day, and allow them to enjoy the experience as well. Jenny Lewis

While my perks were limited simply to free entry — hey, I’m not complaining — my friend and I somehow managed to gain access into a fenced area called “The Freeloader’s Lounge” on Friday, thinking we were allowed in. The volunteer manning the gate didn’t stop us, and we entered into a land a free alcohol, cheap food and air-conditioned bathrooms. We made the most of it.

The next day, the festival staff caught on, and put competent people at the gate. It was fun while it lasted.

The music was pretty good too. Jack White, known for being the frontman of the now defunct White Stripes, headlined on Saturday night, and man, did he put on a show. I’ve been to a lot of concerts, and never before have I seen somebody with the stage presence that he had. Him and his band played a mix of songs from his solo album, Blunderbuss, some popular White Stripes tunes and others from his side projects, including the Raconteurs.

Here is my rankings of my top 10 favorite sets from the weekend.

  1. Jack White
  2. Vampire Weekend
  3. The Strokes
  4. Phoenix
  5. TV on the Radio
  6. Spoon
  7. Interpol
  8. Diarrhea Planet (Yup, look them up)
  9. The Head and the Heart
  10. The 1975

Also, a girl physically collapsed on me during the Vampire Weekend’s set and had to be taken away on a stretcher by EMTs … so I hope she’s OK.

It’s a lesson for all the kids out there. Stay hydrated.

Another highlight of the weekend was, when walking with my +1 on Friday, spotting Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley fame) standing near a tent. I stopped her and was able to snap a picture with her, marking the first time I met an artist the same day I saw them live. Probably won’t happen again.

Good music. Good times.

Cheers, governor!

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