Music

Governors Ball Day 2: The Distractions of Björk, Future Islands, Ryan Adams + More (Photos)

Photo credits: Sachyn Mital

The end of Day 2 was a choice between Ryan Adams and Deadmau5, but before them Future Islands, Björk and many more provided welcome distractions.


Governors Ball

City: New York
Venue: Randall's Island
Date: 2015-06-06

The festival set: it’s a greater art form than you might think. Music festivals in general are places of great distraction, whether that distraction be in the form of artisanal food trucks, illicit substances you may have snuck into the festival grounds, or the competing noise from a band you weren’t there to see on one of the festival’s other stages. Governors Ball had its distractions, but Saturday and Sunday both laid out prime examples of the festival set done in a number of effective ways. Saturday’s festival sets included:

The Friendly Banter Set:

Although Sharon Van Etten’s songs have the reputation of being heart-breakers, in a live setting her sometimes somber meditations on relationships are undercut by a pluckiness and zeal for audience engagement. Van Etten’s set may have been lacking for bells and whistles as she rarely strayed from her omnichord stand, but she expressed her delight at every chance she got, whether it be excitement over being on the same festival roster as Björk or noting that a baby belonging to one of her band mates had taken its first step that day. There were a notable number of babies to the side of the stage throughout Van Etten’s afternoon set, hopefully still too young to know of the pain conveyed in songs like “Tarifa” and “Your Love is Killing Me”.

The Outsized Set::

Baltimore band Future Islands had a breakthrough year in 2014, with the single “Seasons (Waiting on You)” becoming a huge hit thanks to an instantly classic David Letterman appearance. This new found fame should have been reflected in the size of their designated stage at Governors Ball. Unfortunately, festival goers eager for the Future Islands experience were stuffed under the Gotham Tent -- the festival’s smallest stage. The space was so packed that I preferred taking in the set from a mud puddle to the side of the stage, where I could catch glimpses of front man Samuel Herring’s many high kicks.

Even the casual festival goer was in awe of Herring’s famous dance moves, as unanimous cheers broke through the crowd every time he got down on the too small stage. Herring’s many segues from impassioned plaint to aggro-metal grunt brought the tent down as well and should have been ricocheting across the field from the Big Apple Stage instead of the Gotham lair. Future Islands’ success story is endlessly inspiring and, despite those around me not knowing the names of any of their songs, it’s a moment of true justice that those heartfelt songs are being heard by so many.

The Un-Festival Set:

Little Dragon’s set -- which preceded Bjork’s -- towed the line of this designation a little, with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano performing a number of ritualistic moves that may not have been as enchanting if you were fifteen rows back from the stage. But the electro band’s music -- even when it employs some krautrock beats -- is still pretty accessible to the average festival goer.

Björk wasn’t into appeasing the average festival goer, and she had every right not to. Instead, she led her full string orchestra through an artistic, passionate journey of heartbreak, with visuals that made the set feel as though it were taking place in the Smithsonian’s Insect Zoo rather than on Randall’s Island. The drama of the set, which was half Vulnicura material, half more well-known fare such as “Army of Me”, was heightened by some economically used pyrotechnics and Björk’s movements, which were made all the more idiosyncratic by her insect inspired costume. I was rapt right up until her “Hyperballad” encore, but then again, I’m not the average festival-goer.

Björk photo credit: Santiago Felipe

Review our Day 1 coverage here and stay tuned for photos and recaps of Marina and the Diamonds GovBall set and aftershow as well as the the third and final day of Governors Ball. Also check out our coverage of “Weird Al”, which was so awesome it merited a separate piece.

Sharon van Etten:

Angus and Julia Stone:

Sennheiser Silent Disco:

Future Islands:

SBTRKT:

Ryan Adams:



Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.