Reviews > Shows
Governors Ball 2012
New York, NY
June 23 and 24
Governors Ball 2012, which moved to Randall’s Island from its namesake space below Manhattan consisted of two stages with no overlapping sets. Saturday’s lineup had many more electronic artists which drew a much younger crowd, while Sunday featured more alternative rock artists and the audience was a bit more diverse in age. Of both days, Sunday was a bit more impressive, introducing concertgoers to some promising new artists including Cults, Alberta Cross and Phantogram amongst more renowned acts that put on some thrilling performances.
Saturday saw a few standout shows including: Atmosphere, Special Disco Version, Big Gigantic and Kid Cudi. Although notoriously hip-hop groups don’t always translate well to a live/ festival setting, Atmosphere’s Slug held the crowd’s attention fully with his masterful MC-ing. Special Disco Version, comprised of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Pat Mahoney, delighted the audienece with some serious old-school sounds playing a Staple Singers’ version of the Talking Heads’ “Slippery People” with the bass pounding. Big Gigantic played their cover of Kanye West’s “Get ‘em High” and Dominic Lalli dominated on his saxophone. Slotted for a daytime appearance, Big Gigantic managed to put on an impressive performance even without their typically stellar light show. Duck Sauce fans wore their yellow beaks while the happy duo played their infectious “Barbara Streisand” and “Big Bad Wolf” while laughing between sets.
As for Saturday’s main acts, Passion Pit had a tight set including crowd favorites such as “Sleepyhead,” and “Moth’s Wings.” Their performance kept the audience dancing as they cried out lyrics to popular songs, but the frontman, Michael Angelakos’ pitch was off and he seemed to be a bit distant from the performance. Kid Cudi then lived up to his high-strung reputation starting his set late and then forgetting some lyrics. Still, he managed put on an engaging show and those that did not leave enjoyed listening to some Cudi classics.
Sunday was even better, with few bands not worth mentioning. One of the first groups of the day, Alberta Cross, drew in a crowd with songs from their impending album including, “Lay Down” and “Magnolia.” Switching guitars for nearly every song, the frontman Petter Ericson Stakke threw himself around stage like a rag doll jamming with fellow band mates. Picking up pace with a song from their second album “ATX” had early festival-goers bopping along. Freelance Whales introduced a harmonium, glockenspiel and strings into their performance that offered a very different sound and they made sure to play a few fan favorites. Lo-fi band Phantogram put on a fantastic live show with their standout song “When I’m Small” leaving the audience awe-struck. Fiona Apple’s performance was rich with emotion, becoming animated at the climax of her songs and the audience was with her every step of the way. On the song, “Not About Love” her beautiful energy, raw voice and bipolar melodies kept the audience captivated.
Modest Mouse started their set with a recording of a thunderstorm for about 10 minutes which had everyone bewildered. The band played classics like, “Dramamine, ” and “Paper Thin Walls” but it was “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” that excited the crowd most. Beck took the stage and played his classics but seemed to be rolling through the motions rather than putting on a nuanced show.
Overall, in its second year, Governors Ball had something to offer everyone, whether they preferred echoing electronic beats or raw indie rock.
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