Festivals

Governors Ball 2016: Best Moments From the Abbreviated Fest

The Killers
Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for Governors Ball

The Killers perform onstage during 2016 Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall's Island on June 4, 2016 in New York City.  

When Governors Ball opened on Friday, June 3, it looked like the rainy forecast for the weekend would be proven wrong -- predicted showers on Friday night never materialized, leaving fest-goers feeling confident that Saturday would be similarly safe. So when dark, low-hanging clouds opened up on mostly unprepared attendees late Saturday afternoon (the advance forecast hadn't predicted rain, and few people came prepared with ponchos or umbrellas), the fest became a soggy, muddy mess, culminating in Sunday's program being canceled entirely.

Haim -- who were playing the main stage when it started to pour on Saturday -- valiantly tried to rally the crowd, with Este Haim even dumping a bottle of water on her head in solidarity. Still, after 45 minutes of cold rain, the audience could barely muster enough energy to go along with the band's attempts at inciting crowd participation (they were in excellent form, as always, but it's difficult to convince people to get down on their knees and then hop back up when they're thoroughly drenched).

Governors Ball Organizers Cancel Day 3 Due to Extreme Weather Concerns

Regardless, the two days of Gov Ball that did go down packed in some highlights. Here are our six favorite moments from the abbreviated 2016 Governors Ball festival.

Beck's Backing Band Takes Center Stage

In addition to Beck's lovely cover of Prince's "Raspberry Beret" (accompanied by his heartfelt recollection of hugging Prince at the 2015 Grammys), Beck achieved the impossible at Gov Ball -- he made the obligatory 'meet the band' introductions actually fun to watch. Instead of just listing off names during an extended jam, Beck had each of his backing players knock off 1-2 minute covers of hipster favorites: His guitarist did the David Bowie version of "China Girl," his keyboard player dialed up Kraftwerk's "Computer World" and his drummer brought us back to "1999" with the set's second Prince cover. Honestly, an entire Beck Prince covers EP suddenly sounds like a very good idea. -- Joe Lynch

Robyn Remixes Reign

Although the cultishly adored Swedish pop dynamo did play the hits at Gov Ball, Robyn primarily delivered remixed versions of familiar dance-pop classics such as "Dancing On My Own" and "Call Your Girlfriend." She sounded vocally fantastic, and her dance moves were astounding as usual, but it was clear that many of those who checked her set weren't diehards; scores of people drifted away from her house remix-heavy performance halfway through. But if it was a disappointment for those who privilege verse-chorus-verse pop songs, it was a glorious nighttime dance throwdown for those who were there to move instead of simply observe. -- Joe Lynch

The Strokes Satisfy Hometown Crowd 

The Strokes are New York City royalty, and the quintet showed up at Gov Ball looking to make a statement. Their Friday night headlining set coincided with the official release of their promising new EP Future Present Past and the enthusiastic hometown audience offered them a golden opportunity to test out new jams "Drag Queen" and "Threat of Joy" while leaving 2013's disappointing Comedown Machine LP out of the set entirely. The baby songs were politely received, though the performance leaned heavily on the three LPs from the Strokes 1.0 era, to approximately 100 percent of the crowd's delight. They covered the Clash's "Clampdown" and rocked out every important single from their halcyon days -- ending with an encore performance of "You Only Live Once."  -- Chris Payne

Darling, Darling Stand By Against Me! 

If you were at the fest and skipped Against Me! early Saturday evening, well, we don't know what to tell you. By this point, we know what a galvanizing difference-maker Laura Jane Grace is for the trans community, and aside from that, the entire band's live show is just incredible. The quartet is a Molotov cocktail of combustible punk energy and tightly-wound pop hooks -- a rare combination indeed, compounded by the sonic diversity of hearing "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" -- the folk-punkish first song off their first LP -- alongside 2014's Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Even those who just knew "Thrash Unreal" from their brief mid-2000s stay on the FM waves got to hear that one alongside a feel-good, well-executed cover late in the set: the Clash's "Train in Vain." -- Chris Payne

Haim Gets More Than Just a Little Love for New Songs

The sister trio, whose debut album Days Are Gone dropped three years ago, confirmed they'd spent the last year in the studio working on a follow-up, and even debuted two songs from the forthcoming project. "Give Me Just a Little of Your Love" was an affable, easy-to-sing-along-to lite rocker, while "Nothing's Wrong" brought to mind Stevie Nicks' melancholy cool. Despite being drenched, the crowd responded with palpable excitement to both new songs. -- Joe Lynch

The Killers Close Out Saturday 

No one knew it at the time, but the Killers' Saturday night headlining show was fated to be Governors Ball's last of 2016. Brandon Flowers doesn't look a thing like Yeezus, but the pink-blazered gentleman and his band put on a memorable show for those who chose them against a competing set across the grounds from one-time collaborator M83. They haven't released an album in four years, but they still command an air of prestige, even if it's mainly reserved for the hits from their first two records. But beyond "Mr. Brightside" and closer "When You Were Young," obscurities brought interest to the Killers' set. "Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll," a tongue-in-cheek b-side from the Hot Fuss days elicited a spark, as did covers of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" and Interpol's "Obstacle 1" -- an otherwise random choice normalized via New York crowd. -- Chris Payne