This coming Friday, June 5 marks the first day of three of New York City's premier music festival, Governor's Ball on Randall's Island.
I was at all three days of last year's festival and have nothing but positive things to say about the festival. Great lineup, well-managed crowds, convenient location for New York commuters and good food. This year's July 5-7 festival promises much of the same.
Frankly, I think last year's lineup, which announced the festival as one of the country's biggest and baddest, outshines this year's slightly. But that's not to say there aren't some gems.
The Black Keys are sure to put on a great show. I expect they'll stick primarily to their 2014 "Turn Blue" but are likely to mix in some older hits as well--"Tighten Up" would be a dream. Look for great singles off of the most recent album like "Gotta Get Away."
My Morning Jacket could steal the festival for me. I suspect they'll stick to their newest album almost exclusively; "The Waterfall," their seventh, only came out in early March 2015. But, they could play anything and everything and are guaranteed to win some new fans. Don't miss 'em.
Alt-country legend Ryan Adams plays a solo set that should be made a priority. While his solo stuff is great, his early records with band Whiskeytown are absolutely killer. If he takes the stage with a band, look for him to play some older tunes.
The War on Drugs are as hot as they come recently. 2014's "Lost in the Dream" was huge, and single "Under the Pressure" stands out. They're sure to play it and the whole set should be really enjoyable.
You Should Really See These Acts
The Decemberists are some of indie music's great songwriters. Like many other acts, they'll probably stick to their most recent album, "What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World," which was released in January 2015. The album's is a reference to a song on the album that recalls to President Obama's reaction to the Sandy Hook shootings of 2012 and juxtaposes it with the lead singer's personal success. Interesting group of people; even better musicians.
One of indie music's most polarizing characters, Conor Oberst is totally hit or miss. Known primarily for the deeply personal, soft-spoken lyricism of his band Bright Eyes, Oberst's naturally remorseful voice can be twisted into one of rock's truly unique sounds as found in his work with Desaparecidos. His show is definitely worth seeing; if he's in the right mood, it could be one of the steals of the weekend.
Florence + The Machine are a crowd favorite, and for good reason. While I'm surprised to see them listed ahead of acts like My Morning Jacket, their popularity speaks for itself. They'll be on the main stage on Friday night before Drake closes the evening. For hip hop fans, he'll be great, too, and should cap an excellent first day.
Mayer Hawthorne is known to put on a great show. He's an old-fashioned soul artist with an exciting contemporary spark. He's got a dedicated following, which always helps a set's chances of being really enjoyable.
For those looking for something new, check out MØ, an up-and-coming Danish singer-songwriter. Her pulsing beats are reminiscent of Lorde and she is definitely worth checking out. If the weather's good, her vibes will match perfectly.
Future Islands also match a summer day and should be great. You probably know them from their song "Seasons (Waiting on You)."
For hip-hop fans looking for a smaller set than Drake's Friday night headline, give People Under the Stairs a shot. The crowd will probably be smaller than the set by Logic, a reasonable comparison as far as quality goes, but the LA-based duo know what they're up to.
The Districts are the group I'm most excited to see buried toward the bottom of the setlist. They're the first show of the weekend, Friday at 12:15 so the crowd will be minuscule; if you can escape work or school early enough to make it, I promise that they will not disappoint. The four youngsters from rural Pennsylvania are hardly old enough to be drinking the beers they will definitely be drinking behind the amplifiers between (and sometimes in the middle of) songs. Its rock and roll to its bone. The festival organizers have gotten their placement as the weekend's first show spot on; this will kick off the weekend in the right way.
For the slightly lighter-hearted rock fans, J. Roddy Walston & The Business draw comparison to The Districts. Also found toward the bottom of the setlist (smaller crowds!), they'll put on a fun show.
Gov Ball's organizers put on a great festival last year; they know what they're doing and can be counted on to make the weekend a memorable and safe one. "You're Doing Great" signs were everywhere in 2014, and are expected to be found again if the website is any indication. Free water stations are aplenty and will be necessary in the June heat.
The location is excellent, with Randall's Island an easy-enough commute from any of the boroughs or Westchester.
The food lineup is also exciting, with stand outs like Bareburger, Brookyln Soda Works, The Nugget Spot and Mighty Quinn's BBQ.
I have nothing but faith that this year's Gov Ball will help the festival's status as one of the summer's best.
Are you going to Gov Ball?
Let us know what you're excited for in the comments! Food? Music? Photos with giant teddy bear mug shots (see: Gov Ball 2014!)? And be sure to come back and comment after the weekend to tell us what blew you away.