It's going to be blast jumping around all weekend to Tyler the Creator, The Strokes, Lil Wayne, Major Lazer, The 1975, Nas, Florence and the Machine, Vince Staples, SZA, and all the rest of the stacked lineup at the 9th annual Governors Ball festival taking over Randall's Island starting right now. But almost as exciting as the music is all the amazing food you'll be eating while lounging on the soft grass in the glorious sunshine with your best friends.
There are more than 65 different food vendors at Gov Ball this year, slinging their stuff all over the sprawling grounds, so even the most dedicated 3-Day-VIP-Pass attendees will have a tough time hitting all the spots. I've only been here about two hours, but so far I can personally recommend the juicy fried pickles at the Big Mozz and Grillo’s collab booth (don’t worry, Big Mozz has a separate cheese stick stand too) and the eye-opening affogatos courtesy of Davey’s ice cream and Rise coffee.
The great Mekelburg’s is at Gov Ball for the first time, making a phenomenal Hot Chicken Sandwich and their signature, sweet and gooey Chocolate Babka Bites. Chinatown’s Milk and Cream makes a debut appearance as well, serving their cereal-topped soft serve creations.
This year there is also a Gov Ball Brunch program, "which will run each day from 12 to 3 p.m. and play host to some exciting and limited quantity dishes." Other notable newcomers include breakfast tacos from King David, lobster rolls from Cousins, and hot dogs from Westchester favorite Walter’s. Soft Swerve, Ramen Burger, New Territories, Roberta’s, Destination Dumplings, John’s Juice, La Newyorkina, Melt Shop, David’s Cafe, San Matteo, and Taqueria Diana are also all certain to figure into my personal Gov Ball weekend feast. Click through for a quick preview of some of these items.
The bodega is at the nexus of the universe. (Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
And there’s a Gov Ball Bodega this year. It’s ridiculous looking, of course, but you can purchase overpriced chips and drinks, “morning bagels,” sunscreen, deodorant, and $2 flower crowns there. There are also fake bodega cats.
In addition to all this vital food news, here are a few tips you should consider if you're heading out to Randall's Island at any point this weekend, which you should be doing, because life is fun at a festival (if you don't hate summer).
- LINES: As usual, if you don't already have a Gov Ball wristband, you can expect a wait at Will Call. And even if you did play it smart this year and get it mailed to you, there’s still the TSA-style bag check and security to make your through. It’s pretty organized, but with tens of thousands of people expected each day, you should allow at least half an hour for this part of the process.
- TRANSPORTATION: There are several ferries and shuttle bus options (here's a complete guide), but if you can easily get to 125th Street on the 4/5/6, the X80 is the move. The bus runs continuously all weekend between Lexington Avenue and 126th Street (right in front of the iHop) and Gov Ball’s East Gate, and only costs $6.75 round trip. Just be sure to get a regular (not an unlimited ride) Metrocard before arriving so you don’t get stuck on the inevitable long lines at the card kiosks at 125th. And please, if possible don't take a car here, you'll only add to traffic problems.
- MUD: There are a lot squishy spots on the freshly-sodded main lawn thanks to the downpours of the past couple of days, but for the most part the grounds are in good shape. And with sunshine all day Friday and no rain predicted for Saturday, it looks like weather won’t ruin things. Unless there’s lightning on Sunday. (CORRECTION: THERE IS MUD, A LOT OF MUD.)
- MISC.: Four of the five stages this summer are open to the elements (the fifth has a roof over the audience area), which means no dumb lines to enter crowded indoor venues and a nice flow from one band to the next. There are Insta-bait art installations all over the festival grounds, as well as corporate-sponsored tents and giveaways.
(Scott Lynch / Gothamist)
We'll have further updates throughout the weekend, stay tuned...