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Governors Ball 2014 Day 1 Review & Recap: Outkast Finally Brings Enthusiasm, Damon Albarn Brings Gorillaz and More

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Governors Ball is taking over New York City this weekend, with some of the biggest names in indie rock and hip-hop descending upon Randall's Island in the Big Apple. Day one was marked by big-name appearances from Outkast, Damon Albarn and Phoenix, who delivered feverishly enthusiastic sets among some perfect, 75 degree weather (unlike last year).

Music Times was on site to take it all in, from the music to the people to even the chicken fingers and overpriced beer. Check out our play-by-play of Governors Ball day one...

11:48 - After weeks of anticipation, the gates to Governors Ball 2014 are finally open, even if the music doesn't start for another half hour. The festival grounds are a huge improvement from last year's notorious mud pit, and as a born and bred Ohioan, the cornhole games right at the gate make me feel right at home. The grounds are simultaneously expansive and intimate, with four stages in total spread out throughout Randall's Island, two of which face each other directly across the field. The main stage, which is obviously the largest and hosts the biggest names, is adjacent to the smaller Gotham Tent, which is almost too contained for its own good. But alas, the sun is shining here in New York City, there's just enough clouds to make the day not a scorching mess and things are off to a good start. -Carolyn Menyes

12:15 - Right on schedule, HAERTS opens up Governors Ball at the main stage (fittingly titled Gov Ball NYC Stage). Here, we encountered the first majorly rude concertgoer, who loudly and proudly declared that the indie rock band was not, in fact, Outkast and that only nine hours remained until "the real s---." Sigh. Regardless, HAERTS were unfazed by the rude guests and rocked the house with songs old and new. Plus, Nini Fabi was absolutely stunning in a long, electric blue dress. Always nice to be stylish. - CM

12:15 - The Chain Gang of 1974 happens to be a band from San Jose, and I'm wearing a San Jose Sharks hat. This, alas, doesn't make me hip. Although the Gang is as far from metal as you can get, they've still got cynical thoughts to open the day at an otherwise happy event: The opening tracks question "why do people like you think that everything is gonna be alright" and "throwing rocks at a brick fight."-Ryan Book

12:45 - Perhaps the first Brooklyn act at a festival full of Brooklyn acts, Little Daylight keeps things hopping. Vocalist/keyboardist Nikki Taylor and every other Brooklyn gal at the event must have called each other about outfits.-RB

12:55 - The first pleasant surprise of the weekend came with my second set, Drowners. This New York indie rock outfit was something totally unfamiliar to me until today, but I walked away from our short time together as a fan. Blending in the sass of bands like Louis XIV with the incessant bass lines of the '90s, Drowners make some pure, unadulterated and fun alternative rock.-CM

1:30 - Despite falling in love, I cut my time at Drowners short for a current musical obsession of mine: Jason Isbell. Perhaps best known for his work with Drive By Truckers, Isbell released one of the quietly best albums of last year with Southeastern. His set was the one I was most excited about for the day, and he didn't disappoint... for the most part. Isbell opened up with the grooving "Super 8 Motel," inflicting the indie rock and hip-hop heavy Governors Ball with a little dose of country. He soared through ALBUM NAME, hitting all the high points and even throwing in the Drive By Truckers jam or two. Only downside to Isbell's set was his exclusion of "Cover Me Up," which is usually a staple in his live shows. Maybe the early afternoon time slot and the rock-leaning festival made Isbell feel uncomfortable with the heartbreaking song. Either way, his closing performance of "Traveling Alone" was still perfectly poignant and may or may not have brought a certain reporter to tears... - CM 

1:41 - Big Boi doesn't join Run The Jewels onstage to perform his verse from the track "Banana Clipper." The crowd doesn't seem to mind as the duo dominantly stomps all over the set. Hope remains for Jewels member Killer Mike to appear later and perform his verse from Outkast's "The Whole World," despite his snub. -RB

1:47 - Candi Staton, whom Isbell comments is one of "the best singers in the world" joins him on stage for "Heart On A String," and the crowd goes wild for the soulful duet. -CM

2:30 - One of the festival circuit highlights besides the music is, of course, the food and beverage options. Governors Ball doesn't offer a ton to the layperson in terms of beer and wine, just $9 bottles of Miller Lite, $13 mega-cans of Foster's and $10 mini-cups of wine. The food, however, is plentiful in options. As a result of my mid-afternoon exhaustion, I opted for the closest food option for lunch, Four Sons' chicken finger basket. The fast food staple was perfectly mediocre, with a lack of seasoning being the main negative. I'm somewhat of a chicken finger connoisseur, so I know a meh one when I taste it, and this was fittingly blah. - CM 

2:35 - Kurt Vile and The Violators cover Richard Hell, and as with every other song during this set, masks his face with his "beautiful, beuatiful hair" (as described by one front-row-fan) while he plays a solo. -RB

2:42 - From Justin Bieber videos to Donald Sterling videos, race remains a problem in the United States. Ratking offered a philosophical remark on the state of race in America while onstage: "Where the f--king mutts at? None of us is f--king pure." -RB

3:00 - With mid-afternoon weighing heavy on my soul, I was in desperate need of a big ol' pick me up, which came in the form of the always amazing Janelle Monae, at the main stage, and she always gives 110 percent. Homegirl came out riding on a gurney in a straightjacket, and a loose narrative of the "Electric Lady" evading captors plays throughout the entire set. Monae let loose and gave the crowd its first universal treat of the day, slamming through her major hits "Dance Apocalyptic" and "Q.U.E.E.N." ner the beginning of her set, inspiring a massive dance-off in the growing crowd. I was also pleasantly surprised at the audience's coordination during "Tightrope," when basically everyone pointed, without direction, during the chorus. God bless Janelle Monae. -CM

Janelle Monae's crew might take the prize for the most dapper at Governors Ball (although Fitz and The Tantrums) while the performer herself is just off the wall. The best performance of the day thus far, there's nothing robotic about her passion onstage. -RB

4:00 - If you thought "Pompeii" would be the only song you would recognize from Bastille's set, then you obviously didn't expect them to cover TLC's "No Scrubs" four songs in. It wasn't a total surprise as the band has played the song on a previous EP, but it was a pleasant shakeup. -RB

4:07 - The section of the crowd I was in for Bastille was by far the worst of the day. When the band wasn't playing "Pompeii" or that baller TLC cover, people were so inattentive, it was downright rude. I could barely even hear the music over all the chatter around me. Eventually I moved to a much music-friendlier area, but people still seemed largely indifferent to this pop act. It just goes to show that you can have a top 10 hit on the Billboard charts for months, but most people still won't know your music. That didn't stop these guys from pulling out all the stops though, even diving into the crowd at one point. Brave. -CM

4:28 -People not from Ohio suck at cornhole. Carolyn will back me up on this. -RB (They do! -CM)

4:46 - Jenny Lewis takes the stage with a tan telecaster, versus the acoustic guitar sitting in the background with a paint job to match the My Little Pony-esque theme of her suit. Janelle Monae's band might be well dressed, but Lewis is winning on the individual level. -RB

4:50 - It seems like literally everybody at Governors Ball came out to see Julian Casablancas + the Voidz, with the crowd at the main stage hitting its deepest points yet. The Strokes frontman (who will perform again this weekend with his better known band) marked his solo set with insanely trippy video effects, we're talking fuzzy TV signals, creepy anime and '80s infomercials. Casablancas and co. largely stuck to new music from their forthcoming album. Its noteworthy, however, that he the band delved into the Daft Punk single (feat. Casablancas) "Instant Crush" at song two, igniting plenty of passionate, if not off-key, singalongs.

Also, Casablancas' guitarist is the most normcore man I've ever seen in my life. The dude was rocking a jerry curl, '90s NASCAR T-shirt, cheetah vest and neon pink hat. He does not have Jenny Lewis' fashion sense. -CM

5:07 -So far we've seen several interesting entries to the cardboard celebrity head trend. There was a Steve Buscemi and a Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcom (cleverly followed by another concertgoer carrying an inflatable T-Rex), but the Philip Seymour Hoffman head ain't cool bro.-RB

5:48 - The Gotham Tent, Governors Ball's smallest stage, is notably way too small once the bigger acts run around, noted by the tightly packed crowd for La Roux. It was impossible to see, as music fans flooded outside the designated areas for the stage. Suffocating. -CM

5:55 - Neko Case apologizes for her amp, which she describes as "kooky." Interestingly, Kurt Vile was wearing a T-shirt that read "Hey Kooks" during his set. As an Arrested Development fan, I'll look for further "kook" easter eggs as the festival continues. -RB

6:24 - A trio of young men confidently rock Oklahoma City Thunder and Indianapolis Pacer jerseys, celebrating the theme of NBA conference finals losers. -RB

6:53 - Fans endure the longset, most drawn out introduction for the day before Damian Marley's set. However, like the bass drop at the end of a quickening pulses during an EDM track, its well worth the wait. Marley and his band always make for a great show. -RB

7:10 - Like a rhinooo! Phoenix's set was marked by one of the most maginifcent crowd singalong/dancealongs that I've seen in some time, when the band roared into its (arguably) biggest hit "Litzomania." It always feels like Phoenix is over-billed at these major music festivals, but after the French act went on, it was clear to see why they're a band not to be missed. So much energy and pep, and it was just the sort of evening pick-me-up the audience needed before seeing the rest of the night's billing. -CM

7:42 - The realization that the restroom lines are only so long because people are too lazy to walk to the back of the tent. -RB (I noticed that too! Behind the stages there was no wait! As a friendly ol' Midwesterner, I almost gave some people waiting in line the "You know there are like half a dozen other restroom areas that way," speech before deciding I like not waiting to pee too much. -CM)

8:17 - Grimes is a photographer's best friend. Between the color-changing lights, fog machine, fan strategically positioned to blow her hair back, stage dancers and mimes (yes, stage mimes), it's absolutely impossible to not land a great shot of the performer. Having read many kooky(!) interviews of the performer, it's nice to see that she's sincere. Bizarre, but sincere. Great gig.-RB

8:30 - Maybe I'm just used to smaller festivals, where everyone is into every act on the bill or at least vaguely interested, but the audiences at GovBall leave something to be desired. This evening's TV On The Radio show marked the band's first show in New York City in years, but people just did not care. The audience was relatively small, which is neither here nor there, but people seemed largely tepid toward the art rock band. But, the band didn't seem to care, putting all its effort into making this show truly count with loads of energy. Finally, the audience picked up toward the middle of the set for "Wolf Like Me," but it didn't make up wholly for the early ennui. -CM

9:15 - One good thing about being the writer designated to see Damon Albarn over Outkast was that it was really easy to get a good spot, the first time I was able to properly see a band since 3 p.m. No complaints about seeing this guy though, as Albarn was charasmatic and truly happy to be performing at Governors Ball (unlike some other festival headliners this season...). Albarn largely kept to his recent solo album Everyday Robots, being incredibly British during tracks like "Lonely Press Play" and the album's title track. -CM

9:23 - After a strategically drawn out wait, Outkast emerges from a theatrical tent onstage. Madness ensues with many an overjoyed, if not slick, dancer in the crowd as "B.O.B." serves as the opening salvo. -RB

9:39 - My only complaint about the set, much of which stems from previous articles I've written for other publications arguing that (bold statement coming) "Rosa Parks" is the best hip-hop track of all time, or at least certianly with my generation's time. Considering the live band that Outkast brought with them, the song could have been a momentous closer, but ended up being rather lackluster. -RB

9:49 - Finally! Someone let him out of his cage. It took a couple of beats for the audience to understand what Albarn was trying to do with his iPad, but the answer was, he was trying to unleash Gorillaz. Soon, two-thirds of De La Soul emerged onstage to help Albarn perform "Feel Good Inc.," causing the audience to all shake it like a polaroid picture (wait...). Later, Gorillaz emerged again with the help of Chicago rapper Vic Mensa! -CM

10:15 - I grew out of "Hey Ya" quickly when it emerged on the radio during high school. It was catchy, but it was overplayed, didn't feature Big Boi (my slight favorite of the two) and it just wasn't in line with the classic Outkast I appreciated. That being said, Andre 3000's solo performance of the track was a blast, and I gladly shook it like a polaroid picture. -RB

10:59 - Yes, Killer Mike made an appearance for "The Whole World" so at least we got that. A set that surpassed all the sourpuss reviews I've read regarding Outkast's previous festival appearances, although I found the choice of closing track rather moody. -RB

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