Andy Boyle's Governors Ball: Day 1
New York City got its very own version of UK’s Glastonbury, the often rain addled festival, this past weekend as the 2013 Governors Ball kicked off with the tail end of Tropical Storm Andrea moving up the east coast, lashing the New York area with rain and high winds. Waterproofing all my camera gear, I set out on assignment for Flavorwire with the sell out crowd making its merrily chaotic way over from 125th Street across the RFK bridge on foot or wheels and into Randall’s Island. I had shot a newly reformed Rage Against The Machine here at Rock The Bells 2007 amidst a torrential downpour and wasn’t looking forward to a repeat performance from mother nature.
As always, in the face of adversity at a festival, spirits were high. Unfortunately missing Dinosaur Jr., due to a snails pace crawl over the aforementioned bridge, first port of call was Best Coast, who did their very best to please a drenched crowd. LA based DJ Dillon Francis, sporting a black tie ensemble not unlike Diplo’s chosen stage attire, whipped the other end of the field into a stomping moombahcore frenzy, club kids going bat shit crazy for his deep mix of hard house fused with raggaeton.
Local Natives, hailing from Silver Lake California, played one of the most impressive band sets of the festival. Unfairly lumped into whatever cross genre that can be created out of folk music, they scored the only tiny break in the wet weather, helping lift the moods of the assembled throng via addictive melodic harmonies and percussion heavy grooves. Other groups pulled out all the stops to reward the crowd, that was slowly beginning to tire of the weather based battering, including Crystal Castles, Holy Ghost!, Poliça and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. The weather took a turn for the nasty in the lead up to the headliner section of proceedings. While the sweet sounds of Beach House drifted in from across the field, Feist took the main stage contending with harsh sheets of rain blowing in horizontally under the stage canopy, forcing her to abandon ship one song in. For safety, due to the increased wind speeds, the festival was suspended until the next day, leaving Kings of Leon minus their headlining set.
It felt like a a slight false start to the festival thanks to New York’s typically topsy turvy (aka shitty) summer weather. It’s little wonder event organizers keep their festival bookings in states with more predictable climates, but in the end, this is what festivals are all about, getting dirty and creating stories of surviving the event. The field looked like slop, punters sank up to their ankles and rivers of rain water were making access to performance areas impassable. But you have to admire festival goers as they (for the most part) suck it up and enjoy it. I’ve done worse, but at the shivering close of Day 1, and having witnessed the filthy mud slide of All Points West 2009, I knew exactly what was in store for Day 2. And it certainly didn’t involve clean footwear or a fine smelling day on the (former) grass.