Governors Ball Day 1 Recap: Dinosaur Jr., Best Coast Rock Before Storm Forces Cancellation
It wasn’t ideal, but it happened anyway. The first day of the newly rebranded Governors Ball, which takes place on Randall’s Island in New York City, came face to face with remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea yesterday (June 7). The many fields where the urban festival is taking place were totally awash as brave concertgoers trudged through the mud, some barefoot, some in Chucks. Not ideal, but yet, it happened anyway.
After traversing the Triboro Bridge from Astoria and navigating a mile of deserted streets, Diffuser.fm happened upon the festival, standing and screaming resiliently in the rain. The day-one lineup included small-market bands like Swear and Shake, Pacific Air, St. Lucia and a mix of EDM up-and-comers like Dillon Francis and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs.
The first band Diffuser.fm caught was Dinosaur Jr., who you could hear from some three miles away. Singer J Mascis, armed with his signature Jazzmaster, delivered continuous squalls of distortion, bathing the entire island in sounds from the band’s latest album, 'I Bet on Sky.'
He probably could have pushed the storm away with his Marshall rig turned up to the max. In that moment, bobbing our head, we felt truly thankful that these gods of noise were kicking it heavy. Halfway through their set, the trio covered the Cure’s 'Just Like Heaven,' which approached metal-like proportions thanks to Murph’s double-bass kick.
Dinosaur even welcomed their old friend Scott Helland, who performed an indiscernible Deep Wound classic with Lou Barlow on the mic. “That was cool,” Mascis quietly said after the 50-second song was over.
After their epic finish, we trudged through ankle-deep mud to the “You’re Doing Great!” Stage on the other side of the festival. Sadly, not many people were experiencing said level of greatness. We could see summery outfits that had taken a turn for the worse, dresses caked in mud and an army of poncho people trying to navigate a sudden river that had developed in a highly trafficked area, cleaving the festival grounds in half.
“That’s it -- I’m done,” we heard a couple say, yet we trudged onward to see Bethany Constantino and her band Best Coast.
“This is a new song!” the singer shouted out to a sea of diehards. “It’s called ‘Fear of My Identity.’” We groaned slightly at the title, thinking it would be a lame millennial lament, but it turned into a surprisingly catchy, well-constructed rock tune. Also, Constantino can really sing -- loud and always in-tune. Best Coast went on to play a few more cuts from their latest album, 'The Only Place,' before ending with a grungy version of their first single, 'Boyfriend.'
At this point, the rain was hitting our umbrella relentlessly. We decided to trudge back toward the other side of festival grounds to catch Of Monsters and Men perform. Their delightful Icelandic smiles, sadly, did not change the rain-drenched scowl that was slowly forming on our face. The band played 'Little Talks' brilliantly as many faithful concertgoers finally decided to call it quits.
As we left the besieged island, we checked our Twitter feed for dispatches from several of our stronger-willed colleagues who had decided to stick it out for Feist, Erica Badu and headliners Kings of Leon and Pretty Lights. Sadly, according to some accounts, Feist’s gear got soaked from some aggressive rain, and her set was cut short.
By 9PM, Governors Ball promoters had decided to end the night after strong sustained winds whipped through Randall’s Island. Folks who had waited all day to see the Followills unfortunately had to take the bus back to their borough. Many fans that decided to drive to the island for a day of music ended up getting stuck in thick mud. By 1AM, Governors Ball’s twitter feed was awash with complaints from people who were still stranded, waiting for tow trucks to pull them out of a sunken parking lot.
The chance for rain today (June 8) is minimal, and the temps are supposed to reach 80. Let’s hope that comes to pass, and Kings of Leon -- rescheduled for today -- get to "melt your faces," as drummer Nathan Followill tweeted.