Posted Jun 15th, 2015 (11:07 am) by James Hughes
Governors Ball Music Festival 2015: Festival Review
Image by Bethany Rees/DOLA Photography

The star studded day festival brought many fans to New York City’s Randall’s Island. Featuring a wide range of musical acts, The Governors Ball was not for everyone. If you are a country music fan, or a heavy metal head banger, this year's slate may have seemed lacking to you. This year’s lineup did not feature many artists outside of the realms of pop, hip-hop, electronic dance music, and rock.

Over the three day event, the island hosted over 60 musical acts and drew in a sizable crowd each day. The island seemed overcrowded on a regular basis, and it was hard, at times, to find a place to lay out and enjoy the sun – or find a place to eat your samosas without having 10 people within a 10 foot radius. The organizers of the event, Founders, pulled out all the stops with a heavy hitting lineup of artists, but for many their desires needed to be decided by a flip of a coin. Many of the headlining acts performed at the same time causing attendees to make some tough decisions. But our experience from last year’s edition of one of the, if not the number one, music festivals in New York City did not stray far from last year’s score of an 82/100.

Section One: Festival Production
The Governors Ball provided a great escape for many through the weekend. The summer party atmosphere was embraced by the droves of attendees who brought their thirst for beer and a hunger for anything delicious. The resulting blitzkrieg left a wake of demolished beer cans, food containers, and cigarettes piled through the grounds. Cleaning crews were always seen picking up the never ending piles of trash that attendees could have easily thrown away themselves in one of the many trash receptacles.

Fans could travel through the park to view shows at one of four stages placed on the island. Since there were only four stages for all the acts to perform on, there was some sound overlap, but,due to the scheduling, that rarely happened. Only two acts were ever playing at the same time, which left many stranded at empty stages in silence waiting for their next set to start, fearing they would lose their spot if they dared to move. This problem was caused by the lineup organization. Every single time I wanted to see an act I was mad about missing out on others. Sets from Florence + the Machine and Drake were directly going up against The Decemberists and My Morning Jacket respectively. The only wiggle room that a concertgoer had was that all the headlining acts had a 15-30 minute window at the beginning or end of the set, forcing people to sprint over and watch the other performance.

Food and extracurricular activities fell into the standard festival pricing and enjoyable. Games of corn hole and a bar broadcasting the NBA Finals were the only extra activities one could find on the island; but there is always laying out in the sun.

Security for the event was quite lax due to the volume of people entering the island and a lack of camping on site. The pat downs and bag searches were essentially nonexistent with many people sneaking in countless would-be contraband items – like drugs and alcohol. But, this lax mentality did not result in any catastrophic events, and The Governors Ball security never looked to ruin your festival experience by ruling with an iron fist.

One of the biggest drawbacks of this day festival was cell phone service on the island. If you have Verizon, then best of luck trying to Snapchat/Instagram/Facebook/Tweet your favorite moments to all of your friends. Only a few places on the island had exemplary service for all providers, but for those with AT&T, they were free to Snapchat at will.

One of, if not the, most well executed sections of the festival was the food presentation. A wide array of food trucks provided delicious food for the festival attendees that were willing to wait through some of the longer lines, and hand over a good amount of their cash, for delicious eats.

Score: 20/30

Section Two: Presentation
The Governors Ball was a pretty plain when it came to dressing up the island. Only a few statues and art displays were shown off for the weekend’s event, and not all of them were even there for the entirety of the festival. The highlight of The Governors Ball aesthetics were the long chains of balloons that arched over the day’s festivities. Multiple massive strings of yellow, blue, and red balloons floated over the fans. The Governors Ball stages were nothing overly flashy either, but a stage is a stage is a stage right?

Score: 5/20

Section Three: Sustainability
There was trash everywhere. The festival employees did a great job of maintaining the mess and turning over the island for the next day’s onslaught of Miller Lite 24 ounce cans and water bottles – among other things. Proper trash and recycling receptacles were placed around the festival grounds, and were routinely emptied and replaced. But, the festival should know that if all the trash that was left on the ground was put in the trash cans, they would have needed to double the amount or size of the trash cans. The amount of trash that was being littered by the attendees of The Governors Ball was baffling.

Randall’s Island Park's grassy landscape was rendered muddy after the first day's rain. The festival’s organizers swiftly made the decision to lay down walking mats to preserve the ground from the thousands of feet walking on it.

Score: 10/25

Section Four: Non-Musical Entertainment
Non-musical entertainment was almost impossible to find. Only a few places provided any sort of entertainment outside of the musical acts. Corporate sponsored activities like the Samsung technology area where one could experience virtual reality technologies, the PayPal station where face painting and temporary tattoos were being doled out, and the Miller Lite Bar where you could experience all the fun times you would have at your favorite hometown bar constituted the non-musical aspects. Besides that, you could find the aforementioned corn whole games to keep you entertained.

Score: 3/10

Section Five: Overall Festival Atmosphere
With a cost of $300 for a weekend pass, many people can find this festival to be an affordable option. That being said it is not a camping festival, so if you are not a citizen of the greater New York City area or have a place to stay, be prepared to shell out a few pennies on living arrangements. The lack of camping does keep ticket costs low, but living costs will be high – so plan accordingly. Also, the fact of it being a day festival made for a long two-by-two line walk to the subway every night with bottle necks and groups of rowdy intoxicated individuals.

The Governors Ball provided an atmosphere overflowing with positive energy. The festival does have some kinks to work out, like the scheduling of the acts to allow festival goers to consume as much as possible and the overly apparent trash issue, but those changes should come with time. Let’s hope the festival continues to grow and mature as a premier festival.

Score: 10/15

All of the reviewing aside, I had a blast in New York City that early June weekend. The lineup was powerful, the food was great, the weather was immaculate, and most of all those in attendance were well mannered and polite. Everyone left their problems at the door and came to experience a weekend, or even just a day of what resulted in a stress free day of music and fun loving company. To The Governors Ball 2015 – you’re doing great and keep up the good work.

Final Score: 68/100

Want more?
Check out our full coverage and photo galleries of both Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3!

Photography by Bethany Rees/DOLA Photography

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