My First Festival: Governors Ball 2019
by Alli Dempsey
For many teenagers living in the five boroughs of New York City, the annual Governors Ball music festival is seen as a musical and Instagram-able rite of passage.
Located on Randall’s Island, a small piece of land sandwiched between East Manhattan and Queens, the 3-day spectacle usually takes place during the first weekend of June. For years I could only watch through my phone screen as legendary acts such as The Strokes, The Killers and Kendrick Lamar rocked the main stage. I would stare at my closet in shame as the cool GovBall kids flashed their trendy outfits all over social media.
That all changed this summer when I was presented with a 2-day pass as a graduation gift. I picked out my most unique outfits, grabbed a couple friends and hopped on the ferry to begin my adventure.
The bill for this year was pretty legendary, with rising rap artists BROCKHAMPTON and Tyler, The Creator being the most buzzed-about headliners. Indie acts like Hippo Campus and The 1975 seemed to gather attention as well.
Even though I was pumped that I got to witness my favorite bands in concert, watching the lesser known artists quietly dominating the smaller stages was a nice surprise. At any time you could walk over to any tent and see what was going on. Govball is a buffet-style dining hall of new music, and Still Woozy and Injury Reserve are just two examples of new foods I tried and ended up loving.
Since Governors Ball is an arts festival as well, new music wasn’t the only thing I discovered. The food vendors really knew how to get creative with their dishes. Chomping on ramen burgers and drinking juice out of a watermelon are both things I never imagined myself doing until that Friday. There were many places to sit and people-watch while I ate and lots of art exhibits to walk through and explore while digesting.
I met so many creators I felt like an influencer while walking through and taking pictures in a “house of mirrors” and somehow got covered in glitter wherever I seemed to go. GovBall is glitter-obsessed.
I’ve been to plenty of concerts before GovBall but none prepared me for the authentic festival moshing I partook in. The pit for BROCKHAMPTON was definitely the craziest because of how fast-paced and energizing all of their songs are! I got tossed around like a fish in the ocean, almost separated from my group and had a wig thrown at me. I feared for my life but I don’t regret it at all.
I definitely got some arm and leg workouts in from that hour and a half gig. The crowd for established rap artist Denzel Curry was just as bad and I almost lost my sunglasses several times.
Tip: Stuff everything in a fanny pack beforehand!
Even though I was only at the festival for two days, I can honestly say that it was beginning to feel like a way of life. Everyone seemed carefree and the environment had a unique vibe that can’t be reproduced. It was so nice being able to wander across the campgrounds and into any crowd or any food truck or any exhibit and freely explore my surroundings.
It was a release getting away from the mundane tasks of daily life for one weekend, and have a million dreams come true in the span of 48 hours. This is an adventure I will never forget, and will definitely tell this story for years to come.