Rounding up the best and brightest of Governors Ball 2015

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Governors' Ball | Photo by Rachel Barrish
Governors Ball | Photo by Rachel Barrish

The annual Governors Ball festival is held at Randall’s Island in New York, wedged in between Upper Manhattan and Queens. The rain trickled down on Friday but that didn’t stop the ticket holders from trekking through to make it over for their favorite acts, most especially Philly’s The Districts who started off the fest Friday afternoon at 12:15. A bit too early for most, one would think, but they ripped through their set with a medium sized but lively crowd cheering along to the words of “Young Blood.”

Friday was definitely the best day musically by far, seeing two of my favorite female artists Florence & The Machine and St. Vincent back to back. The only problem was the sets were scheduled so close but the stages were far apart; the crowd was packed so tightly it was almost impossible to get through. Pushing and maneuvering your way through people is sometimes a part of the festival experience, but this was just plain madness. I was a bit disappointed I only got to watch two songs by Florence, but St. Vincent’s incredible set and sensational stage presence made it all worth it. Similarly with electronic act, ODESZA in the Gotham Tent, whose song “Say My Name” has been on repeat on my iPod lately, was utterly compact and squished. They were by far the most popular electronic act throughout the weekend, despite DeadMau5 on Saturday night.

My Morning Jacket ended the evening on a high note, starting out with “Believe” from their latest release The Waterfall, while a good chunk of the festival attendees watched Drake over on the main stage.

Saturday was less packed for sure, I got to enjoy my mid morning coffee with some words from Kate Tempest, the British rapper / poet who couldn’t stop gushing about how thrilled she was to be here. The rest of the day was fairly relaxed, checking out more Brits (including Marina & The Diamonds) and some Swedes (Little Dragon). The most anticipated act of the day, Bjork arrived on the main stage dressed to impress, backed by a full orchestra with enticing and somewhat disturbing visuals.

When Sunday arrived, I took my time to arrive at the gates, since the first act I wanted to see, Strand of Oaks didn’t go on until 1:30. Someone there asked me what kind of music they were and I responded, “sad indie rock” which I thought was fitting. Timothy Showalter commanded the audience as he always does. The remainder of the day was about catching Tame Impala, who rocked out on the main stage. After Philly’s The War on Drugs, I didn’t have anyone else I wanted to check out for a while, so I waited in the line for the infamous ramen burger, a burger patty with teriyaki sauce with two “buns” made of ramen noodles. It was utterly delicious and worth it to order at least once…tough probably only once, being that just one is $10.

One of the other highlights that I enjoyed was Hot Chip, the British electronic rock band was super fun and enjoyable. I decided to skip taking photos of them because I just wanted to let loose, so I danced away until it was time to catch the last headliner of the weekend. The Black Keys were phenomenal as always, ripping away on tunes like “Next Girl”, “Gold on the Ceiling” and “Fever.” On my way out after a long, exhausting but fun-packed weekend, I stopped to briefly check out Lana Del Rey.

Fest Favorites

St. Vincent

An obvious choice but in all honest goodness, this woman is incredible. Her stature and nature on stage is just delectable and her songs are just good hearted rock anthems. Her robotic movements and ability to connect and interact with the audience are appreciative and inspiring. I saw some girls in the front row during her set who had been there since 3 p.m., and they waited five hours just to be able to see Annie Clark shred up close.

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St. Vincent | Photo by Rachel Barrish

Kate Tempest

This woman is a lyrical genius and a poet at heart. Her songs are more like truths and stories being told with hip hop, dubstep background noises.

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Kate Tempest | Photo by Rachel Barrish

Marina & The Diamonds

Another Brit, Marina & The Diamonds emerged on the main stage in a purple jumpsuit with a headband that said “Froot”, the title of her most recent full-length album. She dove into tunes from that such as “Forget” and “Savages,” but not forgoing the crowd favorite “I Am Not a Robot” which everyone could sing along to.

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Marina and the Diamonds | Photo by Rachel Barrish

Future Islands

Ugh, Sam Herring, you slay me. This man can do no wrong. His dance moves and body movements on stage are just too good. Along with his theatrical moments to go along with the songs. Future Islands commanded the audience over at the Gotham Tent. I skipped one of my favorite hip hop acts, Atmosphere (on simultaneously at the Big Apple stage) to catch the entirety of Sam Herring’s sweet grooves.

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Future Islands | Photo by Rachel Barrish

Bjork

Of course Bjork wouldn’t let photographers or anyone into the pit to document her set. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the Icelandic singer’s captivating performance. She emerged on stage in some sort of moth/butterfly outfit, unable to see from a far distance the details of it, that is until they “accidentally” put her on the jumbotron for about 15 seconds. The videos behind her were interesting and weird, with lots of nature and odd scenes such as a caterpillar laying eggs. The set ended with flames blasting and fireworks going off behind the stage.

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Bjork | Photo by Rachel Barrish

Tame Impala

The Australian group really rocked this one. Their visuals were colorfully enchanting and they chatted and bantered with the audience, always a plus. Kevin Parker throttled out tunes from the newer stuff, released in singles such as “‘Cause I’m a Man” and “Let it Happen,” off the forthcoming album Currents. 

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Tame Impala | Photo by Rachel Barrish

Check out a full gallery of photos from Governors’ Ball below.

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