The Governors Ball Music Festival—not a complete rainout
Governors Ball Festivalhttp://governorsballmusicfestival.com
Randall's Island Park
By Monsurat Adebanjo, Contributing Writer, June 14, 2016
This year’s sixth annual Governors Ball Music Festival was held June 2-4, 2016 at Randall’s Island Park. Randall’s Island is located literally in the middle of the city—it’s an island located in the East River between Manhattan, The Bronx, and Queens. Each year hundreds of thousands of music fans head out to take part in this thrilling three-day experience, encompassing a wide range of artists and acts, a large curated food line-up, in addition to a plethora of fair activities (minus a Ferris wheel) with truly positive vibes all around. I attended the festival on Saturday, June 4th.
I’ll start by saying, I am not new to the festival scene, but this was my first time attending Governors Ball, therefore, I was almost as wide-eyed as any other newcomer. Getting to Governors Ball was surprisingly easy. The MTA has bus routes from Harlem directly to Randall’s Island, and the venue was walking distance from the bus stop (at least by New Yorker standards). In addition, festival attendees could arrive by a ferry from Manhattan, a Brooklyn shuttle, and on foot over a designated footbridge or on bike; no passenger vehicles were allowed on the Island during the festival.
I took the bus, and once I arrived and entered the Festival site, I was in sensory overload. My first thought was how were so many people already inside, because all the lines leading up to the entrance had been rather short or nonexistent. There was so much going on—the Festival had more than four major stages with over sixty-seven performances—and this didn’t even include the food! There was a ridiculously amazing food line-up, including artisan delicacies, ramen, lobster, falafel, desserts, and everything in between (with vegan and gluten-free options as well). There were activities such as mini-golf, dance parties, art installations, lawn games, and photo booths—it was almost too much to take in. It was like Willy Wonka’s Factory for Generation Y; there was so much to see and do, one would need to attend the Festival all three days to see and experience it all.
But the music is the main attraction here, and Governors Ball put together a varied lineup appealing to devotees of almost all genres. The most disappointing aspect of the weekend was the weather—I was able to catch De La Soul, Miguel, and Haim before I was completely rained out. I was very disappointed to miss The Killers that evening and Kanye West the next day (Governors Ball was cancelled on Sunday because of rain). I attended the Festival with Black Friday preparedness—I knew which artists I wanted to see, on which stage they would be performing, and the proximity between the stages. I did not want to get stuck so far in the back that I would be viewing a performance from another stage.
De La Soul, the hip-hop trio who has been together for more than 20 years, performed their classics. I was surprisingly unsurprised at the number of people who turned out for this performance; they pulled a rather large crowd of very chill individuals who seemed to just vibe to their music. Then I heard a concert by Miguel, who performed his hits with fervor in new ways. As evidenced by his music award show performances, he comes alive on stage.
It was during Miguel’s performance that the sky opened up in an attempt to flood Randall’s Island. A choice had to be made: 1) catch pneumonia and wait it out; 2) see if the rain would get worse, and if so, run to the bus; or 3) run now! My friend and I decided to go with option “2,” we waited for about thirty minutes and then ran to the bus. But before we exited the park, we were able to catch some of Haim’s performance! As I could hear Miguel continue to perform in the background, I watched (under the protection of a ceiling in an overly crowded entryway) as Haim performed their hit “Forever,” then I ran, like so many, to the bus. Or at least that’s what I thought—as I watched The Killers perform from the warmth of my couch at home, I realized that maybe only a handful of people actually left when I did. The Governors Ball fan base is hardy and undeterred.
Although much of the festival was rained out this year, I very much enjoyed the performances I was able to see, the food, and meeting fellow festivalgoers. For anyone wondering whether they should attend this festival in the future, I’ll simply describe Governors Ball as “the non-EDM (Electronic Dance Music) state festival for adults.” I hope you’ll consider attending in the future, and maybe we’ll find ourselves in line or attending a concert and strike up a conversation—I always meet the most interesting people in line. . . .