MANHATTAN, NY—It was a muddy stomp fest for the second of the three-day stand at Randall’s’ Island for this year’s Governors Ball. Former home to the Cosmos soccer club in the ‘70s and to numerous musical events that have been met with mixed success, this year’s model tested the patience of even the most laid-back, fun-loving peacenik out there. The mud was six inches deep in places due to monsoon-like conditions the night before that made the grounds incredibly wet. Having two main stages set almost a mile apart and creating a swampy, mucky mess didn’t help things out either.
The music, however, ultimately prevailed, and by the time the sun peaked its cheery head at the crowd about the time Kings Of Leon took the stage, all was forgotten. Originally planned as Friday night’s headliners, their set was canceled due to high winds. Management OK’d Friday night ticketholders to attend Saturday’s show. The band made up for it on borrowed equipment as they barreled through their set, leaving a lot of smiling faces in its wake while fans joyously countered, chugging oil can-sized Foster’s beers and dancing in the mud.
The early part of the day was a mix of alt rockers, rappers and the gospel-inspired hippy-dippy, boogie-woogie stomp of Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros. Their set was a revivalist blowout of countrified Dixie that went down like a sermon at Mushroom Planet. Singer Edward commanded the unit through a romping set that was truly inspirational and helped you forget the oozing dirt squishing between your toes.
Alt-J’s set was a small affair of Moby-esque piano riffs accentuated by straight-ahead guitars that was melodic, twinkling and set the stage nicely for the louder acts that followed. The Dirty Projectors’ suburban world beat combined the melodic flow with the quirky angled rock of the Talking Heads. Animal Collective were a nerdy attempt at art rock. Twitchy and not too melodic, they took on the avant-garde with their two keyboards, drums and guitar, and made the best of a gloomy early afternoon.
Guns N’ Roses saved the night and possibly the fest with an incredible set. Axl Rose even made it on time, bobbed, weaved and shimmied like the old days, leaving the crowd howling for one more encore.
Ever try to dance in six inches of mud? I saw some guy try and he lost his shoes!