Kanye West dressed up in a suit for a new song “I Am a God.” The Kings of Leon dressed down and played a day late. Axl Rose was on time for once and brought a touch of Pink Floyd to his Guns N’ Roses set.
These were the headliners at New York’s Governors Ball at the weekend, which initially looked in danger of being washed away by the remains of tropical storm Andrea.
The Kings’ set was canceled Friday as heavy winds and rain lashed the stages. Some people lost their shoes in the ankle-deep quagmire. While mud’s no obstacle for us Glastonbury veterans, it’s far from ideal for New Yorkers simply wanting to sit on the grass in the sunshine and have a fun time.
Fans trying to get off Randall’s Island faced long waits for ferries on the first night. It wasn’t a good sign for the city’s closest approximation to a true outdoor rock fest, the sort seen in London for decades. The event has expanded to 70 acts, three days, four stages and about 45,000 attendees a day.
West is getting ready for a new CD called “Yeezus” this month. He’s just celebrated his 36th birthday in New York while his pregnant girlfriend Kim Kardashian stays in Los Angeles.
The Kings finally played Saturday, previewing the earnest southern rock planned for an album due in September. They always look in pain even when singing about ecstasy (“Sex on Fire”).
Sellers of Guns N’ Roses t-shirts were making a fortune. Axl Rose preferred one with a picture of a topless woman.
His cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” led to a better “November Rain.” There was a predictable “ahh” from the crowd both at the famous riff of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and the very loud fireworks extravaganza that followed.
New Yorker Azealia Banks also produced gasps with an equally loud orange and pink bodysuit. Her set tore through songs such as the Harlem area-code check, “212.”
The best music came from the top names. The line-up offered excellent bands, such as Alt-J, Animal Collective and Beach House, which made it possible to forgive some of the headline choices. The Governors Ball could not help the weather. For the sake of New York rock fans, it deserves to succeed.
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Manuela Hoelterhoff on arts and John Mariani on wine.