Festivals

Björk Delivers Energetic, Inscrutable Set at Governors Ball

Björk
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic for Governors Ball Music Festival

Björk performs during 2015 Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island on June 6, 2015 in New York City. 

"Karaoke! Come on!" Björk yelped out at the end of her Saturday night set at the 2015 Governors Ball Music Festival, as the opening notes of "Hyperballad" revealed the crowd favorite that was about to be played. Many audience members dutifully abided by the Icelandic pop chanteuse's command, warbling clumsily along with the opening verse before the Post classic's memorably emotional chorus arrived. "Hyperballad" is a giant song, and the closing fireworks display was certainly fitting. The problem was that there just weren't many people in the crowd to see those fireworks, or help Björk belt out the hypnotic track.

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Björk's performance, positioned on the main stage on Saturday night (June 6) prior to deadmau5's headlining show, wasn't as divisive as it was largely shrugged-off from Governors Ball attendees. Presented with 75 minutes of an indie legend prancing around in front of a full orchestra as the sun set, casual fans lasted an average of 20 minutes before wandering off to get ready for Flume or grab a bite to eat. By the end of Björk's performance, the crowd was noticeably paltry but dedicated, as the gathering of diehards rooted on the performance.

And what a spirited performance it was: Björk certainly did not notice the audience members constantly being siphoned off by other activities at the festival, spending the set shimmying, gliding and spinning around the stage in front of her aforementioned orchestra. Wearing an outlandish spider costume with a white net obscuring her face, Björk possessed a natural vibrancy that contrasted with some of the material from her new album Vulnicura.

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Songs like "Stonemilker" and "Quicksand," so powerful in their studio versions, became plodding in front of an unfamiliar festival crowd. However, older tracks like "Army of Me," "Hunter," "Bachelorette" and "5 Years" proved to be downright enchanting, with the live strings often emphasizing the canyon-sized beats of each song.

Earlier this year, Björk performed a string of mesmerizing shows at New York's Carnegie Hall and Kings Theatre -- those audiences lapped up the larval visuals and seven-minute song lengths more readily than a festival crowd ever could. Even if the set list was a bit perplexing and the crowd less than enthralled, the giddy weirdness of Björk's live show was a breath of fresh air amidst the pop, rock and dance flavors at Governors Ball. Björk couldn't make "karaoke" happen, but the fireworks exploded nevertheless.