Governors Ball 2014 – The Scattered Band Rehash Governors Ball 2014 – The Scattered Band Rehash

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I don’t know, yet that I will spend tomorrow cleaning the blood out of piss or looking intently at X-Rays of dog shit (literally) with a baby-faced DVM while my Girleth Ann whimpers and writhes with her rash and impatience. I have no idea that my loose interpretations of Per Diem obligations might suddenly put my blistering day job in jeopardy.

I’m certainly not conscious of Jury Duty.

(okay, maybe that last one a little bit)

All I know is that I’m tired. My eyes are shot and my knees are swollen and the sun burn creeping up the back of my arms is loud enough to make me want to rip my fucking skin off and beat the next flower-crowned white drugs girl to death in front of her six-packed Frat man candy…

Except no, not really.

I’m not angry. I’m not even irate. I’m just really fucking beat from the twenty-five odd hours I’ve spent in the sun and heat and collective cheer of thousands upon thousands upon thousands assembled on this Potter’s Field to celebrate the liberating frequency of joy in music and great, unfamiliar company.

And so I’m leaving. WAY before I intended and with a considerable sense of regret because I’ll be damned if I’ll ever find myself in a position to debate between Empire of the Sun and Interpol again let alone see what an AXWELL Λ INGROSSO is and does to the Sunday youth of America.

But it’s better I leave now than stay and turn sour because – honestly – I’ve had a really fucking good time this weekend and there’s really no sense in tainting that to catch a glimpse of dancing swordfish.

Besides, I’ve seen plenty already*.

FRIDAY, 6.6!

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There are three bands tasked with launching the weekend potpourri. We choose Haerts for reasons that escape me. Their sunny, lady sings the Brooklyn synth mews is actually perfectly suited for clean ears at high noon. Ms. Melissa thinks they sound like Flock of Seagulls in the best of possible ways. I see no reason to argue.


The first RAWK band of the festival, Drowners kick the dust off the old Brit pop and rattle the jangles from the rooftops. It’s mad decent. Would probably be shit hot if I knew any of their songs and it were a long, sweaty night in an old school box club, two swigs away from a blackout.

Run the Jewels

I think I may be close to learning something worthwhile about hip hop but I am lax to adopt any of the nomenclature just yet. I know El P has an interesting history as a MC noisenik and Killer Mike is like a motherfucker in his own right and together they play the quizzical party mayhem hot, tight and delightful…and fucking TERRIFYINGLY loud. Seriously. When the bass kicked in on “Banana Clipper” my throat closed, my teeth started to chatter and I could see my nostrils flapping. It was unnerving as shit but well worth it.

Jason Isbell

Some days, I imagine myself as a lonesome old coot with a dobro rocking back and forth on my porch asking God why he swapped out my women for whiskey and song.


Ratking is the new breed, old guard concrete-bleeding, post-artfully appropriated NYC no wave getup/beatdown manic shit that makes me proud to still call this metropolis a head-stomping home. Their principle MC is a bearded wire, writhing and wailing and missing teeth. They’ve got the smooth cat, the beat master general and a goddamn saxophone for kicks in front of dystopian film degradations. Vital shit for valid sins and the hard arm of the lawless unterkinds.

Janelle Monae

Holy shit, dude. HOLY SHIT! I mean, I’ve always appreciated Janelle Monae in principle what with her high concept android Armageddon records and her supper club meets What’s New Polly Magoo? aesthetic soul review as perpetuated by the truth-to-power pixel manic but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever seen a performer so goddamn built for the stage and overwhelmingly entertaining (and genuinely moving) as her. Prince, maybe. MAYBE! If we’re talking Prince circa Purple Rain battling the dastardly Morris Day or, anytime, really…because, duh. It’s fucking Prince. But Janelle Monae, man. That girl is the body, electric.


We decide on Bastille because we think it would please Andrew and Olivier (our best fiends, upstate and sorely missed) and when the band starts that makes a whole lot of sense since Dan Smith couldn’t be one bit more of an aesthete’s Anglophilic dance rock dream if he took the stage in nothing but Union Jack skivvies. That being said, the band is a tight little delight of commercial hope and melodramatic poses. Choice stuff for the glow boys and con girls. Their cover of “No Scrubs” is as ridiculous as it is inspired.

Governors Ball 2014 Day 1 (pt. 1) Photo Set (featuring Haerts, Drowners, Run the Jewels, Ratking, Janelle MonaeBastille)

Jenny Lewis

I don’t mean to be rude but I walked away from Jenny Lewis with no more of an opinion than when I first walked through the gate. Her music was fine. Her outfit was delightful. She sang and played well and her band was without flaw but if you placed her indie country retrofitted ease in front of me every other day of the week for half a year, I still wouldn’t be able to tell her from Eve. I’d like an iced tea.

La Roux

I know more people that know La Roux than I know La Roux myself. Ms. Melissa’s excited and the set is delightfully brooding and danceable in the slow cool of perfect hair forever. There’s just so much I don’t understand about fashion.


Years ago, Kwame and Melissa Blonde went to see Phoenix while we were watching The Damned, I think. They came back with drunk reports of “INCREDIBLE” and I nodded something glib and moved back to loathing Danzig but I was foolish to do so because not only is the band (seemingly) one of the most licensed artists in the world behind Moby (thus assuring that half their tracks are unwittingly part of the cultural vernacular) but they play hard and determinedly winsome as a pack of brats coming half their age. They own the stage, the multicultural audience. They play a song of sunset just as the sun is setting. They flare and smile and transport me to a time when big songs were best and the future was lithe as a featherweight.


Dear Lemon,

I’m still really sorry that your time in Texas with us back in 2012 didn’t result in you seeing Grimes. I know you love(d) her and need you to understand that we tried. We did. And though we may have failed you, then, we hope that we make amends by seeing her in NYC and accurately capturing her interpretive dance, mime-studded experience. She was good, Lemon and we understand and appreciate your affection now more than we ever did. We only wish we’d thought to capture a lock of her epic hair lasers to send back to you in Ireland. Next time, perhaps.


TV on the Radio

Damn, man. TV on the Radio are punk as fuck. Maximum rock and roll feel good riff all over. I need to pay closer attention from, like tomorrow on.

Damon Albarn

I never really cared for Blur and I think “Mr. Tembo” is an idiot.


They open with “Bombs Over Baghdad” which is positively epic but, sadly, everything goes a little lackluster from there. It’s not the ATLiens fault. Their particular brand of wildly obfuscating Southern culture hip hop redefinition rewards a particularly studious bent. Yes, they have bangers and they totally played “Hey Ya” but even at their most accessible, Outkast demands a fixed interest which is a damn challenge in the first day’s tenth hour. Outkast are born headliners but I don’t know if they’re closers. They warrant their own, devoted audience.

Governors Ball 2014 Day 1 (pt. 2) Photo Set (featuring Jenny Lewis, La Roux, Phoenix and Grimes)


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Diarrhea Planet

I don’t know what I wanted from this. Awesome, I think. Maybe a little transcendence. Some justification for the puerile moniker. Rock and roll over guitar heroics (there are four of them, for fuck’s sake) but all I got was some punk whine and retreading of riffs. This band might be great in a basement but on a real stage, they can’t earn my two shits.


Pinpoint knows PAPA. Pinpoint loves PAPA. PAPA is some serious white boy indie pop groove jams and well worth the melted panties of a hundred screaming (legal) teenage females but its seriously weird to see them on such a massive stage. These pups demand intimacy, yo and the half shade of your stepdad’s sex cabana.


People went CRAZY for Sunbather last year. Batshit even. Irreconcilably convinced that through the beatific post rock chinks in black metal’s insufferably dour and purposefully unlistenable epics Deafheaven had found a way to make a perfectly human record. And though I didn’t, exactly, scoff at the premise (that record is really fucking good) I didn’t understand the uproar until today when I watched George Clarke (such a humble name) become the apex, the arc of man made flesh again and reached out into the rabble to pick diamonds from the dust. I don’t really know what I’m saying but I understand now that Deafheaven is doing something supremely important for the bombastic understatement that gets folks like me through our grueling anyday. It’s a sin I haven’t seen them before and I’ll be goddamned if I don’t see them again.


I feel that, at this point, I have spouted so many hyperboles about Lucius its just kind of silly. But I’ll do it again. They’re a GREAT FUCKING BAND! They’re so good that one of the Frat boys working the bar asked me who I was here to see and when I mentioned Lucius) he said “YEAH BUDDY!” and gave me a high five along with my High Life. Tight, right, heart-melting and perfectly resolute, this band should mean more to you than anything else in the current flurry of dime roses and well-timed subterfuge. SWOOOOOON!

Governors Ball 2014 Day 2 (pt. 1) Photo Set (featuring Diarrhea Planet, PAPA, Deafheaven and Lucius)

Chance the Rapper

Buzz kid in a big way. Hip hop in earnest. I honestly only know the dude because they play his shit on the Cracked Podcast. The kids fucking love him, though. Big jumps and beefcake drunks.

The Naked and Famous

I really like that song “Young Blood” that was used like the M83 song that’s the new soundtrack to everything wide-eyed and woeful before every creative wanted their shit to feel like M83. I didn’t stick around long enough for them to play it (the sun was playing enemy, hard) but what they do perform is nice enough. Synth midtempo rockishness with shiny haircuts and all I can think is that they must have spent a lot of time on their blacker than black outfits.

The Glitch Mob

Ms. Melissa reports back that The Glitch Mob was packed and thumping dance madness. My first festival regret.

The Strokes

People really like The Strokes, you guys. I mean, seriously. Like PEOPLE REALLY FUCKING LIKE THE STROKES. Love them. LUUUUUUUHHHHHVVV THEM! Weep, en masse, when they play live. Fly giant flags that bear their name. Buy their t-shirt at the merch booth and throw out what they were wearing just to show their devotion to the band. It’s kind of shocking. I mean, I liked them just fine when they broke big and I liked the record after that and on every ensuing release they’ve had a handful of choice tracks but Jesus Christ…PEOPLE REALLY FUCKING LIKE THE STROKES! They net the largest crowd of the festival, it seems and are totally boring as sin.

But haven’t they always been?

Childish Gambino

I’m pretty sure that, on account of The Strokes, the only person who watched Childish Gambino was Andre 3000. Rumor has it, he came with pyrotechnics.

Sleigh Bells

I don’t know that I can say that Sleigh Bells are a good band but goddamn if they aren’t a blast. Big riffs and bigger flashes from the biggest stacks of the festival. Like a punk rock cheer bomb scattering glitter over Green Hell forever. Go see them. NOW!


Fucking Spoon.


“I don’t want to see Skrillex. Fuck Skrillex.”

“I know, I know. I just want to hear the bass drop.”

“When does that happen?”

“I don’t know. Two minutes or something. There’s a clock”

(everyone looks)


“Come on. Please?”


(the clock winds down, people count along)

“This is stupid.”


(beers are sipped, eyes are rolled, cigarettes are lit)


(beats, etc. start)

“Is this…”


(beats, etc. continue)

“I’m gonna go watch Jack White.”


(beats, squiggles, clinks, etc.)

“Goddamnit Charles, when does the bass…”

(bass drops)


“Was that it?”

“I guess so.”

“I hate you.”

Jack White

It’s funny. I know that Jack White is one of the better axe slayers living in the big, weird world today. I know his sound can reach apexes of nastiness not heard since the terror days of Link Wray but his music has never meant much to me and so I tend to base my opinions about him on whatever wack-a-doodle horseshit he’s cooking up in the rags at the time. Currently, my mind’s on his apology junket (deep in Ms. Melissa’s craw as well) which I think is just so goddamn namby pamby I could spit. Also, why is he suddenly trying to rap? Is that rapping? I don’t know. “JUST PLAY ‘SIXTEEN SALTINES’ SO I CAN GO HOME ALREADY!”

Governors Ball 2014 Day 2 (pt. 2) Photo Set (featuring Chance the Rapper, The Naked and Famous, The Strokes and Sleigh Bells)

SUNDAY, 6.8!

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If I’m not mistaken, one of their choruses is just the word “hella” repeated ad infinitum ‘til the bridge. Also, twins.


I’m not exactly sure why I keep trying to like this band but I don’t. People do, though and that’s cool because these kids seem reasonably chill but the inoffensiveness they relay on behalf of my city is a drag.


Goddamn, that fun. guy can write a hook. Maximum jubilance without the toothache and dick wash. I wished I’d seen more. He covers “Don’t Come Around Here No More” which for many years was my favorite Tom Petty song because that Alice in Wonderland shit was a fucking trip to a kid and my parents never played me “American Girl.”


I almost forgot I saw Banks which would’ve been a shame because it’s the closest thing to a runway shoot, I’m ever going to attend. All pose of frail smolder. A pretty girl gone deep dark, quick and come out a “reluctant” buzz thing. Someone called her the new Grimes. I suppose that sentiment holds some truth.

Earl Sweatshirt

I kinda feel like a dick that all I take away from Mr. Sweatshirt’s performance is the witticism “Ima fuck the freckles off your face” followed by an assertion that we, at Governors Ball, “have AIDS” because the kid has a great way of understating rhymes that I’m gonna go ahead and bet works WAY better on wax than on a Sunday at 3pm.

Tyler, the Creator

This kid is a genius. Plain and simple. A brash brat with an egregious stack of cash, a record label, a collective, a clothing line and a TV show, who does EXACTLY what he wants when and how he wants and the kids (and suits) eat that shit the fuck up because it IS the story of our time which is to say it isn’t a story at all so much as a flurry of disparate urges, emotions drenched in codeine or lit a speed ball fire. Glitz and shame and rage and pain and a willingness to bite every hand within pissing distance. A kaleidoscopic freak scene hate-fucking the distance between GG and Jay Z. Tyler OWNS his place.

The Kills

At the heart of this city is a sex beat pulsing and pounding, the drugs sniffed (drunk) off the shimmering end of a switch blade and the skin is leather tight and skimming sweat like the dreams of so many young men spent dumb and primed. At, least I gotta believe there is because there’s still the fucking Kills whose effortless cool and swing rod genius is STILL the stuff that shadows urban legends patrolling the ruddy bootstraps of dawn. The real question remains, “Why did Ms. Mosshart go blonde?”

Governors Ball 2014 Day 3 Photo Set (featuring SKATERS, Banks, Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, the Creator and The Kills)

*Expect The People and Places of Governors Ball (with photographs by Melissa Huffsmith-Roth) soon.

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