Day 1: Governors Ball 2023 — Lizzo Shines, Haim Go Metal, Ice Spice Heats Things Up

Despite the previous “unhealthy” air and smog that spread a cloudy sepia-toned yellow-orange hue across the New York City skyline two days earlier — a result of the ongoing fires in Canada — the annual Governors Ball music festival moved ahead, kicking off on Friday (June 9).

Videos by American Songwriter

Situated at its new location at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, the new space seems like the perfect fit for the festival in comparison to its previous setting at the adjacent Citified (Mets Stadium), where the Governors Ball was held since 2021.

More open spaces within the park leaves room for attendees to lounge in grassy patches, sit against pink, fur-lined trees (yes, those are a thing at Governors Ball 2023), or hit one of several dozen stations for food and drinks sprinkled throughout the fest, in between catching performances on Main, Bacardi, and GoPuff stages.

The World’s Fair Sunsphere at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Early Birds

Local musicians from the School of Rock Queens and the School of Rock Brooklyn, who will perform during all three days of the festival, were some of the earlier acts opening the festival, along with Grammy Award-winning producer, Kenyan-American rapper KayCyy (Mark Makora Mbogo), who has worked as a songwriter and vocalist for Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Lil Baby, and Travis Scott, and recently released his latest EP TW2052.

“This song is about being a sucker,” said indie rocker Alexander 23, who has also worked with John Mayer, Olivia Rodrigo, and Charlie Puth, among many others, before breaking into “Crash,” off his 2022 debut Aftershock. Soon after, he gathered a crowd sing along with his song “Cry Over Boys.”

Alexander 23

New York City natives MICHELLE, who recently released their second album, After Dinner We Talk Dream, showcased multiple layers of pop and R&B harmonies, and dedicated their song  “Fire Escape” to their city.

After releasing his second country album under his real name, Thomas Wesley: Chapter 2, Diplo went back to his roots at the Governors Ball giving fans a mid-day DJ set that left hundreds of feet of the surrounding area of the Main stage pulsing and lit up by sporadic pyrotechnics.

Chants of “Remi, Remi, Remi” could be heard around the Bacardi stage before the soulful funk-pop storyteller, Remi Wolf, came on stage wearing torn jean shorts, a New York Knicks jacket, and a red, white, and blue baseball cap reading the word “Nice.”

“I’m wearing a New York Knicks jacket,” said the California-born Wolf, before breaking into her song “Liquor Store.” She added, “It’s funny because I didn’t know who they were until this morning.”

Remi Wolf

Heavy Metal HAIM

The last time HAIM played Governors Ball in 2016, it was during a torrential downpour. This time around, they were given brighter skies for their set on Friday night.

Fresh off of playing dates on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, and around their own set of shows, Haim was channeling more of The Runaways Friday night. Donned in black leather pants and matching bralettes, sisters Alana, Danielle, and Este were playing more like a metal band for the first several songs on the set —“Now I’m In,” “Don’t Save Me,” and “My Song 5” — before stepping back into the more tempered “Gasoline,” off their 2020 album, Women in Music Pt. III (also featuring Taylor Swift on the recorded version), along with “Summer Girl,” and closer “The Steps” for their nine-song set.

‘Spice’ Girls and Boys

As the day drew on, Ice Spice fans packed in so tight, security asked them to take some steps back. Wearing a cut-off top and matching jean jacket and a micro miniskirt, Ice Spice didn’t make her fans — including two proudly holding up a flag in her likeness — wait too long breaking into her eight-song set with “Princess Diana” and “Boys a Liar Pt. 2,” which originally features PinkPantheress, who will perform at Governors Ball on Sunday (June 11). She closed with her song “In Ha Mood,” off her 2023 debut EP, Like..?. 

Ice Spice Fans Representing

Lizzo Closes the Night

Dressed in a shimmering silver dress with a lengthy slit up her right leg, Lizzo dazzled the crowd for the final performance of the night. Switching out into a matching silver one-piece leotard, Lizzo played through the park’s 11 p.m. curfew with a 19-song set, including “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)” and closing “About Damn Time,” and the title track off her 2022 album, Special.

More than halfway into her performance, Lizzo sent a little message to all her recent “body shamers” with a rendition of Chaka Khan’s 1978 hit “I’m Every Woman.”

Photos by Tina Benitez-Eves

Secure your access to the hottest festival in town! Governors Ball 2024 is gearing up for an epic weekend. Get your Governors Ball 2024 tickets now for a music experience like no other.

Leave a Reply

Four Fab Films: Sam Mendes Set to Direct Four Beatles Biopics, All Due to Premiere in 2027

The 10 Most Popular Beatles Songs