Empowering women, Pride and indie pop were the centerpieces for the second day of Governors Ball.
The day began with the noisy, psychedelic stylings of Sunflower Bean. Lead singer Julia Cumming dressed for the occasion in a short, fluffy white dress and after deceiving the crowd into thinking she was there to play innocent music, she exploded into noise and mayhem. When the band played “Human For” Cumming stared down the crowd and screamed into the microphone “I don’t need your protection/ I don’t need you to fit in.” The intensity of her performance was reminiscent of a Live Through This Courtney Love and paired with Cumming’s own magnetism, she captivated the crowd and electrified the stage.
Lo-fi artist Clairo departed from the deafening music of Sunflower Bean and performed her dreamy electropop songs from both older and newer albums. Her song “Flamin Hot Cheetos” blended chillwave with muttered vocals, while her single “Bags” from forthcoming album Immunity explored a more indie-pop sound. On “Drown,” the song she collaborated with LA musician Cuco fused Clairo’s Hope Sandoval-esque vocals with Cuco’s alt dream pop.
Groups of people gathered under the tent at the American Eagle stage and anxiously waited for rapper Saba to play. The Chicago artist is an unusual musician as he mixes up his rapping with jazz-like rhythms. On “Broken Girls” he started slowly before descending into a monotone voice and picking up the tempo as he sings about toxic relationships. “Photosynthesis” bent all types of genres as Saba fluctuated between hip hop, R&B and dream pop.
At Playboi Carti’s set, half of the audience stood and craned their necks to see while the other half was passed out sleeping off the copious amounts of alcohol they had consumed. Despite the mix, the performance was enough to rouse even the most inebriated. The audience raised their arms and swayed as he sang “Home (KOD)” and women and men crawled up onto shoulders for “R.I.P. Fredo.” No Playboi Carti set would be complete without “Wokeuplikethis*” which he played, and all of those clinging onto the last moments of drunkenness leaped to their feet and sang back all of the lyrics.
Pride was personified in the form of King Princess. Her stage, decorated with a gigantic mustard colored sofa with matching stairs leading up to it, set the tone for what would be one of the most entertaining sets of the day. She opened with “Cheap Queen” and walked around the base of the stairs as she sang, “I can be good sometimes/ I’m a cheap queen.” She waited as the crowd finished cheering and wished everyone a happy Pride before turning around and asking if they liked her Jersey that read “King Princess 69.” The applause grew and she transitioned into “Tough on Myself.” She climbed up the stairs and ambled along the couch interjecting to say she wished she could have the sofa in her apartment. A smile spread across her face as she asked who wanted to hear the “pussy” song and happily obliged when everyone shouted yes. Things slowed as she played and anesthetized the concertgoers with “1950.”
Just as King Princess finished, Vince Staples played a short, but memorable set on the Honda stage. A few days prior, Staples was hospitalized, but he told the crowd he wasn’t going to miss this performance and took a puff of his inhaler. “So tell me what’s the difference, so tell me what’s the difference?” Staples sang as videos of him spliced into classics TV shows like Fresh Prince, Seinfeld, Spongebob and The Brady Bunch played behind him. Similar to Tyler the Creator, Staples writes and tackles the grim subject matter, but through the lens of being goofy he somehow makes the message understandable and it transforms into satire. He darted around the stage as he sang “Senorita.” He closed with “Norf Norf” and got the audience to participate and had them chant back “I ain’t run from nothing but the police.”
At the American Eagle stage, Los Angeles based folk band Lord Huron performed. They opened with “Ancient Names (Part 1)” and the mass that assembled beneath that tent jumped up and down with Mark Barry’s repetitive, hypnotic drumming. Lead singer Ben Schneider’s Shooter Jennings/Jeff Tweedy sounding voice echoed across the field as he crooned to the audience “I am not the only traveler/ who has not repaid his debt.” For “Wait by the River” dreamy pop combined with doo-wop immediately transported the listener to a 1950s prom. “What a fuckin treat,” Schneider stopped and looked out at the crowd. He thanked everyone and they closed out their set.
The headliner for Saturday, Florence + the Machine played a show that will be inscribed in the memories of concertgoers. Like a divine and elegant creature, she descended down a set of stairs and joined the rest of her band who had organized themselves earlier. Her voice, strong and clear, sang out the first song “June.” She immediately segued into “Hunger” and ran barefoot across the stage and flung her body towards and away from the crowd. Between moments of singing, Welch paused to share her solidarity with women in the US stating, “American women you deserve so much better!” She invited the men to “sing with us and rage with us” before she sang “Patricia” where huge sheets dangled and billowed above the stage. She made an impassioned speech about being present and told everyone politely to “put their fucking phones away” and then exploded into “Dog Days Are Over.” Her tone changed for “Jenny of Oldstones” where she dedicated the song to Arya Stark. Welch oscillated dexterously between the ethereal and anger and rage. This juxtaposition is the most apparent with “Cosmic Love” and “Delilah.” She vocalized angelically and stood dignified as a harp played in the background before big drums burst forth and she hurtled around the stage as she sang, “It’s a different kind of danger/And my feet are spinning around.” She asked the audience to let go of anything and everything negative they clung onto before she manifested an enormous cathartic moment with “Shake it Out” and allowed listeners, for a moment, to relinquish their anxieties.
Ship to Wreck
Only if For a Night
Dog Days Are Over
You Got the Love
Queen of Peace
Jenny of Oldstones
The End of Love
What Kind of Man
Shake it Out
Photo Credit Sharon Alagna