Day two of Governors Ball was a much sunnier affair than the rainy start on Friday, but it was far from dry. Festival goers splashed and sludged their way through the eight-inch-deep mud that had congealed the day before as acts like Kendrick Lamar, Cut Copy, Japandroids, Icona Pop, Dirty Projectors and the rescheduled Kings of Leon played in the (still partly cloudy) sunshine.
Perhaps the most fitting cover of the day came from MS MR on the You’re Doing Great stage, who sang LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrself Clean” as part of a medley with the band’s own “Ash Tree Lane.”
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Randall’s Island was significantly more crowded Saturday, due in part to the fact that single-day tickets from Friday were honored, and more sets that overlapped during the first half of the day to make room for Kings of Leon‘s last-minute make-up set. Founders Entertainment, the festival’s producers, stayed on-site well into the morning with the band’s manager and agent to work out a scenario that could accommodate the Kings’ first New York City show since a sold-out engagement at Madison Square Garden in 2010. The wait for the Followill brothers (and cousin) was worth it — the band played a lively 75-minute set that included a new song from the band’s upcoming album “Mechanical Bull,” out September 24.
Elsewhere, Azealia Banks played a rare U.S. festival date with brightly colored Spandex-clad dancers, previewing her oft-delayed debut album “Broke With Expensive Taste,” while rock acts like Alt-J, Fucked Up and Edwarde Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros kept daytime crowds revved up. Indie collective Divine Fits, featuring members of Spoon, Wolf Parade and New Bomb Turks, surprised the main stage with a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Lost?” that was equal parts funky and soulful, with Britt Daniel lending the song a layer of twang that suited it well.
The night’s headliner, Guns N’ Roses, were coming off a valiant effort two nights prior at the Brooklyn Bowl, where frontman Axl Rose fought off what he deemed as a case of “Truck Stop Revenge.” Over on Randalls Island, however, Axl and his now-solidified cast of top notch sidemen (especially Bumblefoot, Richard Fortus and of course, Tommy Stinson) A: Showed up on time (hell, a little early even!), and B: Hammered out the band’s timeless hits like “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and the Wings classic, “Live and Let Die” (which was also played in Brooklyn Saturday night by some guy named Paul). We’d post a photo of the band’s performance, except their lead singer was wearing a t-shirt with a topless woman on it. Oh, Axl.
While GN’R’s main stage spectacle raged across the way, Nas rocked in his own right. Backed by fiery a live band, the 39-year old Brooklyn native blasted through an authoritative live set that pulled verses and choruses from across his catalog and wasn’t afraid to get nostalgic. Playing the Honda Stage, much of the crowd — especially those up front — had been awaiting Nas since Kendrick Lamar left the stage and the historically-appropriate crossover left them at a fever pitch. Playing “Life Is Good” cuts alongside “Illmatic” cuts, Nas’ narrative offered a bit of the new (“I’m single again… but I”m still out of my mind”) and the old (“Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in the 90s and I wanna put my shit out on cassette”).
“As you guys know, we were supposed to be doing this last night, and we’re supposed to be getting ready to go to London right about now,” Jared Followill told the crowd during Kings Of Leon‘s rescheduled Saturday set, which the band was able to make up after postponing a flight to kick off its U.K. tour this week. “But some of our equipment had to go on ahead, but we’re still going to give you our best show.” Missing gear aside, the Followill brothers tore through a career-spanning set that included old chestnuts like “Taper Jean Girl,” “The Bucket” and “Knocked Up,” hits like “Use Somebody” and “Sex On Fire,” and a brand-new song previewed mid-set called “Super Soaker.” The latter previews upcoming album Mechanical Bull, due September 24. “I don’t know my home / I don’t know my face / I just wanna be there,” Jared Followill sang on the hard-charging Southern-rock stomper.
An eclectic Saturday lineup meant many highlights and some tough calls with overlapping sets (Dirty Projectors, Divine Fits or Fucked Up? Kings of Leon or Kendrick Lamar? Nas or Guns N Roses? but many highlights. Check out some other notable performances of the day:
“Shout out to shorty with the boobs out,” Harlem, New York native Azealia Banks said on stage, showing love to one fan that flashed the rapper her pair from audience while atop a male friend’s shoulders. Yeah, it was that kind of show. A scantily clad Banks (in a tight-fitted orange dress with several pieces cut from it to expose cleavage) tore through her tongue-tying verses from songs like “Liquorice” while an absolutely enthralled crowd bounced to each word. “This one’s just for you,” she screamed just before closing her set with her breakout cut “212,” which gives props to NYC’s most famous area code. Homegirl killed Governors Ball.
Edward Sharpe and his merry band of merrymakers (the Magnetic Zeros) have a great reputation for uplifting live shows, and with the midday sun just starting to poke from behind the clouds, their set was a welcome mid-day pick-me-up. Accompanied by nearly ten musicians, Sharpe formed a little community on the You’re Doing Great Stage, with plenty of old-timey folk stylings in their stand-up bass and homemade percussion. Their set attracted a massive crowd, which reacted strongest to folk fist-pumpers “Janglin'” and “Home.” During the latter, Sharpe halted the playing during the bridge for a random story from a front-row fan, which told of a smile making one’s day and included a cry of “I love you so much!”
“We are Icona Pop… we are going to keep on making music that touches you because this is fucking awesome,” belted the duo’s Caroline Hjelt shortly before removing her shirt to rock a questionably inappropriate top for the rest of the set. The Swedish DJ duo brought their rolodex of unison-sang chant-pop anthems to the Skyy Vodka Tent at 2:15 on Saturday, playing through tracks including “Manners” and “Girlfriend. It should come as no surprise that Icona Pop’s entire set was basically just a big buildup for their hit, which was coincidentally the only song the crowd seemed to respond to, “I Love It.” What then becomes abundantly clear about “I Love It” when watching it performed live rather than blasting at a club, is that the entire two minute and thirty seven second song is really just the same phrase repeated in unison over and over. How did Jawo and Hjelt keep it interesting while milking their hit for a solid six minutes? Here’s a small simple breakdown of each repeated chorus for the song as they performed it:
- A simplified version of the song’s beat, only chanting “I love it” when appropriate.
- No beat, only the lyrics
- No lyrics, just the beat
- The song as you’d hear it on Spotify, leaving the audience to fill in “I love it”
- The song begins to fade, bridge “I’m on a different road…”
- A giant dubsteppy buildup to another “I don’t care” shout chorus
- Beat continues, and slowly fades to conclude the set
As Animal Collective frontman Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) performed some rapid-fire gibberish before jumping into “Today’s Supernatural” an audience member behind this writer moaned, “This is why I don’t like Animal Collective.” There were lulls and experimental tangents to be sure, but such is the nature of an Animal Collective performance. Fortunately, Panda Bear, Avey Tare, Geologist and Deakin got dance grooves going via some of their best bangers — “Brother Sport,” “My Girls,” and “Peacebone” — all towards the end of the set. Technical difficulties (resulting from a missed soundcheck) cut two songs short, but there were plenty of muddied hippies dancing throughout the set (one up front wearing an appropriate panda mask) to maintain the good vibes.
The Dirty Projectors happily brought their quirky brand of mellow, offbeat funk to the YOU’RE DOING GREAT stage Saturday afternoon. They did justice to the location’s name, performing songs like “The Socialites” and “See What She Seeing” from their 2012 album “Swing Lo Magellan.” Just after “About to Die,” the sun finally sprang free from the clouds that blocked its rays since Friday’s ugly storm. “It’s great to be back in New York,” lead singer Amber Coffman said. It’s only right that a New York City band played Governors Ball into stellar weather.
Due to the downpour on Friday (June 8) Kings Of Leon’s set was rescheduled to Saturday, which caused times to shift on the Gov Ball NYC stage, moving Japandroids set up a half hour to 2:30pm. This caused confusion among some (this writer included) who showed up to find frontmen Brian King and David Prowse already halfway through though their set. But no matter, because when arriving the duo from Toronto had the crowd buzzing with the energetic shout choruses of “The House That Heaven Built” the crowd was loving it, particularly their onstage banter. They even took a stab at the Governor’s Ball headliner – “We are Guns and Roses from Los Angeles California!” screamed Telecaster-wielding Brian King as the set closed.
Australian electro-poppers Cut Copy worked the main stage crowd into a frenzy with a dance-heavy set that drew heavily from 2008’s “In Ghost Colours,” opening with “Heart’s On Fire” and featuring fan favorites like “Lights And Music,” “So Haunted” and “Far Away.” The band also previewed its upcoming fourth album, expected later this year, with a new song called “Explorers” that continues the 70s stadium-rock sound that permeated throughout 2011’s “Zonoscope.”
The setup at this point should be familiar to everybody who has been to a show or watched videos by any of the members of Black Hippy – a barren stage with a single DJ booth table in the center displaying the simple T.D.E. logo. The moniker is short for Top Dawg Entertainment, whose starchild Kendrick Lamar dished out the hits at the HondaStage at 6:45. Clad head to toe in an eccentric Creature from the Black Lagoon matching black and white sweatsuit, Lamar didn’t just stick to the recent hits like “m.A.A.D. city” (which was proceeded by a long, quiet buildup), “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” or “Backseat Freestyle” (which had the crowd bumping with their hands in the air).
“You guys ready to party?” he belted before taking it back with “P&P,” from 2010’s Overly Dedicated. He also spun the familiar hits from the acclaimed Section.80, including crowd favorites “A.D.H.D.” and “Hol’ Up.” Of course, Kendrick’s verse on A$AP Rocky’s “F**kin’ Problems” made an appearance, and “Swimming Pools (Drank)” got a play before the set closed.
Reporting by Andrew Hampp, William Gruger, Brad Wete and Chris Payne