Governors Ball: Who to check out, beyond the headliners

Attending a music festival, especially a weekend-spanning one like Governors Ball, can be an exhausting experience. Thanks to the long lines for everything and the hours of dancing, it can be easy to blow off the lesser-known artists appearing earlier in the day in order to conserve energy for headliners like Outkast and Jack White.

Don’t do it.

Often, the most interesting acts at a music festival are the ones that catch the audience by surprise, the ones that have listeners reaching for their smartphones to jot down names and song titles for future exploration. It may mean showing up a little earlier in the day, but there are definite reasons to beat the rush out to Randall’s Island for each day of the 2014 edition of Governors Ball.


With just two EPs to its name, the Brooklyn quartet is making its name in these early time slots; Haerts is also playing the Bonnaroo and Firefly festivals in the month of June. Expect the band’s synth-pop stylings to be selling out clubs soon, like its Brooklyn brethren St. Lucia and MS MR. (Friday, 12:15 p.m., GovBallNYC Stage)

Run the Jewels

The collaboration between emcees Killer Mike and El-P was one of the highlights in 2013 hip-hop, and they’re reportedly working on a follow-up album for this year. The duo’s early set allows fans to see Killer Mike before his inevitable cameo during Outkast’s headline set, as well. (Friday, 1:30 p.m., Honda Stage)

Hunter Hunted

In less than two years, Los Angeles indie-pop duo Hunter Hunted has gotten a boost from West Coast powerhouse radio station KROQ, performed on “Conan” and been named an “Artist to Watch” by MTV. Be prepared for sing-along choruses and awkward hipster dancing. (Saturday, 12:15 p.m., GovBallNYC Stage)

The Internet

The neo-soul created by Odd Future members Syd tha Kid and Matt Martians has much more in common with the Soulquarians than some of their more over-the-top crew members like Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt. Expect great lie-in-the-grass-and-nurse-a-hangover music. (Saturday, 12:45 p.m., Gotham Tent)


Sleep in on Sunday, but make sure to arrive in time to check out this Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter. A potent mix of R&B and indie pop, her music garnered big praise at Coachella, and she is making the rounds of the festival circuit in anticipation of her debut full-length release in September. (Sunday, 2:15 p.m., Gotham Tent)

A note about weather…

Last year’s Governors Ball was known as much for being the place where Kanye West premiered several songs from “Yeezus” as it was for a downpour that turned Randall’s Island into a mud pit and forced the cancellation of several sets. To make amends, event producer Founders Entertainment contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-sod the area and improve the island’s infrastructure.

“If a tropical storm hits the city, there’s only so much you can do, but a new foundation and a new drainage system will certainly help,” said Founders partner Jordan Wolowitz. “Last year we had the third wettest June day in New York City history.”

– Hal Bienstock