While I wasn’t particularly enthused by the headliners or the horrendous clashes between them, I managed to keep my Gov Ball experience for Saturday relatively light.
In spite of main stage opening act Holychild scheduled to perform at 12:15, security guards retained the anxious crowd due to unknown circumstances until their set was already under way. However, the indie-pop seven-piece outfit still brought their A-Game to their performance. Comprised of singer-songwriter duo Liz Nistico and Louie Diller, the band’s sugar-sweet brand of synthpop features a myriad of keyboards and percussion, and two male backing vocalists. With a much clearer and drier day than before, Nistico leapt from the stage and platform and performed in the still filing in crowd that seemed sparse due to the unforeseen issue at the gates.
With a more muted palette of electronica, Grammy winning British band Clean Bandit took the stage clad in bold, monochrome outfits. Noted for their combination of electronic music with orchestral sounds, violinist Neil Amin-Smith and cellist Grace Chatto supplied the group with the neo-Baroque sound over the dance pop beats. Bringing out guest vocalist Alex Newell for their track “Stronger”.
Finishing off their set with their massive single “Rather Be”, a massive surge of fans came to the Gov Ball NYC stage for one of the most hyped and underestimated acts of the day, Marina and the Diamonds. With the release of her third studio album “Froot” the stage was set with large inflatable “froots” before her backing band took the stage. Decked out in a glossy purple one piece and a Froot headband, the singer started things off with her track “Bubblegum Bitch” off of her massive “Electra Heart” album. While playing tracks from her two more recent records, she also threw in songs off her debut record “The Family Jewels” with “Hollywood” and “I Am Not A Robot”. With her powerful and at times, sassy command of the stage, Marina’s passionate fans came out in droves, some local and some as far away as Australia and the U.K.
Not being a massive fan of Bjork, I decided to check out the Honda Stage for Conor Oberst and the preceding act Angus and Julia Stone. The Australian brother and sister duo were backed by a full band, with various guitar changes in between songs. One of the most down-tempo acts of the day, the band produced several folksy, almost neo-Americana songscapes of heartache and melancholy. However, the incredible musicianship of the band, picking up instruments from the banjo to the lap steel guitar, and even Julia’s impeccable tone on the trumpet show the band’s translation into the live setting.
Keeping in the theme of sadness and folk music, Conor Oberst took the stage playing a career spanning set. Ranging from his hits with Bright Eyes, to his first solo record with the Mystic Valley Band, and especially the new material off of his most recent album “Upside Down Mountain”, Oberst brought his sardonic stage presence especially when playing the track “Governors Ball” (allegedly written before he had been approached to play the festival). With a new backing band of talented horn players, vocalists and folk instrumentalists, Oberst managed to bring his songwriting partner and one-third of the currently defunct Bright Eyes, Nathaniel Walcott on keyboards, organ, trumpet and flugelhorn. While the future is uncertain for Oberst’s most popular group, there is at least some consolation in that the two artists still have a connection in his solo project.
Marina and the Diamonds
Angus and Julia Stone