Hot and sticky and crowded and all kinds of wonderful, Governor’s Ball Day 2 is the day everyone will be talking about when reflecting on the weekend. Even a blistering Jack White headlining set, sprinkled with a healthy dose of White Stripes hits, was overshadowed by the victorious reemergence of hometown heroes The Strokes. Holy 2001 Batman! Surprisingly rousing sets by both Broken Bells and Spoon, as well as a packed midday sweat-lodge set under the tent for an emphatic Chance The Rapper topped off another huge day on Randall’s Island.
Check out our recap from Day One’s events with Outkast, Janelle Monae, Julian Casablancas, Damon Albarn and more, then dig into our highlights from Governor’s Ball Day Two below!
Cocoa Butter Bliss: Chance The Rapper
Chicago’s Chance The Rapper isn’t going to be huge. He’s huge right now. Arms were raised high all the way to the jammed Gotham Tent and well beyond as Chance commandeered his stage. Donning a White Sox jersey and a Superman T-shirt, he ardently shouted, “New York, what the fuck is up?” He was a blur of exuberance during “Pusha Man”; the audience fervently shouting out the chorus “pimp slappin’. toe taggin’, I’m just tryina fight the man, I’m your pusha man”. The mid-day sun outside was unrelenting, but being under the tent felt like a Navajo sweat lodge session. The sweat and stank were but afterthoughts as Chance busted out the smooth “Cocoa Butter Kisses”.
Trippy tuneage: Broken Bells
It was the perfect time of day to chill to the delectable grooves that James Mercer and Danger Mouse bring to the table. They refrained from early banter and spoke instead with song. Mercer’s high vocals were poignant and piercing during “After The Disco” as Danger Mouse jammed out that infectious bass line. But the set was highlighted by tracks from their self-titled record. The audience was subdued but rapt as the band did “The Mall and the Misery” and “Vaporize”. “I think we just did pretty good on the mufuckin’ songs”, Mercer quipped. Indeed.
Incendiary homecoming: The Strokes
Looking around, it was plain to see: the Strokes t-shirts, the chain-smoking, the filthy shag-hair and tight pants. This set was destined to make or break this festival for a lot of people. Prior to Governors Ball (and a warm-up show they did one week prior), The Strokes hadn’t performed live since a run of festival gigs in 2011. They oddly didn’t bother to tour on 2013’s Comedown Machine. New York City had been waiting impatiently and for far too long for the return of their hometown heroes. The GovBallNYC stage was overloaded. Fans were crunched into every crevasse in the dead heat. Some had waited in line outside the festival grounds since the wee hours of the morning to be front and centre. At least one girl was failing to hold back tears of elation when The Strokes finally wandered out.
The audience reacted with fury as pulsating waves of bodies were thrown back and forth. Security began helping out overheated fans almost immediately. On stage, the guys were putting on a clinic. Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.’s squealing guitar tones during “Machu Picchu” were a sonic face slap as he leered over a hungry crowd. The Julian Casablancas clusterfuck we witnessed one day prior was replaced by the Julian Casablancas I remember from a decade ago. His falsetto wails during “One Way Trigger” were staggering. An audience already enraptured became a dance party that stretched to the visible horizon as they busted out seminal hits like “Hard To Explain”, “12:51” and deadly run through of “Last Night”. They encored appropriately with “New York City Cops”. Why a band of this stature with this kind of a following has been idle for so long is beyond my comprehension.
That other comeback set: Spoon
Spoon is another band that has been idle for a while. But with a new album looming, they are beginning to pop up here and there. Singer Britt Daniel looked truly thrilled to be reintroducing Spoon into the Zeitgeist. They drew heavily from Kill The Moonlight throughout a stirring hour and a quarter set. Daniel’s vocals were angsty and playful during “Small Stakes” and “The Way We Get By”. If you were to tell me that you weren’t dancing during “I Turn My Camera On”, well sir, I’d call you a liar.
And then… Jack White
Bathed in ominous blue backlighting, Jack White graced us with his stolid presence. The adoring audience, having already been violated by The Strokes, was clearly ready to be aurally penetrated again by anything Mr. White had to offer. He set the mood with the sleek slide-guitar and fuzz riffs of the instrumental “High Ball Stepper” before reaching for first-base with “Lazaretto”. Now that we were intimate it seemed appropriate for him to invite us over to “Hotel Yorba”.
Things got a little hot-and-heavy with White’s sporadic riffing during “Sixteen Saltines”, but then we cozied up with a country twang rendition of “We’re Going To Be Friends”. White showed us his Raconteurs with a little “Top Yourself” and “Steady As She Goes” and before long we were “Icky Thump”ing. We got a little primal during “The Hardest Button to Button”. That was when Jack let us knew that we were special. “Usually I don’t like festivals,” he proclaimed, “but this is really good right”. He didn’t really need validation, but he wanted us to think he did. And then that bass line. We were chanting it together as we hit that moment. He closed the stellar set with “Seven Nation Army”. Does anybody have a cigarette?
Crave’s coverage continues on Governors Ball’s final day with sets by Vampire Weekend, Interpol, Foster The People, and The Kills.