Governors Ball – New York City’s premiere music festival for the Summer season has had a long history of famous acts including nationally known Gun’s and Roses (2013) and Girl Talk (2011). However, the festival also makes sure to showcase a number of the city’s local, up and coming as well as acts that are on brink of global stardom. Often, these artists express their musicianship through new and unique avenues that help to promote added variety within preexisting genres. Many of these artists are self-managed independent acts similar to the talent found on HiFiveMusic.
During the next few days (June 5th – 7th), I will be offering an account of my personal experiences of the acts that I was able to see during my three days at the festival. A recap of each day will be presented her on HiFiveInsider. A majority of the acts that I have focused on seeing acts that I believe have the potential to be the “next big thing” in the music industry as well as a number of acts that I am already familiar with (just for fun).
~ Stay tuned!
Diiv – Honda Stage, 1:30pm
Diiv, Brooklyn based indie rock band, was my first stop this weekend at Governors Ball. I have never heard the band play in the past. In fact, I never knew that they existed until this afternoon and I am currently kicking myself in a butt for making that be the case. The group played with impressive vocal harmonies matched with catchy melodies throughout each and every one of their songs. They reminded me of a fine mix between early Radiohead (OK, Computer era) and Ohio based indie band Cloud Nothings. The vocal harmonies were so consistent that I was waiting for the moment where I would grow tired of this repetition. However, this moment never presented itself and I found myself attempting to sing along to songs that I have only just heard for the first time.
The band is immensely talented but I got the impression that they were playing it a bit safe by sticking to similar chord progressions and rhythmic patterns that work well. I felt as if I was listening to a song, accidently set the track to repeat and listened to it for 30 minutes longer than I originally intended. This is not a bad thing – in fact, it contributed to their vibe.
Benjamin Booker is more or less a “Soul” artist (although, there is no specific genre to file Booker within) from New Orleans which certainly showed through his performance this afternoon. At first glance, Booker’s short stature and relaxed demeanor did not prepare me for the voice that came out of his mouth. His voice was smooth yet gritty. Deep yet melodic. My general reaction to the tone of his voice was similar to that of parents witnessing their first born child taking its first steps.
The stage band consisted of a four piece ensemble: bass guitar, drums, a baby grand pianist as well as Booker on guitar and vocals. Benjamin Booker was a pleasant surprise to this year’s festival line up. I am hoping to see them return to Governors Ball in 2016.
MØ – Gotham Stage, 3:45pm
MØ is an electro pop and bass artist that reminded a bit of a combination of the festival’s highly anticipated Florence and the Machine and a young Gwen Stefani with the aesthetics of Cara Delevingne. MØ had a pleasant back drop behind the stage (shown in the image above) that streamed a number of black and grey movies/commercials synced up to her songs as if to develop a music video that lasted the entire length of her set. This attention to detail added to the set in that it offered a better view for fans located towards the back of the crowd, like myself. MØ’s stage performance encouraged crowd participation and ample energy which produce an overall wonderful performance and positive experience for those watching the set.
Vance Joy – Honda Stage, 4:45pm
Vance Joy, the songwriter responsible for the ever popular radio song “Riptide” performed a very intimate set this afternoon for a very impressed crowd. Vance Joy very much so has a style of his own. However, there were remnants of his set that reminded me of another up and coming Australian based artist, Jeremy Loops. This opinion of mine may or may not have to do with the fact that both individuals are from Australia but, we can leave that conversation for a later time. His simplistic acoustic stylings matched perfectly with catchy melodies presented through his lyrics developed an overwhelming emotional response from his audience and surprisingly, from himself. Vance seemed to be enjoying himself on stage just as much as the fans that waited months to witness his performance.
The Decemberists – Honda Stage, 6:45pm
The Decemberists were one of the bands that I was most excited to see this afternoon. By the time that this set began, the gloomy weather began to disappear bringing forth only sunshine and clear skies for the rest of the afternoon. “We have been on a two week tour doing only outdoor festival-type shows where it has rained at ever one of our shows.” front man Colin Meloy stated. “I am happy to see that we did not bring that North Western weather along with us this afternoon.” Meloy’s stage presence was infectious. Every effort was made to get the audience involved including simulating the sounds of thunder through clapping, rain by snapping, as well as a call and response crowd vocal exercise that echoed throughout the festival grounds. Their newest album, What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, was the focal point of the performance where around 5 songs were played.
The Decemberists have a tendency of getting better as musicians every time I have a chance to see them. Being that this was my first outdoor The Decemberists experience, I am happy to say that they have lived up to that expectation. Certainly hoping for a return in 2016.
St. Vincent – Big Apple Stage, 8:00pm
St. Vincent was… an absolute BAD ASS. This is my first time seeing her live and I was extremely impressed. The performance not only showcased her musical abilities, but it was also one that allowed her to incorporate theatrics. Along with her robotic dance movements and electronica pedals attached to her guitar during moments of shredding solos; St. Vincent had two background dancers that helped to
interpret the very message expressed by the artist. At moments, I found myself watching not St. Vincent and instead watching her dancers due to their ability to channel the energy from the music and present it as a visual art and not just an audible one. Between songs, St. Vincent often took the opportunity to speak directly to the audience. During this time, she expressed her inner most fears (including the idea that she believes that all babies are born psychics and how that “scares the shit out of me”). Similarly she stated “Like yourselves, and like all of us, I have grown to understand that it takes much more courage to love than it does to hate.” This theme was ever present in the performance displayed this evening of her love for an art in which she has had the ability to develop into a genre all her own.