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Governors Ball Music Festival Day Three, Sunday, June 8th, 2014: Hip Hop Time, Tyler,Sweatshirt J. Cole



Through the soft underbelly of Governors Ball Sunday afternoon  came three hip hop superheroes to save the day. If Friday was the one not to be missed, and Saturday a packed to overwhelm Randall’s Island, Sunday suffered from festival fatigue. It was the difference between the Strokes and Frank Turner, the weather was hotter, a humid mix, the performers a collective step behind. But at  the last day of a wonderful three day festivals, three of hip hops new greats took over two stages from 3pm to 6pm. 

Earl Sweatshirt, who I first saw over two years ago at his first live performance, after spending 2011 at a reform boarding school in Samoa  “disconnected from Odd Future’s ascent” (as Rolling Stone put it at the time) was up first, Tyler joined him before they both headed for Tyler’s set at another stage, and then J. Cole performed the last of the three.

What the Odd Future duo and the pop maestro (whose  Born Sinner outsold  Yeezus when they were released on the same day last year) is a lack of political or social manifestations. They are neither neo-retro nor gangstas, rather they are all round rap pop stars. Remember when Tyler seemed like a threat, when riots were breaking out at his gigs? It doesn’t happen today. Tyler doesn’t play the teenage dragon slaying voice of a generation any more, Goblin is ancient history. He fails to signify as more than a 20 something rap god millionaire. But as 20 something rap god millionaires go, he is pretty damn awesome.

Earl Sweatshirt defined the afternoons aesthetic on Molasses: “Imma fuck the freckles off your bitch”. Girls and girls and drugs and girls. Paarty songs. “That’s why the shows so cranky because I’m high on crills right now,” Earl said during Tyler’s show and Tyler agreed. “Awesssssome” he said like he just stepped out of one of his Adult Swim TV episodes. J. Cole said he’d been drinking all day.

But I am damning with faint praise, if Tyler isn’t what we wanted him to be, his set was a lovely, crowd thrilling, audience participation pleasure. And Earl, who was a little less in control of the stage, was pretty good as well. J. Cole was a better rapper, and had bigger hits, “Work Out” and “Nobody’s Perfect” brought the house down and Cole is a very good MC. Sure, way too much wave your hands crap (same with the Odd Future duo) but Cole is genuinely funny, telling us not to clap for guest rapper Bas, Bas made the mistake of asking for a lighter and got bombarded with ’em. “Touche” he said. Meanwhile Cole came out with the funniest verse of the weekend in Bas’s song, “Maybe Asian bitches with their aging bitches, when I got to New York all I saw was Jamaican bitches”.

No, it wasn’t important but it was fun and perfect for a music fest, fan friendly stuff. Which is more than I can say for either the Kills somewhat dour blues and Alunageorge who needed a jolt of something and didn’t get it. Though brave of Alunageorge to open with  “Attracting Flies” so you could leave with impunity if you didn’t mind missing the Disclosure song. Frank Turner did better, a friendly rocker scion of Billy Bragg befriended us like we were all on Facebook and forced us to work out. He also offered the three day benediction: “Something as simple as rock and roll can save your soul.”

I arrived around 230 and caught some of talented moody siblings Wild Belle and left around 630 during the Bloody Beetroots high octane electronic dance set. Why the early leaving? I was exhausted for one thing, for another, I don’t like Interpol,  I’d seen Vampire Weekend, Swedish House Mafia and James Blake just last year. SO, that was it for me. Three days of music and sunshine over for another year.

Day Three – B+

Wild Belle – B-

Earl Sweatshirt  B+

Frank Turner – B+

Tyler The Creator – B+

J. Cole – A-

Alunageorge – C+

The Kills – C-

The Bloody Beetroots – B

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