Governors Ball: The Music (2018)

To be honest, I was initially less than thrilled about the Gov Ball lineup when it first came out. There were some acts I was excited about, but overall it seemed weaker than prior years. But of course, I’m super glad I went in the end because I got to see some really great sets. The music highlights are below, and don’t forget to check out the logistics wrap-up!

Third Eye Blind
High school me was so excited about this! I had no idea 3EB was still a thing, but I’m so glad they are.

N.E.R.D.
Pharrell is right up there with Dave Grohl, Gwen Stefani and other musicians who never seem to age. I was really sad to learn that Chvrches was playing opposite this set, but it was so good that I don’t regret missing Chvrches (okay, I regret it a teeny bit). It was super high energy and they had amaaaazing backup dancers. They played their current big hit, “Lemon,” as the set closer…and then played it again. Everyone loved it.

Sylvan Esso
I normally love Sylvan Esso but this sounded terrible to me. Honestly hard to listen to because something about the singer’s voice really just pierced my eardrums in a very unpleasant way. Here’s a much more pleasant video of a great Sylvan Esso track.

Eminem
Oh. Man. High school me was also super amped about this set, largely because I haven’t listened to much Eminem since that time. But his first 3 albums were my JAM and it was so incredible to finally get to experience Eminem live. He had great energy and the crowd was right up there with him.

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Governors Ball: The Experience (2018)

Music festivals in New York make me happy. I wake up in my own bed and go to sleep in my own bed and minimal effort is required. This year was my 3rd time attending exactly one day of Governors Ball, which, to be honest, is a perfect amount. No over-exhaustion from 3 days of festival-ing.

In re-reading last year’s wrap-up post, a lot of the details are, unsurprisingly, unchanged. But since you’re not going to click that link to catch up on last year’s event, anyway, let’s recap.

Check-In/Security
Gov Ball had metal detectors for the first time this year, which, considering the number of music event shootings we’ve seen around the world, is not surprising and not unwelcome. The line to get in looked a lot more daunting than it was.

The Crowd
Babies babies everywhere. And by that I mean teenagers.

Fun Stuff
My friend and I played 2 rounds of New York-themed mini golf, which was delightful. We took photos by cool art, hung out away from the babies in the 21+ beer gardens, played Plinko for charity, got free M&Ms swag (and free M&Ms), and I chalked my friend’s hair in rainbow colors at the Kleenex station. It was awesome.

Mr. Met Minigolf!

Water
It was pretty chilly on Sunday so, in a very uncharacteristic move for me, I didn’t even bother bringing a water bottle. They did have free water stations around but I never tried to use one. (Don’t forget to hydrate at music festivals, though! Do as I say not as I do!)

Layout
Last year I complained about the archway that created a bottleneck and the lack of garbage cans. Both issues were resolved this year! Good job, Gov Ball. I generally just love Randall’s Island because it’s small, and every festival that happens there really packs a punch, square footage-wise. Some people don’t like the idea of sound bleeding from one stage to the other, but I’ve never had an issue at any Randall’s event – you just have to get close enough to the stage you want to hear (which isn’t even all that close).

Transportation
Walking across the bridge at 125th street is free and easy. I will never buy a bus or ferry pass.

Price
For a non-camping festival Gov Ball is a little pricey. I would love to see them get rid of the fancy tins that they ship your wristbands in and save probably $10 on each one. They can also stop sending stickers and pins with the wristband. Does anyone want that? If you do, buy it at the merch booth, friends.

Bathrooms
The secret to many festivals is knowing where the underutilized port-a-potties are. I saw some crazy bathroom lines at times but never had to wait in one because we figured out early on that there were bathrooms in an area with much less foot traffic.

New York’s other all-genre music festival taking place on Randall’s Island, Panorama, is next month. If I end up being around that weekend I’m planning on buying a Sunday pass to check out my loves, Odesza and Robert Delong. In true music festival nerd fashion, I’m super interested to see what the differences and similarities are between how these two festivals use the same space.

Jazzfest: The Music

In my last post I talked about the details of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. And now, onto the important part: the music.

This was definitely a unique experience for me because I went to Jazzfest primarily (okay, entirely) because the trip was free. So while there were definitely artists I knew on the lineup, there were many manyyy more that I did not. So I really got the chance to walk around, explore and listen to a lot of incredible local musicians and bands, which comprise the majority of the Jazzfest lineup.

Tank and the Bangas
This soulful band’s lead singer is like a funky Nicki Minaj. They had so much energy and I was so glad that a friend recommended I check them out. This “Smells Like Teen Spirit” cover was so unexpected yet delightful.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band
New Orleans legends. The fact that I’ve also seen them at Electric Forest is just so mind-boggling.

Beck
Okay, we only stayed at Beck for maybe 10 minutes but I LOVED it. I don’t even really listen to him but I’m going to start, this was so great. If we hadn’t already made a solid game plan on checking out all 3 of the day’s headliners (along with Sheryl Crow, which was a little bit of a snoozer, and LL Cool J, who is always adorable) I would have tried to stay here. This video is not particularly great – I actually liked the sound wayyyyy in the back, where my friend and I were.

Better Than Ezra
I sadly did not hear them play any of their big songs from the 90s (like the one in this video) during our time at this stage, but the lead singer had incredible stage presence and had I not been so committed to catching Dumpstaphunk I would have stayed here too.

Aerosmith
I probably shouldn’t be surprised that Aerosmith killed it like they did, but…I was. I don’t really listen to them but obviously know a ton of their songs from their decades-long history. This was such a dynamic performance and Steven Tyler is still kicking ass at age 70. I actually do not love this video because the whole audience is singing and you can’t hear very well, but it’s “Dream On,” so. A classic.

I was really sad to leave Jazzfest, particularly because the last day of the festival (which is when I flew home) featured Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and Galactic, 2 New Orleans bands that I already know and love. But I can’t be sad for too long, because Governors Ball is right around the corner and I just snagged my Sunday ticket.

Jazzfest: The Experience

Last weekend I had the incredible opportunity to attend 2 days of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival for almost entirely free (!). I am so grateful for this experience because New Orleans is an amazing place with a legendary music scene. I had high hopes for this festival and, my friends, it did not disappoint.

Check-in/Security
We got to the festival pretty early both days that we went, so the lines were nonexistent. I have no idea what it would be like a little later in the afternoon. It’s a pretty lax festival overall and I don’t think I’ve ever seen chairs or strollers at any other event. Props to the people who actually carried chairs all that damn way. That is more effort than I could ever imagine putting in.

The Crowd
Having been to a New Orleans festival before (Voodoo in 2014), I knew this would be a super relaxed crowd, particularly because it draws a little bit of an older group. It was so great being around other music fans who just wanted to listen to some tunes and who weren’t instagramming their entire experience or focusing on their Coachella-ready outfits.

Fun Stuff
The event really lived up to the “heritage” part of its name, with New Orleans culture infused throughout the entire thing. From upright billboards memorializing some of the great musicians to come out of the city to tents providing education on the Native American tribes of Louisiana to local food demonstrations, the learning opportunities were abundant. It was less of a “fun stuff” festival in the sense of games or, yet again, Instagram-worthy attractions, but it was entertaining and content-rich at the same time.

Water
To be honest, I don’t really know what the water situation was. Part of the amazing trip I was on included a sponsored tent that provided food and drinks, including bottles of water (and beer and wine!).

Layout
One of the smartest festival layouts I’ve seen. It takes place inside a race track, so most things are all in the center and there’s a ridiculous amount of stuff packed into the space. The racetrack on the outside serves as an additional pedestrian walkway to move about the festival, particularly helpful during peak crowd moments.

Transportation
There isn’t a ton of public transportation in New Orleans, but the festival (as well as many hotels) offers shuttles from points throughout the city. Our shuttle dropped us off about a 10 minute walk away from the event and even at that relatively close distance we didn’t encounter much traffic, which seems impossible to the point of being almost magical.

Price
Tickets to Jazzfest are only $70 a day! I think cheaper if you buy earlier, and cheaper than that if you buy a single pass for the entire event (which spans 2 weekends). Considering single day tickets to other festivals can run around $150, this is a steal.

Bathrooms
Pretty much the same usual port-a-potty situation, although there were fancy trailer bathrooms near the Jazz tent that were open to everyone (usual those are for VIP). Even at the height of the crowd craziness the line for the nice bathrooms was only around 15 minutes. Cannot complain.

All in all, my trip to New Orleans was super quick but it was just so awesome. Music is the lifeblood of the city and having an event that highlights that really just felt like NOLA bringing its absolute A game. I’m not sure if I’ll ever make it back to Jazzfest but I would absolutely love to try!

Minus Zero: The Music

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In my last post I covered all the juicy details of my first time at Minus Zero, so now it’s time to get down to the real business – the music.

Marvel Years
I always refer to Marvel Years as “Pretty Lights junior” because their sounds are pretty similar. And since Pretty Lights doesn’t appear to be touring at all in 2018, MY is the closest I’m going to get. Thankfully, he crushes it every single time. Love me some electro-soul vibes.

Bleep Bloop
Bleep Bloop was okay but I got kind of bored and wandered away to check out the barn for a little bit during this set. Bleep Bloop is solidly in camp “weird bass music,” which I think I just have to be in the right mood for. My main takeaway from having Bleep Bloop on the lineup was having a good 10 minute laugh over the realization of just how many electronic artists’ performer names are a bunch of random syllables. In fact, the only other time I’ve seen Bleep Bloop was at Farm Fest in 2016, and the only comment I wrote about it was, “Bleep Bloop hahah.”

Tipper
Tipper is one of those legendary artists who I have never, and may never, listen(ed) to at home. I cannot name a single Tipper song or album, I’ve only heard his music out and about in the scene, and prior to Minus Zero I had only seen him live once before (Camp Bisco 2015). This was the set I was most excited for, and it was definitely great, but not as great as the Bisco set from 3 years ago. As I was dancing to this set I thought to myself, “This music sounds like outer space.” Take a listen and tell me I’m wrong. I dare you. This also started off a great trend for the weekend of saying, “_____ is the music of ______.”

Jai Wolf
If Tipper is the music of outer space, Jai Wolf is the music of the universe.  This was heightened by the visuals during his set that depicted the outline of a person floating off amongst the stars. I’m sure you remember (just kidding, I know you don’t) that a couple got engaged on stage during Jai Wolf’s Electric Forest set last year (video in that link!). That’s how happy his music is. Not an overwhelming, upbeat kind of joy, but a peaceful contentedness. The video below really captures the #universe quality of Jai Wolf’s sound.

Odesza
Odesza is the music of eternal springtime. They are just so good that I’ve more or less run out of words for how great they are after writing them about so much on this blog. One of my favorite parts of this set was right when it ended, and the whole crowd kept yelling, “ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!” desperate for an encore. Suddenly, recorded music started pumping through the crowd, the #2 sign that a set has ended and there will be no further music (the #1 sign is, of course, when the lights go on in a dark venue). The song blasting through the night was Three 6 Mafia’s, “Ass and Titties.”

Everyone booed, sad that Odesza wouldn’t be returning to the stage. And then my friend yelled, “What?!? Y’all don’t know that new Odesza track ‘Ass and Titties’?!?” The story is probably not that funny in the retelling, but in the moment, particularly considering that “Ass and Titties” is basically the opposite of the kind of music Odesza plays, it cracked me up. The next night, after Zeds Dead was finished and everyone was yelling for an encore, I laughed about it all over again. While the video below from the set closer doesn’t include “Ass and Titties” (how many times can I say that in one blog post? 4? Amazing.), it DOES include some excellent end-of-set pyrotechnics.

Rezz
To be honest, all of day 3 was the music of darkness. Every single artist was heavy and trappy and loud yet, as I mentioned in my last post, the crowd radiated sheer joy. “Ass and Titties” friend (5!) and I saw Rezz around a year and a half ago, except a 2+ hour long line outside Webster Hall meant we missed around 60 minutes of her 75 minute set. So I was pretty pumped to have my first proper Rezz experience. She has absolutely exploded over the last few years and I imagine she has inspired so many women to get into music production (yay!). Rezz won best set of Minus Zero, hands down. The one Minus Zero video I found of her wasn’t great so I’m using a Coachella video instead, but it’s worth noting that the Minus Zero video, which is of her set opener, has someone saying very clearly in the background, “She’s gonna kill it. She’s literally gonna kill me,” as her first track started. Rezz killed us all that night.

Zeds Dead
I did not expect to love this set as much as I did. Half of Zeds Dead couldn’t make it due to a flight problem but the other guy absolutely crushed it. At one point, he turned “Eleanor Rigby” into an absolute dubstep banger, and I was speechless.  In all my years of going to shows and festivals I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone even try to touch The Beatles. Because, I mean, they’re The Beatles. But he went there. Right after the drop in this video (just after the 1:00 mark), someone yells, “OH SHIT!” and that basically sums up how I felt, too.

After Zeds Dead was the absolute longest end-of-festival fireworks display I’ve ever seen. Even after so many hours of angry music, it was really something beautiful. What an incredible way to end the weekend.

In just a few short weeks I’m heading to 2 days of Jazz Fest in New Orleans! I don’t know if I’ll do a full recap but either way I’m super pumped to keep festival season going strong.

Minus Zero: The Experience

FESTIVAL SEASON IS UPON US! (Kind of.)

This past weekend I attended my first festival of 2018 – Minus Zero in Mount Snow, Vermont. Despite the fact that coldness is implied in the name, AND it’s billed as a “winter sports and music festival,” I still managed to be surprised that the temperature was predicted to drop to a low of about 15 throughout the weekend. I was pretty nervous as I packed every long-sleeved shirt and other warm item that I own into a giant suitcase, but, as festivals are wont to do, it turned out to be a fantastic weekend. In fact, it was one of the most well-produced festivals I’ve ever been to. Here’s the lowdown:

Check-In/Security
There’s no camping at Minus Zero for obvious reasons, so my friend and I just drove up to our hotel on Friday afternoon. No waiting in hours-long lines to get your car searched for 20 seconds. The actual festival gate security went really quickly and I think we never waited in line for longer than 10 minutes. On day 1, two separate security guards told me that the gate people wouldn’t let me in with my string backpack because they weren’t letting in bags of that size. I don’t understand this because my backpack is smaller than a Camelbak (which are allowed). They did let me in, but I decided not to risk it on days 2 and 3 and went, for the first time ever, without any type of bag. It was a strange and freeing experience and also a fun exercise in trying to find as many pockets as I could in my winter coat to keep my phone, wallet, chapstick, etc. safe.

The Crowd
You have to be at least a little nuts to want to go to a music festival in the winter (technically it was April, but if it’s snowing, I’m calling it winter), and I think this really weeded out anyone who was anything less than super cool and extremely laid back. Everyone I met was incredibly nice, and the last day of the festival in particular had the absolute, hands-down, no exaggeration best festival crowd I’ve ever been a part of. The music was dark and heavy (more on the music in my next post) yet the energy was really joyful. The artists even commented on it. The cold temperatures gave everyone the opportunity to break out their fuzzy animal onesies, which was a nice touch. Here I am in a penguin onesie sitting in an inexplicably large chair.

penguin

Fun Stuff
If you ski or snowboard, I imagine having that as an option for a daytime activity is pretty sweet. My friend and I opted to sit in our hotel and watch TV. There aren’t really any other activities at Minus Zero in the way some festivals have, BUT the ski resort location meant we could enjoy sit down meals (!) while watching little dots of people through the window making their way down the mountain. There was live painting and other art displayed, as well as a stage at the top of the ski lift in case you either a) ski or b) wanted to head to the festival at 5:30am for an exclusive sunrise set only available to the first 150 people to get on the lift. Hard pass on both accounts, thank you.

Water
The ski lodge had free water and cups! One major benefit to hosting a festival at a “real” location, instead of turning an empty plot of land into a small city for a weekend. Seeing as Minus Zero was about 70 degrees colder than normal festivals I think water was a little less of a concern for most people, but heading into the lodge after the headliner was done each night to down some water and not have to pay $6 or wait in an insane line to refill a bottle for free was incredible (especially because I had to leave my bottle in the hotel room when I stopped bringing a backpack).

Layout
While this was not the smallest festival I’ve ever attended people-wise, it was absolutely the smallest festival surface area-wise. Not counting the stage at the top of the ski lift (because it was really only for people to check out briefly before skiing down the mountain), you could walk from one end of the festival to the other in…3 minutes? There was the lodge, the main stage, and a barn with another stage. And that was kind of it. It was tiny, and after attending so many festivals where I had to walk 20 minutes in between sets, I felt spoiled.

I will say, regarding the layout, that while the barn stage was cool and slightly warmer than the outdoors, the enclosed structure meant that capacity was limited. I never had a problem with this, but they had Claude Von Stroke (who is kiiind of a big deal) playing in that barn and there was a line that wrapped around the entire building. If I went all the way to Vermont to see an artist and couldn’t even get in to the stage to see him, I’d have been pretty pissed.

Transportation
Our hotel was a short walk to the festival grounds, but there was a free shuttle that ran every 15 minutes through the surrounding area, picking people up from various hotels and dropping them off at the festival. My friend and I chose our hotel specifically because we had a heinous VIP-to-GA shuttle experience at Electric Forest last year and wanted to avoid having to rely on one in the future. So as we walked to Minus Zero and yelled, “FUCK SHUTTLES! WE’RE NEVER TAKING A SHUTTLE EVER AGAIN!”, the shuttle appeared out of nowhere, pulled up next to us, and the driver asked if we wanted to get on for the rest of the way. We did.

Price
So cheap! I think my tier 1 ticket cost around $120, What we saved in ticket costs we ended up spending on splitting a hotel room that could have fit 4 between 2 people. But, whatever. Worth it.

Bathrooms
Because I was staying in a hotel and because they had the indoor ski lodge, I never set foot in a port-a-potty all weekend!!!!!!!! I use excess exclamation points to convey exactly how legendary this is. Again, I just feel so spoiled.

Misc.
Everything about Minus Zero was just so well done. The acts all started on time, the visuals of the main stage were next level, and I loved that there were no breaks between acts with the exception of a 15-20 minute break before the headliner each night. The sound system was probably one of the best I’ve ever heard, in that they could pump the music up loud and it didn’t hurt your ears – I always wear ear plugs at shows because not only is it a good idea, but after years of wearing them I have a pretty low tolerance for crazy loud music. The music at Minus Zero almost never bothered me before I put my ear plugs in, which was a first. Every artist on day 3 had seriously heavy bass and it didn’t sound at all scratchy.

The cold, while certainly not my favorite thing, wasn’t all that bad thanks to many layers and body heat from the crowd (plus, the falling snow made the lasers look like glitter!). As much as I had been dreading spending a “springtime” weekend in below freezing temperatures, I loved the whole thing and would 100% go back again.

Shows I Missed: January 2018

I almost never write these posts anymore because I always make a point of seeing the ABSOLUTELY-MUST-SEE shows and I just don’t have the energy to get so upset when I miss the other ones. But every so often I do get at least kind of bummed about having to skip a show.

In January I really wanted to see Too Many Zooz, a local NYC band that seems to play Brooklyn Bowl twice a year now (so…they’ll be back). I had plans that I couldn’t move and so I had to pass on this one even though there were, surprisingly, Jukely tickets aplenty for it.