Andy Boyle's Governors Ball: Day 2
Returning to Randall’s Island for the second day of New York’s Governors Ball festival, punters were presented with a mud deluge of biblical proportions. "Sensible footwear" was suggested online by organizers, but fishing waders would have been more advisable. Fans sank above ankle deep into slop and filth, the under-cover stage an absolute write off with 2-feet of foul water occupying the front rows. But all for not, the sun was out and a little (well, a lot) of wet soil wasn’t going to deter Saturday’s crowd.
Kings of Leon were shunted to the Saturday evening slot and Friday tickets honored for the second day swelled attendance. Earlier in the day, Icona Pop got things off to a dance flavored start, surprising many who came to hear "I Love It" with a varied array of tunes undoubtedly encouraging a few extra album downloads. California indie rockers Cold War Kids strutted the stage at the other end of the field (travel time taking three times longer due to aforementioned mud), while hyperactive hard rock duo Japandroids, slowly becoming a festival favorite, introduced themselves as "Guns N’ Roses from Hollywood, California" before exploding into a set of synapse snapping speed, claiming that this was their second gig they’ve played in eight hours.
Toronto-based hardcore outfit Fucked Up took the award for most enjoyable set. Throwing a swipe at organizers for having them on after Icona Pop, portly front man Damian Abraham, looking mighty elated, delivered the entire set from the crowd, hugging and sharing the microphone with rabid fans, posing for cell phone photos and promptly removing his shirt before tearing up inflatable beach balls and wearing them as head wear. It’s rare a performer will hug you as a photographer shooting his performance and thank the assembled media in the pit, but it was a first for me and I relished the moment. At the other end of the spectrum music-wise, Alt-J crooned to an immense throng of squealing girls who relished every soft lyric.
Party central got underway at the north end of the venue with Paper Diamond ramming beats into the afternoon crowd, who bounced along accordingly. Australian favorites Cut Copy continued their momentum as one of electronic music’s biggest acts that began in small clubs, surprising even themselves with the size of their afternoon mainstage performance that turned out. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros satisfied a loyal fan base back at the north end of the field with almost a dozen musicians on stage. Front man Alex Ebert prowled the front row barrier before square dancing with band members back on stage. Friday headliners Kings Of Leon delivered their first performance in three years, but it was decidedly underwhelming. Front man Caleb Followill sounded almost put out to be shunted to a Saturday slot due to the destructive weather of the day before. "We were meant to be heading to London, but now we’re here," he said. Indeed…
Animal Collective played next to a giant pool of muddy water, which allowed their fans to (kind of) wash their sodden boots, with the evening rounded out by Thievery Corporation and Nas. The main stage finished off with a mammoth set by Guns N’ Roses (aka Axel and whoever is currently touring with him). Photographers weren’t permitted to shoot the band (Axel perhaps concerned that close up shots would reveal he hasn’t aged gracefully), but how can one resist to close their eyes and pretend they are back at the 1991-93 Use Your Illusion tour when Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, Dizzy Reed and Gilby Clarke were still able to perform together with Axel. It was a massive hard rock circus full of gawdy visuals, pyrotechnics and all the hits that allowed a little forgiveness for the travesty of the 14 year late album Chinese Democracy.
If there was any gripe, it was that too many noteworthy bands were programmed to play at the same time, but it sorted the fans from the casual listeners. Day 2 was filthy and it was a wrap. And now we awaited Day 3 and the magnificent smell that was promised from two-day-old dried mud.
Photos By: Andrew Boyle