By: Taya Wood | 13 July, 2022
The Governors Ball 2022, was an amazing and jam packed weekend. From the beating hot sun on Friday to the light rain showers on Sunday, the atmosphere maintained high energy for the entire weekend.
Holly and I started Friday off early, waking up to get ready earlier than necessary. To say the least, we were thrilled. We arrived at Citi Field, neither of us having been there before, and only took a short time to direct ourselves to the Media Check-In. After getting our passes and having the biggest smiles on our faces, we were ready to take on the weekend. We had to sit down and take it all in.
The festival grounds hosted three stages: two smaller and one large. The two smaller stages were the nearest to each other and named after this year’s larger sponsors for the festival. This year’s sponsors were Bacardi and GoPuff. The larger stage was on the opposite side of the festival grounds and was named “Gov Ball NYC” which was presented by Verizon. Food trucks, merchandise vendors, and other sponsor tents circled the outer edges of the festival, all around the grounds.
To start our festival tour, we headed off to the awaited and popular early set for Aly & AJ. The sisters had a 1:00 time slot at the GoPuff stage, and because the festival had begun at 12:00 I was unsure of how large the crowd would be. Aly & AJ brought in one of the largest afternoon crowds I saw during my three days at the festival. They brought together a variety of fans ranging from people who knew them back in their Disney Channel days to newer and even younger fans. The sisters came out fierce and stayed energetic until they made their way off the stage. Though the sisters did not sing “Potential Breakup Song” as some hoped, they performed tracks from their newest album: “a touch of the beat gets you up on your feet gets you out and then into the sun.” The duo got the crowd to dance and sing with each other. During the whole performance the sisters seemed to be enjoying themselves and the tracks they were performing. The set made it apparent that the sisters used the festival to rebrand and showcase themselves as artists in the best possible way. Giving us the alternative jams from their freshly released album back in May, Aly & AJ showed the crowd, new and old fans, what they really wanted us to see in them as a musical duo.
Holly and I headed to the Bacardi Stage to wait for Jack Harlow’s set to start. We arrived an hour early and while waiting we got to meet some great Harlow fans. Whether they were newer fans or had supported Harlow from the start, everyone was excited to be there and support him. The majority of his crowd consisted of young people who were full of energy awaiting his set. Jack Harlow’s fans are today’s youth showing a new era of fandom in the music industry. We had many conversations about being fans of Harlow but also just getting to know small facts about one another: what we did for work and where we go or went to school. There was even a fan handing his shoe around with a marker to get it signed by as many people as he could. These fans are the ones on social media who help promote Jack Harlow and his music to the world. Harlow is creating a platform for Gen Z in person and online; I hope he can use it to his advantage. Harlow made it out onto the stage and the crowd went wild.
From the start, Jack Harlow put on a high-energy and entertaining performance. Though Jack did perform some of his hit songs from previous years, he asked the crowd “I know you guys love my old stuff but, I’m messing with my new s***, can we keep playing some of that?” The crowd cheered louder than they had when he came out. This set from start to finish was full of energy in contrast to his recent college tour which many people have described as a more “chill” or “laid back” performance. For me to hear and for people to see the growth of his performances during the college tour and the love he has for his newest album shows that Mr. Harlow is a top chart artist as well as a top performer.
Day two had arrived. Holly and I headed to the festival for a packed night of sets. One of the most memorable sets we attended was Ashnikko. Ashnikko had fans lined up at the Bacardi Stage as well as running to it. When Holly and I arrived at the stage, we instantly started talking with the fans all around us who were either dressed head to toe in glitter or wore all black with a grunge vibe. Ashnikko had drawn in a smorgasbord of beautiful people for her crowd. We spoke with two wonderful humans behind us, introduced ourselves, and instantly connected on Instagram. We all made sure we were not shoving each other and could see the whole set. I truly believe that Ashnikko’s crowd was the most genuine and respectful group of people I stood with at the festival. Everyone was upbeat, singing and dancing along to their music. Ashnikko put on a top notch performance and had an amazing set list. Performing songs from their beloved album and EP’s. From ‘Daisy” to “Manners” the fire being blasted on the stage couldn’t even dull their own flame. A fan favorite moment included Ashnikko bringing up their love for Avril Lavinge and performing their own version of “Sk8r Boy” renamed “L8r Boy” from the album “DEMIDEVIL”. During the set, they chatted with the crowd in between songs, making sure people were enjoying the performance. While checking in with the crowd, Ashnikko made sure to honor Pride Month. Ashnikko’s set had to be one of my favorites of the weekend, as well as one of the top live performances I have ever seen. Ashnikko was backed up by their amazing DJ and choreographed dances/routines to each song performed. This badass alt-pop/rapper was dropping bars the whole forty-five minutes of their set.
After Ashnikko finished their magnificent performance, Holly and I grabbed hands as we ran to the GovBall NYC Main Stage to see Halsey. As lights changed and music started playing, Halsey came out and stated to the crowd: “If you think you know what this show is going to be like, I’m going to change your f***ing mind.” Halsey in fact kept their word - with stunning stage visuals and a set list to die for, it was apparent why Halsey was asked to be a headliner. Halsey’s stage visuals were not from any music videos they had released, the visuals were made specifically for their tour they are currently on. A large screen covered the whole backside stage. Visuals such as flashing colorful lights to creative filmed visuals to go along with the song they were performing. One that stood out to me was when Halsey provided a video of them in a bathtub with squid-like features on their face, as well as tentacles coming out of the tub.
Halsey performed songs from their newest album “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” as well as, in Halsey’s own words, “songs you never want to hear again because the radio burnt them out so much.” Halsey performed their new single “So Good” live for the first time. The story of the release for this song began in May when the artist posted on TikTok explaining their label would not let them release a song they loved. The video gained traction quickly which in the aftermath caused Capitol Records to tweet about how they “support” and “love” Halsey and agreed to a release date. I am so glad Holly and I were among the first to listen to this song live. Knowing an artist loves what they put out and what they are doing makes a live performance all the more special.
Another wonderful surprise of the night was Halsey’s rendition of Kate Bush’s “Running up That Hill”. The 1980s song has gained popularity from its feature in Netflix’s Stranger Things. Compared to other crowds I had experienced, Halsey’s crowd was more introverted. We did not really speak to any fans around us, and no one really made an effort to speak to us. I do not mean the people we stood by weren’t friendly, but each person was there to see Halsey and only Halsey. This goes to show how this artist has connected on a personal level with fans as well as touched the lives of so many. Being able to be content with oneself for an hour, standing and singing music on stage, shows how much Halsey has impacted the world of fandom. Ending the night with a sky full of fireworks, Halsey gave The Governors Ball one of their most amazing sets at the festival.
The final day had arrived. With an amazing line up and a slight chance of rain, we headed back to Citi Field for the last time. With mixed emotions, we dropped our belongings off at the media tent and headed off to the Bacardi Stage for Del Water Gap’s set.
Del Water Gap is a solo project of musical artist Holden Jaffe. Jaffe brought a strong presence from the beginning to the end of his set. Introducing himself and his band, Jaffe began the set performing songs from his self-titled EP. Jaffe kept the crowd entertained as well as engaged the whole set. He engaged with the crowd by covering the whole stage, making sure every fan in the crowd could see him. Jaffe also engaged with each band member as well as getting the members to engage more with the crowd. The artist even made the jump off stage to get to the barricade to sing as close to his fans as he could get - Jaffe made this experience enjoyable as well as personal. We were able to get in contact and set aside time to meet Jaffe. It was a pleasure to meet a wholesome human who took all our interview questions to heart before coming up with answers. Holly attended their later set at a smaller and more private stage later in the day, reporting that the energy and level of personable presence stayed during that performance. Just before our interview with Del Water Gap we had the pleasure to meet the incredibly talented DE’WAYNE.
DE’WAYNE has been creating a unique sense of rock that they can claim as their own. They recently released an amazing song with Grandson that has gained traction. DE’WAYNE greeted us both so genuinely and was excited to sit down and chat with us, making us feel even more welcomed. DE’WAYNE gave us wonderful answers to our questions and the interview article is definitely one to read.
While Holly headed to the Del Water Gap private set, I headed over to the GovBall NYC Main Stage to see Glass Animals. They were one of my “top artists to see” and they did not disappoint. The crowd was full of people pushing to get to the barricade. Glass Animals had the most intricate and unique set I saw at Governors Ball.
Inspired by their 2020 album, the “Dreamland” set featured very futuristic elements with bright neon colors. Back in 2020 when “Dreamland'' was released, the band had plans for live shows and special performances, but all was shut down by the pandemic. This year, Gov Ball was one of the first in the US to get to experience “Dreamland”, in real life, at its full potential. The set was tied to their campaign as well as their online website. The Glass Animals official website is set up like a late ‘90s computer system and the main page is shown as a desktop. You can click on each icon and it brings you to a different feature or option. The stage consisted of many elements from their campaign but also their album art. Things such as a swimming pool with a diving board, a large basketball hoop, neon prisms, and lots of flashing neon signs. Across the width of the stage behind the set was a large screen. The large screen provided “Wavey Davey’s Computer” (what it is featured on the website as), giving the crowd a countdown until their set began.
As the Glass Animals band members entered the stage, the crowd erupted into cheer. Dave Bayley gave a performance of a lifetime, never losing any energy or tempo after each song. Performing songs from “Dreamland” as well as their newest single collaborated with member of The Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr., the band used the props and visuals to their advantage to make each performance better than the next. One noticeable aspect of Bayley’s performance was his ability to engage with each of his band members - who are also- childhood friends. Glass Animals was formed in 2010 after Bayley showed his friends the music he was creating on his computer during college. The band had a full crowd packed to the edges of the festival grounds. This crowd was more intense than the others I had been in previous days, but I guess that goes hand in hand with the amount of people crammed to see the bands awaited performance. To see a band perform with such pure joy and friendliness, made Glass Animals one of my favorite performers of the weekend.
Governors Ball was full of talent and beautiful people. This was an experience of a lifetime with an amazing work partner, that I would not trade for anything else.