I recognize this is an issue of taste, but Governors Ball 2014 was a little bit of a mixed bag for me. There were two headliners I loved, and they conflicted, and I had no interest in the subsequent four on Saturday and Sunday. After being impressed and surprised repeatedly on Friday, I had a range of experiences on Saturday with bands I’ve loved for a long time, some living up to the memory and some not, and then some not but still kind of actually doing so. And then by Sunday, I don’t think I really had any experiences at all — after having way too much to see on Friday, I found myself wandering a bit on Sunday, vaguely uninterested in most of the sets I stopped by. There’s also something inherently more exhausting about a festival in New York — there’s no quick escape to your car and a hotel, but rather the slow trudge of zombie-death back across the RFK Bridge, over-crowded subways, etc., etc.
But, hey, all that being said, those obscene crowds seemed to really love Governors Ball. I really loved a good portion of it, too, from the Jumbotron running quotes like John Updike saying “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding,” to some really great tacos, to this $4 glass of lemonade I kept getting that seemed equal parts illegal in its addictive qualities and medicinal under the unforgiving sun of Saturday and Sunday afternoons. And, oh yeah, amongst the annoying conflicts and some ambivalence on my part regarding some of the artists playing, I saw some performances that blew my mind, or sparked a love for some new music, or preyed on ten or fifteen years of fandom to calibrate some real knock-me-to-my-knees moments. Out of those, these were my ten favorites.
[Photos by Luis Ruiz.]