MANHATTAN, NY—The seventh annual Governors Ball Music Festival (commonly known as Governors Ball or Gov Ball) returned to Randall’s Island Park on June 2-4, with Chance the Rapper, Phoenix and Tool headlining the 2017 festival over approximately 60 performing artists. The festival also featured numerous food trucks and kiosks, as well as lawn games and other activities.
Four stages scattered throughout the park allowed for two artists to perform at any given moment. Timing was precise; as one band finished, another began on another stage. On all three days this year, the first bands performed for 30 minutes, the afternoon artists performed for 45 minutes and the evening acts performed for 75 minutes. Teens and college-aged youth dominated the audience on Friday and Saturday, when pop, rap and dance artists drew the larger audiences. Rock bands were largely relegated to Sunday, when Tool’s first New York performance in over a decade drew many older, long-bearded fans.
The 2017 festival featured a few surprises. Lorde’s main stage performance featured a duet with Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff on a cover of Robyn’s “Hang with Me,” as they had done this past December during the Ally Coalition Talent Show at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom. On the smaller stages, Charli XCX was joined by rapper Cupcakke for a song, and Marshmello introduced EDM artist Slushii and Mini Mello, who dressed as a mini-me of the marshmallow-helmeted DJ.
Unlike several previous years, the weather held up for most of the event except for one quick rainfall and a drizzle most of Sunday afternoon. Plastic rain ponchos were available in the early afternoon. At the 2016 festival, heavy rains saturated the grounds on Saturday, and Sunday was cancelled due to predicted storms and safety concerns.
Governors Ball is produced annually by Founders Entertainment, a festival promotion company based in New York City, which also produces The Meadows Music & Arts Festival. The inaugural Governors Ball was held on June 18, 2011, on Governors Island in New York City. That initial one-day Governors Ball 2011 reportedly amassed the highest attendance of any event in the history of Governors Island. The majority of the 12 bands booked were danceable pop bands, with Girl Talk, Pretty Lights, and Empire of the Sun as the headliners. The following summer, Governors Ball moved further up the East River to Randall’s Island in New York City in order to accommodate larger crowds. Expanding to a two-day event, the 2012 festival headlined Beck, Passion Pit, Kid Cudi, and Modest Mouse. Since then, Governors Ball has hosted Kanye West, Guns N’ Roses, Kendrick Lamar, Outkast, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, the Strokes, Skrillex, and the Killers among its headliners.