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Tags: / Credit: Luis Ruiz

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.

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[Photos by Luis Ruiz.]

Comments (31)
  1. You include a performance that wasn’t even part of the festival and exclude Jack White? I realize people are hating on Jack these days, but that performance was great.

    • For a more positive statement: I’m also a huge Damon Albarn fan, but lived in ATL for 15 years without seeing Outkast. So I went with Outkast and it was worth it. Though I did catch Damon’s last 3 songs which made me feel even more conflicted

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    • dou  |   Posted on Jun 9th +1

      Unless you were at the Port Chester show, of course you’d think the Strokes phoned in. They even called it their “warm up” show” for Gov Ball. I personally thought it was great since they played more from the first two albums. Good choices from the last three too.

      • I was at the Port Chester show and I don’t think they phoned it in at all at Gov Ball. They all looked very happy to be there and, while the setlist could use maybe one or two more Comedown Machine songs and Juicebox, it was pretty perfect.

  3. the stokes have never put-on being cool. they just are cool….THAT cool. it’s real.

  4. Funny The Kills ranks at 10 as one of the best for you, I was excited to see them and thought there set was extremely boring.

  5. all the coverage for this over the weekend for this has got me really excited for FYF. its really great to hear the Strokes still got it since they’re one of the bigger bands I’m looking forward to seeing

  6. TVOTR was the most disappointing set of the festival for me. There was something up with the mix and even songs like Halfway Home, which was sped up from its album version, didn’t have the oomph they needed.

    Sleigh Bells and RTJ were my peaks of the weekend. Hadn’t seen either yet (saw Killer Mike solo in April), and they both blew me away.

  7. I agree. Go see Outkast. Sick.

  8. TV on the Radio was probably my favorite of the weekend; maybe Run the Jewels. Day one really surprised me by being more solid than day two. The Strokes and Jack White were both solid but by the time their sets rolled around, I was struggling with being overcrowded and overheated.

    • Also, I forgot to mention it because of all the big names playing but PAPA fucking KILLED it. How they aren’t bigger is beyond me.

  9. Are you serious? Phoenix was easily one of the best, they were even better than OutKast. Also even better than La Roux.

  10. The Kills are passe but Damon Albarn and Outkast are on top of the game? Mmmkay.

  11. Howd you miss Phoenix. Literally one of the best shows that whole time. 1st: Phoenix/Outkast 2. Janelle Monae

  12. Well you guys where obviously not at Empire of The Sun, cause that ish was mind blowing

  13. The Kills are passe.. lolz

    • They play the kind of music that’s better for having sex to or doing drugs to, rather than blogging about. It’s so passe.

  14. No Interpol? Cmon they were amazing

  15. This festival should have been called VomitBall. I had never been to a fest with so much throwing up.

  16. I was honestly kind of underwhelmed with Outkast. Don’t get me wrong, it was good to hear some of those songs played live, but the energy of the performance as a whole…I dunno. It felt very much like a go-through-the-paces kind of thing, for me. They hit all the marks and seemed to be having a good time, but it didn’t feel inspiring in the least.

    I completely disagree, too, on TVOTR. That was honestly the best set at the fest, IMO, and their new material kicked ass.

    Also a great performance not mentioned here: Jenny Lewis. She did a bang-up job with a tough mid-day time slot on a hot afternoon.

    But I do agree about Janelle Monae. She rocked it, and even the heat didn’t diminish the power of the performance, for me.

    And, finally, if you didn’t try a lobster roll from the Luke’s Lobster truck, you missed out, big-time. $16 is pretty steep for a small sandwich, but damn, that thing was the truth.

  17. it seems like the negativities you throw around in your dissection of the Strokes e.g. “so thoroughly populated with bros” or “every faux-aloof thing Julian did that kinda bugged me” or “it comes off as more of a lack of charisma, or a fundamental disengagement from what they’re doing” are more a reflection on your own perception of reality than any genuine flaw in the strokes performance.

    • To be fair, there were a lot of bros and they all seemed intent on smashing everyone that waited for hours to be upfront.

      • oh i agree completely. i waited from like 1:30 on and then was absolutely crushed by the weight of ‘em all. just saying it’s irrelevant to the strokes performance.

  18. You’re right, it is an issue of taste.

  19. The Strokes were an insane experience. I don’t know if the was the best performance, but people got crazy about them as I never seen before in a festival.

  20. More or less agree with the list. TV On The Radio killed it with their live show. Phoenix also did a very good job. Damon Albarn I love… I don’t know if I would put him in the top three but definitely in the top ten. He’s more hindered by the choice of setlist than anything… would have loved more Blur but I’ll take what I can get with him. Quite an amazing performer, he is so good it just seems effortless with him.

  21. You forgot Diarrhea Planet. Grimes was better than Outkast. Vampire Weekend played a stellar performance but went on sans mention. A matter of taste indeed.

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