This year's sixth annual Governors Ball brings Beck, Death Cab for Cutie, Miguel and other performers to Randall's Island Park from June 3 to 5. (Credit: Governors Ball) http://www.amny.com/secrets-of-new-york/secrets-of-governors-ball-1.11814103 Watch your back! Governors Ball is bursting with pranks. https://cdn.newsday.com/polopoly_fs/1.11822550.1464360631!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/display_600/image.jpg culture Secrets of Governors Ball 1 Randalls Island Park, New York, NY 10035 Website By Meghan Giannotta firstname.lastname@example.org Updated May 31, 2018 12:07 PM About 50,000 music lovers per day throw on their crop-tops, tie flowers in their hair and head to Randall's Island for Governors Ball each June. The three-day music festival has drawn some big names since its debut in 2011. This year's seventh annual event brings Eminem, Halsey, Post Malone and other performers to Randall's Island Park from June 1 through June 3. Here, the ball's co-founder Tom Russell fills amNewYork in on some of the event's best-kept secrets. Credit: Governors Ball It took only 45 days for the first Governors Ball to come together Tom Russell and Jordan Wolowitz, both native New Yorkers, left their desk jobs in 2011 to pursue a common goal of pulling together a music festival the city could call its own. "My partners and I were in the music industry at the time, and we were all working other jobs. We quit our jobs and jumped right into the festival," Russell said. About two months later, the first Governors Ball welcomed rapper Mac Miller to the stage for a crowd of nearly 18,000. "We had just incorporated, and we had offers from artists. We got them to confirm, got a ticket company on board, then permits. It all happened incredibly quickly," Russell said. Credit: Governors Ball Stay on your toes! There’s always an element of surprise Governors Ball is known for two things -- music and pranks. But you're probably prepared for only one of them. "We go to great efforts to make sure we spice up people's weekends with surprises and things they won't expect," Russell said. The festival has hired buskers to put on impromptu performances throughout the festival grounds. People have been startled by gospel choirs and mariachi bands, singing to them as they leave or enter the event. The ball even hires volunteers and pranking experts to greet people with applause and high-fives. Just imagine 20-plus people randomly giving you a standing ovation after you show your ticket at the gate. "Creativity is all over the grounds of the festival, there's always a surprise," the prank master behind Improv Everywhere, Charlie Todd, told amNewYork. Todd helped orchestrate one of the festival's biggest pranks. Credit: Improv Everywhere Improv pulled off one of its best pranks at the Ball Where's the last place you'd ever expect performances at a music festival? The portable toilets. In 2015, Governors Ball pulled off its biggest prank ever with a little help from the experts at Improv Everywhere, a New York City-based group that arranges elaborate pranks in unexpected places. Event staff cut holes in the backs of some portable restrooms and hid, at separate times, a mariachi band, a gospel choir, a Bollywood Funk dance group and a marching band under a black tarp behind them. Unsuspecting festivalgoers were greeted by the performers when they opened the doors. "I was skeptical at first because our projects usually work best at a mundane location like a subway car. So, to surprise someone at a festival with music, where they're expecting music, can be challenging," Todd, Improv's founder, said. Everyone still fell for it. "We're known for large-scale, choreographed, elaborate pranks and this was definitely one of them. In terms of comedy value, this is definitely one of my favorites," Todd said. Credit: Governors Ball It can get really messy Governors Ball is a rain-or-shine event -- take that very literally. During the past seven years, heavy rain has only tried to put a damper on the event once. It was June 2013 and Tropical Storm Andrea dropped 3 to 5 inches along the East Coast. But nothing, not even a tropical storm, can keep New York's music lovers away. The rainy weekend made for a very messy Governors Ball, but everyone loved it, Russell said. Credit: Getty Images That time the crew was up until 5 a.m. for Kings of Leon Tropical Storm Andrea did end up pulling the plug on one performance in 2013, and it just so happened to be that year's headliners, Kings of Leon. KOL was forced to stop its Friday show early due to the storm. The Governors Ball team stayed up all night to try to figure out how to reschedule the band's performance, even though they were set to get on a plane and head to England on Sunday, Russell said. "We stayed up with the production team trying to figure out how to reschedule the travel plans, production plans, plane tickets, gear, transports, everything," Russell said. Eventually, all of the moving pieces fell into place and they were able to get the band on stage Saturday afternoon. It was the only (and hopefully the last) time a performance was canceled due to weather. Credit: Governors Ball The Governors Ball sign has become an iconic selfie station The giant Gov Ball NYC lettering has become an iconic part of the festival since its debut in 2012 -- for selfies, at least. The lettering, which changes color every year, attracts hundreds of guests at a time, whether it be to relax underneath them, take a selfie in front of them or climb on top of them. Naturally, the festival doesn't actually want people climbing all over them. "People love taking photos with them, but we discourage folks from climbing on them for safety," Russell said. Credit: Governors Ball Marnie the Dog was one of the Ball's all-time favorite guests Mac Miller, Beck, Kid Cudi, Guns N' Roses, the Lumineers and dozens of other top-chart performers have hit the stage at Governors Ball, but one of the festival's most beloved guests wasn't a singer. The internet-famous Shih Tzu, Marnie the Dog, dropped by the 2015 festival and chilled backstage with celebrities and the Australian rock band Tame Impala. "Animals are typically not allowed, but she was an unsanctioned special guest," Russell said. "We were friendly with her team and asked her to come hang out backstage." Russell referred to her as one of the festival's "very special appearances" and said she drew a crowd of her own, just like a performer would. Credit: Governors Ball Performers sometimes ask to do wacky things on stage Governors Ball books performers who are used to stadium-size stages. On the smaller Ball stage, their set requests may seem large-scale in comparison. Still, the festival tries to accommodate every request. "Weird Al" Yankovic took the stage at the 2015 festival in a bathrobe and a fat suit and sang while sitting in a reclining armchair. Other performers have requested fireworks and smoke, Russell said. Credit: Getty Images / Ilya S. Savenok The Ball booked bands before they blew up There's a spot on the Governors Ball website letting local performers wanting to book the event as their big gig know that the festival is filled -- so don't bank on spots opening up for next year's event. Governors Ball has actually become so exclusive that the festival doesn't accept local band requests anymore. "We specifically seek out artists to play at the festival. We don't take applications anymore," Russell said. "We're very careful about each and every slot." That's because the festival has been known to book bands before they blow up. Pop-rock band Haim performed on the Governors Ball main stage in 2013 before the group charted on the Billboard 200. Future and Kendrick Lamar, above, were also booked as acts before they became top-trending rappers, Russell said. Credit: Governors Ball Pro tip: There’s free water throughout the event grounds Swap that vodka with some crisp refreshing water. Governors Ball knows the importance of hydration. That's why there are refillable fresh water stations throughout the festival grounds -- and the water is completely free. Previous Secret Next Secret Comments Comments section is temporarily on hold. Here’s why.