Ten of thousands of ready-to-party fans swarmed the stages of Citi Field on Friday for the opener of Governors Ball, the annual, three-day music festival that's now in its eleventh year.
Headliner Kid Cudi closed out the long, sunny, sweaty day, following a lineup of some 20 acts that included Louis the Child, Quinn XCII, the Knocks, Black Pumas, Jack Harlow and A$AP Ferg, who was a last-minute replacement for Lil Wayne, who was a last-minute replacement for Migos.
Casey Kennedy and Nicholas Richard drove all night from Western Massachusetts to see Kid Cudi, getting to Citi Field at around 10:30 Friday morning and rushing to the front of the main stage as soon as the gates opened. "Kid Cudi has helped me stay sober and stay alive," Kennedy told Gothamist about midway through the day, "and I've appreciated his music since I was 10 or 11. I'm 25 now, so it feels like I've adored him forever."
Part of the fun of going to a festival is strolling up to a performance by someone you've never heard of before, but who has legions of devoted fans on the rail, shrieking and singing along to all the songs. Such was the case with Julia Wolf, who performed twice on Friday: first on the big main stage at 1:00, and later on the more intimate Bud Light Seltzer venue.
Britney Jackson was right up front for both shows. "I'm from Dallas, Texas," she told us, "and I traveled all the way here just for Julia Wolf. I mean, I do fuck with Kid Cudi and Jack Harlow, but she's really who I came here for. I love her so much, I relate to all of her music, she's really inspirational, and I just want to be her best friend."
Wolf herself had a much shorter trip to Citi Field yesterday. A Queens local, Wolf got her start by recording songs in her bedroom in Astoria starting at the end of 2019, and posting them online, building up a fanbase during the pandemic. "This is the first time I've ever even been to Gov Ball," she told Gothamist, "and it was pure magic being up there, just feeding off the crowd. They're so loving and welcoming. So much good energy. It was perfect."
Gov Ball goes on all weekend, with nearly 100,000 people expected to attend. If this will be your first time at a festival out at Citi Field, here's what you need to know.
The action takes place in the vast parking lot to the west of the stadium, with all three stages situated in the middle, facing out in different directions. It's a layout that minimizes both sound bleed and, if you're here to see multiple acts on multiple stages, the amount of walking between shows.
All that asphalt (and some astroturf) isn't nearly as inviting as the grassy lawns of Randall's Island, the festival's home for eight years, but it does mean that mud is no longer an issue, a slight consolation if Sunday's forecast for rain holds true.
Around the perimeter are the corporate-sponsored selfie-bait "activations" (including a stoner installation called "Flowers Are Not a Crime," from Weedmaps), high-volume water refill stations, and more than 50 different food and booze booths.
Highlights in the eating department include individual-sized pizzas from either Roberta's or San Matteo (both are very good), Queens natives Tristan Chin-Fatt and Deon Whiskey's superb Destination Dumplings, vegan sandwiches at Matty's V Burger, the unimprovable fried mozzarella sticks from Big Mozz, and, new this year at the festival, Fany Gerson's excellent pastries from Fan Fan Doughnuts.
Note that lines for everything get crazy long by the late afternoon, so the best plan always is to fill up early and then be free to run around and dance like crazy.
Among the many performers coming up this weekend are Halsey, Flume, Denzel Curry, Shaquille O'Neal (aka DJ Diesel), Playboi Carti, YG, Glass Animals, Japanese Breakfast, 100 Gecs, Kaytranda and J Cole, who finishes the festival on Sunday night.