New York City -- Two weeks ago, the schedule for Governors Ball Music Festival was finally revealed. When a music festival schedule is released, it’s a bittersweet moment for a festivalgoer. While seeing the lineup organized by day, time, and stage lets you plan the awesome time you’re going to have down to the minute, that same organization brings those inevitable scheduling conflicts you so desperately feared to reality. Scheduling conflicts are an unavoidable part of music festivals. In fact, “Thou shalt create a schedule with heart-breaking conflicts” is the first Summer Music Festival Commandment, right before “Thou shalt take place on the hottest day of the year” and “Thou shalt not sell beer at reasonable prices.”
Luckily, we’re here to solve all your Gov Ball scheduling dilemmas. We tackled 8 of the festival’s most agonizing conflicts and, through highly scientific and (almost) completely objective reasoning, came up with the right pick. Let’s start out with an easy one:
The Conflict: OutKast (9:15-11:00 pm, GovBallNYC Stage) vs. Damon Albarn (9:15-10:30 pm, Honda Stage)
The Overview: Damon Albarn is an incredibly influential and prolific artist. Between his work with Blur, The Good, the Bad, & the Queen, and Gorillaz, not many musicians in the last 25 years have a more diverse catalogue. But, c’mon, this is all about OutKast. Since the day the Gov Ball lineup was announced, it’s been all about OutKast. Even after they signed up for almost every other festival on the planet, and even after they played the, um, Adult Swim upfront presentation: it’s been all about OutKast. Look at it this way: Damon will probably make another solo album (hopefully one that’s a little less sleepy than his debut), or he’ll create another weirdly cool band. With OutKast, who the hell knows? Does this summer mean a new album is on the way, or is this Andre and Big Boi’s way of officially saying goodbye? Or maybe they’re using all this festival money to film “Idlewild 2: Idlewilder.” Like I said, who knows? So catch them live while you still can. If you need any more convincing, one of these bands will play “B.O.B,” and one will almost certainly not.
The Conflict: TV on the Radio (8:00-9:15 pm, Big Apple Stage) vs. Grimes (8:15-9:15 pm, Gotham Tent)
TVotR have a reputation as a hit-or-miss live band. But, to quote Rilo Kiley’s “A Better Son/Daughter,” when they’re on, they’re really fucking on. Though some of the complexities from the band’s more avant-garde songs can get lost in live translation, when they get it right, they hit it out of the park. For example, take their live reworking of “Young Liars,”
already one of the best songs of the 2000s. That song is a monster. Grimes, by all accounts, is a consistently great performer. After a huge 2012, she’s been pretty quiet the last year, so she might pull out a few new songs during her set, but her setup doesn’t really allow for the high variance you see at TVotR’s shows. Festivals are a high risk, high reward experience, so I’m going with the band that soundtracked Breaking Bad’s most badass moment
The Pick: TV on the Radio. Here’s hoping the death professor himself Walter White makes an appearance.
The conflict: Julian Casablancas + The Voidz (4:45-5:45 pm, GovBallNYC Stage) vs. Jenny Lewis (4:45-5:45 pm, Honda Stage)
It seems odd that both a solo Julian and The Strokes are playing sets at Gov Ball. If you’ll recall, The Strokes were a late addition to the original festival lineup, so Mr. Casablancas solo felt more like a misdirection than an actual part of the lineup. Yet here we are, with both The Strokes and Julian Casablancas + The Voidz. Julian will most likely be playing a few new solo songs, as well as songs from his eighties-tastic solo debut. Given the presence of his more famous band, he’ll likely play zero Strokes songs. Meanwhile, Jenny Lewis has a plethora of material to work from, whether it be from her solo career, her collaboration with Jonathan Rice, and even her work with Rilo Kiley. If setlist.fm is to be believed
, Miss Lewis broke out quite a few Rilo Kiley songs at her Boston Calling set over Memorial Day weekend. If she plays “A Better Son/Daughter” again at Gov Ball, I may have a full-on breakdown. You don’t want to miss that!
The Pick: Jenny Lewis. If you need a Julian fix, just see him with The Strokes on Saturday. It’ll be much better, trust me.
The Conflict: Sleigh Bells (8:15-9:30 pm, Gotham Tent) vs. Spoon (8:15-9:30 pm, Big Apple Stage)
Spoon has a less-than stellar live reputation. While they expertly reproduce their fantastic recorded catalogue, the band sometimes leaves out that extra “oomph” that makes live shows so special. On the other hand, Sleigh Bells live are all “oomph.” Their already louder than loud sound on record is even louder live, especially now since the duo added a live drummer to their onstage setup. Given the band’s contrasting styles, this conflict is going to be solved by which crowd you want to be a part of: the laid-back crowd, or the batshit insane crowd. After 8 hours of walking up and down Randall’s Island for the second straight day, laid-back might not sound too bad. And, to be honest, after being featured in an unending amount of action movie trailers, my head might explode if I hear “Crown on the Ground” one more time. Plus, Spoon posted a cryptic Instagram
indicating a new album is coming on June 10th. Maybe this new material will bring the “oomph.”
The Pick: Spoon. Sleigh Bells are better for solo rocking with oversized headphones.
The Conflict: The Strokes (6:45-8:15 pm, GovBallNYC Stage) vs. Childish Gambino (7:00-8:15 pm, Honda Stage)
Another oddity regarding The Strokes’ performance at Gov Ball: they play at 6:45 on the same stage fellow headliner Jack White will play after them. Now in a sub-headliner timeslot, The Strokes are conflicting with the undercard, and their unsuspecting opponent turned out to be Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino. Childish has been playing NYC pretty regularly, and now that Glover has said he’s moving away from acting to focus more on his music career, it’s hard to imagine his touring to decrease. With The Strokes, this may be your best bet to see them in a long while. Additionally, I fear if I see Glover in person I might start thinking about the dearly departed “Community,” and then my whole brain will start crying
The Pick: The Strokes. We can start a “Community” fan support group in the crowd.
The Conflict: Disclosure (4:45-5:45 pm, Honda Stage) vs. Broken Bells (4:45-5:45 pm, GovBallNYC Stage)
The Overview: Personally, this will probably the most difficult choice for me at Gov Ball. Both bands have toured NYC regularly, and both look to continue doing so in the future. In approaching a festival scheduling conflict, especially with newer bands, it can be easy to just go with whichever band’s most recent album is better. With Disclosure and Broken Bells, the latter put out a largely mediocre album after an excellent debut, and the former put out one of 2013’s best records. By this metric, Disclosure is the clear choice. Broken Bells are a very solid band live, but Disclosure promises to be an hour of pure fun. And I’m still a bit miffed at James Mercer for basically kicking his entire band out of The Shins. Then again, “Port of Morrow” is an excellent album, so it’s possible James Mercer knows his band better than me.
The Pick: Disclosure by a hair. Danger Mouse’s magic is served better for the studio than the stage anyway.
The Conflict: Chance The Rapper (3:45-4:45 pm, Gotham Tent) vs. Fitz and the Tantrums (3:45-4:45 pm, Big Apple Stage)
The Overview: Since releasing their debut in 2011, the buzz around Fitz and the Tantrums has died down a bit, but the band is still kicking strong and soulfully. Chance The Rapper, meanwhile had about the buzziest 2013 as you can have. That buzz was well deserved, as his mixtape Acid Rap was crazy awesome. The snazzily dressed Fitz and the Tantrums are sure to put on an energetic show, but Chance just has the better songs. The only risk in going with Chance is that he brought out the immortal Justin Bieber for his Coachella set. This of course angered the festival gods, who then ordered that his second Coachella set be canceled, so hopefully he won’t do that again.
The Pick: Chance The Rapper. He’s the best “Blank The Blank” artist on the lineup.
The Conflict: James Blake (6:45-8:00 pm, Honda Stage) vs. Foster The People (6:45-8:00 pm, GovBallNYC Stage)
The Overview: Foster The People are still riding high off their infectious single “Pumped Up Kicks.” If you just got to hear “Pumped Up Kicks,” by all means go for it. They’ll probably play it towards the end of their set (although it’d be cool if they opened with it, just to see who their real fans are). Though even if you can stand to hear that song one more time, it still wouldn’t be worth it to miss James Blake’s set. His sad, dark vocals seem like a perfect match for an NYC sunset, and the sun should start to disappear right around the end of his set. His lonesome howl will be a great way to start unwinding Gov Ball 2014.
The Pick: James Blake. You’ll hear “Pumped Up Kicks” again soon, I’m sure of it.