After indulging in the lovefest from Tove Lo, Charles Bradley, Michael Kiwanuka and Lorde during the first day of Governors Ball 2017, its second installment offered substantially more energy and aggression. Example one: indie-pop darlings Car Seat Headrest instigated the first mosh pit at the festival, albeit the friendliest mosh pit we’ve ever seen. Next up was Saint Motel, whose sax player invited the biggest crowd roars.
Hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd drew far more people than the Bacardi Stage could accommodate, laying an unruly ground foundation of energy. The brothers took the stage in full force, the crowd surged forward and dozens spilled over the barricades into the photo pit to avoid the crush. Member Slim Jxmmi took a running dive into the crowd, clearing at least 10 feet between the stage and the front of the audience. Then he climbed the staging truss—blunt in hand—upping the rockstar vibe of the set past 11. The gentle folk pageantry of Seattle’s Head and the Heart and mellow, drum-heavy indie of Local Natives provided a sharp contrast after the RS insanity.
Legendary, loose rap collective Wu-Tang Clan stuck to the hits, with the backdrop “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nothin’ Ta Fuck With” setting the tone with the motto from their 1993 debut album. Evidently, Redman commandeered an artist transport golf cart after the set to help move musicians around the fest just for the hell of it.
Paste had to make the (awful) decision between shooting headliners Childish Gambino and Phoenix. As this was possibly Gambino’s only show of the year and he recently announced that his next album would be last, the svelte MC received our attention.
After Gambino’s fourth song, we headed Phoenix’s performance, with a stage setup that included a massive mirror hung roughly 45 degrees, revealing the intricate light show playing out under the band’s feet on the stage floor. The effect was mesmerizing.