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Governors Ball: What early acts to see at the music festival

Governors Ball returns to NYC June 2 through

Governors Ball returns to NYC June 2 through 4, with plenty of early acts worth seeing. Photo Credit: Forest Woodward

Since starting in 2011 as a one-day event on Governors Island, Governors Ball has grown into one of the country’s biggest music festivals, bringing 50,000 people a day to Randall’s Island.

Last year’s three-day festival was marred by a storm that forced the cancellation of the final day, including a set by headliner Kanye West. This year’s headliners include West collaborator Chance the Rapper, Phoenix, Tool and Lorde. But as always, there are worthwhile artists up and down the lineup.

Here are a few in the smaller print who are worth a look.


Francis & the Lights: Francis & the Lights have fans in high places, including Drake, Kanye West, Chance the Rapper and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. Bandleader Francis Farewell Starlite has a little bit of each in his music, which incorporates indie pop, R&B and electronica.

Muna: L.A. trio Muna’s music is full of upbeat synth-pop hooks, but there’s much more to them than that. Listen closer and you’ll find thoughtful, personal lyrics about issues ranging from LGBTQ safety to sexual assault.

Michael Blume: Montclair, New Jersey, native Michael Blume tackles similarly serious issues of identity and civil rights in songs that are influenced by neo-soul, hip-hop and electronica. Blume cut his teeth touring the world with Yale University’s prestigious a cappella group the Whiffenpoofs, where he refined his impressive vocal range and unique arrangements.


Dua Lipa: With her debut album coming out the day before her Governors Ball set, Saturday promises to be a big moment for Lipa. The British musician’s soulful vocals and danceable pop songs have already led to collaborations with Chris Martin, Miguel and Martin Garrix. This may be the chance to say you saw her when.

Stormzy: With his widely praised debut album, “Gang Signs & Prayer,” Stormzy is already being touted as the first breakout star to come from Britain’s grime scene. While the 23-year-old MC is known for fast-moving songs that show off his incredible flow, the album also finds him singing gospel- and pop-influenced R&B, showing both his versatility and vulnerability.

The Range: Brooklyn-based producer and DJ James Hinton, who performs as The Range, assembled the songs on his latest album “Potential,” around samples from amateur YouTube videos. Hinton says he was inspired by the emotion in the clips. He even tracked down the people he used to get their permission and give them credit.


Ron Gallo: By Day 3 of Governors Ball, it’s natural to be dragging a little. Consider skipping that extra cup of coffee and letting Gallo provide a jolt of energy instead. His glammy garage-rock is influenced by Iggy Pop and the New York punk scene of the late ’70s, with volume and attitude to spare.

If you go:

The Governors Ball Music Festival is on Randall’s Island June 2 through 4. For full ticket and schedule information, go to


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