Converse, the American footwear manufacturer, first produced their flagship sneaker, the “All-Star”, in 1917. Converse’s attempt to capture the basketball shoe market. Now, 93 years later, the sneaker manufacturer is looking to capture the younger market and is doing so through music. “Gone to Governors” is a summer concert series held on Governors Island in New York City and features bands such as Neon Indian, Dr. Dog, Lucero and most recently the Morning Benders.
Logistically, having a concert on an island can be messy. Three thousand concert goers took advantage of the free concert and the incredible line-up and departed from three different locations (two locations in Manhattan and one location in Brooklyn). The island venue fully equipped with a sandy beer garden and picnic area, hit capacity an hour before the show had started.
Wild Nothing, originally a solo project turned “surfer rock” act with several supporting band members, came on and played to a crowd that was anxious for the show to start. With the sun still beating down on the island early in the evening, the band played a youthful brand of indie rock that was able to get the crowd ready for the next time and also able to stop time, only if it was just for a handful of songs.
Freelance Whales, a poppy folk rock band from Queens, then took the stage. The band was able to transform the concert atmosphere within the first minute of their first song. The sun was beginning to set over the New Jersey skyline as the band used non-conventional instruments (waterphone, glockenspiel, harmonium), gang vocals and textured layers of sound created by synthesizers to create very catchy and unique songs. The crowd seemed to be into Freelance Whales, singing along with some of the songs later in the set. The band was high energy and fun to watch, trading instruments and still being able to harmonize with one another.
The Morning Benders, California’s finest low-fi and uber-nostalgic indie band, took the stage and played to a crowd of 3,000. Some fans stood at the edge of the stage, some sat at picnic tables underneath neon palm trees and others sat with loved ones in the sand on blankets. The band kicked off the set strong - Chris Chu, front man for the band, mentioned under his breathe that the next song they would be playing would be “Excuses” off of their new album, Big Echo - the crowd erupted. That type of energy was sustained throughout the band’s set.
The show was then over and it was not even midnight. Concert goers and island dwellers now had to find a seat on the ferry back to the seaport. The show at Governors Island will be remembered by many as something that probably cannot be topped - or at least not until the next Governor’s Island show.