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Gov Ball, Friday, June 10th, 2022 At Citi Field: In Search Of The Sweet Spot

https://youtube.com/watch?v=swZZHAiBrMU

Gov Ball brought us quite possibly the worst line up ever, after 2021’s one shining moment, 2022 is a buncha guys who wouldn’t make it to Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage on a dare. The line-up just wasn’t there this year and the producers paid the price. If Gov Ball doesn’t sell out on an annual basis it comes close, and in 2022 the sense was a whole lotta tickets went wanting. Really, why kill yourself to see Kid Cudi, or Halsey, or even J Cole, when you know they won’t be at MetLife on a stadium tour but arena’s like Madison Square Garden and Barclay Center; it’s the difference between 80K seaters and 20K seaters? You’re better off holding.

I gave up going VIP a coupla years ago and not just because of the money. The smaller acts are just about the same either VIP or GA, and the biggest names are just as bad as each other on either side. There is nothing to be gained. But there is a trick to Gov Ball -early to late afternoon is perfect, from 2p – 530p the place is quiet enough to see sometimes UK acts, some rap acts off the beaten track, some musicians very close to the edge of stardom, close-up and in comfort. You can get right there, you can see everything. the 530pm sets get crowded (last year it destroyed the Megan Thee Stallion set) and forget the finishing end headliners: it simply isn’t worth the hassle, and the only person I can remember going out of my way for was Kanye West in 2013 (here).

But if you play your cards right… in 2012, my first trip, I only went for one day and was gone before Beck arrived, I was thisclose to the reason I went: Fiona Apple, where I got right to the lip of the stage in the best performance I’ve ever seen her give (here) (of course, the time I saw her before that at Roseland she had a nervous breakdown on stage), the 2pm – 530pm syndrome.

And the first two hours of the afternoon, the noon – 2pm, are a total waste, although… I have seen Jesse Reyes and Kae Tempest and they were both worth it and then some. Still, as a rule of thumb… And on a weekend where Live Nation had failed miserably in its attempt to provide its audience with a great experience, all you were left with was four hours.

Aly and AJ

The sisters Aly and AJ are the 00s pop duo with an electronic bent, well past their biggest hits but they were a fun and cool half hour and we got “Potential Break Up Song” so fine by me (Grade: B). I caught the tail of Paris, Texas and was relatively impressed by the emo lads (Grade: B)

Samia

Samia blew me away a coupla of years ago and though her own material, sad songs for happy people who want to sound sad, or as Samia put it at the start of her scintillating 45 minute set yesterday, “mostly sad songs but with moments of joy”, sounds like it might not translate to the stage, it sure does. Samia is an exciting performer, at 25 years of age she knows how to bring the audience in, and how to let loose, how to explode in the joys of that pop moment, flaying her (her? they? choose your pronoun, I don’t care) arms and dancing up a storm. Even songs that should drag on stage explode righteously, and two songs bracketed the set, an astonishing and sexy “Fit N Full” second song (see the video at the top of the page) and a brilliant cover of one of Beyonce’s most undeniable moments, “Hold On”. She flirted, she danced, she played, she said that she spent her teen years at Gov Ball every year, and she was an intense rush of pure pleasure (Grade: A)

Beabadoobee

Anticipation to see the great Beabadoobee was high, but before that I saw the DJ and singer Kaleena Zanders at the Bud Light dance stage and was very impressed, DJing to house beats and singing with a fine voice, she was a revelation (Grade: B) and I would have to leave to catch Beabadoobee and I wish I hadn’t. BBDB, the English Filipino bedroom singer songwriter who broke through with Powfu and performed the song it was sampled from early, the excellent “Coffee” was off. She is really remarkable, a terrific songwriter and, in fact, I prefer her catalog to Samia’s, but she doesn’t know how to prove it, there is something opaque about her presentation, I might even say unfriendly, and the performance was a huge bummer (Grade: C).

What followed was the two sets why I always make an effort to get to Governors Ball: both black men performing art rap and both of them were absolutely brilliant. I had seen Chanel Tres open for Robyn and was very impressed with the man, an arty, strange and uber-masculine smarty (here) behind “Brilliant N—-” . He was even better yesterday, moving from pop to pop art to art, with his shirt wide open as he danced up a storm, a fabulous and thrilling set (Grade: A-)

JPegmafia

I’ve been waiting to catch Jpegmafia on stage for years and years and he didn’t come close to disappointing. With a deck behind him where he would change track to track, he brought energy and vibes, jumping down to rap from the front of the barriers, singing his first single, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” a capella and appropriating a song he was featured on Chanel Tres’s “Black Moses” barely half an hour after Chanel left the stage. A great rapper, a terrific ear for the strange and exciting, electronic fuck head job, and the highlight of the day, though what was with “I Can Not Wait For Morrissey To die”? (Grade: A).

Skepta

Gov Ball cut back from four to three stages and the result was horrible bleed in between the Go Puff and the Bacardi stages, why are they suddenly cutting corners? Towards the end of Skepta’s lazy set, The Knocks were bleeding in bad. It was pathetic. Skepta is the East End of London scion of the territory that brought us UK Punk 1977, the grime rapper has been around since 2000. Nothing to plug he promised us just the oldies and instead he brought out West London rapper Crispo and handed him the keys. Crispo ain’t bad but Skepta is a legend and he shouldn’t be calling it in (Grade: C+).

By now, the place was overcrowded with obnoxious frat boys and girls in minimal clothing pushing past me and standing on my feet. It hurt the Skepta set and didn’t help The Knocks electronic DJing though they were much, much better than I thought they’d be. (Grade: B). I went to catch Migos, er, Lil Wayne, er A$SAP Fergie, who I have seen before and wasn’t very keen on, and the closer it got the more crowded it got. I wanted to hold on because I wanted to see Jack Harlow but I ran out of steam and headed home.

I have a three day past but have no interest in today’s line up and while there are some acts I’d like to see on Sunday, I am considering it but haven’t decided. It’s a young persons sport and one I can keep up with anymore. But it was an education, as always and I don’t regret it too much…

Grade: B

Aly And AJ – B

Chanel Tres – A-

Beabadoobee – C

Jpegmafia – A

Kaleena Zanders – B

Paris, Texas – B

Samia – A

Skepta – B-

The Knocks – B

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