June 11, 2013

Governor's Ball 2013 (Part 2)

The third and final day of the 2013 Governor's Ball was certainly the highlight of the weekend. After two days of intense mud, Sunday saw the grounds at their best and temperatures soar to make it actually feel like a summer music festival. I give a lot of credit to the crew who were able to save the festival from disaster and make it an enjoyable experience.

On Sunday afternoon, I made my way to the You're Doing Great Stage to catch an early performance from Deerhunter. Hot off the release of their newest, and stunning, new album Monomania, the band wasted no time in gearing up for their late afternoon set and as Cold War Kids ran a little over their set time, Bradford Cox took the opportunity to discuss what kind of bacteria might be living on Randall's Island as well as giving the crowd a brief science lesson about oil being made from our dead ancestors and powering their electrical instruments. Bradford's witty banter was in full force between each song as well. The band kicked things off with the opening two songs from the brilliant Microcastle and did a great job of mixing older songs with the new material. Something that might not be totally expected with the band's new line-up, although the new members were on point and felt like a great fit. The triple guitar, wall of sound washed over the crowd; the band sounding as big as ever. Lockett had a chance to shine as well, "The Missing" and a wonderfully extended "Desire Lines" were sharp and clean. The band hardly faulted as their set built to the phenomenal "Monomania" which climaxed to a beautiful noise assault that decimated the crowd.

Beirut provided a relaxing mood of beautiful sounds and delicate melodies, a perfect early evening festival band. Decked out in suits and ties, it was a wonder the band didn't melt. As the sun began to set on the final day, Grizzly Bear took to the main stage to unleash their perfectly crafted pop tunes. Backed with floating, glowing orbs, the Brooklyn band seemed thrilled to be back in their home city. Playing songs mostly from last year's brilliant Shields, each member was perfectly in sync and showed no signs of weariness from a year of heavy touring. Breakout track, "Knife" was a fantastic highlight and Daniel Rossen absolutely shredded away on "While You Wait for the Others" and "Yet Again". "Two Weeks" is still riding high as the band's all-star single and the energy soared when the song dropped late in the band's set. Even without the comfort of stellar acoustics usually provided by elaborate theaters, the band's pristine sound and angelic harmonies were as mesmerizing as ever and showcased the band's dazzling raw talents.

While, the weekend provided some of the biggest and best names in indie and modern music, Kanye was the buzzword of the festival. Epic, monumental, stunning, masterful, legendary. All have been used to describe the end of Governor's Ball. As darkness fell, the largest crowd of the weekend gathered to the main stage to witness Kanye's first live performance in quite some time. Rows and rows of lights were added to the stage as a patient crowd began to grow restless. Then, shortly before 10:00, the spectacle began. "Black Skinheads" and "New Slaves" got things started as three figures in black KKK hoods appeared on massive screens and the dark industrial sounds of his new record, Yeezus, hit like a knock-out punch. After a few tracks, Kanye disappeared only to be revealed on a small platform in the middle of the crowd, a place he would stay for the duration of the show. Things picked up with "Can't Tell Me Nothing" as the crowd broke out in a near frenzy and continued into "Power". Kanye took the time to deliver new songs and foray deeper into the dark mindset that comes with the new record. Of course there were the hits too. "Flashing Lights" and "All of the Lights" (obviously played back-to-back) ignited the crowd and "Jesus Walks" was near perfection. Then came the classic Kanye. "This is the part of the show where I talk a lot of shit" said Mr. West during "Clique" and he certainly did not hold back on his feelings. "Honestly, when I listen to the radio, that ain't where I wanna be no more" he declared. "At this point, I could give a fuck about selling a million records, as long as I put out an album that you can rock to all motherfucking summer." Yeezus has no lead single and no album art. This is Kanye West doing Kanye West. The rest of the set featured a lot more fan favorites, "Good Life", "Stronger", "All Falls Down" and the forever epic "Runaway" saw the show launch towards the stratosphere. Kanye made his way back to the stage for a second rendition of "Black Skinheads", a song that only gets better the more I hear it, before the night finally ended. Kanye West had never done anything predictable. Each record has been a different saga that has seen him move from up and coming hip-hop star, to pop star, to his own level of superstardom. With Yeezus only days away, it doesn't seem like we'll see another masterpiece along the lines of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but we've never known what to expect from this man. Whatever does come, one thing is for sure. Kanye West is a performer that expects nothing but greatness from himself, and with a track record like his, this will surely be the legendary.

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