By Juan A. Ramirez, arts & entertainment editor
Festival-goers’ love of crowds, concerts and open air was put to the test at the sixth installment of Governors Ball Music Festival, which took place in New York City from Friday, June 3 to Saturday, June 4.
The festival, held on Randall’s Island annually since 2011, has made a name for itself due to its eclectic lineups, which in the past have featured Drake, Skrillex, Lana Del Rey and Vampire Weekend, as well as myriad food and entertainment opportunities. This year’s edition, however, will likely be remembered as the year the typically three-day festival was cut short by severe thunderstorms, leaving thousands of fans hungry for performances by Kanye West, Chvrches, Vince Staples and Death Cab for Cutie.
It all started well enough, as attendees flocked to the tiny island that Friday afternoon, ready for headliners Robyn and The Strokes. These two mid-to-late-2000s acts dispelled any possible thoughts of being washed up, playing energetic shows for their ravenous fans.
“I love the live atmosphere, especially when everyone else there is excited,” Peter Coulombe, a rising sophomore mechanical engineering major, said. “It definitely gets crazy.”
Saturday brought about ominous clouds as the festival grounds filled up to the sounds of Thundercat and Albert Hammond, Jr. Mac Miller, who only a few years ago was thought to be dominating the hip-hop scene, failed to keep the audience engaged during his Saturday afternoon set.
“I didn’t like Mac Miller that much,” Lauren Kim, a rising sophomore music industry major, said. “I thought his performance just wasn’t that great. I thought it was pretty low-energy.”
Even a surprise appearance by Miguel couldn’t get the crowd to reach the necessary levels of adrenaline needed at a rap concert. Instead, the appearance of the R&B singer only whetted the appetite of his fans, who were ready to see him perform directly after Miller. Miguel’s own set, however, brought about the first of many rains at the festival.
“I was watching Miguel’s set when the torrential downpour started,” Kim said. “But he got the audience hyped, and people stayed to watch. He sounded even better live. His voice is really raw.”
Meanwhile, at another stage, Haim was performing their set despite the rain.
“The rain started pouring when my friends and I were seeing Haim,” Ben Clinton, a rising sophomore chemistry major, said. “We tried to find shelter but everyone started crowding the one covered stage so we all kind of embraced the rain. People were dancing in the rain and even though they were covered, Haim poured water bottles on themselves out of solidarity.”
By the time The Killers, the main headliners of the night, delivered their beloved late-2000s alt-rock classics, the clouds had miraculously cleared, and the rise in excitement was palpable. Aside from their own hits, the Brandon Flowers-fronted band also performed covers of Interpol’s “Obstacle 1” and Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” to the surprise and delight of the crowd.
“I was completely caught off guard by that,” Coulombe said. “They started playing the song, and I thought it was a new song of theirs, and then I realized what it was and thought it was awesome because everyone loves that song. I had no idea until halfway through that they were actually playing it.”
The public went home, satisfied with day two of Governors Ball and even more excited for the final day, which would include Kanye West’s first live U.S. concert since releasing his polarizing album, “The Life of Pablo,” earlier in the year.
Instead, attendees woke up to an email from the festival organizers informing them that “due to severe weather and a high likelihood of lightning in the area,” the festival would not be opening its gates.
“Of course, I was really interested in seeing Kanye,” Coulombe said. “It was kind of a bummer but at the same time, the first two days were so long that part of me was kind of relieved. After the rain on Saturday and the heat on Friday, I was pretty disappointed but relieved.”
Still, music fans have had nothing but excitement when discussing the festival, many of whom will be in attendance for years to come.
“It was a good mix of artists that are popular now and on the rise, and people from a decade or so ago,” Kim said. “They always have a good lineup and the fact that it’s in New York City makes it a lot cooler since you can do things aside from the festival. Seeing the skyline from Gov Ball is incredible, too.”
The festival’s mix of music, food trucks and laid-back atmosphere continues to drum up excitement, a spirit best embodied by Coulombe, a second-time attendee.
“When you’re not like 3 feet underwater, it’s really nice,” Coulombe said.
Photo by Juan A. Ramirez