How To Survive A Day At Governors Ball

Stay hydrated, bring a poncho, and try not to overthink it.

May 29, 2019

Noam Galai / Getty


Don't let the weather fool you. You may think with the arrival of warmer temps and blue skies we've entered spring, but really we're just crossing the threshold into the first weeks of Festival Season™, which officially gets underway come Friday, at Governors Ball when thousands of music fans descend on Randalls Island for 3 days of live music.  And hey, sure, you recognize the artists in bigger print, The Strokes, Florence + The Machine, and The 1975, but how do you get the most bang for your buck outta these (somewhat expensive) weekend passes? You show up early and catch a bunch of stuff you've never heard of (while also spending more bucks on food + booze, but you were gonna do that anyway). 

See Also: Everything You Need To Know Before Governors Ball Kicks Off

Who has time to check out every single artist on the line up before they get there though? Well, apparently I do which is why I've made a nifty plan of things for you to see, which also conveniently doubles as places I will likely be at a given time if you feel absolutely compelled to buy a stranger a beer.

Lets use Friday as an example - To avoid burnout, I highly highly do not recommend arriving at any festival before 3pm, but if you're sub-25 years old and feel driven by some force greater than yourself, you're gonna wanna start your day with the chilled out sounds of Still Woozy at 12:45 (yikes), before making your way over to the mainstage to scope out Alt alumni Dennis Lloyd, who similarly will lead you gently and kindly into the long day ahead (pacing yourself is key, alongside hydration I guess, so this energy conservation will be essential).  From there it's off to the races with Sub Pop-ers Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, who's guitars may trick you into thinking you need to jump around, but really this is more of a head bobbing, toe tapping good time.  You're doing great so far, look at you!

Now comes the first real choose-your-own-adventure of the day, when you can either go see the perfectly inoffensive Hippo Campus at 3:45, or you can go eat + drink + take a nap in the middle of the grass (all three of which are endorsed by this writer), after all this may be your one real chance to battle the food lines without missing something you love.  The food line up is a real festival in itself too boasting the likes of NY staples Robertas, Sweet Chick, Ramen Burger and more.  DON'T be afraid to go crazy at the food stands, this may be your only meal before a c-level slice on your way home at midnight, so go wild. 

This is where things start to get serious with the one-two punch of Mitski and Blood Orange, two critically acclaimed and beloved artists who absolutely couldn't be more different ! Have we mentioned you should be drinking water during these sets? This is peak hydration deception hours as the sun starts to hang low around 5pm and you feel like you've made it through the heat of the day, but this is (and I have absolutely zero statistics to back this up) the most dangerous line of thinking as it will be among the peak temps of the day (upper 70s) and thus prime sun-zaps-your soul time. 

Take it from me, cuz this is not my first rodeo, this is REALLY where the day really starts to speed up as alt-hip hop collective Brockhampton take the mainstage for what will likely be a packed performance that runs straight into the set time of The Strokes frontman, Julian Casablancas' other band, THE VOIDZ (which yes, these are the sets where you can finally start moshing and jumping up and down like it's Rage Against The Machine at Reading & Leads in 1991).  

And now it starts to get a bit dicey depending on personal taste.  Lil Wayne will be there, and he did have Travis from Blink on a song once, not to mention a whole "rock" album, so if that sounds like your jam go for it, though those searching for more of a spectacle would find their time better served catching French techno mystic Gesaffelstein, who's latest live show boast the producer incorporating the blackest materials known to man juxtaposed against him dressed as a...*checks notes* living shiny metal statue?

By now it's around 10:30pm, you've likely had a couple of adult beverages and we've come to a real fork in the road.  You can either get more food, and check out the spectacle that will be Tyler The Creator's first performance since the release of his new album IGOR, which seems likely to include a guest appearance from NYC royalty A$AP Rocky, or you can just get the hell out of there and beat the rush, because you have TWO MORE DAYS of this ahead of you, and lets be real, getting home from Randalls Island no matter where you live is a schlep. 

From there dear reader it is up to you.  I have included cliff notes below for the following days, as well as a link to all set times, here.  But the truth is, it's a festival and you really can't go wrong just by following your ears (though sometimes following your friends can lead you horribly astray).  As we've said before stay hydrated, have a good time, maybe bring a poncho just in case, and if you see me out there, seriously, buy me a beer please.  Look at all the words I just typed, I earned it.

Saturday Schedule Cheat Sheet:

Suzi Wu > U.S. Girls > Sunflower Bean > Clairo > Drink/Eat/Nap > Kacey Musgraves > King Princess > The 1975 (or Vince Staples if you wanna go BRAZY) > Zhu > Florence + The Machine > Major Lazer

Sunday Schedule Cheat Sheet:

SHAED > Drink/Eat > Soccer Mommy > Nap > Charli XCX > Sheck Wes (&/or beer garden) > Bob Moses > Louis The Child > Kaytranada > SZA > THE STROKES