10 artists we’re excited to see at Governors Ball 2021
NYC music festival Governors Ball returns this weekend (Friday, September 24 - Sunday, September 26) at a new location: the parking lot of Citi Field in Queens. 3-day, Friday, and Saturday passes are sold out, but Sunday tickets are still on sale (as are resale tickets for the other days), so there's still time to make a last-minute decision and attend the fest. There are a lot of reasons to go to GovBall this year, and if you need convincing -- or just some suggestions of who to see -- we've put together a list of 10 artists we're excited to see at Governors Ball 2021. Check out the full schedule here and read on for our list...
Billie Eilish (8:45 PM on Friday)
With her sophomore album that lives up to its insane expectations, we can't wait to see Billie at her first NYC show since the album's release. She's fresh off getting great reviews for making her live return at Life Is Beautiful last weekend, and the footage from that festival is only making us more excited.
Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist (4:40 PM on Friday)
Freddie Gibbs' Alchemist-produced Alfredo was our favorite rap album of 2020, and Gibbs has already been playing some shows/festivals this year, but this is a rare one that has The Alchemist in tow. Hopefully this means a more Alfredo-heavy set than the others he's played this year, but no matter the setlist, Freddie always brings it live and GovBall should be no exception.
Bartees Strange (2:15 PM on Friday)
The genre-fluid Bartees Strange's 2020 debut album Live Forever was one of our favorites of last year, and he just put on one of the most talked-about sets at Pitchfork Festival, so we can't wait for him to bring his live show back to NYC. He's on relatively early on Friday (2:15 PM), but you'll regret it if you don't get there early enough to see him.
Phoebe Bridgers (6:30 PM on Saturday)
Phoebe Bridgers has been one of our favorite artists since releasing her 2017 debut LP Stranger in the Alps, and it's a thrill to see how unstoppable she's become. She's collaborated with too many iconic artists to count, and after taking the world by storm with her excellent 2020 sophomore album Punisher, she became an icon of her own. The album's been out for over a year and already feels like a classic, but this is her first NYC show since its release. Needless to say, the anticipation is immense.
Megan Thee Stallion (5:30 PM on Saturday)
Megan catapulted herself to the forefront of rap last year with "WAP" (with Cardi B), the "Savage" remix (with Beyonce), and her new album Good News which made good on the promise of everything she had been building towards. She hasn't slowed down, and already released one of this year's biggest and best singles with "Thot Shit." At the rate she's been skyrocketing, we won't be surprised if she'll be headlining the next time she plays GovBall.
Big Thief (5:30 PM on Saturday)
It's killing us that Megan Thee Stallion and Big Thief play at the same time, but if you can see part of each set, we recommend it. Big Thief seem to just get better and better (their three new singles this year have been fantastic), and their live show is on another level. The four members of this band have really become a tight-knit unit who feed off each other's energy on stage in a breathtaking way.
MIKE (1:30 PM on Saturday)
GovBall has a lot of big names, but they've snuck some hidden gems on there too, like MIKE, who's become one of the leaders of NYC's experimental rap underground. If you're in from out of town, this is a great chance to experience one of our best local acts, but even New Yorkers owe it to themselves to get out of bed in time for his 1:30 set. His psychedelic, stream-of-consciousness rap is like nothing else on this lineup.
Burna Boy (4:00 PM on Sunday)
Burna Boy has cemented himself at the forefront of Afrobeats, with consistently inventive albums (like last year's Twice As Tall), and the ability to use his huge platform to fight for real change (like when he showed his support of Nigeria's #EndSARS movement at the BET Awards last year). He's infiltrated the US/UK mainstream without catering to it; even as he continues to cross over, he always stays true to his roots.
Princess Nokia (2:15 on Sunday)
MIKE isn't the only great local rapper on GovBall; there's also the much different Princess Nokia. She put out two great albums in 2020, and has stayed prolific with even more new singles since then, including the recent "It's Not My Fault." Her already-vast discography pulls from all over the place -- rap, jazz, punk, soul -- and her live show is always a ton of fun.
Amaarae (1:30 PM on Sunday)
Another unmissable gem on this lineup is Amaarae, who's coming to NYC all the way from her current hometown of Ghana. (Though she also lived here at one point.) Her great 2020 album The Angel You Don't Know is like if Grimes or M.I.A. went Afrobeats, with a more experimental, art pop twist on the global Afrobeats phenomenon. She's still a relatively new artist, but she's already a trailblazer.
Friday also features Earthgang, Leon Bridges, Orville Peck, Future Islands, Kehlani, Portugal. The Man, and more.
Saturday also has A$AP Rocky, J Balvin, Amine, Cordae, Bleachers, The Brothers Macklovitch, Muna (who recently signed to Phoebe's label and play the same day as her), and more.
Sunday's also got Faye Webster, BJ The Chicago Kid, Caroline Polachek, Duck Sauce, Smino, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jamie XX, Young Thug, Post Malone, and more.