After a great day 1 of Governors Ball 2016, we arrived bright an early with a whole day ahead of us. Although we lucked out with minimal rain on day 1, our luck ran dry on day 2 with the 2nd half of the day plagued by some heavy rainfall that would go on to be a bad omen for the final day of the festival, which would eventually get cancelled altogether.
We started the day off with an early set from Holly Miranda whose band eased us into the day with a graceful set full of different stylings. Things got a little bit harder with punk rockers Nothing, who weren’t too happy with Miranda’s set time somewhat leaking into theirs. I could’ve down without the aggressive comment about her set, as there’s not much to be done with so many sets happening so close to one another. Things got back on track right after with a typically powerful performance from New York’s very own Torres, who always leaves me in awe with her raw intensity that is second to none.
From there I dabbled with the ever-rising Brit rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen. Seeing them at Bowery Ballroom last year now seems unbelievable, as they headlined the main stage with a young packed audience that was screaming along to every word. These guys are only getting bigger it seems. I made my first venture into the Bacardi tent for a chilled out performance from experimental musician Thundercat, (who was a crucial part of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly) who dazzled the crowd with a clinic of how to execute exploration of various styles with finesse and ease. From electronic, to jazz, funk, and hip hop, there wasn’t much that Thundercat and his tight band left off the table.
It was then time for Lord Huron, who have been staples at all the major festival for the past year it seems (I saw them at both Newport Folk Festival and Landmark Festival last year). This can’t be said about De La Soul, whose rare comeback appearance was a highlight of the entire weekend, and of course provided one of the most unusual and memorable moments for me while shooting the festival. In the middle of song 2, the group told all the photographers to stop shooting, and to instead, join the incredible energy of the crowd for one song. Instead of shooting photos, every photographer in the pit (of all ages) joined in on the action, rocking their hands back and forth along with De La Soul and their passionate audience. It was unforgettable (and they were cool enough to let us stay for song 4 to make up for lost time).
It’s been quite the journey for the sisters of Haim who have become one of the bigger groups to emerge from the scene of recent years, drawing a sizable audience at the main stage. They showcases some new songs and re-enforced their staggering popularity through now old favorites, keeping most of the audience even as the cold, unforgiving rain started to fall. Compliments to bass-face extraordinaire Este Haim who doused herself in water after seeing that the fans were being drenched with rain, telling the audience that we were all in this together. Pretty cool move, if I do say so myself.
Although it became tough to navigate the quickly muddy grounds, we took shelter with Purity Ring’s set which thankfully took place inside the Bacardi Tent. We also took shelter with their intricate stage design, a simple but effective stream of hanging lights which worked perfectly for the Canadian duo’s chilly synth-pop which still sounds as stunning as ever.
After hiding out from the rain for a while, it thankfully held off just in time for the start of M83’s set. I hadn’t seen Anthony Gonzalez and company since their performance at Lollapalooza 2012, making this reunion well overdue. It was no surprise that the group sounded bigger and tighter than ever before, pulling off an epic performance that actually would’ve been heightened even more by rain that never did come.
I stuck around a bit, but headed over to catch the headlining performance from The Killers who are the sort of band who is ideal in a huge festival setting. They had a few tricks up their sleeves, including a cover of Interpol’s “Obstacle 1,” which was dedicated to the old NYC rock scene of the 2000’s. They also turned back the clock for a performance of what I thought was forgotten b-side “Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll.” They delivered all the hits you’d want and then some, concluding night two (as well as the festival weekend) in perfect fashion.
Find small photo galleries of all the artists we were able to catch on Day 2 of Governors Ball posted below.
Catfish and the Bottlemen:
De La Soul: