Jack White was the headliner at Day 2 of Governor’s Ball, up against Skrillex. Just before that, Spoon was booked against Sleigh Bells. And in the slot prior to that, The Strokes were lined up against Childish Gambino (actor, comedian, rapper Donald Glover). That, was the kind of day it was, very obviously pitting schools old and new against each other, possibly in order to try and split the audience evenly, making sure every stage attracted hordes of fans.
Jack White, who showed up to play Governor’s Ball in a much nicer mood than he brought to recent interviews, payed a set that leaned heavily on his fantastic solo material. Unfortunately, which those songs were expertly crafted and performed, they didn’t really connect as much with the audience as his brief and rare trips down memory lane back to his time with Meg. Of his whole set, about a third of the songs were from The White Stripes: the show lead off with “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” eventually found its way to the “Hotel Yorba,” and much later on, we got “We Are Gonna Be Friends,” “Icky Thump,” and the night ended on the international ball-game rally song of choice “Seven Nation Army.” At times, though, when the crowd lulled, many of the drugged and exhausted freakers looked like they were being forced to eat their veggies before getting desert.
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While they didn’t carry the name recognition of the day’s headliners, many of the day’s earlier acts put on shows demonstrating that you don’t need to be global to inspire feverish adoration.
Chance The Rapper, who went on at 3:45, took the stage at the Gotham Tent to louder chants (note: chants of “We Want Chance!” can almost be mistaken for a meta “We Want Chants!” chant) than many coming on after him would receive before playing a song. He opened and closed the set with the same message, ”My name is Chance the Rapper and we have a social experiment going,” and judging by the healthy and happy smile he brought to the stage, it appears as if his days of cancelled shows due to health concerns are behind him. Running through both of his mixtapes Acid Rap and 10 Day, the audience followed along with each and every lyric.
One of the morning’s early highlights were the unfortunately named Diarrhea Planet. Somehow, a band with this name managed to take a bleatingly hot summer Saturday and make many new fans out of any Gov Ball early birds not familiar with their thrashing five-guitarists-and-a-drummer sound. From their name, to their Angus Young referencing short-shorts, and their hair-thrashing aesthetic, this is the band that Beavis and Butthead could never have dreamed of one day forming, but should have.
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I was able to catch a few minutes of Glitch Mob’s set, and if crazed wind-turbines-as-drums rave-EDM sounds like your thing, you have a very specific thing, and now a band to track down. A little too close to the pit-nightmare that 2013’s Crystal Castles’ Gov. Ball set was for me, but still great. Sleigh Bells put on an equally turned up show, and kept to the same up-up-tempo for their entire set.
He’s started from the bottom doing Drake covers, now he’s here: Childish Gambino the nom-de-rap of Donald Glover brought a set culled from five or so internet releases, plus his first full record relase Because The Internet. When you think of an actor playing a music festival, you assume they’ll get off easy because of lowered expectations, and yes, that may have helped an albeit-drugged Glover (“I ate an edible before coming out here,” he acknowledged). His set was an all-hits trek that back catalogue, making it easy to pull back and grab a track that the audience wasn’t expecting, even though they knew all the words. The set ended with his great “Freaks & Geeks,” engulfed by a never-ending series of flame-pyro. Much like Hansel, Gambino’s really hot right now.
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Henry T. Casey is a freelance writer, tweets via @henrytcasey, and is only moderately sorry he chose Gambino over The Strokes. He could only think of 3 Strokes songs he actually wanted to see live.
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