J. Cole, Tyler, The Creator And Earl Sweatshirt Go Big At Governors Ball
Photography By: Lauren Gesswein
Governor Ball’s 2014 three days of music and fun in the sun came to close on Sunday (June 6) with some of the best acts saved for last. In hip-hop, Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, The Creator had back-to-back sets from the Honda stage to the Big Apple stage. Later on that day, J. Cole gathered a huge response from the festival crowd, who all migrated over after electronic music duo AlunaGeorge left quite an impression with their cover of Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.” We also ventured to see James Blake, who is known as Chance The Rapper’s roommate, but has grown a reputation of dabbling in hip-hop from time to time.
Here are the recaps of what went down during Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler, The Creator, J. Cole, and James Blake.—Eric Diep
Earl started at 2:59 PM, which is a rarity at festivals where the exact set time is so crucial. Wearing a yellow shirt and floral-printed gear, the Odd Future member didn’t want to waste a lot of time. He told us in about 45 minutes, the large crowd of 2,000-plus would head over to watch Tyler and get even more amped up. For the time being though, he ran through “Kill,” “20 Wave Caps,” and the RZA-assisted banger “Molasses.” “Fuck the freckles off your face, bitch!” Earl yelled to the crowd. “If you know the words sing along like its not awkward,” Taco, who was DJing, added. Pure comedy.
Midway through Earl’s set, Tyler showed his support by performing “Whoa” with him. With the crowd losing energy a bit, Earl declared if “this shit ain’t turnt , we turning this off,” before him and Tyler went wild performing “A**Milk.” More familiar cuts like “Chum,” “Hive” and “Earl” got the crowd to start a mosh pit (naturally). He ended with “Drop” and the audience looked to be satisfied at the song choice.
Tyler, The Creator
Within moments after Earl’s set ended, Tyler was already on the opposite side of the field. After sharing a story about how he never heard of Governors Ball until a few months ago, Tyler still showed love to the NY crowd who wanted to see him perform. The usual suspects—“Tron Cat,” “Bitch Suck Dick,” “Bimmer”—got the biggest reactions. With Jasper Dolphin and Earl as Tyler’s hypemen, his final song of “Domo 23” captured everything we’ve grown to appreciate about hip-hop’s controversial MC. Loud, energetic and always ready to lay it all on the line.
J. Cole’s debut at Governors Ball was met with a lukewarm response. The Queens rapper’s lyrical style didn’t connect with some festivalgoers who know him for his recent string of hits. Regardless, Cole put on a strong performance, where a live band backed him and singers who supplied some feel-good soul. His bigger singles like “Nobody’s Perfect” and “Workout Plan” incited some crowd sing-alongs, while “Forbidden Fruit” felt like more of a distraction. Near the end, however, Cole picked it up when he announced the five-year anniversary of The Warm Up was coming up and proceeded to play cuts off that. “Lights Please” and “In The Morning” were songs that everybody knew the words to. Before biding farewell to the hometown crowd, Cole left us with “Crooked Smile.”
English singer/songwriter/producer James Blake has been making rounds in headlines for collaborating with hip-hop acts such as Kanye West, RZA and Chance The Rapper. His sophomore project, 2013's Overgrown, was intriguing for music heads, so his mid-afternoon set was one to look out for. Although he started things slow, Blake’s use of his vocals and keys, as well as a skilled drummer had his audience locked in. Blake’s “Life Round Here” got the largest response, but his set was perfect for lounging in the grass and relaxing.