Governors Ball 2018
Randall’s Island Park
June 1-3, 2018
Founders Entertainment gathered 65 music artists and tens of thousands of revelers to the eighth annual Governors Ball Music Festival (commonly known as Governors Ball or Gov. Ball) on Randall’s Island Park in New York City on June 1-3, 2018. The major draws this year included Jack White, Travis Scott, Eminem, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Halsey, Khalid, Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert and Chvrches.
Once again, the festival was light on rock and top-heavy with pop, rap and EDM artists. The park featured four stages, with two usually active at any given moment. Timing was very strict, such that the moment one artist finished another artist was starting at a nearby stage. Rappers consistently drew the largest crowds, such that rock fans were able to get closer to their musicians because the rivaling pop artists drew bigger numbers. A string quartet and a brass band also circulated among the crowd away from the live stages.
Between stages, attendees purchased dozens of food and drink vendors and visited many corporate booths. New Yorkers love free, and so attendees took advantage of free caramel M&Ms, four flavors of Lays potato chips and various La Croix beverages, as well as free face painting, hair braiding, tote bags, and Governors Ball temporary tattoos. Love, Tito’s Festival Experience allowed attendees to record a time capsule video that the outfit will send to the participant in a year. Multiple murals allowed for photo opportunities and supersized Jenga, Connect 4 and other games attracted competitors.
Day One Highlights:
- Jack White reworked the White Stripes song “Icky Thump” into “Icky Trump” with new lyrics: “White Americans/Nothing better to do/Why don’t you kick yourself out/You’re an immigrant too! … That’s for you, Trump!”
- Shawn Mendes was billed as a “special performance” and was given a half hour slot, during which he sang a cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” which seemed to cold-stop the younger fans who were singing along to all his hits.
- Mosh pits, normally the staple at punk and metal shows, were all the rage at rap performances — starting with Post Malone.
- Rapper Belly, a Canadian of Palestinian descent, wore a shirt with the printed word “immigrant,” and brought out New York rapper the Lox for a couple of songs.
Day Two Highlights:
- Silk City, a collaboration of DJs Diplo and Mark Ronson, made its debut at the festival. Diplo also DJed an unannounced set to about 100 people in the CitiBank pavilion.
- Halsey told her audience that on that exact day four years ago, she had signed a record deal for a small amount of money at the top of the Empire State Building, then celebrated by attending Governors Ball. “I was standing somewhere in the back, just like you,” she said.
- Before singing “Strangers,” her song about same sex love, Halsey announced, “June is pride month. If you are a proud member of the LGBT community, or a proud friend of someone who is, you gotta, you gotta, dance!”
- Pusha T replaced hip-hop boyband Brockhampton, who cancelled numerous tour dates after member Ameer Vann was removed from the group in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations. Pusha T steered away from his feud with Drake, but the audience did not; the audience chanted expletives about Drake three times during Pusha T’s set.
- The Gaslight Anthem performed a complete, 10th anniversary play-through of the band’s The ’59 Sound in the rain.
- Mosh pits, normally the staple at punk and metal shows, developed during sets by Travis Scott, 2 Chainz and Pusha T.
- Although rain was predicted for much of the three-day event, fans on Saturday only scurried for cover during the evening-closing sets by Travis Scott and the Gaslight Anthem.
Day Three Highlights:
- Eminem name-dropped Nicki Minaj as “wifey” amidst a rumor mill that the two may be in some kind of relationship: “I’m gonna tell you something about Nicki that she don’t even know: we go together.” During his festival-closing set, Eminem brought out several guest performers, including 50 Cent, Skylar Grey, and Royce Da 5’9′.
- Lil Uzi Vert seemed unfazed by his altercations with Rich the Kid the day before at a Starbucks in Philadelphia.
- Third Eye Blind vocalist Stephen Jenkins told his audience that he was performing despite being diagnosed with walking pneumonia.
- Sixteen-year-old pop singer Billie Eilish brought out Khalid to perform their recent collaboration, “Lovely.”
- During his own set, Khalid congratulated and dedicated a song to the class of 2018, reminding the audience that he graduated high school only two years earlier.
- Mosh pits, normally the staple at punk and metal shows, resumed during the set by N.E.R.D.
- Although rain was predicted for much of the three-day event, fans on Sunday only scurried for cover during the evening-closing set by Eminem.