June 9, 2013

Governor's Ball 2013 (Part 1)

For it's third installment, NYC's Governor's Ball kicked things up a notch by turning the once single day festival (actually on Governor's Island) into a monster three day festival with all-star headliners. It finally seemed as if New York City would have a proper festival after the disastrous Field Day fiasco of 2003 and All Points West. And then there was a tropical storm.

Friday got a off to a wet start and things only got worse. At 3:00 Dinosaur Jr took to the main stage to a pretty decent sized crowd and tore through an hour long set of material from their recent I Bet On Sky as well as lots of old classics. The dampness added some extra sludge to the group's notorious fuzzed-out punk and J Masics ripped through extended guitar solos while Lou pummeled out some scuzzy bass lines. Given the poor conditions, the band were still able to put on a solid show (although the Murph replacement on drums was a little off) and classics "The Wagon", "Start Choppin", "I  Feel the Pain" and "Sludgefeast" made the weather much more bearable. Their Cure cover didn't hurt either. The Skyy Vodka tent was a popular choice for many throughout the day (for obvious reasons) and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs had a relatively large crowd and got people moving with his big bumping beats. By the time Crystal Castles were ready to go, the tent was stuffed to the brim with people doing everything they could to stay dry. Alice Glass was in full rage mode, climbing the drum kit and speakers, while a rave in the day time took place in front of her. Unfortunately, the worsening conditions cut my day short. I left before Feist and Beach House were forced to end their sets early and Kings of Leon got cancelled all together.

Given the disaster the grounds seemed to be in on Friday, the fact that the festival was able to carry on was almost a miracle itself. Kings of Leon got a make-up slot early Saturday evening and shift the schedule for the rest of the day. Japandroids went on early at the main stage and introduced themselves as the legendary Guns N Roses. While the punk duo has risen significantly in popularity over the past year, they still seemed a little out of place on a stage that large, but with the crowd behind them, they did their best to deliver on the big opportunity. Their big riffs were huge hits amongst the crowd (most air guitaring I saw all day) and the shout a long choruses were shouted back to the band with passion and vigor. Toronto's Fucked Up brought the rage to the Skyy Vodka Tent as Damon Abraham spent more time in the crowd and in the mud than onstage. The band was in tight form; their triple guitar attack sounding as hard as ever and their drummer pounding away with some of the best fills in modern punk. "I've played a lot of festivals all over the world" said Damon "but this is the grossest shit I've ever seen". He later apologized to the fans that showed up early to get close spots for Azealia Banks. "We're almost done, I promise" he said shortly after, but not before enough mud was stirred up for probably the grossest pit I've ever witnessed. On the other side of the grounds, Kendrick Lamar gathered the biggest crowd at that point of the weekend. White college kids were out in flocks to watch the heavily praised Compton rapper tackle his biggest NYC audience to date. While Kendrick isn't much of a performer, his fans relished in every moment when they were asked to chant along with the rising star. Decked out in a stellar hoodie/jumpsuit, the rapper made sure everyone has having a great time before testing the audience to see if they could be the best show of the tour. Indeed, they were. Around 8:00, Animal Collective walked out on to the You're Doing Great Stage and launched into "Did You See the Words" off the epic album Feels. Immediately you could see the crowd become perplexed at the Animal Collective live experience. Not only do these guys take their own brand of weirdness to the next level, they really don't care what anyone thinks. There was a good amount from last year's underrated Centipede Hz and, of course, things really picked up during an extended jam of "Brother Sport". Avey Tare paused the band before finishing "What Would I Want? Sky" to request a soundcheck. Admittedly, the band had the worst sound out of anyone at the festival. Things picked up again for "My Girls" (I never thought I'd see the day where there was a crowd sing-a-long at an Animal Collective show) and Avey stepped up his game for "Peacebone", which saw Avey center stage on vocals, Deakin next to him on guitar, Panda in the back behind a kit, and Geologist rocking the boards. Then it went downhill. With about 15 minutes to go, the band broke into "The Purple Bottle" which was an absolute highlight, or it would've been. Once again, halfway into the song, Avey stopped things in motion because the song was too fast. "Well, I think that's it" he said as the band walked off about ten minutes early. After toughing it out through excessive wind, rain, and mud, Animal Collective failed to deliver a whole set and abruptly ended two songs. As I made my way back to Manhattan over the RFK bridge, still disappointed, I heard Axel Rose belting out "Welcome to the Jungle". Animal Collective pulled the plug early and Guns N Roses started a show on time.

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