Governors Ball day 2 pics & review (Phoenix, Wu-Tang, A$AP Ferg, YG, more)
After kicking off on Friday (6/2), NYC’s 2017 Governors Ball music festival continued on Saturday (6/3) on its longtime home of Randall’s Island. Pictures of day two are in the gallery above. Here are some highlights:
One of the toughest conflicts of the weekend was YG vs Rae Sremmurd on Saturday, especially since they were two of maybe 12 rappers on the entire festival’s lineup. It was Rae Sremmurd’s return to GovBall since Slim Jimmy fell off the stage and left the festival in ambulance in 2015, which they brought up again during their set this weekend. Rae Sremmurd are also significantly more popular since that 2015 performance, thanks to last year’s “Black Beatles” becoming the basis for a meme and a #1 single, and their set had the Bacardi tent overflowing with people. I walked by it for a bit but ultimately made the decision to see YG.
YG may have had the smaller crowd, but everyone who was there was clearly into it and YG more than lived up to anticipation. With the bass booming over the Big Apple Stage’s PA and YG wrapping with finesse, he ran through “My Nigga,” “Who Do You Love,” “Why You Always Hatin’,” his verse on Jeremih’s “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” and more favorites. YG nails a solid mix of party rap and more serious subjects, and that mix was on full display at Governors Ball. The West Coast rapper repped his hometown throughout his set, “but I fuck with New York too,” he told us. “But there’s one person from New York that I don’t fuck with,” he said, before closing his set with the new national anthem, “Fuck Donald Trump.”
After YG ended, immediately across the way on the Honda Stage was A$AP Ferg. The hometown hero’s crowd was packed in like sardines and going absolutely nuts. It was the kind of crowd where if you weren’t ready to get bodies slamming against you from all sides, you had to GTFO. Ferg kicked his set off on a high note, and it only got higher from there. As the end neared, he started breaking out the hits (“Hella Hoes,” “East Coast,” “Shabba,” and the world-conquering “New Level”), and things got even more wild when he brought his pals Flatbush Zombies on stage. Those guys seem to only know how to operate with things turned up to 11, and their surprise GovBall appearance was no different (videos below).
A group of hometown heroes that A$AP Mob, Flatbush Zombies, or any other recent New York crew would be nothing without, the Wu-Tang Clan, reinforced their status as legends on the festival’s main stage just an hour after Ferg’s set. I’ve seen classic rappers fail as modern-day festival acts, whether it’s due to the younger crowd’s lack of familiarity with their work, waning energy, or late-career mediocrity filling the setlist with stinkers. Wu-Tang had none of these issues. Over two decades into their career, they’re a fantastic festival act. Favorites from the Wu’s classic albums (and solo cuts like Raekwon’s “Ice Cream” and GZA’s “Duel of the Iron Mic”) haven’t aged a bit, and the guys hardly look like they have either. They were dancing, running around the stage, and bouncing rhymes off each other like they’re still nuthin’ ta fuck with. Method Man even dove backwards into the crowd. (They dropped him!) A few guest appearances: Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s son Young Dirty Bastard came out to help the Wu pay tribute to his deceased father, and Redman ran out halfway through his Method Man collab “Da Rockwilder,” after Meth had teased the crowd by saying his pal wasn’t able to be there. The Wu-Tang Clan reminded the crowd a few times that they’re multi-platinum artists and pioneers of New York hip hop, but they didn’t really have to. Their legacy spoke for itself.
The main stage headliner on Saturday was Phoenix, though their set overlapped with Childish Gambino who drew a noticeably bigger crowd. That’s not too surprising, considering a good rock headliner is harder and harder to come by. That said, Phoenix were perfect for the role of rock headliner. They truly look and play like stars. They were loud, they sounded as razor-sharp as they do recorded, and if “you’re only as good as your drummer,” it’s no wonder they were so damn tight. The songs off Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix — which we got almost all of — were not surprisingly the ones that got the crowd most excited. After opening with the title track off their upcoming album Ti Amo, the crowd roared when Phoenix transitioned right into “Lasso.” Off the strength of that album alone, Phoenix can probably headline festivals for years to come. But really every song they played was as good as the last, even the new singles that I wasn’t so hot on prior to hearing them at the festival. Phoenix just know how to put on a great show, whether the crowd is singing every word or not, and equally impressive as their live performance was their light show. They had a mirror behind the band, which the very colorful light show was projected onto. You could get lost in the visuals as much as you could in their air-tight grooves.
Day two also had Stormzy, producer Mark Ronson DJing with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, and more. Pictures of day two are in the gallery above. Pictures of day one HERE and HERE. The final day of GovBall is underway now with Tool headlining (set times here).
Phoenix at Governors Ball 2017 Setlist (via)
Long Distance Call
Trying to Be Cool
S.O.S. in Bel Air
If I Ever Feel Better
Fior di Latte
Ti Amo Di Piu
photos by Amanda Hatfield