Governors Ball Day 2 Recap: Icona Pop, Dirty Projectors, Kings of Leon + More Rock the Muddy Masses
Upon returning to Governors Ball for day two, Diffuser.fm experienced a blissful moment of true festival-ness. After going through the gates and descending the initial hill, we gazed upon a field that had seen better days. A soft layer of mud a foot deep covered acres of concert grounds. People were trudging about, careful not to fall into the soup just as Icona Pop was playing their hit 'I Love It.' Thousands of people were jumping up and down to the beat of the Swedish duo, sending sludge flying about. Was this Woodstock ‘99?
After a walk through the mud, we caught the end of Japandroids’ explosive set. 'Young Hearts Spark Fire' was about twice as loud as on record, and we were left amazed a rock duo can put out that much sound. Drummer David Prowse’s kick drum boomed like a jet breaking the sound barrier, while singer Brian King slayed on guitar with abandon. Throughout their set, the pair continuously joked about being Guns N’ Roses and how they were going to headline that very stage later in the evening.
After re-upping on beers and the blessed pulled pork sandwiches of Nam Pang, we made our way over to Dirty Projectors on the other side of the festival. The Brooklyn-based symphonic indie rockers came out to wild applause. To see so many people embrace such an avant-garde sound is truly inspiring. The six-piece dove right into 'Swing Lo Magellan,' the title track from their latest album. Through their set, the Projectors encountered frequent sound issues. Every time we’ve seen this band live, they’ve had mixing problems, which probably speaks to how complicated their setup is.
“Turn it up! Turn it up!” the crowd cried after the first song finished. Singer Dave Longstreth smiled and crooned right through 'Gun Has No Trigger,' which noticeably carried more bass and fury than before. Later, Amber Coffman’s excellent rendition of 'Stillness Is the Move,' and the band’s near-metal performance of 'Bitte Orca' had the crowd headbanging and singing along in delight.
Alt-J was up next just across the field on the Honda Stage. Thankfully, not too many bands performed there on day one, so there was still grass to be found. The British band started very slowly, easing into their debut album, 'An Awesome Wave,' with careful consideration. The crowd bobbed slowly as singer Joe Newman took his band on a Sunday drive through pop slow jams like 'Something Good.' Keyboardist Gwil Sainsbury looked as hipster as ever -- appropriate, since he was still a stone’s throw from Williamsburg -- in his light blue cap and Tommy Bahama button-up. At least someone was dressed for summer!
Halfway through Alt-J’s set, we moseyed over to Cut Copy, who definitely threw the craziest party of the afternoon. The synth-driven melodies of 'Zonoscope' filled out the main valley of the Governors Ball grounds while fans danced unabashedly on the concrete landing in front of the main stage. While we watched in the mud, a mere 200 yards from Cut Copy’s oasis, we decided that it would be best to stay back and make our way over to the Skyy Vodka tent, where Azealia Banks would soon be performing.
She did not disappoint. The Yung Repunxel came out in an orange jumpsuit, flanked by two vogueing dancers and her trusty DJ, Cosmo. This chick has some serious flow, and at only 22 years old, she has a long career ahead of her. Banks played everything off her short EP '1991,' and a few cuts from her new mixtape 'Fantasea.'
“Now I got in a lot of trouble for recording this next song,” Miss Bank$ told the rowdy crowd. “But I don’t give a f--- because I’m from Harlem!” Suddenly, the young rapper had the whole audience in her hand as she delivered a rousing version of 'The Harlem Shake.' We must admit we were cackling with laughter watching much of the crowd stop dancing after the “drop” came in. We're not sure too many people have heard that song in its entirety, ourselves included.
As sunset approached, we watched Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros treat a few thousand people to 'Home' while scoping out a good spot for Kendrick Lamar. Make no mistake, Alex Ebert sure can whistle damn well live.
Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar took the stage soon after the freak folkers' set ended. Lamar, dressed in a hooded outfit with a skeletal type print, took the stage to major applause, attracting one of the largest audiences at the festival. He kept up the excitement by playing his hits 'Swimming Pools (Drank),' 'Money Trees,' 'Poetic Justice' and 'Backstreet Freestyle.' Sadly, after he was finished with the most recognizable tracks, Lamar slowed down his set to a crawl, often spending several minutes staring at the crowd. I took it as a sign and moved on over to catch the end of Kings of Leon rescheduled set.
“Sex on Fire” raged across the festival grounds. Though it’s not our favorite cut from the brothers Followill, it sure got us hankering for another beer, after which we diverted our attention to Thievery Corporation and their brand of world music.
Day two of Governors Ball was shaping up to be a truly successful one, but the constant workout that is walking in deep mud was causing many people to leave early. We watched the end of Animal Collective’s set after finding a place to finally sit before heading out for the evening. Day three awaits.