Live Review: Gov Ball 2024

Posted: by The Editor

Governors Ball made a triumphant return to Queens this year with multiple sold out days that brought attendees an incredible lineup and countless experiences aside from just the music. Check out what we saw and heard throughout a great three days in New York City!

Day 1

The first day of the three-day spectacle started off strong with performances by two powerful female performers over on the IHG Hotels & Resorts Stage. First up was a catchy set by English singer-songwriter Lauran Hibberd, and following her was New Jersey native Donna Missal, who I personally thought could’ve had a longer slot much later in the day with the energy and passion she put into her pop-punk-sounding tracks. 

Photos by Payton Abner and N. Bradley

Between sets, myself and some friends decided to walk around to see what the different vendors and sponsors at the festival were offering. Our first stops were the Cabot Cruiser and the M&M’s popup close to the festival entrance. Armed with just my point-and-shoot camera this year and not having to run from stage to stage to grab tons of photos, I definitely think I saw a much different perspective of the festival, especially when it came to the non-music activities.

Pimento grilled cheeses and M&M bucket hats in hand, we made our way over to the main GovBallNYC stage to catch the end of Ryan Beatty’s set. Beatty performed, as always, sitting on stage with his signature headphones. Beatty, who has writing credits on multiple songs on Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter, has one of the smoothest and powerful voices I’ve heard in a while, and his set carried even to the very back of the GA crowd and over towards the GoPuff stage, where I secured a spot to watch Yung Gravy’s set.

Photos by Josh Sobel and N. Bradley

Yung Gravy’s set was quite interesting yet extremely entertaining. He’s one of those performers who knows how to be goofy while still showing off his genuine talent as a musician. Not many people can get a crowd chanting “Drugs, Money, P***y, and Beer” while singing and dancing their hearts out, yet Gravy did just that. At some point, he threw a box of Froot Loops across the front of the audience. He’s also just a cool guy – one of my fellow media attendees told me about how he very politely asked to cut her in line for a free hotdog after his set.

Goth Babe was next on my list to catch before taking a short break for food. Goth Babe is the stage name for Tennessee native Griff Washburn, and he and his band certainly know how to perform some dreamy indie pop. Their set was a great way to wind down after the high energy from Yung Gravy.

Photo by Payton Abner

The picky eater in me sometimes isn’t the biggest fan of festival food lineups, but I did find a couple places over the weekend that I ended up really enjoying. The first was the NYC Mac Truck, serving some of the cheaper options out of the other vendors. This food truck was actually recommended to me by a former roommate of mine from Long Island who would see the truck each year at NYC’s Comic Con in October. Their plain mac and cheese was absolutely delicious and extra cheesy, a win in my book! Some friends tried chicken and french fries from Bel-Fries, and these looked really good as well.

The last sets of day 1 that I saw were Dominic Fike and, of course, headliner Post Malone. Fike’s set was polished and upbeat, though the lack of a “3 Nights” performance was a little disappointing as a casual fan of his. You can’t deny his stage presence and talent as a performer, however, and he was well received amongst fans as the penultimate act on the main stage before Post Malone.

Photo by Itchyeyephotos

Post Malone is one of those artists I’ve wanted to see live for a while but missed every time he was in the area. After seeing his set at Gov Ball, I can say that it was absolutely worth the wait. To an outsider, Post Malone may look intimidating, but he is truly one of the most down to earth performers I’ve ever seen. Affectionately dubbed “Posty” by his fans, the 28 year old played a solid hour and a half set, making sure to play all of his hits. He started out with “Better Now” and “Wow.” before playing some older material like “Zack and Codeine” and “Psycho.” There were pyro and smoke machines throughout the set, and Posty made sure to thank the audience for showing up after every few songs. After “rockstar,” he invited two fans up on stage – one to sing and one to play guitar. This heartwarming moment was followed by some of my personal favorite songs of his, “I Fall Apart,” “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” and “Circles.” He then spoke about how the next song “hit a little different” now that he has a two-year-old daughter. “Too Young” talks about his fear of dying too young, and his daughter is now another reason for him to live. After an encore that included performances of “Sunflower” and “Chemical” along with quite the fireworks spectacle, the sea of fans left the park to catch the LIRR and 7 train back home.

Day 2

Day two was a little slower of a day for me, but I did arrive in time to see some of another highly anticipated set for me – Claire Rosinkranz. At only 20 years old, she commanded the entire IHG stage, dancing back and forth and involving the audience in some singalongs to parts of her songs. Throughout the set, Rosinkranz performed four unreleased songs and thanked the audience for letting her try out these new songs with them. She of course closed with “Frankenstein” and the viral “Backyard Boy” before ending the set.

Photo by Paige Warton

I stayed over at the IHG Stage, wanting to catch the first part of the only K-Pop group of the weekend’s set – P1Harmony. This boy band drew quite the crowd, and they delivered everything you would expect from a polished South Korean pop group. Tight choreography and fantastic visuals contributed to the success of their set, along with fans who came decked out in P1Harmony merch and accessories.

Photo by N. Bradley

Eventually, I left the IHG Stage to head over to the main stage area in preparation for the highly anticipated set by Sabrina Carpenter later in the day. Before her, though, I was able to catch some of rapper Doechii’s set on the adjacent stage, and I will say it made me wish I had headed over just a bit earlier. She had dancers and a jungle-themed set complete with fake grass and part of some type of metal vehicle. As her set winded down, the migration of attendees to the GovBallNYC stage for Sabrina was in full swing, and I quickly headed over to secure my own spot.

Photo by Paigge Warton

As someone who has been a fan of Sabrina Carpenter since the Girl Meets World days and who saw her play shows at 500-person venues, seeing her success this past year has been incredible. While some of the virality can likely be attributed to her opening slot at Taylor Swift’s globally successful “The Eras Tour,” Carpenter has also shown us that she is perfectly capable of making a name for herself. Dressed in one of her signature mini dresses with a heart cutout, Carpenter and her entourage made quite the grand entrance to “Read your Mind” and “Feather.” Amongst the crowd were many signs along the lines of “Please Please Please play Please Please Please,” referencing her new single, “Please Please Please,” that had been released just two days prior. Carpenter complied, asking the crowd to help her with the live debut of the songs. She then slowed it down for an acoustic performance of “Tornado Warnings.” She of course closed with her no. 1 hit “Expresso” (after playfully asking the audience if they wanted anything to give them a pick-me-up) and “Nonsense,” with the end of the outro this time being “People who hate Pride can suck my Gov Balls.” Carpenter wished NYC a happy pride before waving to the audience and running off stage.

It was once again time for food, and the menu looked similar to Friday. Before that, though, I went to catch the beginning of Sexxy Red over on the GoPuff stage. Unfortunately, she didn’t come out until nearly 15 minutes after her scheduled time, with the first part of her performance being filled in by a DJ. With only a 45 minute set to begin with, this shortened her performance time quite a bit, though she brought all her energy with her when she finally took the stage. Performing in front of a huge pink “Make America Sexxy Again” baseball hat, she and her fans had a great time rapping along to “Shake Yo Dreads,” “SkeeYee,” “Pound Town,” and many more.

Photo by Roger Ho

On the way to get food, my friends and I stopped to check out a couple more vendors and sponsors to see what kinds of souvenirs we could get. The Tito’s Vodka stand inside of the 21+ “Subway Lounge” had bandanas, custom engraved dog tags, and a claw machine containing many more Tito’s-branded items, including visors, fanny packs, and koozies. We also stopped by the “House of Dunkin” to get free coffee samples, munchkins, hats, fanny packs, and sunglasses. The upstairs part of the stand even had a bracelet making station with Dunkin’ colored beads and an airbrush tattoo area. All this was happening while Carly Rae Jepson performed on the complete other side of the festival, which you could hear bits and pieces of even from far away. When “Call Me Maybe” came on, however, the entire festival grounds stopped in their tracks to sing and dance along to the nostalgic hit, which was honestly cooler than seeing her actually perform the song on stage.

Photo by Maggie Friedman

Eventually, as I returned over to the main stage area for The Killers, 21 Savage was nearing the end of his set, and I was able to see a few songs before he ended. The stage was set up with a massive staircase for him to use while performing. By the time I was there, however, it was time for “Act II,” during which he performed from a raised walkway suspended from the top of the stage. 

Photos by Sam Balaban

Saturday’s headlining performance was by The Killers, and they put on a great show, as they always do. I had seen them two weeks prior when they headlined Boston Calling, and this performance was similar, with many of the same songs in a different order. They opened up with “Somebody Told Me,” and then frontman Brandon Flowers told the audience to “give it up for Spaceman” before launching into “Spaceman.” When the group got to “For Reasons Unknown,” Flowers pointed out an audience member who had a sign asking to play drums and invited him on stage to do so. Fans who were present during Post Malone’s set the previous night would immediately recognize the fan as Anthony, who had played guitar for him during “Stay.” Nobody knows how Anthony got so lucky this weekend, but one thing that everyone saw was how musically talented the young man was, absolutely crushing his part on drums during the song. The group continued on with :When You Were Young,” “Caution,” and “Human” before closing out with what everyone came to see – “Mr. Brightside,” performed half acoustic before launching into the full song. And I can confirm, there’s nothing better than singing along to “Mr. Brightside” in the pit with your friends after a long day at the festival.

Day 3

Though there were hints of it throughout the whole weekend, day three was truly the day for pride. I started out the day once again at the IHG Stage to catch a stellar performance by drummer and singer G Flip. Their set was infectious, and the joy and happiness could be felt throughout the crowd. Lauren Sanderson even made a surprise appearance during the set! G danced around stage with the rainbow pride flag, and performed their gender-swapped version of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer” towards the end of their set. 

Photo by Sophie Harris

Next, I headed over to the main stage area to see the end of Elyanna’s set. I’d never heard of her prior to Gov Ball this year, but the production and choreography of her performance was absolutely incredible. The Palestinian-Chilean creates a unique blend of Latin and Arabic music that is infectious to watch and listen to. Saint Levant, another Palestinian musician, followed shortly after her with another stellar set. Notably, his performance of “From Gaza, With Love,” which he introduced with a speech about his home country and how he calls for peace and freedom for people in Palestine, moved audience members who could be seen waving Palestinian flags and wearing keffiyehs. Both performers clearly had true pride for their country, and found ways to show positivity through music despite the current violence and destruction.

Photos by Deanie Chen and N. Bradley

Another perk this year that I got to enjoy was access to the VIP viewing areas and lounge. If I ever were to return to Gov Ball as just a fan, I would definitely consider buying a VIP wristband to enjoy the plethora of seating, shade, restrooms (with running water!), and exclusive food. Lunch on day three consisted of empanadas from Empanada Papa, and they were absolutely delicious. VIP access also allowed me to get nice and close to possibly the most popular set of the weekend – Chappell Roan. 

Photo by N. Bradley

Chappell Roan always finds a way to make a grand entrance, and this time she chose to come out on stage inside a giant apple. But that was just the beginning of the elaborate, over-the-top costume that she had in store. She emerged from the apple painted fully green from head to toe, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Sunday was also the only day there was a catwalk set up on the stage, which Roan and later acts would take full advantage of. Roan’s performances are truly on another level, and her newfound fame has made her an LGBTQ role model to young people around the world. She also made sure to remind the audience what was written on her toes as the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” as she called for freedom for all people, including “those in occupied territories.” Of course, she also made sure that every single person was dancing along when she taught the audience how to dance to “HOT TO GO!” or showed off her incredible vocal range in her unreleased song, “The Subway.” Before closing with “My Kink is Karma” and “Pink Pony Club,” Roan told attendees that she had recently turned down an invitation to play at the White House’s pride event, explaining that she’ll come once there’s “liberty, justice, and freedom for all.”

The pride theme continued as Reneé Rapp was set to play soon after Chappell Roan on the main stage. Rapp’s background in music theater is obvious when you hear the sheer power and control in her voice, and this performance would be no different. She played lots of songs from her latest album, Snow Angel, including “Pretty Girls,” “Willow,” and “Tummy Hurts.” Introducing “In the Kitchen,” the singer spoke about how her producers had told her the song was “too theatrical,” but that she was so proud of it and wanted it seen. Rapp also made sure to throw in her own message about pride: “Happy Pride everyone! We’re so visible it’s sickening!”

Photo by Anna Downs

Closing out the festival as the final act on Sunday night was 2024 Grammy winner SZA. This was easily the busiest set of the weekend, even the VIP area was fully packed with fans excited to see her performance. The performance took place on exactly the seven year anniversary of her debut album, Ctrl, and she made sure to play plenty of songs from it in celebration of the milestone. SZA showed us that she really can do it all – rapping, singing, dancing, you name it. She of course made sure to include renditions of “Snooze,” “I Hate U,” “Kill Bill,” and “Kiss Me More,” her collaboration with Doja Cat. A SZA set was the perfect way to close out the weekend, and I was able to hear most of it as I slowly made my way back to the train to beat the rush that was sure to come when the strict curfew hit at 10:30.

Overall, this year’s installment of Governors Ball was a huge success, and we can’t wait to see what New York City has in store for us in 2025.


 

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Kyle Musser//@godvfwine

Julia F //@jfino.photo