“This is dum, which is mud spelled backwards”- Dan Scaglione (do not try and steal his intellectual property)
Mud, Music, Mayhem otherwise known as Governor’s Ball 2013.
Of course no one planned on a tropical storm hitting the island of Manhattan or the lesser known Randall’s Island which only houses an Insane Asylum but, for the weekend, hosted Governor’s Ball. So actually, both places featured varying amounts of insanity, (I’m talking about you, white pants girl.)
This storm was no joke and I was trying to ignore all the talk about 2” of rain per hour nonsense the weather channel was spitting out at us on Thursday. We had rain boots and ponchos and umbrellas, a little rain was not going to hurt us. (*this is probably the most positive thinking I had exuded in years, I hate the rain.)
Friday arrived and we outfitted in our gear not looking dissimilar to the cast of Outbreak. (I have been to three music festivals in the pouring rain, why I keep coming is still a mystery) We headed down towards the ferry since the event pushed this being the “only possible” way to really make it to the festival in a timely and organized manner. The rain was not letting up; I guess this was how a tropical storm works. The line for the ferry looked about 3 hours deep. NO WAY, I told everyone.
“I am not going to get stuck on a ferry with a ton of people to get there and have all the acts cancel because bands do not want to ruin their equipment playing in a downpour, only to get stuck with the same people, who are now angry, trying to get back to Manhattan, I’m out. Plus Kings of Leon is headlining, there is no way they will attempt to play, pigeon poop scared them off in St. Louis so I do not think a tropical storm will be their forte.”
In unison everyone agreed and back to the bar we went, thoughts of roofs and cocktails dancing in our heads. We found a bar that offered skee-ball and lots of pickle back shots, we were totally content. About 9 pm we get a breaking news announcement from the GovBall App, KINGS OF LEON HAVE CANCELED THEIR SET. (duh). After a good 9 hours of drinking I was in bed wondering how fast land can dry.
Saturday the rain has subsided. The ferry nightmare stories we heard from people about town led us uptown to take the foot bridge over. Though since our cab driver refused to get on the swiftly moving FDR highway, we might as well have taken the ferry. We make it. It is a muddy mess. It is so sloshy and thick it is like treading through brownie batter and you have to keep moving, if you get too comfortable in one spot you run the risk of having the mud dry around your boots concrete style. The most alarming part of the mud was the people who must not have any sort of access to social media, the television, the ground, people who were in flip flops, girls in white jeans (WHITE FREAKING JEANS, I secretly hoped she’d fall, I lied, it wasn’t a secret at all, I told everyone I hoped she’d fall).
My friend had gotten me a badge from one of her reps that said “Constituent” we had no idea where these got us, but all I cared about was getting over to see Alt-J. We trudge on over and pick a spot. After getting situated we go find what these badges get us. Apparently no one else knows either, who is running this place? They did get us inside the VIP access tent. (VIP = same drinks, same price, better bathrooms and a barricade to see the band SLIGHTLY closer). We squeeze through to get backstage; no one knows what the badges mean so we get on in, only to get kicked out 30 seconds later by a guy who took his job way too seriously. Right before ALT-J starts we see Adrian Grenier and his long curly hair making his way right in front of us and here is where we watched the entire Alt-J set and looking around realized this was a very attractive festival, even in the mud, most people were good looking.
We then trudge all the way over to Cut Copy and set up shop for Kings of Leon that no one is that pumped to see but since they actually stayed an extra day to play an actual set we listened. Caleb is looking old. He probably is old now, I am. Sorry Caleb. During the KOL set I realize I am starving I have had one Luna bar today. It is 6:45. Right after their set I down two tacos and one veggie dog. I have now had 2 meals in two days.
We head to Animal Collective who blames their bad sound on not having a sound check, dude, do not do that. And then we head out skipping Guns and Roses and skipping Nas in order to leave these muddy grounds before it gets dark and creepy scary things like mud baths start to occur.
On the walk back all the way from 125th street a nice FDNY fire station hoses all of our boots off and we are now wet but not as muddy and a bar might actually let us in the door. We head to Brother Jimmy’s. I’m pretty tired again but do not even attempt to yawn I will stay out with my friends, ignore the fact that it feels like there is kitty litter in my boot and I am pretty sure my sock is disintegrating in there. After about 2 hours of non-stop bar “hits” blasting through the speakers and after the Blackhawks win we are on to the next place. The next place is a place I do not want to be in the least bit especially not in rubber boots and especially not when I am fantasizing about my bed and showering. I duck out after about 20 mins of being there, I was so tired I was an effort for me just to sing one line of Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat,” with my friend who is going to be pretty disappointed that I couldn’t stay out any longer. We still had Sunday Mud day ahead!
After making the shower turn black and realizing my sock did indeed try and disintegrate, I was sleeping, finally.
Sunday, it’s sunny! Let’s do this all over again. There is one band I wanted to see the most at Governor’s Ball, it is HAIM. They are new and only have an EP out. These facts mean they are playing early. 1:30. At 11 most are still in bed. I offer to go alone to the ferry and see them. Surprisingly everyone is on board with this time schedule. We get to the ferry with no wait, get to the gate with 15 mins to spare. This is of course, way too easy. The scanners aren’t working and they aren’t letting anyone through. By the time they realize this is idiotic to hold all these people, who took a ferry over here and have tickets in their hands they let us in, we get to the stage, 1 minute to spare. Haim is awesome. Best show so far. It is three sisters. They each play an instrument, they each sing, they each participated in a drum line at the end of their set. They are awesome and funny. I am a sucker for a good girl band anyway, but everyone I was with agreed these girls were great.
The mud had dried up a little bit which I do not know if it was practice from the day prior but walking became easier. We had down time and could actually sit at a picnic table for like 15 minutes and eat. I had two meals this day already! We head over to see the Cold War Kids. Here is where the Lumineers production manager met up with us. My friend had met him randomly at a show she was at in Minnesota a week prior, this turned out to work out so well for us. He told us he basically swiped two artist wrist bands for us and we could now go anywhere. This included places that were not covered in mud and did not smell like a barnyard. I forgot to mention after all this time, the entire grounds smelled like horse manure. Why? I have no idea. This was not a farm yet you would not be able to convince this to a blind person.
After Cold War Kids’s not so great set, well that’s harsh I wasn’t really paying attention, we were so far from the stage it was hard to concentrate. Our new friend took us to the other stage where the Artist “Freeloaders Lounge” was located. I loved the named, no beating around the bush, everyone in there was a freeloader and everything in there was free. We had decided we weren’t really going to drink today. This was before the freeloaders lounge was introduced into our lives and the fact that red bull had all their flavors and Skyy vodka was a sponsor, so when in Rome, or out of the mud and free booze is practically forcing itself on you, you give in. Red bull lemon line and vodka is a true treat people. Taking a tour of the backstage and the yard games set up for the bands and their friends we spotted the girls from Haim. We talked to Este a bit, she is hilarious. We had to geek out a bit and tell her it was the best set we had seen, but it really was. She told us, “We are playing Letterman tomorrow, yes, I just pooped myself.” She also said she heard a rumor Daft Punk was coming out during Kanye’s set, I said I would die and she said likewise. It was time to find our other friends and tell them that Kanye might actually be cooler than we think.
After about an hour of not being in the mud and whiffing shit smells we were back out in it. God, we laughed, poor commoners. (It was a joke, we do not think we were any cooler that we had these passes, however it is always hard to have them and then watch the shows, well, like a commoner).
We walked back with our new friend in tow; he had to get the Lumineers set up. We needed to find our friends. We met them at Yesayer in a very sweaty tent. I felt like the girl’s hair that kept brushing up against my arm was skin burning acid, I did not want anything or anyone touching me, at all. Yeasayer played a great, I couldn’t see them over the bouncing heads and I couldn’t get on my tip toes because my calf muscles said, don’t you even think about it.
We proceeded over to where the Lumineers were setting up to play. Our new friend told us we could meet him in the back, so we sashayed our way through the security gate and this time did not get kicked out. He situated us on stage in front of a fan, a true god send. Now, if there is an act you really want to see, the stage is not great. I have seen shows from the stage and the sound isn’t good and you aren’t really seeing the show. Did I care? No, we were away from the crowds for a bit. We had a fan. Life was good. The Lumineers had a kids choir come to the stage while they sang “Stubborn Love” and “Hey, Ho.” It was the cutest thing that I could barely see. Our other friends did not realize we were on the stage until they saw us from the crowd, good thing I was not trying to hide since I was wearing florescent pink shorts. The Lumineers are a cute band; they played a couple songs out in the crowd, had a kids choir and just seem like all around nice folks, nice folks that play folksy music.
After their set all talks were on Kanye. We needed to get a good spot. We trudge to the other end of the festival and get through the barricade hoping to score some free cocktails but the free loaders lounge was closed, I think probably a Kanye request, heaven forbid anyone see him in his dressing trailer. I grabbed some free pop chips and made our way to the barricade where we could brace ourselves and not get trampled. He came on 15 mins late, it might not have been him, it could have been the screen technology, regardless, everyone else was on time. He opened with “Black Skinhead” then went into “New Slaves” played a couple of crowd pleasers, a super long version of “Heartless.” Then addressed the crowd, with “ this is when I decide to rant.” He ranted a bit saying he does what he wants and no one is going to tell him different. He plays a few more new songs, ends with “Black Skinhead.” He walks off the stage without even a goodnight or a thank you or Daft Punk. I never liked Kayne West; everyone is all, wait until you see him perform. It was lack luster at best. He stood off the stage where most people couldn’t even see him. He just did an article for the New York Times where he describes himself as awesome; I think he needs to look up the definition of the word.
After the show, I realized I have been in rubber boots for 3 straight days and standing an average of 12 hours a day. My feet and calf muscles were going to retaliate in the worst way.
Governor’s Ball over all was fun. I am not sure I’ll rush back. I have done it two years in a row and I expected a little more organization from them, but then again who predicted a tropical storm to come ripping through the island.
Here is my list of my favorite acts in order,
4.) Cut Copy (would have been higher if I would have seen more)
5.) Kings of Leon (it was nostalgic, kinda like listening to Sweet Caroline in a bar, no, better than that)
6.) Yeasayer (also might have been higher had I not been suffocating in a tent surrounded by bouncing sweaty twenty somethings)
7.) Bloc Party
8.) Kanye West (get over yourself)
9.) Animal Collective (don’t blame your sound on the lack of sound check)
*Foals, I caught two songs but they were pretty awesome as well I wish I would have seen more.