had been there for hours with just one $10 beer in my stomach, and I had walked miles all over the island in the blistering heat to see them play music. Welcome to Randall’s Island: This was Governors Ball 2014.
This is the musical festival that New York City offers to its 8 million or so residents each year. Who cares that the weather was above 90 degrees all day long or that getting to the island meant taking a ferry with a hundred or so obnoxious teens?
I was there to see legendary bands like The Strokes and Jack White from The White Stripes. This event is also a showcase for up-and-coming stars like Chance the Rapper and The 1975. These are the venues where music really begins to spread and newcomers to the scene make a name for themselves as their music videos take over YouTube.
The ridiculous spike in ticket prices and the rapid pace at which they were disappearing on the Internet had all but smashed my dreams of attending Gov Ball 2014 months before. However, within just days of the concert, I was somehow offered a VIP ticket by a friend, and suddenly, my entire summer had drastically changed for the better. This was not going to be a reiteration of Woodstock 1969 or even 1999, but I thought that anything could happen with my VIP wristband.
However, as the waves rocked the ferry and the high pitched yelps of dozens of already intoxicated teenagers rattled my brain, it seemed as if this day was not off to a great start. At last we arrived on Randall’s Island, and the thundering of drums somewhere on stage in the distance suddenly changed my emotional state to something more upbeat.
After lounging in the Bud Light tent for a while and gathering ourselves after that treacherous voyage from First Avenue to the island, my friends and I bolted over to the VIP section of a smaller stage that was under a giant canopy.
Chance was about to perform. His posse of young adults surrounded the stage, and the crowd erupted into a “Chance, Chance, Chance” shout. He stormed the stage wearing his hometown Chicago White Sox jersey, which was quickly tossed aside for a blue old-fashioned Superman shirt that could be picked up at any of your local Wal-Mart or Target superstores.
It had been about a year since I first heard Chance and his big hit “Cocoa Butter Kisses,” and since then I’ve developed a library filled with his music. His way of rapping makes him unique— his raspy voice in combination with his boyish attitude makes him unlike anyone else out there right now. His hits “Juice,” “Nana” and “Favorite Song” crowd the airwaves of YouTube day after day and attract a crowd of teens and young adults that most likely have him in their iTunes playlists beside Tyler the Creator and A$AP Rocky.
The crowd never stopped moving for well over an hour and half as he ripped off hit after hit, probably because during the intermissions he would show his praise for his fans and continuously thank them for being there. It was the first concert where I really felt that an artist tried to give it all he had for the sake of his fans and supporters. Chance’s emotions drifted into the mob of thousands and they took it and threw it right back to him.
The heat that day was close to unbearable, so what did Chance do? He had his entire posse empty giant packs of Aquafina all over the first several rows (fortunately, I was a recipient).
The concert was electric; it made me feel that our generation was filled with the notion of sharing. Whether it was through social media or simply turning around and giving whatever you had to your peer behind you, there was a strong sense of unity and companionship among the young crowd.
As Chance’s time on stage rapidly came to an end, it was my time to grab my friends, find Adirondack chairs and settle down with three gourmet chicken tacos from the stand behind me — this account may have done justice to my musical experience, but the food at Gov Ball is worthy of another column.
Bryson Greene is a senior in the
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