The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of Governors Ball 2024

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Photo: Billboard via Getty Images

This weekend, Governors Ball returned to Flushing Meadows Corona Park to wreak further havoc (complimentary — mostly) on an already busy 2024 for pop. This year’s lineup also presented a list of timely questions, like would SZA tease tracks from her next album, Lana, and would someone’s dad ascend when the Killers performed “Mr. Brightside,” and how many inflatable swords would Carly Rae Jepsen be handed? Well light your Lady Liberty Chappell torches and throw on Teezo’s discarded nail wig, because here’s everything you sorely missed (and didn’t) in Queens.

HIGH: Post Malone, family man

Did you know Post Malone isn’t even 30 yet? It’s somehow true: Next month he turns 29, and during his headlining set on Friday, the newish dad took a moment to share in our collective disbelief. Intro-ing “Too Young,” a depressing song from a much different Posty era, he spoke about how cool his 2-year-old daughter is (aw) and how happy he is to be here to experience all her coolness (awwwww). And I am happy to have watched him and his A-plus band — string section included! — tear through a decade of hits and deep cuts. —Dee Lockett

WHOA: Gov Ball, 2024 2112

Faye Webster revived Rush’s Snakes & Arrows–era tour washing machines for Gen Z. Extra points docked because they weren’t running. —Devon Ivie

HIGH: Reneé Rapp’s mind-boggling belt

Reneé Rapp has an earned reputation for being the fun kind of loose cannon during interviews, so it was no surprise when she shaded the “token straight boyfriends” who attended her Sunday afternoon set. But those chaotic press opportunities might make you forget that her voice is trained, goddamnit. As Rapp got her drama on during “In the Kitchen,” her Jimmy Award–winning vocal pyrotechnics became the real star. —Jason P. Frank

WHOA: Teezo Touchdown’s new ’do

The rapper/singer/whatever has a signature look. Let’s call it metal jock: a football jersey with pads, eye blacks, and an insane wig made entirely of nails (it’s a crime a version of it never made it to the Met Gala). But at Gov Ball, Teezo went full Rick James, with a long, curly, luscious wig parted down the middle. A buss down by definition. Don’t worry, though, he’s still got the bouquet mic. —D.L.

WOAH: You can suck Sabrina Carpenter’s Gov Balls

The pint-size pop girl made an outsize impact throughout her set, but the biggest response came when she said that “People who hate Pride can suck my Gov Balls” and followed it with, “that won’t fit inside me, bro, I’m dumb small.” Sabrina’s Pride support and pure filth combo means she truly understands the queer community. —J.F.

HIGH: Keep Carly Rae Jepsen’s armory stocked

The ever-chipper CRJ being gifted weapons continues to delight. Since 2018, when a Tumblr user posted “petition to give carly rae jepsen a sword/i like her and think she should have one,” Jepsen has been inundated with blades during her shows. At Gov Ball, she put the “cut” in “Cut to the Feeling” when she was handed two separate inflatable swords by fans in the crowd. —J.F.

WHOA: Nepo baby, reveal yourself!

On Friday, Posty invited two randoms from the crowd to perform “Stay” with him. One tried their best to sing while starstruck, and the other handled guitar like they were a paid extra. Then! Midway through the Killers’ set on Saturday, Brandon Flowers scanned the crowd and spotted a “fan” with a sign requesting to play drums on “For Reasons Unknown” because it was “their grandma’s 87th birthday.” Flowers obliged and next thing we knew, that same fan who played guitar for Posty was now getting to fill in for Ronnie Vannucci Jr. Two cameos at two headlining sets in two days? WHAT GIVES?! (If you’re an actual rando fan, please teach other fans your sorcery.)

LOW: Chappell Roan had mic issues …

The sound wasn’t quite right during her performance. The belting was clear, but some of the quieter moments were muffled. —J.F.

WHOA: … But it didn’t matter because Chappell Roan is a superstar

Chappell’s “big moment” seems to be stretching into a “big year.” She opened for Olivia Rodrigo, broke into the Hot 100 with “Good Luck, Babe,” and went wildly viral for her April Coachella set, where she sang gorgeous ballads in an “Eat Me” T-shirt. For Gov Ball, Chappell showed up dressed as the Statue of Liberty, revealing she’d turned down an invite to perform at the White House for Pride until there was true “liberty, justice, and freedom for all.” Nothing feels better to New Yorkers than finding out a great show you’re watching was denied to another city. —J.F.

HIGH: Drake sans Drake

Look, there’s no way Drake was going to cameo this weekend — nor did anyone necessarily want him there — so if you have to include a mention of rap’s recently defeated superstar during your set, do it via meme-able lyrics, as 21 Savage did for his fiery performance of “Rich Flex.” (And yes, 21 Savage did do his thing.) —Alex Suskind

WHOA: Peso Pluma refuses to sit down.

Now I’m not saying forcing a star to constrict their massive set to a smaller stage caused this injury. However, Peso Pluma’s extensive band, cast of dancers/hype people, and own extensive footwork bit him in the … foot on Sunday, when he hopped onto his slanted stage and fractured his right foot. After a brief Rich the Kid interlude, Peso reappeared, limping and bandaged up, unable to even wear a shoe. “I can barely even stand,” he confessed. A PA offered him a chair but this is Peso Pluma we’re talking about. “Fuck that chair!” he said, threw it into the pit, then carried on with the rest of the show. —D.L.

LOL: Sexyy Red’s secret-service entrance

Say what you will about her Trump cosplaying (and there’s much to say), watching a fake secret-service member escort Sexyy to the stage next to a giant MASA (Make America Sexyy Again) hat is true commitment to a (bad) bit. —D.L.

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Photo: Getty Images

HIGH: Rauw Alejandro’s fit

An impeccable suit and fedora? And all that choreo? In this heat?? Rauw always delivers. —D.L.

HIGH: SZA’s emo-pop moment

SZA’s headlining set was a full submersion into her world with all the mumbly, sultry, emotional, melodic moments it entails. But the highlight came when she sang SOS track “F2F.” The song is uncharacteristic for SZA — it basically sounds like a forgotten Paramore single — but anybody confused by its existence would be convinced by the experience of shouting it with a full festival’s worth of fans. —J.F.

WHOA: Let Chappell Roan enjoy Faye Webster

She just wanted to watch Faye like a normal green lady of liberty. Did Gov Ball really have to blow her cover? (Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy was happy to be spotted at Roan’s set earlier in the day.) —D.I.

LOW: The racial/genre division of the main stage vs. the smaller stages

The industry has been pushing a narrative for the past year that most non-white music isn’t selling: that rappers aren’t running up the charts like they used to; that R&B barely deserves a stage if it isn’t “mainstream”; that K-pop and Latinx stars are still, somehow, niche. All this poisonous corporate thinking leads to a strong trickle-down effect, especially at a major corporate music festival like Gov Ball, which had a serious genre segregation problem this year. Nearly every artist booked on the main stage fell under the pop, singer-songwriter, country, or rock categories, with most of the artists performing in languages other than English — Rauw Alejandro, P1Harmony, Peso Pluma, Farruko — relegated to the smaller sponsored GoPuff and IHG stages. (One exception was Palestinian Chilean singer Elyanna, on the main stage very early on Sunday.) Two of the biggest rappers in the world, 21 Savage and Sexyy Red, were sidelined at GoPuff, while the Killers and Carly Rae Jepsen — who, respectfully, haven’t had a hit this decade — followed them on the main stage. And one of the most promising R&B girl groups to come out in years, FLO, were cursed with a 3:45 pm Friday slot on IHG. We can celebrate that SZA (clearly now considered pop) and Post Malone (clearly no longer considered rap) got to be headliners, but putting artists like Peso, Sexyy, 21, Doechii, and Rauw front and center would’ve been more to applaud. —D.L.


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