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REVIEW: The Governors Ball Music Festival 2014

MTV Australia was on ground in NYC to catch all the Gov Ball action…

Shaking its fist at last year’s ankle-deep muddy shemozzle of a weekend, Governors Ball 2014 stole the best three days of New York City’s spring so far to show the capacity crowd that New Yorkers really do, do it best. Bottles of wine available at the bar, American super-sized tinnies of Fosters & bag-toss a plenty, Governors Ball welcomed summer like a boss.

On Day 1,Phoenix took the orange sun down over the Manhattan skyline, proving crowd pleaser 'Lisztomania' is still their fans favourite dance-along track. After sunset, Grimes introduced her heaving crowd in the Gotham Tent to three new tracks, a little deeper and dancier than what we’re used to from her. Having tweeted the day prior that fans should stick around until the end of her set to hear a song she and Blood Diamonds wrote for Rihanna (who rejected it), Grimes introduced her new song with “This one is for you Rihanna”. Ouch. She was thankful for her ever-supportive fan base though, telling the crowd they were all really nice and the “made (her) day.”

The most anticipated set of the evening, OutKast, lived well up to expectations. Holding the crowd in suspense for a slightly late start time, Big Boi & Andre 3000 appeared, outrageously well-dressed as ever, out of a black and white American flag glass box, an ode to their 2000 album Stankonia. Big Boi won our vote for the best outfit of the night, in a fluoro two-piece the ‘90s are begging to have returned. True to this tour’s form, the band embraced mostly older tracks, but kept the audience thoroughly entertained despite reports of a lacklustre performance at Coachella earlier this year.

On Day 2, Disclosure started to burn a fire in the heat of the day, as the temperature reached 30 degrees and the crowd was packed so tightly dancing was a difficult feat. Check out the duo’s shaky Instagram video of the crowd here.

The Strokes took the sun down on Saturday evening to a mixture of old and new songs, and plenty of good dancing. Playing at the same time as The Strokes meant a smaller crowd for Childish Gambino, but that just made for less elbowing to get a good view for what was a great set.

Skrillex closing out Saturday’s show was a clear highlight. One thing is for sure; the guy knows how to work a stage. With snippets of The Circle Of Life from The Lion King, skeletal monkeys in the visual display, and a laser beam show to rival the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks, Skrillex has Got. It. Going. On. He openly enjoyed himself too, writing on Twitter: “Gov BALL New York was one of the tightest festivals I’ve ever played.” NY

Sunday. Day 3 in the New York City heat. Lots of exhausted bodies soaking up the music from their backs in the grass, to the beautiful sound of AlunaGeorge emanating from the Gotham Tent. Earl Sweatshirt made a feature appearance throughout Odd Future mate Tyler The Creator’s set on the Big Apple Stage, where they poked fun at the VIP section, in true cheeky Tyler the Creator style.

Aussies Empire of the Sun treated their pulsing crowd to a true-to-form outer-space style show with plenty of metallic and glitter, which had the crowd spilling well out of the tent as the sound of Vampire Weekend not too far away signalled the definite start to the American festival season.

The finale of the night belonged to ex-Swedish House Mafia duo Axwell /\ Ingrosso, who treated the crowd to a whole bunch of new music, as well a surprise appearance by Pusha T, who is the featured rapper on one of their new tracks. Fireworks, pyrotechnics and another laser show signalled the end of Governors Ball for another year, sending weary New Yorkers home to pack their bags and be on their way to Bonnaroo, which features an even bigger line-up, starting this Thursday in Tennessee.

— Leilani Williams

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