I Was a Governors Ball Newbie, And It Was Great Except for When It Was Terrible

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I Was a Governors Ball Newbie, And It Was Great Except for When It Was Terrible

When I told people I was going to Governors Ball this past weekend, I was met with derision, disbelief, dutiful lip smacking and the like. “YOU?” they would say. Yes, me! I needed to fulfill my lifelong dream of seeing The Strokes and Vampire Weekend in action on the same weekend … and seeing if my loins could even handle it.

Well, not so much my loins as my tiny mind. Things I hate: people, crowds and youths. That’s right old friends, your friend Rachael is downright curmudgeonly. I’m basically in that movie “Grumpy Old Men.” Call me Walter Matthau, if you must. But when faced with the decision between a weekend of my favorite bands and urine-soaked porta-potties or staying home, well, I chose the former.

I found myself constantly in search of the so-called governor who was throwing this ball, and/or Randall, whose name had laid claim to the island that everyone was mucking about on, but I found neither. Instead, there was many a lavender-haired woman, butt cheeks out for the world to see and flower crowns poised on the scalp just so. Everyone kept trying to make gladiator sandals a thing, and I still can’t imagine why. There were a lot of 12 year olds drinking beer, and that was disconcerting. At least twice, someone asked me if my ID was real, but I could never tell if it was actual concern or a flirting technique. Some things will forever remain a mystery, I suppose.


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The actual festival itself seemed harmless on Friday, and an actual living nightmare on Saturday and Sunday. After immersing myself with the crowd for Grimes on Friday turned out to be the worst idea ever for a person of my stature (read: short), my comrade and I decided that we would enjoy the rest of the gigs from afar. That turned out to be one of my wisest decisions to date. I mean, one guy was dancing so aggressively to “Circumambient” next to us that he probably impregnated us simultaneously. I decided that for the rest of the weekend, I should enjoy everyone from a safe distance with just a minimum fear of being trampled.

Also, we need to talk about the toilet situation. As a festival virgin (who can’t drive), I was expecting the worst. But the porta-potties were actually worse than I could have possibly ever imagined. My aforementioned friend, who has apparently only encountered golden toilets with automatic bidets installed up to this point, was forced to squat for the first time. It was a jarring experience for her, and I doubt she will ever be the same … especially once we heard that the VIP toilets make you shit gold bars (JK! But they did have an actual flush function, so …).

By Sunday, I had mostly zoned out. I was tired. I only consumed one mega-sized Foster’s beer and something called a Tom Collins that was definitely not a Tom Collins. I spent a great deal of time lounging in the Shade Oasis, angry that I hadn’t discovered the prime napping spot until the last day. It felt like work to get up and lumber over to see The Kills, but those two never disappoint.

Yes, yes: I guess you’re wondering about the music. I was too lazy to ever show up before 2 p.m., so I missed a few shows, but was present for plenty. In my humblest opinion, I believe that when a band agrees to play for a festival such as this, it is that band’s responsibility to pander to the audience, at least just a little. Bands that pandered: Everyone. Bands that didn’t pander: Jack White. But whatever, he’s still a brilliant musician. He just happens to you know, bore me to tears sometimes, like on Saturday night.


I was especially pleased by several performances, including those from The Strokes (wonderful!), Sleigh Bells (amazing!), the aforementioned Grimes (breathtaking!), Banks (good God, woman!) and The Kills (stupdendous!). My god, The Kills. Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince are sooooo hardcore. I want to shower both of them with affection and emoji hearts. And then there was Vampire Weekend. Sunday night was my first time seeing them live, and one thing was immediately clear: that Ezra Koenig is a panty dropper. Or at least, I assume he was. I was pretty far away from the stage because I was/am still wary of being stomped on.


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All in all, I would say that Governors Ball was legit. Too many youths, yes, but the lineup more than made up for that. And I would be happy to go again if someone promised me I could release the contents of my bladder into a pristine, flushable VIP toilet. And also, if someone could promise me that I wouldn’t have to mingle with the peasants who had adorned themselves in high-waisted denim cutoffs …

… And if someone reminds me to hide my drugs in my shoes, lest they be confiscated again.

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