Governors Ball 2014: Top 10 Best Performances
Jack White, Chance The Rapper, Disclosure and Interpol all brought their A-games. But who ranks no. 1?
The 2014 edition of the Governors Ball Music Festival was a weekend punctuated by stellar performances and non-stop surprises, spread across the four stages constructed on New York's Randall's Island. With so much going on during the three-day extravaganza, it was impossible to catch every single act -- but we saw a whole lot of them, and these 10 artists elevated the city fest. When all was said and done, these were the 10 sets that highlighted Governors Ball 2014:
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10. Disclosure - Sure, Madonna was one of the attendees at Disclosure's Governors Ball jamboree, but the Instagramming presence of Madge should not distract from an extremely enjoyable performance from the U.K. wunderkinds. Pumping through most of their 2013 album "Latch," Guy and Howard Lawrence unfurled their house jams to a more-than-game crowd, and provided a set worthy of the Queen of Pop.
9. Phoenix - Phoenix's songs have always been highlighted by lush, high-energy peaks and pretty, pensive low-energy valleys, and that dynamic was more pronounced than ever on the opening day of Governors Ball. The crowd was undeniably partial to the band's 2009 breakout album "Woflgang Amadeus Phoenix," and the prettiest moment in the set came when they played their two-part opus "Love Like a Sunset" at the same time that the real-life sunset began peaking through the skyscrapers of Manhattan across the water.
8. Chance The Rapper - Backed by a live band, including a lively trumpet player, Chance The Rapper had the massive crowd at the Gotham Tent jumping to such tracks as “Pusha Man/Paranoia,” “Favorite Song,” “Brain Cells” and “Paradise.” And, as he did at the Sasquatch! Festival in May, the rapper had the Governors Ball crowd chanting “Every day it could be wonderful” when he performed the theme song from the ‘90s cartoon “Arthur.”
7. Vampire Weekend - During its headlining set on Sunday, Vampire Weekend effortlessly hopscotched between its three excellent full-lengths, and the selections from Vampire Weekend's 2013 LP "Modern Vampires of the City" were especially strong. With tracks as likable as "A-Punk" and "Diane Young," one couldn't help but get sucked into the weekend-capping dance party.
6. Banks - "Every woman is a goddess and every man is a fucking God," Banks declared before delving into the title track of her forthcoming album "Goddess." Banks was just that and more at Governors Ball: her moody R&B stylings, as well as her cover of Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody?," sounded more confident than when she first hit the festival circuit at Coachella in April, and the new artist effectively captivated the Sunday afternoon crowd.
5. Outkast - Whatever the problems may have been between Outkast when they officially came back at Coachella, the pair seemed to have all the answers on Friday night, at their triumphant closing set on the first-day at Governors Ball. The Atlanta rappers' newfound, high-energy focus was noticeable from the get-go: both were smiling, dancing and bouncing, and it was hard to not follow their lead.
4. Diarrhea Planet - Even though the Nashville six-piece’s 12:45 p.m. set on Saturday was testing the limits of the crowd, Diarrhea Planet kept matters positive -- and with its four-guitar arsenal in the fold, that wasn’t very difficult. Once the crowd got into gear, the garage rockers responded by crowd-surfing themselves and even climbing the lighting towers (mid-riff, even), much to the chagrin of the security. Mosh pits sprung up, and even though it was early, the Diarrhea Planet devotees knew what to do.
3. Interpol - Interpol might seem a little too cool for school with their fancy suits and ties, but Paul Banks and company weren't shy about expressing their adoration for their hometown crowd on Sunday night. With a new album on the way (“El Pintor,” due Sept. 9 via Matador), Interpol played three new songs, but in the end, the classics stole the show. "Evil" and "Say Hello to the Angels" were brought out early, moody hometown ode "NYC" was a middle-of-the-set highlight and "Obstacle 1" capped off a well-deserved encore.
2. Jack White - "Y'all feelin all right? If you wanna sing along I'm not gonna get mad at you!" Jack White joked to the crowd during his Saturday headlining set before launching into fan favorite "Hotel Yorba." Mixing solo material, White Stripes classics and even a Raconteur ditty or two, White's set was marked by a series of dramatic stops and starts, with the band exceptionally tight in their movements, giving off the impression White must have found the best of the business in Nashville.
1. Axwell ^ Ingrosso - It’s been more than year since Swedish House Mafia, the influential house trio that helped make EDM a pop and arena-tour juggernaut, walked away at the top of its game, but two-thirds of the group delivered a high-octane set, their first as a duo, featuring fireworks, lasers, pyrotechnics and, best of all, several new songs. Behind them, a giant screen flashed trippy, Matrix-chic graphics that made it seem as if they were DJing inside an android’s acid trip. In front of them, pyrotechnics, lasers and steam machines blasted off, causing early leavers streaming over the overlooking RFK Bridge to stop and watch with a pang of regret. Confetti and streamers showered the crowd throughout the set. And then there was the fireworks — several rounds of it. The over-the-top spectacle could’ve threatened to outshadow the new music, but the songs’ drops were too big, brash and bass-heavy to play second fiddle.