Fear & Panic at Governor’s Ball 2016

 

A chicken sandwich and fries from Chick-fil-A, three blueberry muffins, chicken wings, more fries, mozzarella sticks, three 12 oz. cans of Miller Lite, two chocolate donuts, two slices of pepperoni pizza, a bacon egg and cheese on a plain bagel, several sprites, a steak and cheese sub (12-inches), and a can of mountain dew. That is all the refuse that entered my body this past weekend, and in an upset up there with the Emu War and Trump’s sobriety I have still not, at the time of this writing, executed a proper bowel movement. Coming from someone who’s large intestine leaks like music “exclusive to Tidal,” this is quite the feat. But this may have more to do with my refusal to use the portapottys on Randall’s Island because I couldn’t tell if it was mud or shit on the floor, likely both.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: 

Is it racist to have thought that black people don’t like the Strokes? Would it be reckless to not pose this question?

DAY ONE:

So after a long drive to Westport, CT, the harbingers of indie rock music squatted in the upstairs space of a friend of ours before a 7:30 am trek into the breach of the NYC morning commute. Me thinking my morning commute to South Boston qualified me as a hardcore blue-collar worker is like when a girl tells you she likes the Killers and when you ask what her favorite album is she says, “Uh, well I like Mr. Brightside.”

Luckily those were the people who were weaned out of the Killers’ set 36 hours later right off the bat.

Seriously though, I applaud anyone who withstands what should be a 20-minute ride for over two hours, all while having Indian taxi drivers erratically darting in out of lanes at their will as if Shiva had pronounced, “fire at will, commander.”  There’s a difference between erratic and didactic driving.

Didactic driving is a past time of mine that consists of driving like an asshole with the intention of teaching my fellow civilians how to be unwritten rule-abiding citizens on the road. For example, in the passing lane (or fast lane if you’re German), I erratically pump the brakes from time to time in order to arouse the driver behind me into attempting to pass me on the inside, at which point the pedal crashes through the floor and I cut off the angle and watch as they bitterly move back behind me, which didactically shows them not to be a fucker who passes me on the inside.

So finally we pull up to what turned out to be the most bitchin’ parking garage ever. Of course we didn’t figure this out for two more days because trying to communicate with the esse running the place was like trying to act out the phrase “urinary tract infection” in a game of charades. Regardless we conquered the NYC morning commute and ended up paying $60 for parking the entire weekend at a place that happened to be right next to a foot bridge to Randall’s Island. Convenience factor over 9000.

After a quick tinkle around 12:30pm we were in it for the long haul. The day started with London Souls, these two Indian guys who were not British but kinda rocked. After that was Elle King. Don’t get me wrong, AWESOME, but I have the itch to point out that she is much bigger than I thought. I’m not going to use the phrase “fupa city” because that would be mean, so I won’t. Things I learned: apparently she is Rob Schneider’s daughter, and does a mean cover of ‘My Neck My Back (My Pussy and My Crack)’.

Next was “Christine & the Queens,” which was this strangely attractive French woman who had all these questionably gay men dancing around her wearing tight white t-shirts tucked into gray dress pants. The bassist was even doing bicep curls with a drum stick on stage. It was impressive because he did that all while saying “she’s a man” in a voice so deep it made James Earl Jones sound like Gilbert Gottfried.

The medieval ensemble that is Of Monsters & Men took the stage next. Their female singer Nanna is 27, so she’s almost in the clear as far as celebrity deaths go. The male singer Ragnar is an Icelandic version of fat jesus. But they’re extremely talented and put on a great set, even ending with my favorite song of theirs ‘Six Weeks’.

Then Beck took the stage.

Right before it, a frat guy to my right told his friends around him Beck, “has one song called ‘Loser,’ you’ll know it when you hear it.”

People like that are the worst.

Using the phrase “the worst” carries more weight then you think. By cutting off any possible pluralities, you’re tagging down one individual and declaring them to be lesser than literally everything else in existence. The word “worst” implies perpetual inferiority, and flagging someone with this marker should be considered just as bad (I’d argue worse) than them being a level three sex offender. I’ve actually written a letter to my selectman urging him to pass legislation that requires anyone who’s ever been called “the worst” to register at their local police station and have the community informed when they move in. I personally don’t feel comfortable raising my children around someone who’s only heard one song by an artist because they’re a trendy socialite who only listens to what’s cool and doesn’t take the time to listen to anything else. These are the socialites that I hope continue to attend fundraisers in Gotham City even though every single one ends in a hostage crisis.

I’m going to stick with my original take that Beck probably made the most new fans at this festival. I can’t find a good video from Governor’s Ball but here’s one from 2014’s iTunes festival that sums it up:

 

Guy can absolutely SHRED. People, including myself, continually declare an immortal amount of praise for all the genres John Mayer has conquered, but even as my #1 favorite artist I have to admit that it’s nothing compared what Beck’s done (although I’d make the plausible case that he could if he wanted to).

The Rhythmic Drifter’s Guide To Beck:

Devil’s Haircut, Where It’s At, Bottle Of Blues, Mixed Bizness, Sexx Laws, E-Pro, Qué Onda Güero, Girl, Ghettochip Malfunction, Black Tambourine, Go It Alone, Chemtrails, Timebomb, Strange Apparitions, Dreams, Wow. For all you nonsensical boobs out there who think he’s a one hit wonder.

If you’re looking to nap/pass out/enjoy a walk in the woods/a stare at a body of water, “Sea Change” and “Morning Phase” are for you. The latter of the two gained notoriety for rightfully beating out Queen Bey for Album of the Year at last year’s Grammy’s. Beck played 15 instruments on this album, did all of the orchestral arrangements himself, as well as produced the album. He deserved this award more than someone wearing crocks deserves to have a bunch of sunburnt circles on their feet.

Beck introduced his new bassist, this being his first show, and while I will note it was stereotypically a black bassist, Beck didn’t help the guy out by *accidentally* calling him “Darryl” instead of his real name, “Dwayne.” Being the best crowd ever though we chanted his name and gave Beck a free pass on the blatant racism. After all, the North East has only ever really been not okay with racism one time, other than that the blend of closet racism and zero fucks flagrant racism has maintained a constance over time.

DISCUSSION QUESTION:

Do you think Beck could do a push up? Just one? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

I shite you not the exact second Beck walks of stage every body in that crowd pushed forward as hard as they could. I could faintly hear someone in the back say, “Let’s take everyone in front of us, and push them somewhere else!” Unfortunately it’s not Halo or a glory hole and you can’t just push something from behind and have it magically pop through the wall, so everyone was forced to get to know everyone around them for a the next hour and a half.

And the go-to reference of the weekend award goes to Lt. Cedric Daniels from The Wire, who time and time again throughout the series executes marvelous, stoic renditions of the assertion, “this… is BULL-SHIT.”

Of course I forgot about all that right quick as it wasn’t long (it was really fucking long) before Jules, Albert, Nikolai, Fab and Nick  wasted no time melodically grabbing the crowd by our symphonic gonads as they opened the show with ‘The Modern Age’ and ‘Soma’, before playing new song ‘Threat of Joy’ and the deep cut that literally made the crowd erupt ‘What Ever Happened?’

At the time I witnessed this show, it was probably the greatest concert I had seen. You always have to take a step back, but this was it (pun intended).

The setlist was eclectric. That’s my word for when something is both eclectic and electric, which was conceived one night on a beach in Cancun. I won’t go any further than that. It just saves me some on the word count, but also lengthens the word count due to the ensuing explanation. It’s a paradox, like nicotine and man’s existence.

(Full setlist)

They opted for ‘Under Cover of Darkness’ as the only track from Angles, we heard the new song ‘Drag Queen,’ and they played a total of six songs off First Impressions of Earth which was prom pregnancy-leveled surprise for us concert-goers, but not nearly as detrimental to your life.

Hits were as expected (‘Last Nite,’ ‘Someday,’ ‘Reptilia’), a surprising end to the main set with ‘Juicebox,’ and a feet-on-hot-blacktop blistering encore of the OG YOLO ‘You Only Live Once.’

So we didn’t hear ‘Is This It,’ ‘Barely Legal,’ or ‘Machu Picchu,’ but based on that show I guessssssss I’ll just have to keep going to Strokes shows. B-U-M-M-E-R :[.

Fast forward past stepping in mud, having highway water run off fall on your head, arguing about whether to take an Uber or a cab, taking a cab, eating at White Castle for the first time and them not putting mozzarella in 2/5 of my mozzarella sticks and the day one squad was finally at our sleeping quarters for the evening. Our host presented us with a 12-pack of Millers and I felt like a hard-working, blue-collar dad coming home from a day of grinding for the man who just holds a beer next to his head and uses telepathic osmosis to absorb it into his blood stream.

I’d also like to be given credit for catching a girl who took the wise route and crowd surfed at show that was on concrete. I saved your life.

DAY TWO:

After a boring long walk, yelling at my bank on the phone and trying to communicate with a… we’ll just call him an allophone as I don’t want to do what Emily Austen did last week (the sideline reporter not the porn star, we can all assume what the porn star did last week), me and my faithful companion finally made it back to Randall’s Island for day two.

More like Dayum Two.

Seriously though Day Two was a frisbee. (play video again)

It opened with Albert Hammond Jr.’s solo show, which for those of you who don’t know he’s one of two guitarists in the Strokes and his solo catalogue is far better than Julian Casablancas (see: ‘Touche,’ ‘Drunched in Crumbs’ for a taste), then transitioned across the lawn to see my old pals MisterWives, whom I first laid eyes upon in April of 2014. What I’m saying is I saw them (her) first and no one else can like them (marry her) but me.

mandy

Afterwards we were back to the scene of the crime and we were in it for the long run. This of course being the mainstage, where we caught the second half of Lord Huron, and the entirety of HAIM, who are these three sisters who remind me of the Hex sisters from Scooby Doo! and the Witch’s Ghost. Both these bands convinced me though and 11/10 would recommend to a friend as long as my next purchase is free because I did it.

Day two was hot. Everyone as sweating. In fact, everyone was sweating so much that even the sky started sweating about two songs into HAIM’s set. Either that or Prince was crying at HAIM’s cover of ‘I Would Die 4 U,’ which is when it rained all over everyone. Funny thing was I checked the weather and there was no sign of rain. It was then pointed out to me that there was a hurricane or something in New Orleans like 10 years ago that caught everyone off guard as well.

It even stopped raining for a bit and then everyone did the “charge the stage” tomfoolery again so when our version of hurricane Rita rolled through everyone got destroyed. The rain was cold too, and we were standing in two inches of it because of the concrete. My feet were colder than Jay Cutler’s in July of 2011.

But it didn’t matter, because this Killers show absolutely blew away their performance at Firefly last summer. Which is weird, because it was virtually the same setlist, and Mark Stoermer did not play bass. Instead we got Jake Blanton, another fat jesus, who played well of course.

jake blanton

Like I said, very similar setlist to last time I saw them. Actually so genetically similar the two couldn’t legally marry. Really the only difference was that we heard ‘Shot At The Night’ and (FUCKYEAH) ‘Glamorous Indie & Rock ‘N’ Roll’ in the main set instead of ‘From Here On Out’ and ‘The Bucket’ (yeah, the Kings of Leon song). They opened with ‘Mr. Brightside’ again and slammed though a greatest hits setlist. Got to scream some of my favorites again like ‘Spaceman’ and ‘Bling,’ as well the hits/eargasms ‘Read My Mind, ‘ ‘Runaways’ and ‘All These Things That I’ve Done.’ Oh and an Interpol cover.

But this time, it appeared they had reconciled with Jenny.

No Mark meant they didn’t do his bare naked bass solo at the beginning of it, so they just played it the normal way, which of course was phenomenal.

‘You really think we’d fly all the way from Las Vegas to New York City and not play ‘Jenny Was A Friend of Mine?’

Well Mr. Flowers, not be confused with the cornerback on the Chargers, but you flew from Las Vegas to Delaware last year and didn’t do it, and yall played in Cincinnati the night before so you didn’t come from Las Vegas. Not to be a dick or anything.

Anyways, it was sandwiched right between another soothing rendition of ‘This Is Your Life’ and the apparent closer ‘When You Were Young.’

FUN FACT:

100% of women think ‘When You Were Young’ means the exact opposite of what it actually means, and this, ipso facto, further exemplifies what the song actually means. 

I’d like to thank everyone standing in my immediate vicinity during the Killers’ set for letting me scream every word to every song (and to some of you, for doing it with me :]). I’d also like to apologize to the gentleman who felt the full wrath of me briefly regressing to an animalistic state when Ronnie Vannucci heaved a Hail Mary of his drum stick in our direction, which now rests on my bureau.

 

You can hear it but not really see it, but after the encore ended and everyone else had walked off stage, Ronnie Vannucci walked up to the microphone and said, ‘Public service announcement… shut the fuck up. Tell your friends,’ and walked off stage. The absence of this clip from the internet is frightening. (Denver airport?)

So now I’m covered in rain like John Mayer, all my clothes being worn and for the next day are soaked in water, sweat, some tears, and mostly other people’s sweat. So we had to go back to the car and once again try to communicate with the hispanohablante running the joint and then ended up in an Uber with another guy who didn’t speak English.

Long story slightly shorter but still long (like a half marathon instead of a marathon), walking to the subway the next morning we got the email that day three was canceled. This meant no Eagles of Death Metal, Death Cab For Cutie, CHVRCHES, Two Door Cinema Club, or Kanye West. If you check that first clip up top you’ll know that Kanye did some riot inciting that night, but we just made a b-line the car and took off (yes, we’re being refunded 1/3 of what we paid).

In conclusion, within a 24-hour span I saw the Strokes and the Killers. Easily the two best shows I’ve ever seen too. It was essentially the musical version of those, “when you finish but she keep sucking” vines, like so:

 

I’ll lose one day for that experience.

Governor’s Ball 2016: an adventure of fear and panic, with some fun and pleasure too.