Wu-Tang Clan, Tove Lo, Barns Courtney, Fired Up for NYC Festival’s Seventh Year
Governors Ball Music Festival launched in 2011 showcasing various styles of popular music, from hip-hop to rock, electronic to folk. Beck, Empire of the Sun, Kanye West, The Avett Brothers, Florence and the Machine, Skrillex, Jack White, Lana Del Rey, Bjork, Robyn, Father John Misty, and Action Bronson have been a number of the headliners and top artists to make an impact in previous years.
Nearly 70 acts take the stage during Governors Ball’s seventh year: Chance the Rapper, Phoenix, Cage the Elephant, Wiz Khalifa, Tool, Lorde, Flume, Mark Ronson, Childish Gambino, Royal Blood, Phantogram, Charli XCX, The Avalanches, and Franz Ferdinand. All will converge on four stages for a festival that rivals other major events around the country like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, and Austin City Limits.
Founders Entertainment, the small operation acquired by Live Nation in 2016, curates the three-day extravaganza led by Jordan Wolowitz and Tom Russell (and formerly partner Yoni Reisman), who also produce The Meadows, which returns to Citi Field (Queens, NY) September 15-17 for a second year. Governors Ball also offers #GOVBALLEEEEEATS curated by The Infatuation, whipping up 50 food and beverage vendors, including NYC favorites like Luke’s Lobster, Momofuku Milk Bar, Cafe Habana, Mighty Quinn’s BBQ, and Magnolia Bakery, to name a handful. The Governors Ball brand extends past the three days with Gov Ball After Dark concert series boasting over a dozen acts June 1-7 for rabid fans who cannot get enough or for New Yorkers or visitors looking for a taste of the weekend’s festivities.
To celebrate the many sounds and styles of music at Governors Ball this year, we spoke with New York hip-hop pioneers Wu-Tang Clan. RZA spoke about Wu- Tang playing their hometown. “Wu-Tang is a musical expression of the fast-paced, aggressive, gritty New York City vibe of the 90s while also being a myriad of artistic ideas you find in such a diverse city,” said RZA. “Being added to the roster of Governors Ball is a delight and honor for us. Randall’s Island has a fantastic vibe in the summer months, and we rarely get to enjoy this unique part of the city.” RZA attended Governors Ball as a fan and enjoyed performances in years past from Interpol, Jack White, and Outkast. “It’s a joy that this year not only will we be able to enjoy the bands lined up, we also get to play,” said RZA. Raekwon echoed that New York is the mecca of hip-hop but also offers so much more. “I think our music connects with other genres,” said Raekwon. “Hip-hop is just a piece of music overall, so it co-exists perfectly.”
“There’s something special about city festivals, a lot of energy, and New York City is my new hometown now so it feels extra awesome.” – Tove Lo
Swedish pop singer Tove Lo is excited to play this year. “I’ve heard a lot about it both from friends who have played and friends who love to go,” said Tove. There’s something special about city festivals, a lot of energy, and New York City is my new hometown now so it feels extra awesome.” Tove Lo, known for hits like “Talking Body” and “Cool Girl,” spoke about the artist experience at festivals and even came out of one with a collaboration. “I’m a big festival lover and always want to stay at them an extra day if I can. I love checking out other acts. It’s inspiring and everyone tends to let loose more on stage. I will definitely try and catch Lorde, Flume, and Charli [XCX]. Broods played me ’Freak Of Nature’ backstage at a festival and I was in love instantly.”
The lineup has dozens of big names, but it’s also a particularly fun experience to check out some emerging talent, where there is always surely a breakout set or two. This year some names to look out for include the charismatic indie-pop act Francis and the Lights, electro-pop trio MUNA, folk-rock singer Mondo Cozmo, and British blues-rock singer Barns Courtney. Courtney, who grew up in both Seattle and the U.K., believes the connection artists have with an audience is what’s most important. “I think it’s vital because your music is only one aspect of who you are overall,” said Courtney. “You have to bring people into your universe and show them an entire new world. There has to be something exciting, like Ziggy Stardust, this alien from outer space, amazing.” The “Fire” singer, who has opened for The Who, Ed Sheeran, and Elle King, has notspent much time in New York but likened NYC crowds to being similar to London: “They are tough, they don’t give it all away, you have to gain their respect,” said Courtney.
“Music is universal, so combine that with the diversity of New York City and you have the perfect storm for a great festival.”– Method Man, Wu-Tang Clan
Whether rushing from the ferry or from set to set to catch your favorite headliners or buzzy new acts, Governors Ball remains New York’s staple for popular music over three days in the summer. Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man perhaps summed it up best: “Music is universal, so combine that with the diversity of New York City and you have the perfect storm for a great festival.”