Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review: Governors Ball 2012 @ Randall's Island (Day 1)

Governors Ball 2012 @ Randall's Island - June 23, 2012
Photos: Chris / Review: Geanna B. & Chris

Geanna's thoughts:

Did you guys know that neon is back? Well, it is. It's back in a big effing way, as was evidenced by the slew (yes, SLEW) of mutants rockin' some neon at the Governor's Ball on Saturday. Now in its second year, the Ball offered two days of festivities on Randall's Island, having since moved from their Governor's Island location of yesteryear. There were blow-up monkeys, brisket tacos, Native American headdresses and lots and lots of shirtless bros. And the icing on this summerlicious cake? Chris bought a $15 souvenir water bottle, making this his most successful trip to Randall's Island to date!

We would be jerkfaces if we didn't give a shout-out to our benefactor, James MacFie, who so generously dished out some free VIP passes to our rag-tag team of FN editors. Did we mention the clean, AC-ed, VIP bathrooms? The very large cans of Miller High Life? The strippers?

Putting together two very different days of music, Saturday and Sunday were clearly geared towards different audiences... of very different ages. Saturday's line-up of Kid Cudi, Passion Pit, Duck Sauce and Chromeo brought out all the kiddies in various forms of as-naked-as-you-could-get attire, ready to dance and scream and rage. Despite the rave-ish aspects of this mixup, the day was still pretty hassle free, leaving plenty of time to drink the champagne of beers and devour many tacos, pizzas, and teriyaki balls, oh my! Another plus - there were only two stages with no overlapping sets, allowing everyone to ping-pong themselves back and forth without missing a beat (pun intended! yeah!) all day.

A few choice moments included Major Lazer literally telling everyone to "TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRTS!" and whip them around in the air! Honestly, I have never seen a crowd so eagerly remove their neon tanks in order to obey the Laze. Seeing this shit go down was mesmerizing and hilarious. Beats were dropped. Steps were dubbed. A naked girl danced on stage. It was a very Jerzy moment. Across the way, the Duck Sauce stage featured a large inflatable duck sporting a fancy jacket. They did keep the party going in between posing for photos and readjusting their hats, but all I could think of was that disturbingly addictive video for "Big Bad Wolf." It's Big Bad Terrifying.

The highlight of the day's festivities was by far and away was the DJ set from Special Disco Version - LCD's James Murphy and Pat Mahoney - who were so chill and happy and enjoying themselves that it just set the tone for an extremely satisfying good time. In a perfect summer moment, it was exactly the self-proclaimed "block-party" that Mr. Murphy wanted, without the angst and intensity of basically every other performance that day. Giving us sounds of the 70s and 80s (and a little bit o'Harvest Moon, hollaaaaa!), I probably could have listened to this all day and been perfectly content.

More brisket tacos, please.


Chris's thoughts:

I didn't really know what to expect on my first journey to Randall's Island in twelve years. The last time I trekked out there via the X80 bus out of Harlem, I was seventeen, on my way to Warped Tour, and was most likely wearing something with a checkered pattern. On Saturday, I took the same bus but I was surrounded by scantily clad teenagers (both male and female), sporting neon tank tops and war paint. It was enough to make me feel old and withered and out of place, what with my wAcKy Sonic Youth t-shirt and jeans, but by the time I arrived at Randall's I was comforted by the sight of shirtless middle-aged men, reminding me that I have a ways to go before I'm the creepy old guy at a music festival.

Clearly, the festival organizers went out of their way to ensure two very different days of music, which resulted in two very different crowds throughout the weekend. Saturday was, as fellow photographer Dave Andrako described to me early in the day, "looking pretty brotastic." Brotastic indeed. Whatever floats your boat. Fans of Big Gigantic, Duck Sauce, Major Lazer and Penguin Prison certainly got their dance on. And in its second year, Governors Ball proved to be a successful and well-run New York City music festival, which is not easy to come by.

Having just two stages with only a five minute walk between them, and no overlapping sets was a stroke of genius. Music festivals are generally overwhelming in both the amount of bands you want to see and the amount of distance between stages, but the stress of picking one act over the other, or dragging yourself to the other end of a park was completely devoid from Governors Ball. Not to mention, those brisket taco's were FUCKING. AMAZING.

The highlight for me, as it was for Geanna and James, was watching James Murphy and Pat Mahoney thrown down one of their legendary DJ sets. It was amusing witnessing the duo so laid back behind their turntables, carefully selecting their vinyl, especially since every other EDM act on the bill was going out of their way to pump up the crowd. Seamlessly blending obscure disco tracks with classics like "Slippery People" by Talking Heads and some odd remix of "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young, Special Disco Version proved to be the most exciting set of the day.

Passion Pit closed out the Hype Machine stage, a headlining set even though Kid Cudi followed them on the Honda stage (confusing), but we ended up leaving halfway through their set so as to not have to wait a ridiculous amount of time in line for the X80 bus. Passion Pit did go over quite well however, what with it being their first show in the city in well over a year. 

Sunday was a completely different story, and we'll get to that in our next post. In the meantime check out some very far-away photos I took with my point-and-shoot throughout the day, and stay tuned for Sunday's assessment...

Passion Pit
Duck Sauce

Big Gigantic
Special Disco Version (James Murphy & Pat Mahoney)

Major Lazer
Duck Sauce
Hillbilly golf

Penguin Prison
Neon socks