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Though the forecast had been calling for thunderstorms all week, the weather turned out to be perfect for the opening night of the 'Gone to Governors' live music series. With shows from the likes of The Morning Benders, Passion Pit, Caribou, Phantogram, M.I.A., Sleigh Bells, Grizzly Bear, and Neon Indian all scheduled for the coming months on Governors Island (some free, some not), it's a pretty sweet line-up. The only trick is getting there.
The actual ferry ride over is brief - just four minutes, but my wait to get on the ferry took far longer... though I was lucky to get on a ferry at all. At around 7:30 on Saturday night, the ferries stopped running to the public since the show space was already at capacity for the 8:00 show time. As I approached the ferry pick-up point, hundreds of confused, would-be concert-goers were barked at by cops and show officials who screamed through megaphones, "Clear the area! Go home! There are no more boats!" It was all fairly chaotic and pretty distressing. (I mean were they really only expecting a few hundred people to be interested in seeing Yeasayer?) Luckily, however, the actual show was not marred by poor planning and haphazard execution.
Since getting to the island took much longer than expected, the only thing I heard from Delicate Steve, the first opener, was a song or two that I caught while waiting to get let into the space along the waterfront.
When the second opener, Keepaway, walked on stage, one member immediately commented on the setting. "This is the perfect time to play a show." The sun was just dipping below the horizon, and a refreshing breeze rolled in from the water. Keepaway's music lies somewhere in the vein of surfer stoner rock. Following their first song, Keepaway's keyboard player astutely likened the surroundings to Pleasure Island (a la Pinocchio). It was a pretty fitting observation. We had all been taken to an island by boat and provided with free music, fun, and food and beverages (if you paid for them). It all had quite a magical feel. But luckily, Governors Island did not seem to conceal a sinister secret. Though brief, Keepaway's set was surprisingly enjoyable. With their electro beats, strange guttural vocals, delightful harmonies, and lyrics about Sonic the Hedgehog, topiaries, and getting high, their music definitely livened up the crowd.
By the time Yeasayer launched into their set, the sky had fallen dark, and the Manhattan skyline twinkled across the water. On stage, multi-colored, blinking screens were strategically placed in the background and under keyboards, synthesizers, and mixing boards. Yeasayer began their set with "Wait for the Summer" from their 2007 release All Hour Cymbals, which, given the idyllic setting, seemed rather perfect.
Both on stage and in the pit, everyone seemed to be having a good time. With the help of their buoyant album Odd Blood, Yeasayer kept things light and danceable. Not even getting hit in the face with a beach ball did much to dampen lead singer Chris Keating's mood. He paced around the stage with great energy and at one point, he confessed in a rather jubilant (but surprised tone), "I'm having fun out here. I don't always have as much fun as I'm having right now." The crowd responded to the energy on stage by enthusiastically clapping, cheering, and singing along to songs like "2080," "Madder Red," and "Ambling Amp."
Then, without so much as an encore, the show ended promptly at 11, leaving the crowd to scramble over sand and discarded plastic cups in search of the only way off the island - the ferry. If the trip over contained a fair amount of scrambling, the departure was even more chaotic as hipsters were herded like animals and sporadically released in clumps to charge toward the ferry. Waiting for nearly an hour, surrounded by a sweaty mass of people may have sucked, but riding back on the upper deck of the ferry at midnight with the Manhattan skyline in view was a pretty fantastic way to end the evening.
A bit more about the show and the ferrys and a full set of pictures HERE. Another set of pictures (featuring all three bands) and Yeasayer's setlist, below...
Wait for the Summer