For the eager crowds who descended on Randall’s Island for Saturday’s Governors Ball lineup, things got a little rainier than they did on Friday. During Haim’s early evening set the skies broke loose and a torrent of rain began to fall. All that meant for the loyal few who stuck around was the sisters danced even harder and the crowd sang even louder. Considering the festival is canceled today on account of lighting, the people who stuck around for yesterday’s sets are probably feeling vindicated right now. Here’s a brief rundown of what happened pre-rainfall and how everyone survived being soaked all the way through the Killer’s headlining set–Brandon Flowers and co. made the sogginess incredibly worth it.
Holly Miranda @ the Honda Stage
Miranda kicked off Saturday’s performances with relaxed vigor. She had help from a three piece brass section–unusually, all the players were women–that filled out the contours of her songs, adding festival-appropriate heft and pushing toward the golden era of southern soul. The singer closed with “Waves,” which swirled upwards, buoyed by a lithe, active rhythm section, and ended with a satisfying non-resolution. Everyone was pleased except the lead singer of the band Nothing, who played next and blamed Miranda for the late start to his set.—Elias Leight
Nothing @ the Big Apple Stage
Feedback and distortion were Nothing’s tools of choice: the bass emitted a viscous wall of fuzz and guitars bludgeoned gnarled notes; the drummer kept things organized around his blocky, measured beat. “This song is about being dead and in the dirt,” Nothing’s frontman declared before launching into another tune. But this band isn’t interested in mourning the inevitable–instead the group looks to make the most of the noisy present.—EL
Jon Bellion @ the Big Apple Stage
“You acting G12 crazy, this is so bizarre,” Bellion rapped during “Run Wild.” And Bellion’s set was extremely bizarre–inhabiting a largely unexplored space somewhere between arena folk and live-band hip hop. He rifled through styles in rapid succession: acapella segments into post-Dilla rim-shot rap into something like jazz swing–complete with vocal scatting–into chanting nu-funk. There was a captivating quality to the jarring transitions, and Bellion helped his listeners make the sonic leaps with his relentless enthusiasm: “Wow! This is literally one if the biggest crowds we’ve ever preformed for.”—EL
The Knocks @ the Bacardi House Stage
The Knocks offered up a humdrum mixture of dance music styles, but you can’t fault their selection of collaborators–this year’s 55 album included contributions from Cam’ron, ace pop songwriter Justin Tranter, and Carly Rae Jepsen. The latter also joined the Knocks onstage at Governor’s Ball for “Love Me Like That,” an innocuous bubble of breakup disco. As soon as Jepsen’s presence was announced, listeners rushed towards the stage and phones flew into action; onstage, Jepsen sunk into the groove, throwing her hands in the air and twirling in circles.—EL
Haim @ the Big Apple Stage
During Haim’s set is when things got ugly during Governors Ball, or, depending how you look at it, when things got beautiful. The rain came down but it did not wash away the Haim sisters–though Este did decide to douse herself with a bottle of water in solidarity with the crowd and #freedthenipple in the meantime–and their impeccable throwback pop-rock was catchy and golden as we remembered it being in 2013 when their debut Days Are Gone arrived. Sadly, the new songs they played didn’t have the hooks or cohesion that some of the best tracks on that record have, or perhaps that was just the rain making it harder to feel hyped for songs we’re still very unfamiliar with. There was plenty of love for their Prince cover though, a faithful rendition of “I Would Die 4 U” spiked with their signature harmonies. The girls’ stage banter remains cornier than ever, but their musicianship is unparalleled. Even when they’re playing hokey tricks like all three switching between drum solos… they’re all three switching between drum solos. And there’s still absolutely nothing like when they launch into “The Wire,” a ’70s-flecked lament of love that got tangled that manages to sound celebratory amid the chaos it describes. Last night, that’s exactly what Haim did, celebrating chaos along with the loyal crowd who stuck around till the bitter end.—Caitlin White
The Killers @ the Big Apple Stage
In case you were worried that Brandon Flowers’ solo career had any impact on his loyalty to the band that launched a thousand teenage love stories, check your doubts at the door. If anything, Flowers’ stint as an indie pop star touring behind his latest solo record The Desired Effect gave him a grace and a confidence onstage that surpassed his own previous iteration as The Killers frontman. Because Brandon Flowers prowled that stage like a fucking king last night, bringing an entire generation of fans to their knees, earning new ones, and winning back old ones who were maybe a bit skeptical about their comeback (me). By the time the band took the stage we were all drenched to the bone, holding on for one final set before trudging back to warm, dry beds.
They made holding on worth it and then some, immediately kicking off with “Mr. Brightside” and never letting the energy lag for a single second from then on. The band covered Interpol, did an interpolation of the Elvis classic “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” and hit all your other favs along the way–“Smile Like You Mean It,” “Human,” “Somebody Told Me.” They ended the set with a roaring rendition of “All These Things I’ve Done,” a song that I will forever contend is the best Killers song on the planet, and then launched into a three song encore: “This Is Your Life,” “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine,” and finally, “When You Were Young.” It was unequivocally the best festival set I have ever seen, nicking nostalgia and imbuing it with a freshness that made the songs feel like they came out yesterday. If they had, they’d be rushing up the charts all over again. Thank you, Brandon Flowers, for making me proud of being a Killers fan. I now consider it one of the best decision I made when I was young.—CW
All photos via Instagram