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Governors Ball 2017 Review: Best Sets, Art, Activities & More

June 3, 2017, 6:45 a.m.
Event Track / Governors Ball / News & Rumors / Governors Ball 2017 Review: Best Sets, Art, Activities & More

Governors Ball 2017 Top Ten Sets

  1. Tool - Visually the best show I have ever seen

  2. Barns Courtney - Holy shit the energy was amazing, if you can get to a festival early that he is playing (Lollapalooza) I really recommend going

  3. Car Seat Headrest - Absolutely crushed it and their sound has improved impressively since we last saw them at Coachella

  4. Welles - Amazing show from a not well known band: if you have a chance to check them out definitely do it

  5. Phoenix - Great production, great sound, great show

  6. The Orwells - The lead singer will get all the attention for his crazy antics but the band is pretty fucking amazing live
  7. Beach House - So dreamy at sunset

  8. Saint Motel - So fun and such good vibes on a nice sunny day at Governors Ball
  9. Flume - One of the coolest light shows / stages I have ever seen

  10. Parquet Courts - The band that perhaps sounded the most like they do on Spotify - amazed at how crisp and clear their sound was

Gov Ball Worst Sets to Date

  1. Bleachers - If lip syncing and spending 15 minutes of a 50 minute set introducing the band awkwardly is your thing check them out

  2. Kevin Parker vs. Mark Ronson - Mark Ronson was great but was expecting more than just a standard DJ set

  3. Franz Ferdinand - Surprisingly quiet and just didn't have that wow factor I was expecting

Governors Ball Sunday Review

Sunday was the day of Gov Ball I was msot looking forward to - a mix of old classics like Cage the Elephant and Franz Ferdinand as well as great upcoming bands like Parquet Courts and Barns Courtney. It didn't disappoint as it ended up being the best day of Governors Ball 2017 despite the worst weather of the days. Here's how our final day of Governors Ball went.

11:35 - We arrive at Gov Ball early right when it was about to open and there was already a line of a few hundred people to get in

12:15 - Afrer going around and getting our free snacks and swag at Governors Ball we head over to the fairly empty Honda Stage to see Barns Courtnet kickoff the final day of Governors Ball

12:45 - Holy shit was Barns Courtney good. First, I love that he comes out at 100 MPH with no warming up or 'Hi I'm Barns Courtney etc', he just came out wailing on guitar right into a song. Despite him being loud as hell you could hear his great voice clear as day making it one of my favorite shows of the weekend. I fully expect this guy to move up festival lineups quickly.

Gov Ball Orwells

2:15 - Enjoyed The Orwells more than I was expecting. It was a cold day at Gov Ball on Sunday and during this set the rain start coming down but the show was so awesome it seemed no one noticed. It's hard to not just watch the lead singer as he dances around the stage making poses and being crazy. Aside from his antics the band sounds phenomenal. My favorite part of the show was the last 5 minutes with no singing where the band just rocked out to close out the set.

4:00 - Parquet Courts followed up The Orwells, making is great showing of young rock to begin the final day of Governors Ball. Of the three Parquet Courts were probably my favorite band going into the day but the performance i was least impressed by: they were good but the first two acts really stood our with their energy and their crowd involvement.

Wowfulls Gov Ball

4:30 - God the food at Governors Ball was good - probably the best food I've had at a festival. Above is Wowfulls, which we had to get despite it being freezing and raining

5:30 - Royal Blood absolutely killed it. The dynamic between the two of them is just so fun and you can tell there is a shit load of respect between the two as they both know the other is world class at their position. For just having two people goddamn are they loud and awesome. I don't know if I saw a crowd all weekend more into a show than Gov Ball was into Royal Blood - a top set for me of the weekend and the band is now just a must see at any festival.

6:15 - I've waited awhile to see Frranz Ferdinand and honestly they were a bit disappointing. They were OK but I thought the set was going to be more fun than it was, perhaps it was just off due to the shitty weather. Talk about a mass exodus after they played "Take Me Out" - at least half the crowd exited for Cage The Elephant or Phantogram.

8:00 - We basically waited in line for the Citi Viewing deck at Governors Ball during Cage The Elephant so we could hear it but couldn't see it besides the jumbotron. It seemed fine; I'm not a huge Cage guy and they always have too much of letting the crowd sing the final hook for my liking, but they did have a massive crowd - certainly one of the biggest of the Governors Ball weekend.

Tool Gov Ball 2017

11:00 - Tool was pretty incredible, and this is from someone who certainly is not a Tool fan. First, they had the biggest crowd of the weekend that I saw. We went to see Phoenix and not Gambino, who I did hear had a massive crowd, but of the ones I saw Tool was by far the largest. Second, holy hell do they have awesome visuals - they are mesmerizing. After opening with absolutely nothing on the screen the next 90+ minutes were filled with crazy graphics and changing visual stories on the screens. Unlike many Gov Ball crowds the crowd never dissipated and you could see thousands of people recording at the start of every song. I'm not sure I saw a more engaged or excited crowd all weekend. Between the visuals and the deafening loudness it was hard to not just sit back and be wowed by their performance. Like I said I am not a Tool fan but it was definitely the best and most elaborate set I saw all weekend - a great way to close out Governors Ball 2017.

Governors Ball Saturday Review

After getting a nights sleep after a day with a redeye flight we felt much more rested for Gov Ball Day 2. We were able to get there right as the festival opened and the weather was absolutely perfect on day 2 of Governors Ball, as was the music.

Welles Gov Ball

12:15 - The first band of the day was Welles, and only I and about 6 other people are there for the start of the show. 

12:45 - Welles is fucking amazing. Seriously it is probably my favorite show I have ever seen early at a festival - their sound is really crisp and you can still hear the lead singer despite them absolutely rocking out. They did a cover of Father John Misty's "Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings" that was so awesome. By the end of the show the crowd was pretty big, which made me happy for them as thhe show was really incredible. If you like alternative rock with a little grunge/Nirvana sound check them out.

1:15 - Friendly reminder to all of you at Governors Ball: don't forget to snag all your free swag in the morning. These snacks really come in handy later in the day at Gov Ball when you are hungry but have shows to see.

Car Seat Headrest Gov Ball

2:15 - We decide to skip another show to wait it out at the Big Apple stage to secure a great spot for Car Seat Headrest, and it was well worth it. After being slightly disappointed with their shows at Coachella we were blown away by how good they sounded at Governors Ball. The setlist was perfect and their sound was much improved. Even the band seemed surprised by how big their crowd was as we saw less packed night shows the day before - definitely a band on the rise.

3:00 - We race over from Car Seat Headrest to Saint Motel at the Gov Ball Stage. I've been wanting to see this band for awhile and they didn't disappoint. They were such a fun show with good vibes it was hard to not like them.

3:45 - I raced over to the artist signing area on the other side of Governors Ball as Car Seat Headrest was doing a signing. Insider tip: if you purchase something at the store for them to sign you get to skip the line and meet them instantly.

4:45 - We ended up with a front row spot at the Gov Ball stage for The Head and the Heart. Another insider tip: if going to the Gov Ball stage we really recommend you go to the left side of the stage - it is far less packed. We were able to walk right to the front at around 4:30, 15 minutes before the band took the stage.

5:30 - Pretty good show by The Head and the Heart - I'm not a huge fan as I feel they shift into a generic sound where many songs sound the same, but overall it was a fun show and they really do sound great live.

6:30 - After The Head at the Heart at the Gov Ball Stage we race to the opposite end of the festival to catch Local Natives. Great show and one of the bands that most sounds like what they sound like on Spotify. Apparently Governors Ball is their last show for awhile so it is cool to see them end their tour; I was fairly impressed with how good they sounded.

Kevin Parker Gov Ball

8:30 - Here's a small rant. After Local Natives we waited an hour+ to get a front row spot for Kevin Parker vs. Mark Ronson. This was one of the shows I was most excited for when Governors Ball released their lineup. I loved Tame Impala, and knew it wasn't going to be that, but I was excited to see what they came out with. Holy shit was I disappointed in this show. It basically was just Mark Ronson DJing with Kevin Parker awkwardly dancing around in his Gucci t-shirt  and occasionally making weird comments to the crowd. Mark Ronson can fucking DJ, and sounded really great, but the show just wasn't what I was expecting. They even played Tame Impala songs like "Let It Happen" and songs with both artists ("Daffodils") and Kevin Parker sang neither of them. Maybe some people liked this show, but it was a major letdown for me.

9:15 - We snag some delicious food and head over to Phoenix on the Gov Ball Stage. This was a tough decision as Governors Ball made you choose between Phoenix and Childish Gambino. It seemed more people chose Gambino as Phoenix had a big crowd but not enormous.

Phoenix Gov Ball

10:30 - I am completely satisfied with my decsion to see Phoenix. Governors Ball was the first time I'd seen them live and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Their music is obviously a good time but their stage is really cool with a giant mirror and lights constatnyl going off, reflecting off of it. In terms of level of production this was definitely the best show I had seen at Governors Ball and they sounded pretty incredible live. They closed out Governors Ball Day 2 with "1901", a proper closing to a fantastic day of music.

Governors Ball Friday Review

Governors Ball is taking place this weekend and we are on the tough assignment of attending. After taking a redeye from San Diego to NYC we arrive in the morning ready to roll and have a good time at Governors Ball. Unforunately Coachella presale passes didn't go on sale until 2:00 p.m. local time so we needed to wait for that to happen before we headed off to Governors Ball. Still, better late than never with attending. Here's a running diary of how our day went at Friday of Governors Ball 2017.

RFK Governors Ball

2:45 - We were staying in Astoria so the easiest way to get to Governors Ball was on foot via the RFK Bridge. It's definitely not a short walk, but it is free and the traffic going across the bridge and into Gov Ball would have made a taxi or an Uber quite expensive. All in total it was about a 50 minute walk across the Bridge and into Gov Ball

Will Call Governors Ball

3:45 - God dammit the Will Call line is long at Governors Ball. We had to do will call as this was out first time using our shiny new Festival Passports that get you into 90+ festivals across the world. The line for will call took about 35-40 minute as there were a lot of people picking up passes that they bought after the shipping deadline.

4:20 - Finally made it to the front of will call and thankfully had no problems with our Festival Passports. I was a little concerned they'd look at me confused when I showed it to them but i had my wristband and was free to enter Governors Ball within a few minutes.

4:30 - Dying of hunger the very first thing we do inside Governors Ball is go find some food. Make Sandwich was our choice for our first treat - delicious

4:45 - Bleachers was our first set of the day. We made our way to the Governors Ball stage and found a good spot to set up our camp in the grass a good way back from the stage, but where we could clearly hear and see the jumbotron. The crowd is fairly big but by no means overly packed.

5:00 - I come to the conclusion that Bleachers just is not good live - there is a lot of lip syncing, awkward attempts to crowd surf and improvisation that jsut doesn't work. Just an artist where he sounds way better on Spotify than he did live. I will not be seeing him again at any other festival we attend.

5:30 - After taking all of Bleachers that we can, we leave the Governors Ball stage and head over to the Bacardi Stage to see Danny Brown. The tent is absolutely packed, by far the most densely crowded show of the day so far.

6:00 - We stay for most of Danny Brown's set, which was awesome and the most i've seen a crowd into a show all day, and head back over to the Governors Ball stage for Nancy Whang's DJ set.

6:45 - We love that she needs a little stepping stool to get to the top of her setup. Her show was interesting - the music was good but she was pretty stoic up there with literally 0 crowd interaction. I think the show would have been more fun if she gave the crowd anything, but all in all the set was fun.

7:10 - After grabbing some overpriced $15 craft beers from Gov Ball Brews we head over to the Big Apple Stage for Beach House. Along the way we pass about 2,000 drunk 18 year old girls heading to Governors Ball Stage for Lorde. We decided to avoid this crowd by seeing Beach House instead.

Gov Ball Trash

7:15 - Governors Ball should be embarassed about how gross their fields get - trash is literally everywhere as apparently no one knows how to use a trash can at Governors Ball. There is literally everything from empty beer cans to half eaten food scattered about the entire festival - either more garbage cans need to be added or more people hired to pick up trash (or people need to be adults and actually throw it away) because the grounds at Gov Ball were pretty gross. 

8:45 - Beach House was my favorite set of the night. They sounded great, had the crowd really into it, and played a set that flowed beautifully from beginning to end. They played all of their hits including "Space Song", "PPP", and "Myth", with the crowd singing along to many of them. It was just a nice set at sunset to enjoy a beer to. Despite some problems with the crowd being overly drunk and obnoxious it was still an awesome set and my favorite of the day at Governors Ball.

9:30 - The video from far away won't do it justice but Flume was really great at Governors Ball last night. He had a crazy light show that really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated it. We aren't huge on EDM in general but Flume's set was pretty fantastic and he had a huge crowd.

10:15 - After a long day of travel and Governors Ball we are wiped out. We usually walk but I decided to treat ourselves and just get a Lyft home from Governors Ball.

No Lyft Gov Ball

10:16 - God dammit. So then we ended our day with how it began - walking across the RFK Bridge. Overall it wasn't a perfect day but Governors Ball but it was fun and we are exicted to see what Governors Ball Day 2 has in store for us.

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