Governors Ball 2019 Day 1 Recap: Tyler, the Creator Brings ‘Igor’ to Life, Brockhampton Shines


A week after Memorial Day kicked off the summer, New York City's festival season commenced with the first day of its cross-genre big ticket extravaganza, Governors Ball. Now in its ninth year, Gov Ball is well-versed and experienced in what it brings to tri-state area music fans: a user-friendly sampling of contemporary hip-hop, rock, pop, dance, and R&B where just about every Millennial and Gen Z kid can find something to freak out over.

Friday's docket was especially friendly to rap fans, with Lil Wayne, Brockhampton, and headliner Tyler, the Creator offering an eclectic brew of what's pushed the genre forward over the past two decades.   
Billboard's team was on the scene at Randall's Island throughout the day; here's our hour-by-hour recap of the Gov Ball's Day One highlights. 

4:16 p.m.: Between the energy of the crowd and the electric guitar solos, Hippo Campus proves they could've easily played a sun-down main stage set. Even so, their good vibes make a perfect soundtrack for the late afternoon sun. Fans go crazy when the group's DeCarlo Jackson busts out a tambourine, also sparking impressive sing-alongs to their 2015 fan favorite "South" and the rousing set closer "Buttercup." — TAYLOR WEATHERBY

4:43 p.m.: "Don't lie to me, I have trust issues," Jessie Reyez jokes as she nears the final chorus of her 2016 debut single "Figures," "but I'm gonna trust that you can carry this." The crowd made sure her trust was not broken, singing every word until Reyez belted out the rest while strumming an acoustic guitar herself. "Thank y'all for f—ing with me, man," she says before bouncing off stage. — T.W.

5:07 p.m.: Syd Tha Kid of The Internet spends time between each song to address the group's impressive main stage crowd, asking if those watching have certain albums in their catalog. After asking about the group's fourth album Hive Mind, she declares, "It's okay to hop on the bandwagon now." Their engaging performance makes it easy to do just that, as the screen behind Syd directs fans to scream "You f—ed up" during "Just Sayin/ I Tried," and Dance Dance Revolution steps appear for Hive Mind cut "La Di Da." — T.W.

5:43 p.m.: Mitski sang some of the last song of her set sprawled out on the ground; now the indie rock experimentalist is leaping up and down, giving the last few notes of "Happy" all she's got. With a simple, "Thanks, bye!" she's gone, closing out a highlight set of the early evening. — CHRIS PAYNE

5:52 p.m.: Jeremy Zucker's biggest fans lose it over being up close and personal with him at the new — and very intimate — Bud Light Dive Bar stage. The New Jersey native has a group of friends in attendance who are singing every word to deep cuts like "Better Off" and his breakout hit "All the Kids Are Depressed," engaging with the fans who are doing the same. Zucker can't help returning the excitement. "I don't know what I was expecting for this little show, but this is really, really sick!" — T.W.

5:53 p.m.: Across the festival grounds, the lush R&B sounds of Blood Orange are attracting hordes of festival goers on the way out of Mitski's set. Early on, Dev Hynes and company break out "Chamakay," the smoky, sensual opener from their 2013 breakout LP Cupid Deluxe. The masterful set — concluding juuuust as the sun starts to go down — is punctuated by plenty of saxophone heroics from longtime Hynes collaborator Jason Arce. — C.P.

6:31 p.m.: A massive dance-pop hit is blaring over at the American Eagle Stage: it's MØ delivering the top-five smash "Lean On," and the crowd emphatically pushes forward at the sound of its first few notes. The Danish pop artist and her band are channeling some major Mad Decent Block Party vibes, and the spirits of Major Lazer and DJ Snake feel very near.  — C.P.

6:39 p.m.: MØ fittingly ends with her bubbly trop-house hit "Final Song," saluting Gov Ball and shouting out how she's feeling much better than the last time she performed at the fest: "I"m not sick with the flu like I was four years ago!" — C.P. 

6:47 p.m.: Back at the main stage, the world's (self-proclaimed) best boy band is gearing up for its first live performance in six months. Brockhampton opens its highly-anticipated, hour-plus set in dramatic fashion: Ciarán “bearface” McDonald, dressed in a silver bodysuit, singing the emotional opening lines of "Summer" from a tiny platform suspended from a crane over the crowd. From there, the vociferous beat from "Boogie" blares out, and Brockhampton's other members — all dressed same as bearface — emerge from a giant golden airplane to the adoring audience. — C.P.

6:57 p.m.: Sporting a pair of orange metallic pants and a matching crop top, Jorja Smith looks Governors Ball-ready as she takes the stage. But after thanking fans for supporting her debut album Lost & Found, she reveals that she's a bit under the weather. "I'm so annoyed," she admits. "I thought I was going to be okay, so I apologize." She still manages to deliver a full set and make fans freak out over her hits "Blue Lights" and "On My Mind." — T.W.

8:06 p.m. :As Lil Wayne's hype man preps the crowd for the rapper to take the stage with a run of hip-hop throwbacks — as well as, of course, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" — a photographer adds some extra hype with some thrashing dance moves at the front of the crowd. Amid Wayne's set of older fan favorites and several classics like "Mrs. Officer" and "A Milli," the hype man says, "If you had more than one drink tonight make some noise," before Wayne adds a very Tunechi twist to that same demand: "If you had more than one blunt tonight make some noise." — T.W.


so fly it’s like a blessing — @gregnoire

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8:55 p.m.: Weezy ends things with a victory lap from Tha Carter V — the boisterous Swizz Beats banger "Uproar." It hits even harder than usual thanks to a backbone of extra punch from his backing drummer and guitarist. That upcoming tour with Blink-182 starts to make a lot more sense.  — C.P. 

9:47 p.m.: Tyler, the Creator steps on stage donning a neon green suit and a blonde bowl cut wig, bringing the bold new style of his IGOR era to life. Though the album was just released two weeks prior to his Gov Ball headlining set, fans sang along to album tracks like "IGOR's Theme," "New Magic Wand" and "What's Good" as if they were his biggest hits. He's clearly focused on IGOR material himself, as he forgets some of the lyrics to his 2013 fan favorite "IFHY" ("I'm human!" he quips after the song) — but that takes nothing away from the celebratory feeling of his performance. After acknowledging IGOR's No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200, Tyler sends a hopeful message: "I want y'all to trust your ideas and be your biggest cheerleader, alright?" — T.W.

10:55 p.m.: Tyler closes his set the way IGOR closes, with the quizzical, futuristic funk of "ARE WE STILL FRIENDS?" Day one of Gov Ball is in the books. It's on to tomorrow, aka Florence + the Machine Day, with plenty of other hyped sets — Kacey Musgraves, the 1975, etc. — in tow. Check back here for all the highlights. — C.P.