Governors Ball 2013 pt. 2 (June 9th) Governors Ball 2013 pt. 2 (June 9th)

Ed. Note: As with Governors Ball 2013 pt. 1 the following text is the sole opinion of Charles as are the Artist Galleries. Once more, Melissa Huffsmith-Roth (who you can see more of here and here) provided the “People and Puddles” pics and one glaring contention (addressed within). Enjoy.

Sunday, June 9.

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It’s a beautiful day in the city. The sun is shining, the wind is light and I have a blister the size of speedball occupying my right foot.

“Ooooh.”

“Yeah.”

“Maybe, we can treat ourselves to some insoles today.”

Iced coffee, doughnuts and a Rite Aid later and Melissa and I are ready for our last day at the Ball. I’d feel sad about it if I weren’t so excited to get back to a life spent on level ground.

Mud is exhausting.

I notice we missed On An On which is a bummer because I really like that “Hunters” song and what better Sunday to enjoy the new sounds of tomorrow’s soft electro rock than this one?

Oh well.

We make it to The Vaccines who we’re both psyched to see. Melissa, because she actually likes them. Me, because my soul is sorely lacking in no frills vaguely angular ciao 90s British rock and roll over.

The band delivers like a slingshot and resound profoundly as the first men at this festival to take the stage like they’ve got something between their legs since Reignwolf sweat and swooned us on the first day.

The funny thing is the band isn’t really all that extraordinary. They have a tight sound and a commendable presence and I really mean no offense by that (there are clearly some choice gems in their set that’d get my fat ass up to the gym) but in scanning for descriptions all my brain can derive is “British but not boring.”

I content myself that that’s saying something. Poorly, perhaps, but something nonetheless.

The Vaccines

“Oh fuck, we’re missing Haim!”

Wait, what?

Did I just say that?

I did.

I think this mud is getting to me.

Haim are a three-sistered outfit with a spare output that is just catchy as fuck in the way of the Big Country thump suffused with the LA weight of some very brassy ladies (think Taylor Dayne sans chains and vocal affectations) AND unlike so many bands nowadays that put their stock in samples and synths when retreading the ground of the Junior High Dance sound, Haim choose the path of organic instruments.

They have hooks to spare and would sound great on a cross-country road trip circa Arkansas but I really don’t understand what’s drawing me so desperately to them.

Then I hear them kick in with the extra drumming, that added pulse pound like in the only Frightened Rabbit song anyone should actually like which only leads to heartache and despair at the profound lack of it on record and whose name always escapes me but really…OH MY GOD, I LOVE YOU HAIM!

“You look excited.”

“I AM!”

“Are you okay?”

HAAAAAAIIIMMMM!!!!

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Corn dogs again because corn dogs are the best and when you add jalapeno in there life opens her bosom wide to let you in and then it’s off to Freddie Gibbs.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know…a DJ or something?”

“Okay.”

“I just feel like I should see whatever’s next.”

A DJ comes out and does the DJ thing of shoutouts and beats and loose hype-mongering. I take a picture and hope for something more. People enter and exit the stage. Some take pictures of us taking pictures of them and the meta’s just too much to bear.

A posse ascends. A man in camo with a towel starts yelling at me and the many amassed. I don’t know what he’s saying. I think this is hip hop. Another man in a cap, bandana and sunglasses joins him and everyone freaks the fuck out.

This must be Freddie Gibbs.

And yes, of course, it’s hip hop. Unfortunately, my capacity to imbibe or relate the effects of hip hop with any sort of wisdom or coherency is pretty much nil but I like him. His delivery is easy, insistent and fun. He and camo man smoke a blunt. He takes his shirt off and looks better than I ever will topless. He urges the crowd to join him in a “fuck the police” chant. He insists the DJ can the beat so he can delivery his rhymes a cappella which proves surprisingly powerful.

Seriously, though, if I had abs like that I’d have to punch myself in the face every day just to get a shirt on.

Freddie Gibbs

Somewhere Steel Pulse is playing.

Wherever I am, I’m hating reggae.

Time for the Cold War Kids.

Ed. Note: Charles JUST realized that Cold War Kids are not Peter, Bjorn and John and is ashamed. Consequently, he has asked us to redact his rather loquacious (even for him) addressing of the discretion between “the band’s current sound and that goddamn whistle song.” We have decided to honor his request because he appears to be legitimately embarrassed at his error and has already run off to the package store to purchase the office some micro-brewed indulgences. We apologize for this – now – glaring hole in the Governors Ball narrative and urge you to make fun of him.

So, yeah…they’re pretty awesome.

Cold War Kids

I could totally love on some more but I’m lacking in beer and Deerhunter.

I get my fill of ale easily, Deerhunter not so much.

I think my feelings about Deerhunter (specifically, frontman Bradford Cox and his vain contrarianism and postmodern vulnerability) aren’t all the different from my thoughts on Animal Collective. On paper, they excel, creating a strange universe of beach strums, acid punk and noise that owes as much a debt to the revolutionary smirk of Pop Art as to the manic depressive experimentation of Pet Sounds. And though I do actually listen to Deerhunter (unlike Animal Collective) I don’t do so very often since their music can be such a brittle (and often boring) bummer.

They’re loud as fuck live though (which I appreciate with spades) and, depending on the theatrical whims of Mr. Cox, a truly inspiring sight which is why I’m WAY early for their set.

The band futzes.

I light Cox’s cigarette.

He’s dressed in a checkered shirt and floppy cap, looking a bit like a cross between the New Radicals and Jandek only happy…ish?

He explains to the audience that oil comes from the bones of our ancestors and that oil fuels electricity and that electricity powers the amps which bring sound and so we should be grateful that our ancestors died so that we could all be hear today.

The band plays.

I don’t recognize the material and no one seems too interested in performing it (or are we still playing up the stoic age?) except Cox who grins liberally. I dig that kid but if the band doesn’t give a shit then neither do I.

I think I spy the drummer drinking cough syrup…or whiskey…I hope it’s syrup

Deerhunter

We exit in favor Lemon faves, Foals who are more balls out than I ever would have imagined. I expected something more glitchy, electronic, static and sore but the band is all big drums, guitars and hands to the heavens, shouting to the great hope of rock and roll.

They are the only act I’ve seen all weekend that actually seems comfortable on the Main Stage. Rather, they’re the only ones who seem to know how to put the stage to maximum use with banner poses and power as any selfless fest band should.

I clearly need to revisit Holy Fire. If that album is one half the brass party Foals are live, I may have found a new sweat jam (sorry, Pantera).

Foals

We cross the Rubicon again and en route to Beirut, pass a shirtless drunk with a Foster’s box on his head.

“BEEEEEEEEERRRR!!!!!”

“I’m gonna take his picture.”

“Please don’t encourage him.”

I like this band. They look like men. Not manly men of men, men like so many bands I (not so) secretly ache to be but like able-bodied professionals with a surplus of talent and a yen for presentability. They look like adults, like grown ups, like professionals who take what they do seriously enough to make it a payday but not so sternly that they’ve forsaken the joy of horns.

I like horns. I tend to not appreciate them very much in popular culture because they’re always used to fuck up some perfectly decent experience with bleats and wails and…ugh…solos but Beirut don’t stand for such trifles. Their horns are accentuating swells that shore up Zach Condon’s melodious charm evoking equal parts mariachi and Pachabel even when he graces us with a ukulele.

At, least, I think that’s a ukulele.

It might just be a little guitar.

“It’s so cute. I want one!”

“I’ll work on it.”

The girls in the front row all squeal over the trombonist. He’s cute enough but I bet he fucks like The Paris Review.

Beirut

Melissa and I debate who to see next. Grizzly Bear or The Lumineers. I’m not too keen on either, really so it’s down to who’ll offend me the least.

“What’s Grizzly Bear sound like again?”

“It’s the guy from Animal Collective.”

“I think you mean Panda Bear.”

“No, I like them too. Grizzly Bear are the dancey, electronic ones.”

“I think you’re thinking of Panda Bear.”

“Do you want me to get out my iPhone and show you?”

Sometimes, it saddens me that we live in a world where a conversation like this is de rigueur.

Stupid bears.

I only consider the Lumineers because I think if our site dedicates any more time to them, Ben might actually have a stroke while demanding to know what the fuck I was thinking.

Seems funny at first, then tragic.

Melissa wins.

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She is also dead wrong.

Grizzly Bear are not dancey. What’s the opposite of that? Inert? Grizzly Bear are inert and play a kind of slow, plodding hurt usually reserved for dads whose mid-life crises led them to basement apartments, Hawaiian shirts and a denial best left to sex addicts nearing the nadir of their spiral in the agonizing months following the divorce except I’m pretty sure that’s not at all what they’re going for. I think the band really wants us to have a good time but are just so goddamn exhausted (one member has bags under the bags under his eyes) that they can’t help but lead the audience through a droning sequence of lullabies.

Ed. Note: Melissa vehemently disputes the above paragraph, describing it as “unnecessarily harsh.” She goes on to attest that Grizzly Bear were “actually, really good” and that Charles went into their performance in something of a foul mood due, in no small part, to his high intake of Miller High Life and an alarmingly low intake (for him) of caffeine. We apologize to you, Grizzly Bear and their fans for the discrepancy.

The meta bag man does something like a dance.

It makes me sad and sleepy.

Grizzly Bear

There are a substantial number of people here to see Grizzly Bear, it seems, though I have it on good authority from a rad-ass security guard (though ALL of the staff at this event was rad, patient and as helpful as helpful could be despite the rain, the mud and the volumes of stumbling white idiots) that within them are hidden hundreds who’ve been holding their piss since the gates opened JUST to see Kanye West.

“What a bunch of dicks.”

“Right?”

So, I don’t know. Maybe everything I know about right now is a lie.

I need coffee.

More mud.

The xx.

What is it about this band? Throngs of people (mostly young, mostly girls, mostly pretty) have flocked to see them perform this evening and they are all positively electric with anticipation. Beaming with delight. Screaming like the Beatles just touched down at La Guardia and if they faint maybe someone will call Oliver Sim to save them.

Why is that?

Because it can’t be the music, can it? On record, The xx’s sound is so spare as to be almost nonexistent, minimalist to the point of absence. What few notes the band plays openly are quickly disappeared by the distance between time and space, leaving the listener with nothing but the vague hint of a whispered machine in the place where human comfort should be.

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If I were a bolder man, I would be inclined to refuse it the title of music. If pressed to consider them at any length, I might write a treatise on one Elliot DJ’s descent from club culture to Musique Concrète down the slow river of Eno’s ambient texture. I would certainly never refer to what the band does as pop (which I have heard often with all manner of qualification) and never would I expect to see so thick a field yearning for their presence or so hysterical when they take the stage or so capable to sing along to every word, voce piena, to every single song.

I am confounded but impressed.

The band has far more of a physical presence than I anticipated (not saying much, but they’re more fun than Grizzly Bear), bobbing and swaying through the pulp and waves and bright lights that routinely eclipse the stage and between that and the screaming behind me I’m beginning to wonder if I hadn’t sold the band short. Though I can neither see nor hear anything that might induce frenzy or even excitement, really, there is definitely some meat up there flexing itself towards a mean little muscle.

And maybe one day, it’ll grab me.

The xx

Right now, though, it’s time for Kanye West.

I admire the man, in his way. Few performers, in recent memory, have been so stupendously full of shit as to bend the will of public discourse to their impotent draconian needs. Few men have forced their own relevance so remorselessly down the throats of the people to a decade (or more) of relentless and deafening applause.

He is the perfect blend of pimp and politician, a culture thief whose alleged (and self-proclaimed) genius is a ruse designed and perpetually redefined to exploit the narrow alleyways of the new American mind.

“He’s just an entertainer,” you might argue and I certainly wouldn’t disagree with you. He’s totally entertaining. In fact, he has taken great pains over the course of his career to ensure that he’s always sparkling somewhere, some time whether he’s performing in an arena of blacklights or embarrassing blonde teenage girls with Hennessy or calling the president a racist or going sloppy seconds from Ray J or designing sneakers for the man whose already stolen everything.

And, more often than not, Mr. West’s performance is totally enthralling, particularly when he actually gets up on stage with a mic and ten thousand watt lights which is exactly why Melissa and I are still here tonight.

Neither of us are tremendous fans of Kanye West’s music (though we do both agree with that Dark Twisted Fantasy was pretty goddamn stellar). We’re still in this specifically because we want to experience his spectacle.

What we get, instead, is bullshit.

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After a false start, he opens the set with an SNL skit. Perhaps that phrasing isn’t appropriate. He opens with “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead” (I don’t know, nor do I care which song is which) performed just as they were on Saturday Night Live with the same projections, etc. (though I’d be surprised if he’d hidden a band anywhere) and then turns the screens over to what appears to be a broken GIF which I think may be him performing or may be prerecorded or…I don’t know…but it’s absurd and infuriating.

“It’s like a fucking anti performance.”

It does a fair job, however, of forcing us to listening to his fucking RIDICULOUS lyrics (we give up on the music, early, as it strikes us both as a thin dumbing down of the 90s pop angst industrial sound we’ve both long outgrown) which are just unacceptable.

Seriously.

Fuck you, Kanye.

You are not a God nor are you a slave nor a skinhead nor half the talent you imagine.

“Did he just demand a ‘damn croissant’?”

He did. He does.

“This sucks.”

I start laughing.

“Seriously.”

“OH MY GOD, THIS IS THE FUCKING WORST!”

People are streaming away by the hundreds. Just a few songs in and Mr. West has successfully thinned the herd.

“Well, why don’t we just go?”

I can’t stop laughing. I think I’m crying.

“I…CAN’T! WE…NO…AHAHAHA…OHMYGOD…WHAT THE FUCK…NO! WE HAVE TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS!”

The stage lights change to take the appearance of a runway (which is continued on the screen above them) for…some reason. He boasts again. He whines some more. I think he thinks he’s rapping but his raps have more in common with the embarrassed dope rantings of Dee Dee King (with WAY more misguided hyperbole) than…oh, just fucking name an MC. He’s certainly nowhere near as good as Freddie Gibbs and that dude had to play in a tent in the middle of the day while this bloated prick gets top billing on Day Three.

I stop laughing. My cheeks hurt.

“Why the fuck is this happening?”

“I don’t know. Can we go?”

“What is he, a fucking airport? What the fuck?”

“Please.”

“Give it one more song…maybe something will happen.”

It doesn’t.

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The People and Puddles of Governors Ball – Sunday, June 9.



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