Legitimately dangerous weather marred the last day of this year’s Governors Ball, overshadowing what was otherwise an awesome event. Friday was gorgeous and the late rain predicted for Saturday never came. Whenever possible, attendees enjoyed the relatively mud-free man-made meadow on Randall’s Island’s western edge. But a mandatory evacuation on Sunday didn’t make anyone happy, and some thought its implementation was downright unsafe.
Forty-eight hours before all that, artists were blessed with sunshine all afternoon. Asbury Parkers Deal Casino opened up the main stage while, across the lawn at the Bud Light Dive Bar stage, rapper and Post Malone friend Tyla Yaweh blew out candles during a birthday performance.
After Jeremy Zucker rocked the American Eagle stage, a huge group of fans followed him to watch a second set at the Dive Bar stage.
Just up the path, Blood Orange and Lil Wayne were heating up the Bacardi stage, but I made tracks to catch Julian Casablancas’ sideband The Voidz (his main act, The Strokes, ended up getting rained out).
JR Savage, owner of Long Island City’s Mexican street-food restaurant Gordo’s Cantina, was running two food stalls and loving it, considering he had just paid $80 per ticket to see The Voidz at Market Hotel last month.
Afterwards, Savage invited me for chicken tacos and steak nachos. “It’s getting busy now that it’s late,” he said. “The older crowd is getting off work right now and they buy the drinks, which leads to food. Hopefully tomorrow will be a fuller day for us.” I thought about those words after Sunday’s cancelation and felt bad for the vendors who had to truck their service equipment home after an already brief day of sales. Lots of folks at the festival might have gotten wet, but others really took a bath.
I finished off Friday with Tyler the Creator’s stellar performance and returned Saturday afternoon to catch a great lineup of bands including UK’s Easy Life and NYC darlings Sunflower Bean. Back at the Dive Bar stage, I caught rising vocalist Vincint and celebrated the start of Pride Month by hoisting rainbow-colored cans of Bud Light with GLAAD partnership director Amhir Hidalgo. The beer had supported the LGBTQ acceptance organization for 20 years. “We’ve always thought that it was brave of them to sponsor us that early on,” Hidalgo said.
That night’s craziest performance came when Major Lazer turned the former driving range into a dance hall with flames shooting high off the stage. The supergroup’s DJ half, Diplo, didn’t disappoint, and when MC’s Jillionare and Walshy Fire were joined by MØ for the mega-track “Lean On,” it was all hands on deck.
On Sunday, I walked from Astoria with attendees who waited out a six-hour weather delay and came in already wearing ponchos.
At the gates, a group of New Yorkers told me the Manhattan pedestrian approach had been closed off due to the late opening, but they were able to simply catch a $12 Uber.
Others hurried over to catch Washington, D.C., electro-poppers Shaed, whose single “Trampoline” had just that morning hit the top two on the Billboard Alternative chart. They were supposed to open the larger AE stage but were moved to the smaller Dive Bar one, which had to be expanded to handle the group’s growing crowd.
Just three hours later, after a predictably on-point performance from Nas, the evacuation order flashed across the screen and attendees booed the stage manager who read it aloud.
The Triborough Bridge, which had been a scenic garnish to Gov Ball’s musical meal, was a veritable water slide during the walk home. One Instagrammer described “a giant stampede of people tearing down all barriers and fences” on their way out. Having experienced a lightning-storm cancellation at last year’s Panorama Fest, I could only shrug as I crossed the half-mile bridge with a huge group of disappointed youth all over again.
Details about Sunday’s cancelation and ticket refund information can be found at the Governors Ball website. The festival will hold a Reddit “ask me anything” today, June 4, at 1pm.