From Ice Spice cosplays to pickpocketers plotting on the crowd, Governors Ball has got it all!
After applying since 2015, I finally got approved to cover the iconic Governors Ball Music Festival, NYC’s most anticipated music festival of each year.
The festival took place at a new venue this year in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, NY from June 9-11. The venue change is something that Gov Ball has been planning for over a decade! From attending past years I can confidently say this venue was a nice change from the festival’s past location at Citi Field. No more concrete floors or being boiled in the blazing hot sunlight, however in true Gov Ball fashion, this stage layout makes sure that you get your steps in with all the walking you do to get from set to set.
I started off Day 1 at the GoPuff stage with the six-piece Queer POC group MICHELLE. The group performed a mix of their hits and a new song combined with solo dance breaks which the crowd found the most entertaining and unexpected!
Following with 070 Shake at the Bacardi Stage, the atmosphere was much different from MICHELLE’s calm environment as fans immediately opened up mosh pits for the American rapper and singer. 070 Shake actually encouraged the moshing while stopping in between songs to make sure the fans that didn’t sign up to be in them got out while they could after seeing fans being dragged out in her first song. She exclaimed not to be scared and to have fun in the mosh pits!
American singer-songwriter Remi Wolf took the stage after 070 Shake as fans flocked to catch her set before the highly anticipated set of the night, Ice Spice. Remi’s stage presence was one to be noted as she wasn’t shy about jumping around and interacting with her fans which she refers to as “lizards”. Repping a New York Knicks jacket and hat, she stated she had just found out who they were and what they did that morning as she was getting dressed.
With a daily track record of 5-10 fans cosplaying as her all weekend, Bronx, NY, native Ice Spice was finally next. Although she wasn’t considered a headliner, the crowd’s excitement and turnout would convince you otherwise. The crowd’s desperation to catch a glimpse of her forced production to step in 3 times to demand that we take a step back for safety reasons. Ice had to reiterate this during her set.
Groups of men were shirtless with “MUNCH” sharpied on their chests, people were holding American flags with Ice Spice on them, and fans dawned on their best orange wigs; It was clear she was the driving force behind many fans buying tickets.
I ended the night with Metro Boomin who followed directly after Ice Spice and appealed to the same demographic of fans meaning Ice’s crowd was his crowd! Despite the insane downpour of rain fans were dancing and singing drenched concluding with a successful end of his set.
Day 2 was jam-packed and the most unexpected day for me! I got to catch up with bilingual singer-songwriter GALE for a quick portrait session. You can see more of that coverage here.
I got to see Lovejoy, Suki Waterhouse, Syd, Rina Sawayama, Finneas, Kenny Beats, LAUV, and concluded with headliners ODESZA.
Many of the artists started to gravitate towards the GA sections of the crowds as opposed to the VIP since they were split right down the middle. Artists took notice of more fans who were there to see them in GA whereas VIP was more so for people that were invited or went to Governors Ball for a generalized purpose of attending!
Although Rina Sawayama had multiple technical errors she put on a show at full force with her stage design, multiple outfit changes, and background dancers.
Kenny Beats was the most unexpected set of the day! When arriving on his stage you can’t help but to take notice of the huge group of fans that he allowed to hang out on stage while he performed his set. Fans started to flock over the longer we were into his set. Fans were calling and texting their friends about how fun the set was and how they simply couldn’t miss it!
His crowd of predominantly high school boys was very keen on moshing and popping the water bags that security provided for them. The adults were lingering on the outskirts and just as enthusiastically breaking out dance moves to the music.
I finished day 2 with headliners ODESZA which had the biggest crowd I’ve seen all weekend. The duo’s graphics on the big screens combined with the strobe lighting and pyro took my breath away. As someone who is just getting into EDM, ODESZA has recruited me as a member of their fandom. Fans were watching as I snapped shots in the GA pit and we ended up cheering & dancing over specific photographs that even I was shocked to have taken. Overall ODSESZA a was a big favorite from Gov Ball.
Day 3 was a very eerie day. As the fans who have been attending since day 1 were growing tired — the energy felt completely off.
The headliner for the day was Kendrick Lamar. Lamar’s fan demographic in NYC has a reputation for aggressive behavior and ignorance. After speaking with multiple fans and staff members, many people were nervous as to what chaos would ensue during his set because of his fan base.
Attendees were getting their phones, keys, wallets, and more stolen. I most definitely didn’t think that I would be falling victim to it on a whole other level by the end of the night… I got my entire camera set up robbed from my hands while leaving early from Lamar’s set. Now, despite having fallen victim to such a terrible circumstance, Lamar’s set and the entire festival as a whole was outstanding.
Unfortunately though, because of this, all of my Day 3 photo coverage is gone.
I started Day 3 with Pink Pantheress and the crowd was definitely not one to mess with. High school mean girls were being nasty combining with a mix of boys and grown adults that were trying to secure a good spot for Kendrick Lamar’s set. Lamar was set to perform on the same stage by the end of the night, therefore fans were desperately queueing for a good spot during the remainder of the festival.
This crowd set the tone of the day very quickly.
Although Pink Pantheress was amazing as always, I ended up leaving early to catch Sabrina Claudio. Claudio’s fans were definitely more lax and calm, not to mention very small due to the huge crowd waiting at the main stage for the day. Sabrina replenished the air and energy with her melodic vocals and addictive personality.
After taking a break to recoup for the day I ran to catch the set of girl in red. Much like Claudio’s fan base, girl in red had fans with an unmatched energy. Fans were proudly screaming the lyrics to her songs as she reciprocated the same excitement back.
I started to debate whether or not it would be worth it to catch Kendrick Lamar’s set as a fan and photographer due to all of the discussions had regarding his set. I ended up following the herd and queueing to grab a good spot for the final headline set of the weekend.
Many of the fans around me recruited each other to latch onto and build walls out of their bodies to keep from having teenagers trying to shove past them 40 mins before Kendrick was even set to go on. Fights were started, friends were made, and fans were starting to question if they could remain in the pit for as long as they’d hoped.
Yes, fans were disrespectful and they got aggressive, but once Kendrick took the stage, it was all about his music.
He played his most iconic songs and utilized pyrotechnics to get the crowd pumped and ready to go after each song. Mosh pits were started left & right and staff were clocked out eagerly watching Lamar perform as the festival came to an end.