The Governor’s Ball Music Festival in New York City on Sunday was a professional, well-calibrated affair. Water, bathrooms, concessions, and ATMs were abundant, and artists were punctual to a T. Not only was each set performed according to the precisely timed, non-overlapping schedule, but each act also indulged the diverse crowd by playing their hits.
Cage the Elephant was impressively fierce in their daytime set. Given their raucous amalgamation of angst, distortion, and reverb it was appropriate that singer Matthew Schultz’s voice was only hanging on by a thick rasp.
Next to headliner Beck, Fiona Apple was easily the most-anticipated artist Sunday, as she continues her renaissance. “On the Bound” was raw and powerful, with Apple only singing lead. “Fast As You Can” was similarly dynamic, her backing band making its presence felt. But her set became mellow as it evolved. She also dutifully followed suit by closing with “Criminal”.
Instrumentalist heavyweights Explosions in the Sky did what they do best (arpeggiating wildly with guitars and emotions) to much fanfare. They also provided a soundtrack as many concertgoers began their migration back towards the second stage in anticipation of Modest Mouse. Modest Mouse’s best song was “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes”, which formed into a catchy and undulating mix of disco and punk.
Only when Beck finally took the stage did Randall’s Island Park seem full—and energized. Opening with “Black Tambourine”, “Gamma Ray”, and “Hotwax” his rhythm section shined—and continued to do so for the rest of the night, particularly on “Soldier Jane” and “E Pro”. That many band members were original collaborators on Sea Change embellished songs like “Lost Cause”, which garnered a surprisingly strong response from the crowd. Such balance in his set exemplified the balance (read: peaks and valleys) in his songs. Beck was poised in delivering the hits as well, stringing together “Devil’s Haircut” and “Loser” before pulling out “Where It’s At”. As a light rain began to fall it was hard to ignore enduring Beck’s influence—both through his own songs and on the day’s lineup (e.g. Devendra Banhart, Fiona Apple, Built to Spill).
Cage the Elephant
Explosions in the Sky