Governors Ball is about as straightforward as a festival can get: two stages, no overlapping sets, and an even split between electronic music on Saturday and alternative rock on Sunday. For its second installation, Gov. Ball relocated to Randalls Island on the upper end of Manhattan from its namesake outpost at the lower, which didn’t affect much in the way of attendance but unfortunately added more of a commute to the festival’s official afterparties at the Brooklyn Bowl (#firstworldproblems). Other than that, however, there was enough space, water, bathrooms, lawn games, and food trucks to keep fussy New Yorkers happy.
Every festival attendee seemed remarkably well-behaved, engaging in games of croquet, chatting with strangers about high school melodrama and Modest Mouse, and debating whether those familiar wafts from concert crowds were the “good stuff” with laid-back security guards. While the festival didn’t exactly dig deep to find acts furthest underground or from the festival circuit, it doesn’t really matter when there’s a topless girl wearing a cape dancing to Kid Cudi or a sweaty young man who tries to serenade a new friend with every word to Chromeo’s “Call Me Up”.
It was difficult to decide what to write about, because there’s only so much you can say about people having a great time dancing silently while wearing giant Sennheiser headphones or experiencing aural nirvana, again, during Explosions In the Sky’s set. So I wrote about acts that changed the way I feel about so-called EDM, that pulled off a stellar set against all odds, or charmed the pants off me and/or made me dance my pants off. And most importantly, they were all acts I could check off my bucket list and also wanted to see again. Who knows? Maybe next time Penguin Prison will cover that other song by Lana Del Rey.