Governors Ball Day 2, Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, Reviewed
You can do one of two things in life: either take your fifteen year old great-niece Juliet Cruz and her friend Eden to the second day of Governor Ball and follow them around Randall’s Island and catch a handful of sets, or do what I usually do, and rush around like a maniac and see many sets. Yesterday, I chose the former and it is just as well because the sets I did want to see, 2 Chainz and Pusha T (I had no intention of waiting for Travis Scott) were so crowded I couldn’t get to the lip of the VIP section. Much hotter, and much much more crowded than day one, by the time we left during the Russ set, near 9pm, I, for one, was exhausted from the heat and the push and the shove of young America.
This is how it went down: Juliet wanted to see Halsey but she wasn’t touring anywhere but upstate New York and, simply, not a chance, but she was at Governors Ball so I wanted to take her to GB. However, the VIP section is now over 21 only, so I bought her and her friend two general admission tickets and two VIP tickets, they entered with GA tickets and switched once inside. It worked like a charm and there we were watching… Lany? An acronym for Los Angeles New York and the indie band, who sing songs about romance and, well, romance, have pleasant, inoffensive indie pop songs and they were mildly pleasant. While the girls played mini-golf I went to see Japandroids, the hard rocking Canadian duo who I lost track of after a coupla disappointing albums. On stage they were excellent, suffering from “the oppressive heat and an oppressive hangover” (apparently they went to see Wilco yesterday -as good a reason to obliterate your sense as I’ve ever heard of). They started with their second best song, “Near To The Wild Heart Of Things” and ended with their best song “The House That Heaven Built”. I loved em, they’re a great little rock band. Next, after failing to get anywhere close to 2 Chainz, we didn’t even try for Pusha T and went for the synth electronic band Cut Copy and stayed there for Halsey. Imagine a cross between Holy Ghost! and OMD and you have Cut Copy, an OK synth band who started off really bad, just their crappy 80sish synth tunes. But half an hour in they started to jam out hard and the set turned around the harder they performed, by the end the synths were in mothballs and they’d morphed into a singer, guitar, bass and drums combo and were magnificent.
We stood right where we were for an hour for Halsey. Halsey looked awesome in a red bikini and see… wait I am gonna steal the description off Gab Ginsberg’s Billboard review: ” Though she had just one backup dancer, Halsey managed to fill the stage with her strong voice, and by strutting around in a red bikini and iridescent cargo pants. A staircase on stage flickered with light in time with the beat, and periodically, pyrotechnics and smoke cannon jets came into play, elevating the otherwise minimalist set. During “Castle,” orange lights glowed behind the smoke, making it look like the whole stage was aflame.” Yep, what she said. I am no fan of Halsey, the sexually aggressive 23 year old can sound very average when the urge takes her and without really concentrating I find her, I know, I know, a little boring. Her father is African American and her mom is Italian Hungarian, and the mix works well physically as I am sure bland rapper G-Eazy can testify, though I know several girls, including yesterday’s companions, who are crazy for her.
It was something of an anniversary for Halsey, a year to the day since she released hopeless fountain kingdom, her very popular sophomore album hot on the heels of her featured performance on the Chainsmokers “Closer”. It was also the four year anniversary since she signed her first “tiny” major label deal with Astralwerks at the top of the Empire State Building before taking the subway to Governors Ball and none of that “VIP shit” but at the very back of General Admission.
Halsey was a talkative, energetic smart performer with just a drummer and a dancer on the somewhat minimal stage, and with a cameraman who kept on missing her for some reason, there was a real connection between her and her audience, so much so that she jumped off stage and slapped hands and high fived. Highlights included a slow downed “Closer,” and “Heaven In Hiding” which is like a Lana Del Rey song after therapy, and “Gasoline” -a wonderful hook disguised as a song. Oddly, after nearly exactly an hour, the show just stopped and we looked around stunned. The girls loved it and so did I.
I was ready to leave but the girls insisted on checking out Russ, Russell Vitale, the 25 year old white boy rapper who just went platinum. I thought he was OK, nothing special, though his flow is admirable and beats (he began life manufacturing beats) are pretty good. The most interesting thing, so interesting I am beginning to think I imagined it, was a song Russ introduced by announcing it was produced by Sly Stone -the mind boggles…
Lany – C+
Japandroids – B+
Cut Copy – B
Halsey – B+
Russ – C+
Day 2: B+