Governors Ball Music Festival – New York, NY – 6.1.18-6.3.18

Governors Ball Music Festival
Randall’s Island Park – 6.1.18 – 6.3.18
Words & Photos by Brittany Isaacson and Jordyn Beschel

Back for it’s eighth star-studded year, Governors Ball Music Festival rocked Randall’s Island in New York, NY, kicking off the month and the anticipated summer season. The three-day roster was bursting with talent, featuring some of the biggest names and best up-and-coming acts in the business. Thousands of people came from all over, flooding the park for an extraordinary experience. Walking through the gates, you immediately notice the colorful decorations and numerous food vendors. Balloon “trees,” a tattooed Statue Of Liberty, and mural displays by local NY artists provided the perfect backdrops for selfies. Attendees showed off their eccentric style with expressive makeup and show-stopping outfits. Lawn games like colossal Jenga and Connect Four, cornhole, and more were scattered throughout the festival grounds. Sponsors like State Farm had a Neighborhood of Good installation with various charitable activities to tend to in each little house. With so much to dive into, it was hard to pick where to start.

After a bit of traveling walking over the bridge from Manhattan to Randall’s Island, we worked up enough of an appetite to wander the many food and drink trucks and stands around the festival grounds. Though a major aspect of the weekend is, of course, the musical acts, Governors Ball had the greatest amount and diversity of vendors you can possibly find at a music festival. From rose matcha lattes at  the Matchabar and colorful bubble cone sundaes from Wowfull, to spring roll burritos and thai ice cream cookie sandwiches from the Spurrito and Coolhaus trucks, the possibilities were literally endless all weekend long. For the of-age patrons, there was certainly no shortage of alcohol either. The Best Kept Secret area offered any drink you could possibly imagine, and the Bacardi Bay let you feel like you were on a vacation in their oasis-themed bar hide-away. Any craving you had, well, Governors Ball could satisfy it.

Now, onto the music. Although the lineup catered to fans of all genres, the three-day festival drew in a large crowd of hip-hop and pop fans. DRAM, the singer of the hit song, “Broccoli,” had the crowd jumping during his party of a set. Other notable mainstream names included Lil Uzi Vert, N.E.R.D, 6LACK, and the quickly rising Billie Eilish. Singer/songwriter Khalid drew an enormous crowd for his set, and he made a special appearance to perform his guest spot on Billie Eilish’s song, “lovely.” Quinn XCII had the energy pumping early on Day 3 with his feel-good anthems and a surprise appearance on “Flare Guns” from Chelsea Cutler. Perhaps one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend, Post Malone drew in thousands playing hit songs including “I Fall Apart,” “Better Now,” and “rockstar.” Even Halsey, who performed a breathtaking set on Day 2, was jamming out to Post’s infectious energy side stage.

Amongst all of the hip-hop and pop artists igniting the mainstream, there were a great amount of alternative, rock, and indie acts as well–take Alvvays, LANY, The Struts, and the iconic Yeah Yeah Yeahs to name a few. Indie-rock soloist Two Feet started off the weekend right earlier on Day 1, charming fans new and old with his sultry and somber songs. Meanwhile electronic supergroup Chvrches had us swooning while raving to their lively beats on Day 3 over on the main stage, gearing us up for the festival finale. More standout artists like the vibey multi-instrumentalist Tash Sultana and the ethereal songstress Maggie Rogers stole their crowds’ hearts with their exceptional musical talent and alluring stage presence. Between Tash Sultana’s mesmerising instrumental improvisation and Maggie Rogers’ bird-like vocals, both artists had us totally hypnotized. James Blake put us in a trance as well with his intricate yet tranquil electronic music, closing out our Day 1 and helping us come down from the festival’s intensity.

Still, Governors Ball wouldn’t have been complete without the much anticipated headlining artists and special guests. Take Shawn Mendes’ charming special appearance for example. The crowd was ecstatic when the teenage heartthrob took the stage with his guitar in hand, smiling from ear to ear. Though much of the crowd at the moment were stationed in anticipation for Post Malone’s follow-up, not a single person stood silent when Mendes broke out into popular radio tracks “Stitches” and “Treat You Better”. Moreover, Day 1 and 2 wouldn’t have been complete without headlining performances from rapper Travis Scott and alt-rock star Jack White, who both packed the festival grounds surrounding the main stage on their respective nights with alluring productions and the most satisfying set lists of the weekend. Both artists had surprisingly diverse crowds in terms of age-demographics, proving that Governors Ball knows how to cater to just about anyone and everyone.

Despite the everlasting excitement saturated throughout the entire week, we must say that the festival’s finale was truly one for the books. Fans began crowding the stage early in anticipation for the final performance of the weekend. It was hard to stand still as a cinematic video depicting one of the greatest rappers of all time, Eminem, played on the big screens, right before the white curtain dropped, revealing the “King Of Hip Hop”. A performance from Eminem would have been more than substantial, but guest performances from Phresher, Skylar Grey, and 50 Cent put it on another level.

The crowd went absolutely “berzerk” (pun intended) when 50 Cent joined Eminem for “In Da Club.” Not even the weather could stifle the energy that amplified with each song. The “Rap God” had everyone swaying their arms and singing through the rain as he ended his set with “Not Afraid.” Of course, no Eminem set would be complete without “Lose Yourself,” so the rapper came out for one last song, and fans ran from across the field to sing along. A finale of fireworks flared up above the stage, marking the bittersweet end of Governors Ball 2018.

This year’s Governors Ball, as always, brought in rallies of people who gathered for a weekend of great music, exceptional food, and lasting memories. The festival captured the adventurous and artistic spirit of New York, and was the perfect start to a memorable summer. One of the most commendable aspects of the festival was that there was somebody on the lineup for fans of all genres, even opening attendees up to new music and experiences. As if seeing current mainstream phenomenons like Halsey and Eminem wasn’t exciting enough, seeing smaller acts like The Regrettes and LANY make their Governors Ball debut certainly topped off this massive weekend. It’s going to be hard to top this line up but we’re excited to see what’s in store for Governors Ball next year.