LIVE: Governor’s Ball 2012, Randall’s Island
by Raymond Herrera
Baaallin.’ And by that I mean a press area stocked with water bottles all day, free wi-fi, folding tables decorated with paper collage table covers and ironic press paraphenelia like an old type writer, power strips everywhere and shade. Yes Founder’s Entertainment, I noticed. And having worked at other festivals on my come up, including the press area, that is more than most provide.
This is where my experience started, with the sounds of Santigold’s L.E.S. Artiste’s in the back. So I rushed to get to the action. Flanked by dancers in dayglow fringed shorts, and a band wearing DEVOesque flat top rubber wigs, Santigold still managed to stand out in her set with high energy to which the crowd responded with the same. There where two stages that ran alternately. One show would end and the following set would be ready to go by the time you walked to the other stage. Following Santigold was a DJ set by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy & Pat Mahoney (Special Disco Version). So I joined the kids after a little rest to get my dance on.
The highlight of the event had to be the following set by Major Lazer. Diplo asked the crowd to remove their shirts, and about 80% of the crowd went topless. So the shirts flew and spun above the crowd a la Red Hot Chilli Peppers at Woodstock in ’94. When he asked for ladies to come to the stage a woman wearing not much more than a blue super hero cape took over the set. We got to see a lot more than her moves. I only wished Santigold would have been on stage with Major Lazer when “Hold the Line” came on. I mean, she was there already!?! Nonetheless, it was a zoo.
Next I caught up w some friends during the Atmosphere set. Backed by a guitar, drummer, and DJ Ant, Slug performed with the vains on his neck almost popping off into the crowd, while the audience gave back spitting word for word on some tracks like “God Loves Ugly.” Cross the field for the Chromeo set which was impressive to see but not as much to hear. Some technical difficulties including low sound aside, Dave 1 and P-Thugg switched instruments at a dizzying pace and visually captivated us with their multi instrumental skills. The Canadian duo had the mostly early 20’s early 30’s crowd either in a trance behind their sexy legged keyboard stands and Robert Palmer dancers, or subdued so as not to drown out what could be heard. Watching P-Thugg’s talk box and the reaction of the ladies surrounding me, I wondered if countless lover’s quarrels could possibly be smoothed over with this machine. “I’m sorry baaaabyyy, I forgot to take out the traayyyaashh,” for instance. Experiments for this theory should be conducted.
Break time: plug my phone in on the press tables, more free water, tacos, and vietnamese coffee ice cream from one of many vendors, and I and my phone were recharged and ready for the group I was most excited to see. Passion Pit uses voice effects on their recordings, so I was curious to find out how they compensated for this in a live show. What is usually many layers of lead singer Michael Angelakos’ vocals was prominently replaced by his singular voice. Refreshing, as I would have expected him to just sing over a track. There might have been a faint background of the simultaneous voices but what I heard was his live one – real, brave and fallible. And the crowd mustered up it’s last bit of energy to show how much they appreciated it. You would have thought the show just started moments before “The Reeling” instead of almost 10 hours prior.
A few songs into Cudi’s set I headed for the bus. The sound levels were again in and out, and Cudi’s slower tempo was not the best choice for a festival programmer after a lively Passion Pit set and 10 hours of partying. Reading the mixed reviews of his set to see if I missed some great moments, I probably made the right decision to head back, satisfied.
All in all, the as advertised non ovelapping sets where a great idea to keep the timing efficient and technical glitches to a minimum. The open plan of the festival also allowed concert atendees to move from stage to stage in a fairly organized manner. It was a blast! Other performers included a DJ set by Duck Sauce featuring a gigantic duck, people in the crowd wearing duck masks, Mr. Fool’s Gold, and “Barbra Streisand” sandwiched between deep house tracks, K. Flay, Nobody Beats the Drum, Penguin Prison, Walk the Moon, and Art vs. Science.