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Childish Gambino Gives Life + Chance Offers Blessings At Governor's Ball

Childish Gambino Gives Life + Chance Offers Blessings At Governor's Ball

Photo Credit: Laurent Chevalier for Okayplayer.

This past weekend’s Governor’s Ball was intense, beautiful + full of #BlackExcellence.

Getting there is the exclusive part: it feels like an adventure. I’m a Brooklyn native who loves to travel, and am often still surprised by the vastness of my city. Conversely, I know what a struggle it can be to get around the boroughs, so I was weary, but ready and excited, for the journey to Governor’s Island for Governor’s Ball.

I hopped on the 2 train with my homegirls, landed on 125th and walked about 10 blocks, until crossing a bridge that would lead us right into the park. Once inside, I was greeted with a sea of high waist jean shorts, crop tops, colorful, flowy cardigans, “pennies” (a term I just learned this weekend, for penny jerseys) and lots and lots of bare chests. This was nothing like the planet I come from, where chokers, headwraps, twist outs, culottes, off shoulder tops, bodycon dresses, African prints, neutral colors and bright palettes reign.

We aimlessly walked around, heads in the air, observing the fashion, generous sun and vibrant grass until our feet led us right into Michael Blume’s tent. Blume and his band, clad in angelic white, were more than what they seemed: the innocence of their attire juxtaposed against their ecstatic dancing, booming voices and candid lyrics about sex and dating (“Relationships,” “Manufactured Love”), queer identity, activism and self love (“High Frequency”), felt like a modern sermon on millennialism. “He has a churchy kind of sound,” our photographer Laurent [Chevalier] leaned in and whispered.

Before heading to Kehlani, we grabbed some snacks — matcha soft serve in a warm, crispy, fish-shaped waffle cone, with red bean surprises at the bottom from Taiyaki NYC — and caught a snippet of Francis and the Lights, whose dancing black silhouette against a white backdrop hypnotized the crowd. I was pleasantly surprised by Kehlani, who stunned the audience in a vampy chocolate-burgundy jumpsuit, lace bra and long, wavy weave. Performing hits like “Too Much,” “Distraction,” “Gangsta,” “CRZY” and “Do U Dirty,” it was the first time that day I saw people grinding, whining, jumping and throwing hands in the audience.

Michael Kiwanuka’s bluesy, meditative soul was the perfect answer to Kehlani’s hype performance. With calming, contemplative tracks like “Black Man in a White World,” “Cold Little Heart” and “Love Hate,” and his stellar guitar solos, I entered a soothing trance that I broke out of when I heard Lorde’s deep, whimsical vocals. Chance The Rapper closed the first night with an explosive performance that was worth experiencing, even if we were sardined between so many bodies (I could smell sweat, fart and everyone’s dinner). “Blessings,” “No Problem,” and “Special,” performed by his talented backup singers, kept me grounded… and his wonderfully wide smile… and the way he teased us by slightly lifting his tee, revealing abs. Ty Dolla $ign joined Chance for the “Blessings” finale, which made his set all the more special.


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