Music festivals are all about having a great time, from the music to the food, drinks, merchandise, games, and the food again (because I really like the food part). This year’s Governor’s Ball, on Randall’s Island in New York City, functioned a lot better than the previous year, because it didn’t pour rain down in biblical proportions forcing the venue to cancel all performances after only day and a half, yet the lineup choices for 2017 consisted of an interesting assortment.
Headliners included Hip-Hop artists such as Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino, Governor’s Ball/festival favorites, but also Tool, a progressive metal band infamously known for its privacy and complete lack of censorship. Other interesting acts chosen consisted of a reunion of the entire Wu-Tang Clan, a DJ battle between Mark Ronson (“Uptown Funk” and Amy Winehouse producer) and Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala), UK grime rappers Stormzy and Skepta, a ton of hip-hop/rap, and the usual Gov Ball indie-pop/rock programming (Local Natives, Cage the Elephant, Phantogram, Banks, etc.)
While some artists played the festival just like any other—The Avalanches just wanted to dance, Mac DeMarco just wanted to have a good time, Stormzy just wanted to showcase UK grime rap, Childish Gambino just wanted to put on a good show—there were some acts that came ready to have something to say.
YG, a rapper from Compton, CA, the same city that Dr. Dre, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar are from, had made famous a song by the name of “FDT,” or “F**k Donald Trump.” The song, though seemingly self-explanatory, doesn’t think too highly of the current President and his actions, and neither did Local Natives, who prompted one of their songs with a message about staying hopeful and strong together despite Trump’s recent decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Skepta shared a similar dissatisfaction when he spoke of not being able to perform in New York earlier this year due to America banning his Visa during the travel ban, and yesterday’s performance from Logic included songs from his record Everybody, about coming together as one because, race aside, we are all human beings. While it might be easy to scream “F**k Donald Trump” to get a roar of applause from a youthful New York City Governor’s Ball audience, it’s still interesting to think about how what the artists say might reflect upon Gov Ball’s selection team.
Regardless of what one might have thought about the lineup of Gov Ball this year, or how the performances checked out, the underlying feeling of Gov Ball 2017 was for everyone to come together and just have a great time. Whether you were a fan of indie rock, pop, rap, dance, or even Tool, you had plenty to choose from and experience together. While our president might be doing everything in his power to scare and frustrate us, we were all coming together as one to chant YG’s “F**k Donald Trump” anthem in perfect unison. It might not have provided any answers other than “just dance,” but there’s catharsis in numbers.