The tenth iteration of the Governors Ball music festival turned the Citi Field parking lot into a massive party all weekend, as tens of thousands of people went nuts for acts like A$AP Rocky, Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion, J Balvin, Jamie xx, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ellie Goulding, Post Malone, and tons more.
Governor Kathy Hochul (no relation; the music festival was named after its original home on Governors Island) stepped out on stage before headliner A$AP Rocky on Saturday night and exclaimed to the vast expanse of vaccinated (or negative tested) revelers, "This proves that New York is back!"
There's no way to see everyone play at Gov Ball (other than the headliners each night, there's always two acts performing at once), but some musical highlights of the three-day festival included EarthGang ripping it up early on Friday, the joyous set by Kehlani, the goosebump-inducing mass singalongs at Phoebe Bridgers, and Future Islands frontman Samuel T Herring inimitable stage presence.
Also of note: A-Trak & Dave 1 getting things hopping on Saturday, the fan adoration at King Princess, Michael Fike’s delirious earworms, Rufus du Sol's arena-style dance pop, the kickass choreography at Megan Thee Stallion, all those crazy beats by Duck Sauce, Carly Rae Jepsen’s bubbly enthusiasm, and the nerdy, funky stylings of Jamie xx.
One of the great things about these sorts of festivals, too, is that you can pull up to an act you've never even heard of and there's a big contingent of super-fans singing along to every word. Get close enough to the rails, and the passion of these kids is infectious.
Of course, when there are this many people (a publicist said there were around 50,000 in attendance each day), getting anywhere near the front requires either a heroic amount of pushing or a willingness to arrive right when the front gates open and stand for the next eight hours waiting for the headliner.
In fact, by early evening on Saturday and Sunday, even walking from one stage to another could be a crushing experience. Not that Gov Ball has ever been sparsely attended, but there were times this weekend when I really missed that wide lawn at Randall's Island, and the nooks and crannies where you could sit and chill for a minute without getting trampled.
Still, the weather was spectacular, the overall production mostly smooth, and, especially considering they pulled it off after a two-year hiatus during an ongoing global pandemic, Gov Ball 2021 was unquestionably a success. As Jordan from Clinton Hill told me, "Honestly I love it. It's the most fun I've had in, like, a while, and I'm just grateful to be here surrounded by great people, surrounded by great music... it's just a joy to be here. I'm absolutely loving it."