Closing out the end of summer 2021, Governors Ball kicked off its 10th anniversary on Friday, Sept. 24 to a crowd of approximately 50,000 attendees daily. Running through Sept. 26, the festival was rescheduled from 2020 due to COVID-19 and relocated from Randall’s Island, its previous setting since its inception in 2011, to the Citifield baseball stadium in Queens, New York. Governors Ball kicked off strong with opening night headliner Billie Eilish, A$AP Rocky on Day 2, and Post Malone closing out the final night of the fest.
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Returning back to some normalcy at full capacity, all attendees were required to show proof of vaccination upon entrance.
This year, the festival brought in artists like Future Islands, Orville Peck, Kehlani, Rüfüs Du Sol, Portugal. The Man, and Leon Bridges, Megan Thee Stallion, Phoebe Bridgers, J. Balvin, Charlotte Lawrence, Big Thief, King Princess, and 21 Savage, Ellie Goulding, Young Thug, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dominic Fike, Caroline Polachek, and more.
These are some of the performances that stunned and captivated at Governors Ball 2021.
Suited up in black Gucci—later revealing a cropped beaded top, with her band donned in the now-familiar Thom Browne-designed skeletal wear, first worn during their Saturday Night Live performance—on Day 2 Phoebe Bridgers captivated the audience from the moment she stepped on stage, keeping the audience singing to every word from opening “Motion Sickness” through her 13-song set, including a cover of Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling.” Halfway through her set, Bridgers stopped playing when she noticed an audience member who may have needed medical attention. Continuing on, Bridgers drifted through Punisher and Stranger in the Alps tracks. “This song is about atheism, not nihilism because nihilism is fucking stupid,” said Bridgers moving into “Chinese Satellite,” a song written with Conor Oberst. As night fell on the ballpark, Bridgers played on with the band, incorporating trumpets adding more ambiance to the night. “This song is about fighting in a Whole Foods parking lot then crying,” said Bridgers before singing through “ICU.”
A$AP Rocky’s mummified masked crew walked out to part the shoulder-to-shoulder packed audience, creating matching mosh pits on either side of the main stage. Then, a blow-up Jeep was carried out center stage and left atop the audience with one of Rocky’s crew in the driver’s seat with a blow horn. And A$AP Rocky still wasn’t on stage. Coming out to “Fuck 12” and “No ID Rocky,” Rocky hit “LSD” and the remainder of an 18-song set, closing on “Yamborghini High.”
Billie Eilish played her first NYC show since releasing her sophomore album Happier Than Ever in early 2021. The first night headliner, Eilish moved through a 20-song set, including tracks off 2019 debut When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and newer songs “Lost Cause,” “My Future,” and “NDA.” Singing through the tens of thousands in the crowd, the biggest headlining crowd of all three nights at Governors Ball, Eilish’s sound system couldn’t match the roar of the audience, only making her vocals audible halfway back in the crowd.
Portugal. The Man
Paying homage to the 30th anniversary of Nirvana’s debut Nevermind, Portugal. The Man played their rendition of “In Bloom,” but not before opening the show with a Beavis and Butt-Head video and a metal medley of Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Cowboys From Hell” by Pantera. Pulling Julia Cumming of Sunflower Beans on stage to join for another cover of David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” and Len song “Steal My Sunshine,” frontman John Gourley asked Cumming, “Do you want to join our band.” The band played on, moving through their set, closing on FM4 Sound selection 36 track “Feel It Still.”
Jack Antonoff and co. took over the main stage on Day 2 bringing his own E Street Band, complete with two saxophonists, even breaking into a thunderous cover of Bruce Springsteen’s 1985 song “Jersey Girl.” “This song is about growing up in New Jersey, and I have dreamed about playing it at Governors Ball,” said Antonoff. Urging the audience to get on one another’s shoulders. “This is a festival, get on each other’s shoulders,” Antonoff kept repeating until, one by one, more audience members were on the shoulders of their friends and partners in attendance.
Other Memorable Performances:
On Day 1, Orville Peck was one of the first performers to hit the Governors Ball stages, bringing a blazing performance to the packed crowd, running through an hour-long set, including “No Glory in the West,” off his second album Show Pony (2020), mixing in earlier Pony tracks like. “This song is about blazing your trail and carving your own path because sometimes there’s no path,” said Peck playing “Legends Never Die,” with bandmate Bria Salmen taking Shania Twain’s place on the duet.
Future Islands burst through their set, playing new song “Peach” and closing with a rare track they’ve only started playing live recently “Little Dreamer.”
King Princess, who performed “Holy,” a song she’s never played live before, shared her own Governors Ball memories from her teen years. “This is my favorite fest,” she said. “I came here every year in high school blackout drunk.”
Megan Thee Stallion asked “Where my hot girls at? Where my hot boys at?” twerking with her dance crew along to “Hot Girl Summer” with the words “Hot Girl Shit” plastered on the stage backdrop. The sun was still out when DJs Armand van Helden and A-Track (aka Duck Sauce) created a thumping dance party in the center of the field on Day 3.
Closing the final night, Post Malone starting off on the rafters of the main Governors Ball stage, dressed casually in cut-off jeans and a striped t-shirt, Malone said “I can here to play shitty songs and get fucked up at the same time,” taking a swig from his plastic red cup and moving through the remainder of the night.
Check out our photo gallery from Governors Ball 2021