Arts music festival review

A story of stories

Post Malone, Jack White, Halsey, Khalid, and Eminem at Governors Ball 2018: What more could you want?

Governors Ball 2018
Randall Island Park, New York
June 1 – 3

Even before you enter Randall’s Island Park, from the bridges entering the island, you will see the giant arcs in the sky, made of balloons. Three of them, in fact: one red and two blue. They are parts of an art installation that dominated the sky the whole time in Governors Ball. In one way, this installation was also a symbol of Governors Ball itself — a symbol of the sky-high ambition of putting together a list of musical stars together that deserves a nod for the sheer audacity of it. The way Governors Ball pulled it off over the weekend of June 1 to 3 is simply gorgeous.

The weather over three days were as different as heaven and earth — the festival started off with sweltering heat on Friday, went through a rainy Saturday, and ended on a chilly Sunday. Woe thus befell those who did not check their weather app before coming to the festival. Even then, the crowd did not look like it gave the weather a second thought and grew steadily as the weekend went on.

Besides music, the festival also offered local food and wine to the attendees, although the awkward shape of the grounds did not offer itself to a nice arrangement to the stalls. Perhaps more attention in these parts were due, since it felt like only a half-hearted attempt was made to ensure an enjoyable experience in this aspect. Even then, the crowd was not shy in finding their sustenance, or something more, when they needed it.

The highlight of Day One definitely started with Shawn Mendes. The large number of teenagers cheering him on was  proof of his popularity, and he did deliver what they came for with a few of his most popular numbers. Then came Post Malone, who definitely would have won any award for performing well while intoxicated, if any such thing existed. But his performance left a mark in the heart of the audience when he prefaced almost all of his songs with a small story from his life. And despite his state, Malone did care for his fans and even stopped his song when someone collapsed in the crowd to ensure that they were safe. That night, Jack White was the headline performer, but his performance was quite small and cozy, with mostly his avid fans present.

The next day, the big names started with 2 Chainz rapping in the late afternoon. The day felt like it was highlighting rap music, as it was headlined by Travis Scott. He mesmerized the crowd with numbers like “Antidote,” “Butterfly Effect,” and “Goosebumps.” In the middle, though, all the spotlights were on Halsey as she performed in a dazzling yet down-to-earth way. Her story about signing her first deal four years ago on the same day, and then coming to Governors Ball and standing in the crowd in the back truly touched hearts. Diplo and Mark Ronson’s new collaboration, Silk City, was also quite good, although at the beginning. it was hard for them to create a club environment under the sun,

On the final day, the main highlights were Khalid, Pharrell Williams’s N.E.R.D, and of course, Eminem. Khalid was his usual buoyant self, performing his recent hits with backup dancers on stage. N.E.R.D rocked out the audience effortlessly, moving them with their beats while Pharrell was losing his voice. The cherry on the top of this amazing festival was Eminem. The huge number of attendees to his concert despite the chilly weather attests to his fame even now. In his performance, the Rap God was unparalleled. From the very beginning, the crowd started singing along with his songs, and as he closed with “Lose Yourself,” it felt like the whole grounds came alive with voices drowning out the deafening sound systems that dominated the whole weekend.

Among the relatively young and new performers, Aurora and Billie Eilish were eye-catching. They are definitely artists music fans should keep an eye out for.

A recurring theme in the festival was how the live performers were live. They might be superstars, but they are live people just like the audience, with stories behind their success. From Post Malone to Halsey to Khalid, every young performer repeated the same tale: be your own self, and keep chasing your dreams. Perhaps that’s why these festivals are so popular: because they tell us to carry on, and because they show us people’s dreams truly have no end.