On the last night of Governors Ball, I stood at near the main stage as people funneled in about thirty minutes before Eminem appeared. The crowd demographic was seemly split into two halves. There were some older people who showed up right before who bought a ticket just to see him. Then, there were younger fans, seemingly around 18-21, that tried to fit in like tetris pieces. Some fans camped out at the main stage most of that Sunday only adding to the Khalid main stage crowd that was one of the biggest of the weekend.
“Eminem is my favorite rapper. All time favorite!,” one person said to me. “Have you ever seen him live?,” I said. “No, this is my first time.” Eminem is notable for having a very sporadic touring schedule. The last New York dates were in August of 2014 during The Monster tour that he co-headlined with Rihanna. Who knows if they were going to get that chance again? The first night, there was a similar trend with Jack White’s hour and a half long set. A good amount of people bought tickets just to see him and bypassed most of the day. That’s a $115 price tag that would probably cost more than a conventional concert ticket to see him.
Everywhere you look, there seems to be some sort of music festival experience. While the boom that came with electronic music has immensely died down to a select few, there’s still a market for a good three-day experience. A major complaint is that most of these lineups look the same. When promoters are drawing from the same talent pool, it’s hard to create a unique experience where people will spend upwards to $300+ a weekend.
However, Governors Ball proved that it could draw from the die-hards and experience markets. Many fans attending have been to a Governors Ball at some point. With the lineup, Governors Ball did the best they could in balancing veteran talent with up-and-comers with a growing following in all types of genres.
Sunday seemed to be the day that everyone was pinpointing the most. Other than Eminem and Khalid, you had N.E.R.D., Billie Eilish, Sylvian Esso, and Chvrches to name a few. Pusha T was fresh off releasing his album ‘Daytona’ and his much talked about diss drake, ‘The Story of Adidon,’ against Drake. Call it good luck, but it was a timely edition for those who were disappointed that Brockhampton cancelled. The weekend was more of a victory lap for Halsey. Just seeing her perform from the studio at Webster Hall, to a headlining set at a festival, it was crazy to see how ingrained her songs and melodies were in fans heads.
There were a good number of acts that catered to the rock/alternative crowd. Third Eye Blind had people recalling songs like “Jumper” and “Semi-Charmed Life.” “Hey man, I remember that song. I was in high school when that came out.” The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were the hometown heroes late Saturday afternoon and the returning Gaslight Anthem gained from people who didn’t go see Travis Scott.
Thankfully, Randall’s Island was not bogged down by rain as was dictated in the forecast earlier that week. This is apart from Travis Scott’s closing set on Saturday that was fitting to how energetic and rawkus it became. As the festival playing field has grown with the addition of Panorama and The Meadows, Governors Ball still has implanted itself within the New York dna of the start of the summer festival season.