Plus: Miguel embraces the rain, Against Me! rage protest, Carly Rae Jepsen makes a surprise appearance, and other highlights from Governors Ball Day Two
Fans who braved the rain were delighted to a 90-minute set of stadium rock hits from the Killers, who played their first major festival of the season at Governors Ball Day Two on Saturday. In a slick power move, the band started with mega-single “Mr Brightside,” off 2004’s Hot Fuss before running into fan favorites and a new cover of Interpol’s “Obstacle 1,” which they debuted earlier this week.
Though the Killers are expected to release a new album this year (with help from fan Elton John), they played no new original material, and instead whet fans’ eager appetites with blazing renditions of “Spaceman,” “Smile Like You Mean It,” two versions of “Human,” and ”Somebody Told Me.” “You ready for the rattlesnake?” frontman Brandon Flowers asked the crowd.
About halfway through the set, Flowers introduced “Obstacle 1,” and mused about about Interpol’s influence on The Killers. “We met in 2001 and there was a renaissance happening of good music,” he said. “It was no surprise that New York was spearheading it. We had the Strokes, we had the Yeah Yeah Yeahs … But there was this other band, this mysterious band, Interpol.” He said they listened to the group while making Hot Fuss. “We thought we’d pay tribute to them tonight.”
Then later, they hit their well-worn cover of Elvis Presley’s “Only Fools Rush In,” before segueing into “Read My Mind” from 2006’s Sam’s Town — “Just let it out,” Flowers told the crowd. “It’s okay. We’re all friends here” — and later “Runaways,” off 2012’s Battle Born.
The major highlight came when Flowers closed out the scheduled set with an epic, elongated version of “All These Things I’ve Done.” Cheers of “I got soul but I’m not a soldier” could be heard deep into the festival grounds, even when Flowers let the crowd take over the vocals and dropped confetti from the sky.
When they returned for an encore, Flowers shed the pink blazer he’d worn all night and asked the crowd, “Miss us?” The Killers then treated fans to 2008’s “This Is Your Life” and “Jenny Was A Friend of Mine.” (“We didn’t fly from Las Vegas to not play ‘Jenny Was A Friend of Mine,’” he explained. “It just wouldn’t be right.”)
The hits kept coming right until the set’s final moments. “We’re not done with you yet!” Flowers said before the band played the opening notes to “When You Were Young” from Sam’s Town. A raucous drum solo, lingering keys, and straight up fireworks ushered fans out of the muddy grounds and into the night. –Jessica Goodman
Below, see more highlights from Governors Ball Day Two.
De La Soul
Before his cohorts Posdnuos and Dave took the Big Apple Stage for De La Soul’s late afternoon slot, Maseo laid out the set’s terms. From behind his turntables, he thanked the over-30 crowd then turned his attention to the substantial share of youngsters: “Love your energy, but you’re gonna learn some s— today.” And the hip-hop luminaries took their roles as educators seriously, blazing through classics like “Potholes In My Lawn” and “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays'” — and urging audience members and press photographers alike to lower their phones and experience the energy of the moment. By the end, the group’s infectious stage presence — “I f— with Adele, but s—, put some hip-hop in that motherf—er,” Posdnuos quipped at one point — left little doubt that nearly three decades into their existence, De La Soul remain a seismic force in the hip-hop world. —Eric Renner Brown
The bass guru whose sound has defined recent classics by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, and Flying Lotus brought his blend of spacey soul and pulverizing jazz fusion to the Bacardi House Stage for a kinetic set Saturday afternoon. Flanked by a stellar two-man backing band — pianist Dennis Hamm and drummer Justin Brown — Thundercat gave original compositions like “Heartbreaks + Setbacks” mind-expanding improvisational treatments that easily surpassed his studio versions. But the set’s centerpiece came when he performed Lamar’s “Complexion,” off last year’s To Pimp a Butterfly and with a formidable solo from Hamm, before jamming into his own gem “Them Changes.” —Eric Renner Brown
A lot has changed for Haim since 2013, when the SoCal sister trio popped up on bands-to-watch lists and played for the early crowd at Governors Ball’s main stage. But in the past three years, their celebrated debut album and opening slot on Taylor Swift’s tour landed them a coveted Saturday evening slot on that same stage. The set mostly highlighted how much has stayed the same, for the better. Este Haim’s famous “bassface” is still a sight to behold. They still end their set with a ferocious drum-off. And though a slightly bigger backing band helped make their material fuller and crisper, standouts like “The Wire” and “Forever” needed little help sounding as revelatory as they did three years ago. Even the rain—which began somewhat fittingly after Haim covered Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U”—couldn’t stop fans from getting down to old favorites and a pair of promising new songs. With that kind of power over their audience, it’s not hard to imagine the band coming back to the main stage again as headliners one day. —Nolan Feeney
Against Me! brought a thrilling, politicized set to Governors Ball when they took over the Bacardi House Stage in the early evening. Running through hits like 2010’s “I Was a Teenage Anarchist,” the punk band thrashed while a projection of a skull DJing hung overhead. At one point, frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, who recently made headlines when she burned her male-identifying birth certificate in protest at a North Carolina concert, addressed the crowd and said she had driven through the festival on a golf cart when she heard someone ask, “Is that a guy or a girl?” Grace, who is transgender, told the crowd, “I said f— you!” before launching into the set’s highlight, “True Trans Soul Rebel,” off 2014’s Transgender Dysmorphia Blues. —Jessica Goodman
The New York producer duo’s nostalgic dance-pop makes for instant party-starting music, but the real treat of their early afternoon set came in the form of special guests. Queen of Instagram comments Carly Rae Jepsen showed up to perform a remixed version of their song “Love You Like That,” which, judging by the audience’s response to her presence, may have been the sole reason some festival-goers made it to Randall’s Island by 2:15 p.m. Wyclef Jean also came by to perform the thumping “Kiss the Sky,” and while he barely rapped along to his own rapid-fire verses, he made up for it with a welcome throwback rendition of “Ready or Not.” —Nolan Feeney
Poor sound initially plagued the neosoul singer’s set, but when the storm clouds gave way to rain for the first time in the day he met the challenge admirably. The 30-year-old kept spirits high as he passionately ran through cuts from last year’s Wildheart (“Coffee” and “Waves”), eventually tearing off his soaked plain white tee — ripping it down the center with his hands — and asking the crowd if he needed to do more crunches. And Miguel rewarded fans who stuck around through the downpour with two of the best singles off 2012’s Kaleidoscope Dream: “Adorn” and “How Many Drinks?” —Eric Renner Brown
Catfish and the Bottlemen
A week after releasing their second album The Ride, English rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen haven’t yet graduated to throwing late night head banging festival sets. Instead they’ve grown adept at succeeding as the first act of the day, treating fans to a hook-heavy, dance-rock affair–mostly due to energetic frontman Van McCann, who possesses both enormous pipes and comparable charisma. Governors Ball was no exception when they offered 40 minutes–but deserved more–of unrelenting, unapologetic, irresistible rock n’ roll. –Madison Vain