Things got off to a great start yesterday with intense early performances from Run the Jewels and Washed Out—a high bar that only rose throughout the afternoon and evening until Outkast obliterated it with an unforgettable headlining set. All around the festival grounds the atmosphere was just what you'd hope for in a festival: playful and positive with a wide range of personalities present. The weather looks even better today. If you're attending the festival this weekend, here's what to expect.
Getting There: Taking the ferry from East 35th Street seems like a great idea. The ferries come loaded with stereo systems, wet bars, DJs, and a bevy of fellow fun-loving festival-goers, right? Wrong. Only some of the ferries come included with the DJ/drinks party regalia and it's unlikely that you'll find a noontime dance partner for your trip up the East River, as most people yesterday were more concerned with snapping pre-festie selfies. Ferry rides to the Randall's Island grounds cost $25 a head (round trip), while a subway ride to 125th Street costs only $2.50. We recommend catching the 4/5/6 train to 125th and walking across the RFK Bridge.
Once you hit the grounds, expect things to go smoothly so long as your smartphone is charged and your QR code ticket is handy. Check-in times at 1 p.m. yesterday were under 10 minutes and we heard nary a complaint about getting in from everyone we spoke to. From the entry gates it's a bit of a hike to the stages, so budget extra time if your obscure and beloved indie darlings are playing an afternoon set.
At The Festival: Any great festival can be ruined by faulty infrastructure, vendor gouging, poor layout, or scheduling breakdown. Governors Ball suffered from absolutely none of these yesterday, and as a result the entire day's vibe was downright gleeful. Below are some hot tips on how to maximize your musical day:
- Hydrate And Take Breaks: This is the most important of all. Festivals are long, sun-soaked days spent amidst thousands of people. Free water filling stations are scattered around the festival and there's ample grass for relaxing. Plan some breaks and down the aqua at will. Yesterday's bathroom lines were very manageable.
- Eat: Obvious, yes, but it bears repeating. Vendor food prices are "reasonable" by festival standards, and the selection is good. (Momofuku cookies and milk? Yes, please) If you want to have enough gas left in your turn-up tank for Skrillex tonight, you better eat some lunch.
- Stay Connected: Keep both your phone and your friends on hand and operational (that means no double-dropping, kids). Being swept in the droves by your lonesome gets stressful fast. A dead phone means no immediate access to a festival schedule and the (surprisingly decent) Governors Ball app. Keep your beloved buddies close and enjoy the day in a connected way. Music sounds better with you.
- Hang Back: We spotted far too many pushed and pinched fans near the front of the NYC stage, Honda stage, and Gotham tent. Do you really need to be so close that you can count the notches in Julian Casablancas's belt? Find a spot near the soundboard where the mix is ideal and the looser crowd allows more room to dance.
Getting Back: This is when you'll really regret your ferry ride. Last night, we were treated to an hour of waiting in line to get on the boat back to Manhattan. After a full day of music, dancing, eating, drinking, and Instagramming on your feet, a long line of people eight abreast is not how you want to end your day. Take the walk across the RFK and catch the train.
There's much more fun to be had on Randall's Island today and tomorrow, and from our experience yesterday there's nothing to stand in your way. The festival's organizers have done a bang-up job and the weather is looking lovely. Bring some cash, bring some friends, and plan to have, yes, a ball!