Muddy and magical, New York City’s 2016 Governors Ball was a messy but manageable music fix. Affectionately nicknamed and conveniently shortened to GovBall, this sixth year of the much anticipated outdoor and multi-stage concert was cut short by an unpredictable weather forecast that had its way when Sunday’s shows were canceled at the last minute. Still, the event offered a carnival-like getaway on Friday and Saturday, for those that could afford the fun in festival season, and a lineup worthy of
any means necessary to cross the East River.
Removed, yet accessible, and snug against the southern edge of the Bronx, Randall’s Island, where the event has hosted the last four years, was a trek to reach, with subways and the Governors Ball shuttle from Williamsburg both delayed at times. The experience of finally reaching the retreat — whether by official bus or walking over the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge connecting the island to Harlem at East 125th Street — felt like an adventure. The glittered, fringe-clad and tanned youth that flock to these sorts of things descended in hordes on the GovBall green like moths to a flame, magnetized by the pumping, muted bass and chanting of crowds they were coming to join.
With promised headliners Kanye West, The Killers, and The Strokes, let alone not-to-miss shows by De La Soul, Purity Ring, Christine and the Queens, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Marian Hill, Bat for Lashes, and The Knocks, GovBall drew a frenzied audience, ready to run the half mile of designated festival grounds multiple times in order not to miss a single performance. Sadly, many of the most anticipated acts, including Chvrches, Two Door Cinema Club, Death Cab for Cutie, Chet Faker, and Courtney Barnett were to play on the Sunday that never happened.
Although GovBall predictably measured up with commercial summertime vibes and countless corporate sponsorship ventures, including, but not limited to, ‘activities’ such as the Bacardi Party House, the Sennheiser Silent Disco and Vitaminwater® Experience, there seemed to be little that made the weekend-long concert stand out in the ever-growing, colorful festival circuit. Hints of subversion, like the free-standing, large-scale mural installations and the now-expected street style culture omni-present at festivals gave a glimpse at what GovBall is trying to, or could be. Until the show sorts out its identity in the coming years, plan to make the voyage if only for the knockout lineup. And/or the incredible menu.
Here’s a look at the scene on Friday and Saturday, before the rains washed us all away, including those who attended the fest, and live performance images from Beck, Robyn, Jamie xx, Miike Snow, De La Soul, Purity Ring, the Knocks, Miguel, MisterWives, Mac Miller, De La Soul, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and others.