10 YEARS - A Retrospective

2020 marks our 10th year, and what a wild ride it has been. Thank you to the fans, the artists, the City, and everyone who’s supported us along the way. We do it all for you, and we always will.

To celebrate the magic and awesomeness that is Gov Ball, here’s a look back at past years and what made each of them so unique. We’ve included the great, the not so great, and also some behind the scenes stuff that we think it’s time people know about. It’s all a part of our story, and it’s all for your reading pleasure.

Cheers Ballers – here’s to 10 50 more.

–  TEAM GOV BALL 

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“The line-up may have been small but the sound was still big.”

FUN FACT

Festival organizers secretly moonlighted at their previous music biz jobs to put together the festival. Once things were far enough along, they quit their gigs and went all in.

Gov Ball 2011
FUN FACT

The festival venue in 2011 was Governors Island, which was not the pristine, beautiful place it is today. The festival site was surrounded by abandoned buildings and creepy military barracks, creating a truly unique and vintage “first year vibe.”

“As many area festival attempts often fall flat due to poor execution, the Governors Ball was a pleasant exception to the rule, leaving us looking forward to its return next year.”
Flavorwire

FUN FACT

The festival featured 2 stages and no overlapping sets, allowing attendees to see every act and not miss one note of music.

“The inaugural year of a music festival is really a roll of the dice. You never know what you’re going to end up with. It can turn into a stunning success or an incredible disaster. Thankfully, the Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City was definitely a success.”
Consequence of Sound

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By Pat Perry

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“It was difficult to decide what to write about because there is only so much you can say about people having a great time”
Consequence of Sound

FUN FACT

ONE ARTIST (WHICH WILL REMAIN NAMELESS) REFUSED TO USE THE STAIRS FOR ACCESS TO THEIR STAGE, AND ARRANGEMENTS HAD TO BE MADE TO ACCOMMODATE OTHER MEANS OF GETTING ON THE STAGE. IT WAS ODD.

FUN FACT

FIONA APPLE’S INCREDIBLE MID-DAY SET WAS PART OF HER 2012 RETURN TO THE STAGE. THE SET FEATURED SONGS FROM HER ALBUM “THE IDLER WHEEL”, WHICH WAS HER FIRST ALBUM IN 7.5 YEARS.

“There might not have been conflicting set times at Governors Ball in New York City this past weekend, but with nearly 12 hours each day of non-stop music between two stages — including Fiona Apple, Kid Cudi, Beck, Built to Spill, Santigold, Modest Mouse, and more — it was a lot to take in.
Entertainment Weekly

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HAVING OUTGROWN GOVERNORS ISLAND AND NEEDING A BIGGER AND MORE ACCESSIBLE VENUE, THE FESTIVAL MOVED TO RANDALL’S ISLAND PARK, A MULTI-USE PUBLIC SPACE WITH STORIED MUSIC HISTORY.

“It’s hard not to gush about the festival because save for some spotty sound during Modest Mouse, the experience was pretty sublime. There were VIP tents at each stage I only glimpsed from the outside, but the truth is the whole fest felt like a VIP experience.”
HuffPost

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By Nate Duval

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“Mud Doesn’t Stop the Dancing at Governors Ball”
The New York Times

FUN FACT

The festival lineup was released with only two of three headliners shown (Kanye West and kings of leon). The 3rd headliner, listed as ??????? during the announce, was later revealed to be guns ‘n roses.

FUN FACT

Tropical storm Andrea slammed new york city on the Friday of the festival, resulting in a truly epic mud pit (MUD BALL NYC) and canceled Kings of Leon’s set. An all nighter was pulled with the band and production, and their set was rescheduled for Saturday. The band was willing to delay their travel overseas to prep for an international tour, to return to the festival and play for their fans. All Friday ticket holders were allowed free entry that day.

“The elements aside, it was a great weekend packed with fun, great food, and top-notch music.”
Business Insider

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Kanye West’s brilliant headline set on Sunday was a true turning point for the festival, as it marked the first time some songs from Yeezus were performed publicly and was his first major solo show in nyc in half a decade.

“In the immortal words of Tina Fey on 30 Rock: ‘WE WANT TO GO TO THERE!'”
Perez Hilton

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By Ames Bros

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“A festival with a New York heart.”
The New York Times

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2014 was the year of Outkast, with the iconic hip hop duo reuniting to headline a number of major US festivals. Despite mixed reviews of sets at festivals earlier in the year, their Gov Ball performance was nothing short of incredible

Wacky Man
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Eminem had been confirmed as a headliner, but unforeseen conflicts resulted in him dropping out before our announce. It would be another 4 years until Em made his first Gov Ball appearance.

“Festival of the Year”
Consequence of Sound

FUN FACT

The festival’s lineup was announced via a full page ad in The New York Times. However, the strokes were not included in the ad due to being booked after the ad went to print. their headline performance was their first concert to be announced since 2011, and to say people were excited is putting it very lightly.

“The 2014 edition of the Governors Ball Music Festival was a weekend punctuated by stellar performances and non-stop surprises”
Billboard

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By James Gulliver

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“The fifth annual Governors Ball was a triumphant riposte to the long-held belief that you can’t hold a successful summer festival in New York City.”

FUN FACT

Drake’s headline set had one of the biggest crowds in Gov Ball history.

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Weird Al’s epic mid-day set featured 11 costumes changes and a segway.

“It offered enough variety and depth to suit all sorts of concertgoers, with headliners from hip-hop (Drake), pop (Lana Del Rey), electronic dance music (Deadmau5) and rootsy rock (Ryan Adams, My Morning Jacket, the Black Keys). There was even one full-fledged country singer, Sturgill Simpson.”
The New York Times

FUN FACT

The dates for Frieze Art Fair, an event that takes place on Randall’s Island prior to Gov Ball, were incredibly close to the festival’s dates, causing a very tight (and very nerve-racking) load in. So tight in fact that we had to build the festival as they were breaking down.

“Governors Ball, now entering its fifth year, seems destined to last, and it felt like the biggest one yet, with larger crowds than we’ve ever seen before in attendance.”
Stereogum

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By Tim Doyle

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“The two days that Gov Ball balled were pretty epic. The lineup this year was out of this world. You could throw a dart at it and land on one of your favorite bands.”
Nylon

FUN FACT

The festival lineup poster was created by Donda, the creative agency founded by Kanye West.

FUN FACT

The 2016 edition of the festival contribued $37.5 million to the new york economy.

“Gov Ball 2016 left behind several memorable you-had-to-be-there moments.
Vulture

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Determined to play a show after his Sunday performance was cancelled due to weather, Kanye West showed up at Webster Hall at midnight to a sea of his fans. He didn’t even make it in the door.

“The sixth-annual Governors Ball was cut short by thunderstorms this year in New York. But before the rain came clear skies and great times, along with standout performances from Haim, The Strokes, and De La Soul, Christine and The Queens, and more”
Fader

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By Tyler Stout

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“Governors Ball 2017 has finally arrived and with it we got amazing performances, unexpected duets, and unforgettable tributes.”
VH1

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Tool’s headline performance was their first concert in nyc since may 2006.

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Childish Gambino famously said during his set that it was his last live performance ever. 2 years and dozens of shows later, he’s still captivating audiences around the world.

“Governors Ball was on some ultra light beams this year.”
Mashable

FUN FACT

Wu Tang Clan’s epic performance included a stage dive by Method Man who wanted to crowd surf amongst the tens of thousands of fans.

“Governors Ball is New York City’s festival. It combines the best of what this sleepless city has to offer, from food vendors to talent and downtown style. It’s a long three-day weekend, but one that’s rich with good sounds, good eats, and good people.”
Nylon

Boombox

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By Farley Katz

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“New York’s biggest summer bash.”

Hot Dog
FUN FACT

Shawn Mendes was a late add to the festival lineup, after festival organizers got a call from his team asking if we could find a slot for him. He’d been to the festival a few times over the years as a guest and loved it, and he wanted to play.

Gov Ball 2019
FUN FACT

on sunday, an up-and-coming artist named billie eilish performed at 2:15pm on the american eagle stage. her time slots at major festivals have certainly changed since then.

“Governors Ball is guaranteed to exceed your expectations, not only with its diverse star-studded lineup featuring Shawn Mendes to Pusha T, but also through the one-of-a-kind experiences being offered.”
Forbes

FUN FACT

Travis Scott’s headline set marked the beginning of his rise to super stardom, with the biggest crowd of the weekend a sold out crowd, and one of most high-energy sets in the festival’s history.

“It was awesome—hours and hours of energy and beats and singing along and jumping around like a lunatic.”
Gothamist

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By The Half & Half

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Gov Ball 2019 Admat
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“Music festivals — which have been in a boom phase in the U.S. for the past decade — have faced many challenges in the city. Yet for the past nine years Governors Ball has proved the exception to the rule… …and it ultimately has delivered in the category that really matters: the music.”
Variety

FUN FACT

In 2019 we saw the 1 millionth attendee enter the festival grounds!

FUN FACT

Redman, honorary member of Wu-Tang Clan, returned for his 3rd year working on the Artist Transpo team.

“If you were looking for a party, Randall’s Island Park was your place.”
Consequence of Sound

FUN FACT

With the 50th anniversary of Pride & Pride Month starting on Saturday of the festival, pride celebrations were part of the festival, including pride parades and drag shows!

“Now in its ninth year, Gov Ball is well-versed and experienced in what it brings to tri-state area music fans: a user-friendly sampling of contemporary hip-hop, rock, pop, dance, and R&B where just about every Millennial and Gen Z kid can find something to freak out over.”
Billboard

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By The Half & Half

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FUN FACT

A number of festival changes are being implemented for the 2020 festival, including a new age policy, new VIP perks and programs, more water stations, and a larger focus on sustainability. These changes were born from fan feedback and conversation with festival organizers.

FUN FACT

The lineup for the 10th edition will feature acts from 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, along with many others who are making their Gov Ball debut.

2011