Governors Ball 2019 was a trip. The three-day festival, which took place at Randall’s Island in New York City from June 1st to the 3rd, started out enjoyable enough — with standout performances from the likes of Tyler, the Creator and Vince Staples. But by Sunday, the final day, things turned into madness as the cloudy skies and rain started to come in.
Here is a day-by-day recap of everything that went down during Governers Ball 2019.
Friday was a gorgeous day. The grassy fields of Randall’s Island, an expansive landscape for four separate stages, started to fill up with thousands of concertgoers by the late afternoon. Everybody came to experience many different artists live, but there was an echo of sameness amongst the crowd; the majority donned some sort of GOLF merchandise, a product of day one headliner Tyler, the Creator’s brand.
Injury Reserve, Cautious Clay, The Internet, Jessie Reyez, Mitski, and Jorja Smith all graced their respective stages before the crowd was warmed up for the evening headliners. Boyband Brockhampton lit up the stage in matching metallic jumpsuits, inciting people to make room for mosh pits while performing songs from their SATURATION trilogy and iridescence.
Despite his missed cues and seemingly distant spacial-awareness, Lil Wayne drew in a crowd with his familiar witty drawl, a sea of people in front of his stage chanting along as he performed Tha Carter V tracks. Those lingering in the back, however, started drifting toward the Gov Ball NYC Stage, where Tyler, the Creator was set to perform.
Tyler made his appearance in his comedic IGOR garb: a bowl-cut blonde wig, black shades, and a neon yellow suit as he tried out a couple of songs from his latest album, including “Igor’s Theme,” “I Think,” and “New Magic Wand.” He seemed pleasantly shocked to find that his audience knew the words despite the album only being out for a week.
“Who would’ve thought that an album about your heart being broke would be this fuckin’ turnt up?” He asked the crowd. “This is the No. 1 album in the world!”
Then Tyler had his quintessential Tyler moments: weirdly impressive dance moves, a mid-performance set change as he transferred over from IGOR to Flower Boy to Wolf.
Day two lived up to Friday’s standards weather-wise — clear skies. While artists like Saba, Denzel Curry, and Ravyn Lenae all served impressive performances, the real standout of the day was Vince Staples.
The rapper came to the stage telling the crowd that he’d been close to canceling his set due to a recent hospitalization — a statement that was followed by a puff from his inhaler. He made the most of his appearance, rolling through his discography from Summertime ‘06 to Prima Donna to Big Fish Theory. Several people could be seen throwing themselves into the air and being held above the throng as people crowd surfed.
The highlight of the set was when he stopped the show to point out the disturbing reality of a discarded wig floating in the air, only to have someone throw it directly to him on stage. He then held up the wig and gave a detailed explanation as to why buying Indian hair is a necessary and righteous act.
The festival gates had a delayed opening. Despite the weather at the beginning of the day being pleasant, gates didn’t open until 7 pm, canceling a series of artists meant to perform.
Noname was one of the first artists to open on Sunday, but barely anyone would be able to see her due to her set being scheduled for only 25 minutes and the line to get into the venue eating up almost an hour. Sheck Wes and Taylor Bennet ran through their time slots smoothly.
A crowd gathered to see Nas perform at the Gov Ball NYC stage. And that’s when things started to go left.
Nas made it halfway through his show before the rain started. Beast Coast and Kaytranada were moments away from entering their respective stages when the promotional screens shut off around the stages, everyone cheered, thinking it was the signal to the start. Instead, a calm voice blasted over the speakers asked all festival goers to calmly evacuate the premises as a large storm was expected to blow through.
The crowd’s immediate response was to boo and throw their trash at the stages. People started chanting things, their two favorite two being “refund” and “riot” as we were all herded out of the venue. (Governors Ball later announced that they are giving out refunds.)
The line for the bus was overflowing, and the majority of evacuees were told that they could either wait in line and stay on the island “forever” or walk across Ward’s Island Bridge to Manhattan. Some didn’t want to wait forever.
SZA was supposed to perform — the last major artist before Sunday’s headliner, The Strokes. None of these artists had their time to shine. The rain had come.
Caira Blackwell is a writer out of New York City. You can follow her @caira_blackwell
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