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The Top 30 Moments of Governors Ball 2013

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New York City had its second wettest day in June ever last Friday, the first day of Governors Ball. For almost 24 hours, Tropical Storm Andrea lingered over Randall’s Island and decimated the grounds. Where once there were acres of grass that made up a driving range and what seemed to be prime real estate for some games of Ultimate Frisbee now was an acrid mud field. By the end of the festival, Snoop Lion had more grass than Randall’s Island. And for reference, Lollapalooza paid $350,000 to repair Grant Park after a 45-minute rain storm came through the grounds last year, and having been to both, the damage to Randall’s Island is far worse and widespread. Ecologically speaking, it was a total disaster.

Which is to say, for otherwise amazing lineups and logistics, Governors Ball got dealt a shitty hand. By the end of Friday, just before Kings of Leon were supposed to headline, there were maybe 70 stalwart Leonites pruning at the stage in the rain. Saturday’s grounds conditions were a giant sty, with a pastoral miasma hovering over everything. Trudging from one end of the fest in the ankle-deep mud was kind of “lol mud!” in the beginning and “goddammit, seriously?” by the end. By Sunday, things were markedly improved, though whiffs of farm could still be smelt here and there. “You know that occasional crap smell?” Grizzly Bear bassist Chris Taylor said mid-set. “If you smell that, just lean over and smell your neighbors neck. Don’t let the vibe die.”

Taylor and Kendrick Lamar had it figured out. Though Gov Ball NYC 2013 will go down as the year we all got an alert on our phone that said we were under a flash flood warning, there was always something musical to Vine home about, starting with Kanye West premiering five new songs. You’ll remember the rain, but for the music books, we put together the best 30 moments from three days of Axl, Kanye, the Brothers Followill, and Lubriderm-flavored vodka

-Jeremy D. Larson
Managing Editor

The rock ‘n’ roll showmanship of Reignwolf, a one-man-band like no other

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It’s not terribly unusual to see a band leader stamping on a bass drum while they play guitar and belt out their lyrics. Hell, Marcus Mumford’s made a fortune on it. But between slapping the shit out of his strings and sliding his mic up the neck of his guitar, Jordan Cook, a.k.a. Reignwolf took it one step further. When he stood behind his drummer’s kit and started kicking that bass instead of his own downstage drum, it was cute. When he sat down and started playing the whole kit one-handed while still managing to solo on guitar, it was badass rockery. If that wasn’t his supreme moment of showmanship, then it was certainly at the end of his set, when in complete disregard for the safety of his equipment, he left the stage and laid back on the speakers in the photo pit to writhe and hip-thrust as he wailed out his final solo under the pouring rain. –Ben Kaye

The guys hot-boxing a makeshift tarp tent at Holy Ghost!

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

Holy Ghost sees the world through DFA-tinted glasses and that ain’t a bad way to see the world. The tom-heavy disco-punk under cloudy skies was a lasting highlight of the fest, though not destined for something that early in the day, much less under ceaseless rain. That didn’t stop a cabal of dudes who wanted to get lifted and dance around under a blue tarp in the crowd. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night sways these bros from the swift completion of their appointed splifs. Props to the boy scouts, probably. -Jeremy D. Larson

The “trolls in the VIP tent” at Poliçtrans The Top 30 Moments of Governors Ball 2013a

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Photo by Ben Kaye

By 1pm on Friday, the grounds at Governors Ball were already flooded — well on their way to becoming slop — and four young, glamorous, college girls were already solidly drunk in the VIP tent near the “You’re Doing Great!” stage. “Let’s go into blackout mode,” one giggled, before her friend slurred, “Let’s go see ‘POLcia!” They all agreed to both, excitedly whispering, “What stage is POLcia playing on?!” before darting out of the tent in a cloud of Marlboro Red smoke.

Poliça is pronounced “po-LEE-suh,” for the record, and their blend of synth-pop and R&B was perfect for the trolls in the VIP tent who were obviously ready to dance. There was just one problem: The swamp in front of the stage made it very difficult for their little feet to do much besides gloop and glop with every move. Think of someone trying to smash grapes to make wine, but in a tub of melted Sugar Babies. This was disappointing, because Polica’s reverberated vocals, bass, and keyboards wafting through the steady drizzle made us all want to groove and shake.

Their set was short and straightforward, breezing through favs like “Dark Star”, “Lay Your Cards Out”, “I See My Mother”, and “Form”, along with the new track “Tiff”, featuring Justin Vernon (sadly absent). Both drummers, Drew Christopherson and Ben Ivascu, were in full form, along with bassist Chris Bierden and frontwoman Channy Leanagh, who split her time between expertly transforming her vocals with her board of pedals, and tantalizingly dancing around the front of the stage. It’s hard to say which is more appropriate — calling her a songbird, or a tiny dancer — but she was beautiful and sprightly and no one could take their eyes off of her, even when the trolls ran back by and splattered mud on everyone within 10 feet. –Erin Manning

The old vodka-in-the-Lubriderm-bottle gambit

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Photo by Ben Kaye

It’s a strange thing to see a young festival-goer whip out a full-sized bottle of Lubriderm lotion from her bag. But it’s even stranger to see her pump said lotion straight into her can of Red-Bull. “It’s vodka,” Ashley from D.C. informed me (last name redacted at her request; she’s from D.C., folks). “I’ve been using this bottle for four years; no one’s ever caught on. Somehow it still has a little lotion-y taste,” Ashley says. I can attest. –Ben Kaye

When Crystal Castles were the afternoon delight in hell

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

The Canadian electronic duo wasn’t big on stage banter, but for 45 minutes, Alice Glass’ violet hair was the most luminescent thing on Randall’s Island and the masses gravitated like a sea of thrusting little gnats. Crystal Castles were one of the biggest draws of the opening day. Calf-deep mud and detritus floating in what should have been a grassy field made the day look more like a scene from WWI than Woodstock.

But all that perversely worked in the Castles’ favor. Producer Ethan Kath couldn’t have orchestrated a better backdrop for the brain-squeezer “Wrath of God” if he was in cahoots with God himself. The gloomy Pieta album art of their recent release III eerily befit the setting, just as Glass’ warrior cries of “Crimewave” and the Kafkaesque “Not In Love” paralleled standing in continuous rain for five hours. Visceral EDM that troves the meaninglessness of life was the day’s tonic. It was too bad they ever had to stop. –Sarah Grant 

When Local Natives’ set essentially served as a storm ceremony

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Photo by Ben Kaye

After opening with “Bowery” and new single “Breakers”, Local Natives guitarist/lead vocalist Taylor Rice offered his condolences to the audience for the storms. “It stopped, right,” he asked, referring to the briefly subsided rain, immediately before it picked up with a swell and a foreboding change in the tint of the sky from gray to yellow. The drunk puddle ducks in front of the stage seemed oblivious to any of the foreboding signs that appeared during the set, what with their giant cans of Fosters to thrust in the air like weights, and mud pits galore for them to slip and fall in.

The wind whipped Rice’s handlebar mustache around and it started raining much harder, and everything made sense. Local Natives were making it storm. Pretty much the only thing they didn’t do to convince me of this was bang a gong and shout, “Show us what you’ve got, storm!” It was like they were performing some ceremony that was just asking the storm gods to come to Governors Ball and unleash their wrath.

“Colombia” brought a particularly vivid moment when they were repeating the lyrics, “Am I getting enough?” — causing questions to race through my head like, “Am I getting enough protection from this shitty Duane Reade umbrella? Am I going to get electrocuted by smoking an electronic cigarette in the rain? Am I getting paid enough? Am I going to get trench foot?”

As “Sun Hands” blasted towards the darkening sky and everyone’s feet sunk further down into the Governors Ball bilge, the neon pink and orange stage sign glaring in the distance displayed the most ironic message of hope ever: “You’re Doing Great! –Erin Manning

Actually leaving during Beach House because that’s how bad it was

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Photo by Ben Kaye

There’s nothing like a tropical storm to tear you away from your favorite band, you know? After hearing little inklings of sound checking and false alarm cheers for 40 minutes, the motley crew in the press area ventured into the monsoon, following the sounds of Victoria Legrand’s lazy cover of Weezer’s “The Sweater Song” for Beach House’s jammy little intro. But alas, that was a tease too. In fact, it wasn’t until 40 minutes after they were supposed to start that they actually began playing, cutting their set in half, along with the hearts of their dedicated audience members. There weren’t too many left by this point though, which suggests just how bad the storm and muck had gotten.

It was also nearly impossible to see Legrand or Alex Scally, who were sitting far back on the stage, presumably to protect their gear from gushes of water. The wall of umbrellas didn’t help things either, but there was an inflatable pink dolphin bobbing along to “Lazuli”.

That stupid dolphin’s smarmy smile should have been enough to convince anyone it was time to leave though, no matter how much they love watching Beach House perform. Sounds of “Norway” and Legrand’s glimmering voice soared above as I dragged myself through mud and shit past my ankles, until finally collapsing in a crumpled heap on the shuttle 20 minutes later. It was the right decision, considering the festival was officially rained out shortly afterwards. –Erin Manning

When Erykah Badu gave nature the middle finger

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

No one captured the joie-de-Governors Ball more than veritable soul shaman, Erykah Badu. She rocked the stage with a smile, a middle finger, and at least four synthesizers played by her laptop-focused backing band, The Cannabinoids. Ms. Badu’s delightfully punchy lyrics on “That Hump” were duly appreciated, as was “Drama”, her insouciant deflection of life’s chaos. She played plenty of favorites like “On and On” from her 1997 breakthrough album, Baduizm. The set’s evident hip-hop tone was different direction for the R&B talent, but she approached the twist with her usual zest and exuded warmth at every angle. That, coupled by the fact that she was blessedly playing the only tented stage on the island. No one else would’ve gotten away with a five-plus minute percussion interlude. –Sarah Grant

When Kings of Leon almost headlined

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

Governors Ball was canceled shortly before the Kings of Leon set due to inclement weather conditions and the fact that the stages were blowing away. This wasn’t shocking. What was shocking was that 70 or so people actually debated sticking around in a hurricane to see a band that hasn’t put out a decent album in five years. Even the Followill brothers didn’t know how much they’ve been missed. –Sarah Grant

The sheer resilience of music fans, shortly before they said “oh fuck this” and left early on Friday

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It’s not like it was just a little rain shower, or a dappling of precipitation It rained for eight hours straight, which in and of itself isn’t that big of a deal considering it wasn’t all that cold nor was the rain all that torrential, but you really forgot what the concept of dryness was. The lower field was a giant Army-training mud pit. Nothing was not mud. They became one with mud. They were dealing with it. It was an “experience.” Then when their socks were sponges, their beer was not keeping them warm, and their spirits were beyond broken, they said, “oh fuck this” and left early. We all did. -Jeremy D. Larson

The summer solstice brought by Icona Pop, two weeks early

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

The sun was out and so were the nineties bitches. There was some serious power-hopping in the Skyy Vodka Tent, summer feelings abounded, and it was all thanks to Swedish electro-pop artists Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo. The coincidental BFFs are having the ride of a lifetime on the seat of their ubiquitous hit “I Love It” and kindly brought everyone along for 40 minutes of tight harmonies and jock-jammed renditions of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” and Jay-Z’s “Bonnie and Clyde”. The latter was sampled on their slow-churning new song “Girlfriend”. Now where can I buy a mesh tank top? –Sarah Grant

Hearing Damian Abraham of Fucked Up sincerely call something “gross”

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

Whatever health regulations exist in New York City, when the hirsute frontman from Fucked Up tells you something is gross, it may be time to reconsider the situation. In any event, while Japandroids were off allegedly pretending to be Guns N’ Roses three football fields of sludge away on the main stage, the Toronto hardcore band was in the tent, back-flopping on the crowd, being totally authentic. They played at gale-force speeds, only punctuated by teddy bear lead singer Damian Abraham’s bon mots like “Hulk Hogan is the coolest dude on earth” and biting open an inflatable killer whale to wear as a head mask. They played almost everything from their Polaris Music prize-winning album, The Chemistry Of Common Life, but “The Other Shoe” from David Comes To Life, was sweaty, sensational, and batshit insane. –Sarah Grant

Seeing Tinkerbell eat cheese fries and dance at Divine Fits

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Photo by Ben Kaye

Ahhh pavement. The NYC Governors Ball stage had it in front of their stage, which later would accommodate some heavy dance traffic, but at the mid-day Divine Fits show, people seemed more interested in slamming down big plates of cheese fries, guzzling lemonade, trying to forget the smell of manure, etc. Things picked up bit by bit when the handsome supergroup began playing though, rapidly winning over new fans with their slick take on classic-meets-indie rock. It was a great option for the kid wearing the Ty Segall tee who didn’t want to go see Fucked Up. It turned out to be an even better option for the woman with the bright purple Tinkerbell backpack who appeared to have been going to festivals, tanning beds, and Hooters for 20+ years. “Flaggin’ A Ride” and single “Would That Not Be Nice” warmed her up — who doesn’t love hearing words like candelabra, Cleopatra and California rhymed together — but that bass line on “Baby Gets Worse” was the real kicker for her, judging by the kicking-based dance she started into. She grew weary after all of that kick-ball-change-ing, so she plopped down on the ground to rest during a cover of Frank Ocean’s “Lost.” –Erin Manning

When Azealia Banks landed on Earth like a rapping Judy Jetson

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

Best Axl Rose moment of the day: Azealia Banks stopped the DJ halfway through her new romper “Jumanji” and said: “A lot of people are gonna hate me for this, but I’m doing it anyway because I don’t give a fuck. And I’m from Harlem.” Cue: “Harlem Shake”! Ms. Banks’ homecoming concert couldn’t have been a hotter success. The uproar caused by her 2013 track “BBD” was so nuts, her 2011 hit “Liquorice” felt like an old standard. In the two years since her breakthrough 1991 EP, Ms. Banks has made more headlines from her Twitter rants than for her Billboard hits, but judging by the show’s flash mob-like intensity, that could change soon. When she closed with “212”, everyone was booty grinding like they were on a contest for MTV’s Spring Break. –Sarah Grant

Going on a babe safari at Cut Copy

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Photo by Ben Kaye

Four o’clock p.m. brought out the hot sun, and the hott crowd. That’s right. Two t’s. New York’s youth had finally arrived in full force, and with it brought a total babe fest. Was it the Miller Lite and solid ground that put them in such high spirits, or was it Cut Copy’s dose of dance-friendly and singing-friendly tunes? Don’t care. Too many smokin’ girls and guys, fresh off the ferry and not looking like shit (yet), running wild and free and joyously dancing to Cut Copy’s pastiche of dance pop, club hits and worldly ‘70s/‘80s AM radio. There were also the beauties who were caked in mud and just didn’t care, but things were relatively clean over at that part of the fest, probably because getting there from the other main entrance required tromping across the lengthiest stretch of sludge, ooze and lost pride in the entire Governors Ball wasteland.

But kids were determined to dance at this party, whether they had to ridiculously fumble around in muddy rubber boots or lose their shoes entirely. This must be what it’s like to have gone to Woodstock, right? (Wrong.) But maybe Cut Copy is like our generation’s Men at Work or Toto, holding the torch of good vibes high as they lead listeners through a spacey urban jungle of world music, goofy lyrics and Australian accents. Lead singer DJ Dan Whitford looked like a bit of a goober with his Eric Carle-meets-’Nagel-salon-poster-style t-shirt, but that whimsical article of clothing probably best embodied the carefree euphoria of the audience. “Lights and Music”, “Explorers”, and “Future” pleased the club kids, while song-based listeners and lovers of melody were treated to “Far Away”, “Where I’m Going”, and “Feel the Love.”

After one too many “oooh”-based choruses, the crowd had started swelling with early Kings of Leon hopefuls wanting to grab a good standing spot. Let’s just liken it to a flatulent water buffalo stumbling into a watering hole occupied by cute, drunk mermaids. In other words, the babe safari was over. –Erin Manning

The punch drunk stage banter of Japandroids pretending to be Guns N’ Roses

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Photo by Ben Kaye

Japandroids have been touring Celebration Rock for over a year now, and it shows. Not in their performance, which is still ace arena pop punk fireworks shooting off in all directions. The two are real pros when it comes to playing “The House That Heaven Built” for the 189th time, but you got to keep things kind of fresh. And since they’re not wont to do a dancehall remix of “Younger Us” or interpolate some theremin work into “Nights of Wine and Roses”, they just fucked around between songs and pretended they were Guns N’ Roses. It was in sardonic reverence — half a bow of appreciation, half throwing some shade, the bit being that they, “Guns N’ Roses,” were honored to be opening op for Japandroids later. “In a serious moment, I want to dedicate this next song to Tommy Stinson, who played in a great band in the ’80s and ’90s.” Now that’s some shade. Jeremy D. Larson

Using a mud puddle to wash mud off shoes during Animal Collective

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

If Governors Ball was a jungle, then the Animal Collective show was a barrel of monkeys. The real benefit of this show came in its approximation to an area next to the stage containing a small, semi-muddy pond that looked like a great place to rinse boots off in. The audience was ready to let loose, and I was ready to empty the mud out of our leaden shoes, so standing there to observe the zoo seemed like a good call. Sadly, using mud to clean off mud is like fighting fire with fire, but this was deliriously realized and then quickly interrupted by forest noises, long droning phasers, and pulsating bleeps, taking their time to swirl into some nonsensical lyrics served as an  intro to “Brother Sport”.

So what if it was like being on Gullah Gullah Island and not knowing the language? It was amazing how many people were singing every word. Maybe they were just drunk passionate fans shouting “Applesauce” and making up other lyrics along with the band. Maybe they were all on drugs. Drugs would’ve been great. Along with rain boots, stilts, or a photographer’s stool. Taking drugs and listening to “What Would I Want? Sky” and “The Purple Bottle” some other time should go on someone’s bucket list since they were both cut short by sound issues, but even with the aborted mission, Animal Collective still took everyone for a ride. –Erin Manning

The make-out friendly music of Kings of Leon (take two) at sunset

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

As if there’s any point to a Kings of Leon show if you can’t see Caleb Followill pout, thought everyone as “Radioactive” rumbled over a sea of couples and cowboy hats. Removed from the hysteria of headlining, the Nashville rock band mined early hits like “Four Kicks” and “My Party” all under a golden sunset. Much better. Would everyone have preferred “Sex On Fire” right away? Obviously. But the underrated hit “Notion” also from Only By The Night wasn’t a bad alternative. –Sarah Grant

Guns N’ Roses. The whole thing.

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

No one knew what the hell Axl Rose was going to do on Saturday night, but the last thing anyone expected was for him arrive early. Alas, there he was. With seven minutes to spare, Rose revved the Governors Ball night train, ready to crash and burn. We never learn.

The set was a conventional roundup of Guns N’ Roses classics bolstered by a swarthy enfilade of guitarists who all sort of looked like the TV magician Criss Angel. Kicking into “Welcome To The Jungle” for the second song was a smart move, because it only reminded people of how much they actually wanted to stick around to hear its sister-hit “Paradise City”. Since most of the crowd was under-30, this was likely the first opportunity for many to hold court with the turbulent Rose. The whole stadium took off in a fit of shrill ‘sha-na-na-na (&c.) knees’, but it wasn’t until the trio of “It’s So Easy”, “Mr. Brownstone”, and “Rocket Queen” were played that the true Guns fans emerged (slightly embarrassed) from the crowd. In a different setting, those songs could’ve been encores. But when Appetite for Destruction was released 26 years ago, the target audience of Governors Ball could barely spell their names. Rose and his crew seemed to anticipate this reaction, so the songs felt a little jogged. The night realigned with a faithful rendering of “Sweet Child of Mine” and the whole crowd hit every octave. Live and let live.

There were a few wonky ballads. Axl sang something with an odd ballet montage on the jumbo-tron. “Don’t You Cry” was my choice ballad, because it was always my favorite GnR music video (the one where Slash drives his car off a cliff and is resurrected via guitar solo from the flames, in a desert) but the thousand other concertgoers tended to disagree with me in favor of “November Rain”, which we all knew was coming — not necessarily because of the piano at center-stage, but because Rose was suddenly donning a bedazzled blazer. The song had a long, complicated wind-up, complete with Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II”, pyrotechnics, a little Elton John and plenty of pauses to marvel at how (truly) intact Rose’s voice sounded with your neighbor. Mostly, it was joyous and poignant for a crowd that waited two days in mud for a proper headliner. Plus, if there was ever a time to commiserate about pain in the rain, well, darling don’t refrain.  –Sarah Grant

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The dating habits of Southern Californians at Haim

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Photo by Ben Kaye

While proving their brand of pop rock to be more vice versa with one-two moments of bliss like “Falling” into “Don’t Save Me”, Haim took a moment to dish on the dating scene of their L.A. home. Responding to a crowd call of “the gr8-1-8!” (San Fernando Valley’s area code), Este began, “I was in a club when I was 19 — illegally, of course, because thank you America, you have to be 21 to get into a club, but whatever, fake IDs are great. So I was talking to this guy. . . and he asks for my number. So I go, ‘818’, and he says, ‘818?'” She lifted her sunglasses, emphasizing her distaste for his tone. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ And he says, ‘I’m sorry, this is gonna sound really awful, but I don’t date 818.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, where are you from?’ ‘301.’ ‘Oh hell no, Beverly Hills!'” So now ya know: guys from Beverly Hills don’t date San Fernando girls, and San Fernando girls don’t date dudes from Beverly Hills. Unclear about fellas from the East Coast, though. -Ben Kaye

The fake story of these three people

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Photo by Ben Kaye

While waiting for a band at a music festival, a Hollister model borrows book from nerd guy on the far right and pretends to read to impress woman in the middle who is feigning disinterest. Woman inquires about the book but the guy doesn’t know anything about it. The nerd keeps his mouth shut despite his desire to chime in. Finally, he can’t take it and he blurts out, ‘It’s about Billy Pilgrim and how be became unstuck in time!” The woman, impressed by the nerd’s knowledge of the book, holds his hand while they watch the next band. The nerd planned this all along. –Jeremy D. Larson

Going on a second babe safari at Portugal. The Man

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Photo by Ben Kaye

Things had dried up slightly by day 3, so people could maneuver around better and actually sit down and relax in a few places without smearing their butts with mud. One of those places was the shady path along the fence next to where Portugal. The Man was playing. Lining the path were more babes, smoking joints and mellowing out to the Alaskan indie rockers’ rainbow of sounds. Riding the chill wave down the embankment and listening to “Creep in a T-Shirt” and “Hip Hop Kids” was a good move. They closed with “All Your Light (Times Like These)”, and the psychedelic breakdown jam was perfect exit music for those of us in front of the stage, bestowing an experience comparable to having dazzling Gran Turismo race car girls sashay towards you in real life. The icing on the cake was spotting the ladies from Haim a few minutes later back at the driving range/press area. The ultimate babe safari. -Erin Manning

When Bradford Cox’s nearly took out half the photo pit with his guitar

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

Deerhunter’s set somehow felt more legitimate by the fact that the air actually smelled like dead deer. Bradford Cox was dressed for a fishing trip in his cap and flowing flannel on the sunniest day of the weekend. It’s remarkable how justly he represents the two kinds of people who worship him the hardest: super music nerds and bros who smoke too much pot. The band wafted from lo-fi fare like “Desire Lines” to the dissonant doozy “Sleepwalking” from their latest Monomania. Lockett Pundt took the reins leading into crowd-pleaser “Nosebleed”, which signaled Cox to stop playing altogether and dip his turquoise guitar into the photo pit, sling it around his neck and rub it between his legs. Hey, it’s a festival. -Sarah Grant

Sennheiser’s “Silent Disco” that made people have ridiculous fun while looking like complete idiots

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

So the idea of the Silent Disco: A bunch of people wearing wireless Sennheiser headphones that synced to a DJ spinning club-friendly tracks like “Wild for the Night”, “I Love It”, and “It’s Tricky”. Have you ever caught your roommate or sibling just jamming out while wearing big headphones? Okay, picture 70 people doing that only they’re all dancing with each other, too. It’s like you’re watching B-roll from a movie before they add the music in the background. It’s amazing — you can listen in real-time to people mumble along to “A Mili” and sort of fake it until everybody goes “MUTHA FUCKA I’M ILL.” It’s also kind of a novel idea for concerts in the style of, say, Dan Deacon, if he could afford $100 headphones for everyone at shows (would be worth it to hear people try to sing along to stuff from Bromst). –Jeremy D. Larson

Listening to a children’s choir at The Lumineers

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Photo by Ben Kaye

A big festival setting with tons of drunk, angsty youth is one place The Lumineers were built for, so we opened our minds and our hearts and watched them play on their home field in front of thousands of their fans. We’re pretty sure everyone else enjoyed this more than we did, but we can tip our hats to their Dylan cover of “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and their medley that included a CCR cover of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”. Somewhere in the midst of all the grand choruses, Americana porch stomping, and jangly piano solos was a delicious portobello burger that got consumed while “Dead Sea” and “Slow It Down” were being played.

It all kind of melted together into a safe-paced mid-tempo porch song session vaguely reminiscent of “Ho Hey” and then the next thing we knew there was a children’s choir on stage to join the gang on “Stubborn Love”. This was an effective concert tactic that went over well with those looking to be inspired or splash in mud puddles. The kids stuck around for “Ho Hey”,  as well, which came next in the set, delivering the final dose of Lumineers medicine to their impassioned fans, and releasing them afterwards in a wave of satisfied festival goer glory. -Erin Manning

When The xx played “Crystalised”

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Photo by Ben Kaye

One of their best songs. One of the best songs.

The pairings in Kanye’s setlist

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

He may have started his set in typically late fashion, but Yeezus deserves credit for the way he organized the performance. For one, slipping in new tracks between fan-pleasing favorites kept the crowd from getting too bored with what was largely a stationary performance. But the real genius came with the coupling of thematically similar titles: “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves”, “I Am A God” and “Jesus Walks”, “Flashing Lights” and “All of the Lights”, and even “Diamonds of Sierra Leone” with Rihanna’s “Diamonds”. I can’t prove that he thought about the similarities when he created the setlist, but the crowd shouting out two different chorus about types of lights in the span of three minutes just made me smile. -Ben Kaye

When Kanye officially became about that #noiselife

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

If you’re not familiar, #noiselife is a micro hashtag of people on Twitter who talk about noise music. It’s, like, maybe seven nerds total. But the point is during his new songs, especially the idolatrous “I Am A God”, it became abundantly clear that Kanye is now a noise artist. He’s about that #noiselife, or at least has dabbled in listening to Merzbow or Yellow Swans. He tore open day-glo synth patches and ripped out their guts. His snares were spread across the sound spectrum and almost unintelligible, and his voice was more Nathan Young from Wolf Eyes than T-Pain. He screamed liked The Kanye of 2013, the “Black Skinhead” Kanye, the “Well honestly, when I listen to radio, that ain’t where I wanna be no more” Kanye. Will he release a cassingle of “New Slaves”? Will he do a split with Wold? I think Yeezus walks with them. -Jeremy D. Larson

When Kanye went from having a God complex to a Marie Antionette complex

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

One could say “I am a God” or one could say “hurry up with my damn croissants.” Kanye West says both on his new song “I Am A God” but he sounds more like a God when he makes ridiculous demands for French bread. It’s hilarious that the biggest rapper in America has such a distinct Marie Antoinette complex. I suspected as much with the line “What’s Louis my killah?” from “Niggas In Paris”, but this new song confirms it. “I’ll never be picture-perfect as Beyonce” West raps his surprising insecurities on “God”,  sounding more like the infamous child-Queen than any members of the Holy Trinity. Elsewhere, he ruminates over what awards he may or may not receive. According to the song, Yeezus may have lost out on whatever the ‘India Arie Award’ is, but he’s certainly a contender for a History Participation Award. -Sarah Grant

Just even making it to Kanye and leaving with a sense of triumph

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Photo by Jeremy D. Larson

By the time Kanye’s set rolled around on Sunday night, we were road-weary warriors with few things on the brain other than celebrating. We weren’t interested in hearing him rant about not giving a fuck about other people’s opinions — we were interested in hearing the hits. After making some new friends back at the media area golf course, we all rolled up to the NYC Gov Ball Stage one last time while ‘Ye was in the middle of “Jesus Walks” and one of our fav 808s and Heartbreak tracks, “Say You Will”. This created the perfect mood and setting for pensively gazing out over the festival ruins with a sense of triumph and satisfaction from having lasted through three days of “Gettysburg for hipsters,” as one co-worker described it.

Kanye plowed through “Heartless”, “Flashing Lights”, “All of the Lights”, and then “Clique” — the latter sounding spectacular with deeep multi-layer processed gang vocals not present on recordings, and it got everyone who wasn’t already dancing on their feet and in the mood to get turned up. With the worst part of the festival behind us and Kanye’s set to re-energize us, we felt like a big hammer in a world of nails. We also felt like we had been hit by a big hammer — at one point, we thought we spotted Cat Marnell wearing a Kangol cap on the Kangol VIP bus but that was merely a doppelgänger — so his performance was a befitting close to our weekend. –Erin Manning

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Photographer(s): Ben Kaye, Jeremy D. Larson

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