As the self-proclaimed “Rap God” and 2018 Governors Ball headliner Eminem once said, “snap back to reality” and that’s exactly what we have to do now that Gov Ball is sadly over. From the artists, to the activations and arts, this festival surpassed our expectations. Headliners Jack White, Travis Scott and Eminem helped bring in thousands of fans from all over the world to Randall’s Island on June 1-3. While awaiting these massive artists, we got to check out smaller acts like LANY, The Regrettes, Lil Uzi Vert and even got to see the last minute lineup addition, Pusha T, who replaced BROCKHAMPTON after they unfortunately dropped from the festival.
While at the festival all weekend, we needed to make sure our energy was up to speed and the countless food vendors and alcohol activations assisted in that! The Infatuation & Tequila Don Julio teamed up to provide a happy hour in the 21+ section named “Best Kept Secret” on day 2 of the festival. We got to sip on tequila drinks while eating nachos and tacos from Gordo’s Cantina. Happy hour can’t get better than that! My personal favorite drink was the Habanero & Watermelon Margarita.
We also got to hang out with the Tito’s Handmake Vodka crew at their Love, Tito’s activation. Gov Ball is the first stop for this activation, as they plan on bringing it to Lollapalooza next. The concept of love has always been at the forefront for Tito’s, and they are bringing it to the fans to teach them more about love and charity and how to give forward. Tito’s also has a newfound partnership with Musicians On Call, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the healing power of music to patients. Tito’s will be donating funds to MOC and going forward, Tito’s will be picking a new charity at each festival to donate to! Love, alcohol and charity – what an amazing combination and we LOVED it!
Speaking of charity, State Farm had their Neighborhood of Good back at Gov Ball. The Neighborhood of Good is exactly what the name makes it seem – there’s a little section on festival grounds where there’s little homes discussing different charities and fans can help! From bagging food for children in need to building ukuleles for future musicians, we were absolutely thrilled to be a part of this with State Farm.
Now onto the art and fun. As always, Gov Ball KILLS it in the art department. There’s massive art pieces throughout the festival where fans can take pictures of the displays, or even take pictures with it! There were crazy balloon pieces everywhere and fans could even take pictures pretending to hold the extremely long balloon display. How fun! While on the subject of fun, there were games everywhere! One of my favorite moments was watching fans competitively play life-size jenga all weekend. If there were to be a competitive jenga team, I’m sure you could scout the potential team right on Randall’s Island!
Don’t worry, we didn’t forget the major part – the music. Of course, some of our favorites were the big headliners but it was truly amazing to see some of these people up-close and also see some artists we haven’t seen live before! A MAJOR festival highlight was seeing N.E.R.D live for the first time, especially having it be a rare NYC appearance for the group. I never expected to see a punk side of Pharrell, but guess what? I did and the man even called for mosh pits and crowd killing, but in a nice, loving way. While we’re on the subject of punk, can we discuss how punk a lot of these rappers are? From Pharrell to Lil Uzi Vert to 2 Chainz, these artists have a punk alter-ego that I would have never expected to see live. Are these guys more punk than me? Probably and I will totally allow that.
Another exciting act to watch was Silk City. Silk City is Diplo and Mark Ronson‘s latest project. Although the project only has one official song out, they played for over an hour and kept hundreds dancing.
Two sets that really impressed me and also made me want to shed a few tears were Shawn Mendes and Halsey. Both artists are fairly new to the game, with only a few releases out and taking the world by storm, both artists pulled some of the biggest crowds at Gov Ball this year. Mendes and Halsey both came to the stage with similar stories – they both used to attend Gov Ball as fans, far in the back and hoping to one day be big enough to play. Lucky for them, that day came this past weekend. Although Mendes was only considered the “special guest” of the weekend, he provided a set of hits for fans of all ages to enjoy. For Halsey, it was a bit more special as June 2, the day she performed, marked four years since she first signed her record deal and one year since her certified platinum sophomore release Hopeless Fountain Kingdom came out. After a mini speech, Halsey proclaimed “whatever you want to do, just do it. Take it, it’s fucking yours.” An inspiring quote from someone who is truly a self-made artist.
Let’s talk about the heavy hitter of the weekend – Eminem. The man has been around for a few decades now and we all know him as a legend, but we didn’t really know what to expect for this set. The man is not only a rap genius, he is also a live music genius. Eminem provides a whole show for the crowd where he doesn’t just rap, he provided the the Gov Ball crowd an orchestra, production and special guests that included 50 Cent and Skylar Grey. Personally, I was in awe of this set and could have watched him perform for even longer if it was possible.
Needless to say, this Gov Ball was pretty amazing. Although a lot of the artists were geared toward younger fans – I almost got tackled by a few high schoolers at a few points – this festival is for everyone of all ages. We saw families attending together. Gov Ball isn’t just about the music anymore, it’s a whole lifestyle that needs to be witnessed in person. You can check out more photos from Gov Ball here!