Governors Ball 2012

Beck @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 27th 2012

Beck delivered a set that was dedicated to his greatest hits. There was no new stuff tested, no mention of a new album. Sure, I would love to know what his next direction will be, but when he busts a set covering the best of each era of his career, how can one worry about what’s next?

Backed by the band that he made Sea Change with, Beck not only made a playlist any Beck fan would approve of, but a set that could be defined simply as rocking. It was no bullshit, let’s play the best stuff as best as we can. Most of Odelay dominated the set, along with a proper chain of Sea Change classics. From there it was like a flashback to Beck’s finest moments. It was the sort of set that we often dream for our favorite artists to play. Usually we need to sit through unfamilar new stuff in order to get to the goods. That wasn’t the case with Beck, who simply brought his best foot forward.

I left Governors Ball with my ears ringing in the best way possible humming through “Loser” and “E-Pro” on my journey home north.

Modest Mouse @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 27th 2012 — with 2 comments

Time to cross Modest Mouse off my bands to see list. The guys have been away for a little while, and made good on their return, delivering an epic set that drew one of the biggest crowds of the entire weekend.

Tracks from all parts of their intensive collection were played, from the opening of “Paper Thin Walls” to “Dashboard” and the indie classic, “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes”.

There was no “Float On” to be heard, and no one seemed to care. The band drew from the deepest parts of their albums playing fan favorites and delivering explosive performances that left nothing to be desired. Isaac Brock is frontman who leads, but he doesn’t take the spotlight. He was positioned to the far right, letting the full band stand as an equal, something a lot rarer than you may even realize.

Little things and details like that make you believe in the bands name. Their tunes however, aren’t modest. They kick all kinds of ass live.

Explosions In The Sky @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 27th 2012 — with 1 comment

Explosions In The Sky came out and stole the weekend with one of the most beautiful sets that I have ever seen. The band are known for their instrumental moments of beauty and bliss, sure. But hearing them display their talents on an open field with miles of terrain to share, the band soared.

It’s the type of live set that you take in completely. With every breathe, you become immersed into the music, deeper, and deeper. Soon the music becomes a part of you, and you’re forced upon moments in your life, past and present that have nothing and yet everything to do with the moment you’re currently in.

Their live show is an emotional investment, one that I came out of a much better person.

Fiona Apple @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 27th 2012

Growing up, I heard so much about Fiona Apple. However, she always seemed like a mere phantom. A prolific name but one that hadn’t been around for years. I remember hearing about her meltdown at Roseland, and knew her live reputation was one that could go north or south, in an instant. I went into her set at Governors a little bit nervous, excited, and plenty curious.

Fiona came out dancing with all her might, as awkwardly wonderful as you could imagine. I realized then and there that I lucked out, this was clearly going to be one of her better shows, and from what I saw and heard, it was. Her voice sounded as magical as I hoped it would, and she pulled out all the stops of her illustrious career.

The Idler Wheel standouts, Every Single Night” and “Daredevil”, caught a magical flight, proving their stake as two of the best songs of the year.

Fiona Apple didn’t disappoint. She is no longer a phantom in my eyes. Let’s go with legend instead.

Built To Spill @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 26th 2012

Built To Spill. Where to begin? On stage they look like normal guys. There’s nothing flashy about them, they don’t look like rockstars. But once it’s show time, there’s just something about them that makes you realize you’re in the presence of a great band.

Guitar jams that seemed to carry over from the 90s left me impressed. The band is as tight as a band can get. The band look so relaxed when they play, it’s amazing. A highlight for me was the very 90’s sounding “Joyride” which is off their compilation album The Normal Years. I hadn’t known of it before, but thankfully Doug Martsch and company did an outstanding version of it that made me discover and fall in love with it.

That’s live music done right.

Devendra Banhart @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 26th 2012

For some reason, I have never really given Devendra Banhart a fair shake. I have nothing against him, hoenstly, I just never got around to it I guess.

Well his set on Saturday made me reconsider. It was a relaxed, cool-down set with plenty of good vibes and songs that put me at ease. It was a pretty mellow affair for the most part. I don’t remember him sounding as cool as he did when he opened for The Strokes at MSG. But with the open space and the sun beaming, Banhart was in his wheelhouse, and he smacked it out of the park.

Cults @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 26th 2012 — with 1 comment

Cults have grown since their set last summer. The band ripped through Governors with ease, sounding more confident and fuller.

Madeline Follins’ stage presence has improved, as she won me over immediately. Like their music, their live show isn’t breaking new grounds. What it lacks in that department it makes up in a good old fashioned music. It was a highly enjoyable set. Cults should only continue to grow as they rack on more performances.

Phantogram @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 26th 2012 — with 1 comment

At Bonnaroo, Phantogram played at the depths of the night filling out the tent they were in with ease. It was a perfect setting that made them larger than life. The stage that the duo (plus a live drummer) had at Governors was more up to speed. Even though the blistering daylight isn’t ideal for Phantogram’s dark layered music, they made it work, taking over the sound waves for a dominant moment.

They are able to play a compelling set that loudly takes over their entire surroundings. The band who are from upstate New York, now reside in the city. It’s a good move, because these guys are a big fish meant for a bigger body of water.

Freelance Whales @ Governors Ball (June 24, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 26th 2012

Freelance Whales played at the peak of the heat and daylight, and it suited them perfectly. It was a gentle and comfortable set that dabbled through both their warm debut Weathervanes, and new songs that are set to appear on their next album, due this fall.

The new songs worked as well as the stuff that was familiar to me, a sign that we can breathe easy, cause Freelance Whales are going to be just fine with album number two.

Kid Cudi @ Governors Ball (June 23, 2012)

By Will Oliver, June 26th 2012

I’ve been always in the middle about Kid Cudi. In my humble opinion he’s at his best when he lets loose on his stoner raps. I’m not so much a fan of his attempts at singing, or his attempt at rock. Well his closing set at Governors was somewhere in between all of that.

He started by coming on a little late and complaining about the sound, complaining that he was going to lose his cool. Things got settled and he did his thing, and pretty well. He was in a decent groove for a while but it was once he slowed things down and put his voice to the test that he stumbled, and often hard. Cudi’s range as a singer is very limited, and it showed.

Overall the set tethered between the energetic and the slower stuff that was hurt by weak vocals. I really wanted to like Cudi’s set more, but I was ultimately underwhelmed by great lengths.

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